Friday, 31 December 2010

Loving greetings from Tiruvannamalai


Enlightenment is not an "experience". Really, it is the ability to assimilate and understand your actions. If your True Self is the "Light", how can you become enlightened? Understanding your actions helps you to transform yourself.

My best wishes for the new year. May it be a year that is filled with enough suffering to make you want to change your life and your negative thought patterns.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Loving greetings from Auroville


All London airports were closed last weekend, and I worried about flying on Monday. But then my flight left "only" 3 hours late - just as the snow began again.

I was happy to spend a few days in Chennai and even happier to arrive in Auroville yesterday. This morning we had a beautiful meditation in the Matri Mandir, followed by lunch at the solar kitchen. Unfortunately, we can't stay very long - so off to Tiruvannamalai tomorrow.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Why does meditation make me angry?


I had an interesting question today, so I thought I'd share the answer:

Ques: twice after meditation I found myself very angry and I tried to express it in a safe way but did bite my husband's head off. Any thoughts on the matter. (from Judy in New Zealand)

My ans:
Yes, I do have very definite thoughts on the matter. Anger seems to be a VERY common reaction to meditation. People are usually confused by it, as you expect medtation to make you more peaceful and hence, less angry.

Meditation works to purify your mind. We all have thoughts that we don't want to have - emotions that we don't want to express, etc. No yogi wants to be an angry person. So, in the past, when this type of thought started to form, we suppressed it - much like sweeping dirt under the carpet. But, meditation is like an intense spring cleaning - you pick up the carpets and give them a good shake. All of the hidden 'dirt" come out. I think it is a necessary part of the purification process. However, it doesn't mean that you're supposed to bite your husband's head off - learn to witness your own thoughts (and emotions) in a detached manner. Observe the negative thoughts, but do not act on them.

Yoga Sutra, verse
1.12 abhyasa-vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah

"vrittis may be controlled by abhyasa (regular steady practice) and vairagya (detachment)".

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Relationships and Cooperation between Chakras

I'm working on a chapter for my book that looks at how the chakras inter-relate and work with each other. Actually, the independent actions and particular characteristics of the various chakras can only be separated intellectually. The function of each chakra intricately blends with the workings of the others.

To understanding the working of each chakra, it is important for you to see the bigger picture. In addition to taking in energy and acting as a transmitter for your thoughts and feelings, each chakra must function and interact with the others. To understand a chakra’s functions and mis-functions out of context would be a big mistake!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Santosha - Contentment


I find that people often misunderstand the yoga principle of santosha (contentment), believing that it means giving up their will to change. I get students who say, “I don’t want to be content, because if I am content then I won’t get anywhere in my job. I need to want something. I've got to be on the cutting edge in my profession”. They don’t understand that santosha is not inertness. Rather, santosha means being content right now, even as you are changing your life.

If you are a yoga teacher, you may find that many people actually fear contentment. They worry that it will make them lethargic and lazy – that life might prove boring. Without it they see themselves as exerting and energetic. However, I’ve noticed that contentment never makes anyone idle. It is a sattvic virtue that propels you towards peace. It gives you strength of mind and checks unnecessary and selfish exertions. It calms your mind and opens your inner eye of intuition. If you are a contented person, you seem to be more able to work energetically and peacefully, with a one-pointed mind. All the dissipated rays of your mind are collected and available for use.

I'm planning to be in London for the entire month of September.

with best wishes
Swami Saradananda

Santosha is this month's subject on the Yama-Niyama e-course.

"From contentment comes supreme happiness".

- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.42

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Tools for meditation: Mandala-Yantra

Mystical diagrams, stylized geometric projections of the world

Mandala: circular symbolic representations of both universal and personal forces; they do not always represent a deity.Instead, they are symbolic compositions of energy patterns that are more powerful than pictures.

Mandalas are tools that draw energy from outer world and direct it to the inner. According to Carl Jung,they represent the unconscious self.

Tibetan Buddhist monks create mandala sand paintings in times of stress, danger and conflict. The positive energy of the creation, coupled with the meditations of the monk-artists and the participating public, produce a very special environment that is conducive to healing and protection.

Yantra: uses geometric shapes to represent cosmic and personal connections. Every yantra is a mandala, though not all mandalas are yantras.

