The Beach Platform, which had been damaged by storm waves, has been repaired and repainted, and ashram visitors are once again able to enjoy practicing by the ocean.
Sankalpa: How to Make
a New Year's Resolution the Yogic Way
Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda
Q: I feel a lack of determination and find myself vacillating and considering various options instead of accomplishing things, although in the past I was a very determined person. How can I tell whether it is the right time to hesitate or whether I am lost?
A: You can start changing by committing for one day. Every day you can take a sankalpa, or set an intention. This is what you do, for instance, when you practice Hatha Yoga. You wake up in the morning and make a firm resolution with respect to that day only. Once the day is over the resolution expires, and tomorrow is a new day. So you can decide, "Today I will not hesitate." Some people can be determined only with respect to one hour: "From 9-10am I will do so and so and will not hesitate." If you follow this method, the principle of gradual improvement will apply – small things will inevitably lead to big results. This is how it works: If you cannot make a commitment for a whole year, make it for a day, for an hour, or even for 10 minutes. Always start with what you can actually accomplish and progress from that.
Years ago I took a trip with an acquaintance. We went hiking and he wanted to visit some waterfalls in the vicinity. He suggested we take a sankalpa to reach the falls. A sankalpa is a resolution you take and do not break under any circumstances – come hell or high water. This is a well-known tool in yoga. I thought the falls were near and agreed. We ended up walking about 10 hours until we reached the falls. But since we took a sankalpa we persisted, and that is the point – taking the resolution seriously.
When a yogi takes a sankalpa, he sticks to it. Therefore yogis often can accomplish what they want. They have developed an ability to make a determined resolution. That's why when practicing yoga we sometimes take a sankalpa every morning, which relates to that day. You wake up in the morning and say that today, at this place, I will be doing so and so and that will apply to that specific day. Other sankalpas can apply for a whole year – we usually take such sankalpas on New Year's Eve. There are all sorts of sankalpas. Again, the main point about sankalpa is that there is no way back from the decision, no matter what happens. So if someone takes a sankalpa regarding something as small as reaching a nearby waterfall, he will eventually gain the ability to do the same with bigger issues. It is like developing flexibility – it is not done by breaking the spine; it is done gradually. The same applies to sankalpas. So in times of uncertainty what do you do? You say, "OK, this is my sankalpa for today," and do it every day. Then you can develop it for longer periods.
Swami Swaroopananda is the Acharya (spiritual director) of the Sivananda Yoga Centers and Ashrams on the West Coast of the United States, in the Middle East and in the Bahamas, and is one of the foremost disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda. He is renowned for his spontaneous yet clear, concise, and complete answers to every question. This Q&A is from November 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
ThetaHealing: Change Your Inner Reality
ThetaHealing practitioners call their technique an attainable miracle because of the way it uses our natural intuition to create spontaneous physical and emotional healing for ourselves, as well as friends and family.
The therapeutic self-help practice develops the ability to change on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, working on the core, gene, history, and soul levels of being. ThetaHealing teaches how to go into the subconscious mind and find limiting beliefs that create our reality, tapping into the cellular level and changing the emotional receptors of the smallest cells in our body. With growing scientific evidence that toxic emotion contributes to disease and the awareness that emotions, feelings and the power of thought have a direct bearing upon our physical health, ThetaHealing offers a simple yet profound way to connect to limiting patterns in our subconscious mind and witness a change in our physical and emotional reality.
ThetaHealing was developed by Vianna Stibal, a mother of three and a grandmother of ten. Vianna, a naturopath, massage therapist and intuitive reader at the time, used the way she did readings to create a healing technique that saved her from terminal cancer more than a decade ago. Diving deeper into the elements of her discovery, Vianna solicited the assistance of a physicist with an electroencephalograph and realized that the technique was tapping into the theta brain waves. Over many years of practicing the technique with thousands of clients, Vianna discovered not only an amazing way to connect with the creative energy that moves in all things, but also that this energy could instantly change beliefs and feelings that are linked to sickness. She also developed the technique so that it can be easily taught to others and has since instructed thousands of people. Today she is an internationally known teacher and healer whose writings are distributed by Hay-House Publishing.