The literal meaning of the word ‘yantra’ is ‘instrument’ or ‘machine’. In actual practice a yantra is a symbolic representation of aspects of divine energy. It is an interlocking matrix of geometric figures that form patterns of great elegance and beauty. Although usually drawn in two dimensions, a yantra represents a multi-dimensional object or being.

A yantra is a meditation tool for serious spiritual seekers. Intense meditation on it causes the fully formed image to manifest in your mind's eye with an intensity that is remarkable for its imprinting ability.

Most yantras are connected to the Goddess, the most famous one being the Sri Chakra, an abstract representation of the Divine Mother as the Cosmos. There are also yantras for Ganesha and other male deities. There are also yantras that are used for more mundane purposes: to enhance your quality of life, to attract prosperity, to attact love; to heal and relieve health problems, to protect you from negative forces.

Yantras are seen as essential to a god or goddess as a body is to a living human being. Constructed using sacred geometry, yatras are a most powerful 'centring' devices for harnessing the divine energies. The design always focuses your attention onto the centre of the yantra where the bindu (dot) is supposed to constitute the spiritual body of the goddess or god

Yantras focus your desires and aspirations. They help you to transform your negative mental patterns into more positive mental habits. Yantras may be used to bring about healing and maintain a state of positive health and abundance. Because they are active energy systems, yantras are powerful in deflecting negative energies and maintaining internal harmony. All yantras are best understood as enhancing potential that already exists. They cannot force something to happen that is against natural karma, but they can aid and assist in bringing about desirable outcomes. For example, you cannot force somebody to love you, you cannot force good luck and prosperity, but yantras can be used to speed up the process if the potential exists. They also help you to remove obstacles that may exist.

It is important to handle a yantra with the utmost respect and consideration. Careless treatment reduces its power.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Summer Yoga Festival in Dorset

OM - I was fortunate to be able to attend the Summer Yoga Festival that was organised by the Independent Yoga Network in Dorset on Midsummer weekend.

My workshop "The Power of Breath" - inspiring for me to have so many yoga teachers and sincere practitioners in the audience.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Tools for Meditation: Mudras

Your body is a subtle and powerful antenna that is continually receiving energy and also transmitting it. Mantra, mudra and mandala are three types of powerful spiritual tools that assist you in purifying your physical, mental and psychic bodies.

With regular practice, these methods sharpen and expand your spiritual wisdom. They help you to restore balance within the microcosm and bring it into harmony with the macrocosm. They support your meditation practice and aid you in finding inner peace.

* Mantra: auditory tool, sound vibration
* Mudra: hand position, sealing the psychic energies
* Mandala/ yantra: visual tool; mystical diagram

I'm preparing on Friday, 7pm, at the College of Psychic Studies. It is the second of three talks entitled "Tools for Meditation: Mantra, Mudra and Mandala". This one will be on mudras and promises to be quite interesting. If you are in London, I hope you will attend.

More tomorrow ....

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Loving greetings on this auspicious Midsummer’s weekend

I’ve just returned from a few days in Dorset at the Midsummer Festival that was organised by the Independent Network.

I’d like to say a special “thanks” to Bhavani, who drove me down and back. I always enjoy the drive to Dorset. Soon after leaving London, you come to the awe-inspiring Salisbury Plains. One can imagine why it was a holy place in ancient times. The view and feeling of spaciousness is still exciting today, especially when you come over the hill and see Stonehenge before you. This Friday, the road was packed with people going to the Solstice celebrations – but the view was still great!

The Yoga Festival was laid back and relaxing – a nice place to chat with old friends and yoga colleagues – and a fine place to meet new ones. Thanks to Ellen Lee, who is the new Chair of the Independent Yoga Network – and to Peter Yates, who has just gotten up to give her the seat. The look of effortless that allowed everything to run so smoothly made it obvious how much loving attention had been put into organising things beforehand. The organisers were able to sit back and chat with the rest of us.

On Saturday, I gave a “Power of Breath” workshop to a group of mainly yoga teachers. This is my favourite type of class – I always enjoy the dialogue involved.

Today: Sunday, I’m back in London – and just getting ready to go out to teach part of a Teachers’ Training Course philosophy module. Topic of the day: The Three Bodies and how they all relate to the practice of Hatha Yoga – which always seems to spark a good amount of thought and discussion among the soon-to-be teachers.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Picture from Auroville

Silke just sent me this picture that I was taken in Auroville in January. Our group get to spend a few days there as part of our Shakti Siva pilgrimage

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Sanskrit word “ahamkara” has quite a different meaning from the concept of “ego” in Western psychology. Ahamkara is your sense of self, your “I-ness”, your persona and sense of being a separate entity. Through surrender, you can develop the ability to react from a place beyond your individual ego; this means that you are often able to touch others on a far deeper level. You would be as much incapable of taking unfair advantage of them as you would let them take advantage of you.

To make spiritual progress, it is important empower and purify your sense of self, but only up to a point. You must cultivate a strong sense of self-worth before you can transcend it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

May-June OM-page


May 25, 2010 by Swami Saradananda

Blessed Self,

This month, along with the students in the "Yama-Niyama e-course", I've been working with the principle of "ishwara-pranidhana", which is usually translated as "self-surrender" or "surrender to the Lord". This is a hard one for many modern yogis, who don't seem inclined to surrender to anyone or any teaching.

You may feel that you do not relate to the concept of "God" — or that you do not really know who or what God is — or even whether God really exists. You may (understandably) be loath to commit to doing things that you don't understand, even though they have been advocated by both ancient scriptures and modern yoga teachers.

If this is your situation, it might be helpful to envision Patanjali's final niyama as the steps you take towards letting go of your self-imposed limitations.

Begin by looking at how your world is very much created by your thoughts. Tell yourself that you are weak, and you will find yourself lacking sufficient strength. Or if you focus on an emotional experience, such as grief, it begins to form an integral part of your personality. See how you mould your character by your thoughts. The more you hold on to negativity, the more it controls you.

Remember, it is only the thought that you are not free keeps you from being free.

with best wishes for great success in your sadhana
Swami Saradananda
Blessed Self

December 11, 2009 by Swami Saradananda

Perhaps this holiday season is the perfect time to begin to integrate “aparigraha” into your daily life. Patanjali’s fifth “yama” (ethical principles of relating to the world around you) is usually translated as non-greed or detachment to material objects. Aparigraha can also be viewed as going against the principles of western consumerism. It connotes the ability to be happy without excessive possessions, i.e. living simply without a surplus of possessions, sharing what you have, not judging others by their material possessions, and not believing that what you own is tantamount to who you are.

"Simple living and high thinking".
~ Swami Sivananda

Before you get caught up in the social whirl of the holiday season, remind yourself that the purpose of yoga practice is to free yourself from the bonds of your mind. Why not begin to integrate the practice of aparigraha into your daily life by living more simply. You might also be interested in the Yoga Sutra e-course that I’ve developed – if so, see the right-hand panel.

Maybe you could try celebrating this season with a “Buy Nothing ChrismaHanuKwanzakah” - or delight your friends and family with gifts that try to make the world a better place. Help communities and individuals in developing countries to receive the essentials they need to change their lives. Your gifts will be much appreciated both here and by families around the world.

ActionAid's Gifts in Action:
World Vision Alternative Gifts:
Global Giving Circle:
Or my own favourite charity:

I’ll be in India; mid-Dec to mid-Feb.

My thoughts and prayers are with you for a joyous holiday season – and a new year filled with sublime learning experiences.

With best wishes, Swami Saradananda

"When you are free of greed, you gain the understanding of the purpose of life".
~ Patanjali, Yoga Sutra 2.39

September 1, 2009 by Swami Saradananda

Loving greetings and welcome back from summer.

I’ve had an unusually high number of people asking me where and when I’m going to be teaching in London. If you can have a look at the calendar, you’ll notice that I’ve got some satsangs planned and a 2-month course at the College of Psychic Studies. My schedule for this autumn is especially limited as I have several writing projects in progress + I’m trying to get ready for the Shakti-Siva pilgrimage to South India.

If you are interested in studying with me, I would suggest that you book yourself onto the Yoga Sutra e-course.

I hope to spend most of November in New York. Please contact me if you would like to arrange some programmes – either in New York or nearby.

This year’s pilgrimage is already fully booked, but I’m starting to organize a retreat in South India for next year.