In 2009, Vianna came to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas and found peace. She leads a busy life, teaching and healing around the globe, and here she found a place where spiritual seekers meet in order to learn from each other and deepen their spiritual practice. Yoga is a way to bring people of different traditions and paths together. ThetaHealing, although started as a modality that brings physical and emotional healing, is also a way to bring people of all religions and paths together. So the practice and study of ThetaHealing in a yogic environment offers a wholesome experience of spiritual and physical inquiry in a tranquil setting, which is conducive to spiritual growth and healing on all levels.
Our 2011 season features a variety of ThetaHealing trainings and programs under the guidance of Vianna Stibal and some of her senior students. It introduces the many methods and techniques described in Vianna's three books: ThetaHealing, Advanced ThetaHealing - All That Is, and Disease and Disorder. We also will be offering a ThetaHealing Clinic, led by senior ThetaHealing student Narayan Jyoti, a certified master ThetaHealing instructor.
For a complete ThetaHealing schedule for the 2011 season click here.
A Summer of Renovation and Renewal
Many of the Ashram's rooms have undergone a complete overhaul, including the installation of hurricane-standard windows and new doors. Ceilings, walls and furniture have been refinished and floors re-tiled. Accommodations are now more elegant and comfortable while still maintaining the serene ambiance of the Yoga Retreat.
In addition, the garden bathrooms and showers have been fully renovated, the dining area has been repainted and new serving tables have been installed. With a new and improved wireless network covering most of the Ashram's grounds, guests can now use the web while enjoying the peace and beauty of the gardens.
Under the guidance of a Feng Shui expert, the Peace Fountain at the entrance to the ashram has undergone extensive renovations so that it blends better into its natural surroundings.
Swami Vishnu's Loving Attraction
How I Went from Lost to Found, in One Second
Back in 1978 I was having some health problems and had just gotten out of the hospital, dazed and confused, and decided to go to Colorado from my home town in Virginia. I told my mom I was going there to be a waiter in a nice restaurant.
I drove non-stop 50 hours to Boulder, Colorado, but my attempts to find employment did not pan out -- wrong time of year, come back in two weeks and on and on -- so I said to myself that maybe I should go to California, so off I went for another two days of non-stop driving. Eventually, as night was falling, I stopped in a small California town called Grass Valley and went to the Post Office to check out the bulletin board and find some hippie commune to stay the night. I walked in and staring at me was a picture of my guru, Swami Vishnudevananda. As I read the poster I realized a Yoga Teachers Training Course was starting there the next day so I drove over.
When I pulled up Swamiji was leaning on the fence with a blade of grass in his mouth. It seemed funny to see a man in orange robes leaning on the fence like some kind of cowboy, with his horse tied to the fence next to him. I rolled the window down and he said, "Sambasiva I knew you were coming." I told him that even I did not know I was coming until 30 minutes before in the Post Office, that I had been driving for days, was lost without a clue as to what I was doing or what to do. He said, "I need your help. The Teacher Training starts tomorrow and I am under-staffed. You know what you are doing and are trained." (I had taken TTC with him in 1975 in Nassau and was on staff there helping him for many months.)
I cannot tell you what a relief it was to hear all of this. In one second I had gone from lost to found. So of course I said yes. I ended up staying there for a year helping Swamiji.
I know all of this sounds unbelievable – it seemed unbelievable to me, too – but all I can say is that he called me psychically from Virginia on the East Coast all the way across the continent to his ashram in California without even a letter or call, and I pulled up right in front of the most important person in my life. It was magic the way he needed me and I came 3,000 miles and drove right up to hear him ask me to help. Gurus are so powerful.
You may also find this interesting: Swamiji said the ashram was short on housing and I would stay in the same room with Swami Deviananda and Satchabama. He took me upstairs and told the girls to divide the room with sheets into three sections, that Sambasiva would be staying in the room with both of you. Swamiji was always putting us to the test, and Brahmacharya in the strictest sense was observed by all. We were truly brother and sisters in a small room together. Swamiji was a great saint and knew just how to help people evolve. To this day I am most grateful for all he shared with the world and me personally.
Sambasiva works as staff at the Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas and at the Yoga Ranch in New York State, teaching asana, baking bread and chanting Om Namo Narayanaya with his guitar before Satsang every evening, among other things.