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Eat, Pray, Love - How I spent my days in an Ashram in India

Posted Sep 27 2010 1:22pm
Eat, Pray, Love

Elizabeth Gilbert touched many a searching soul with her powerful post-divorce life story. (you can read more about it by clicking here Eat, Pray, Love ). Our current day and age with all the comforts we can imagine, and so many bright individuals in a state of deep thirst for self-discovery, is ripe for an inner transformation. This book is a great example of what one can experience when you fully allow yourself to dive into experience, and surrender to the moment.
The popularity of the book has led to a film with lead actress Julia Roberts portraying the journey. This journey hurtled her to far-reaching points of the globe in search of awakening her hunger for life (in Italy), her spirit (in an Ashram in India) and trust of love (in Bali).

As with all current influential people such as Eckhart Tolle, Anthony Robbins. etc. it is great to have these books and resources to be our guides in our own search for self-discovery, because ultimately we don't have to venture to any part of the world to find this knowledge. The ultimate guide is to gain an awareness of our own interactions within life through their experience, not their circumstance.
"A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet" 
Just as one can gain insight on love in Bali, one can do the same during a beautiful twilight in the back yard of their own home.

Yet... if you wish to tap into and experience personal transformation, spirituality... India is the incredible gateway.

Exploring the depths of Self and Spirituality.... in an Ashram

The Ashram is simply a domain for those seeking to evolve the mind, body and attain self-realization.




Yoga Niketan Ashram Rishikesh India (Garden & Meditation Hall)

There is almost an infinite number of Ashrams spread out throughout the world, with the largest number within India - the birthplace of Meditation and Yoga. Deciding on the right Ashram, just like deciding the type of meditation or type of Yoga you enjoy is very important for you to attain a state of harmony and balance throughout your time in the community. I will have a book out soon "Meditation and Yoga in India - A Guide for a Spiritual journey" which will act as a guide for those on the spiritual search.

What to expect?
Not all schedules are as intensive as Eat, Pray, Love's 3am wake-up bell for mantra chanting. This comes down again to making the right decision for what you feel will work with your body and mind (of course pushing yourself slightly out of the comfort zone!).


The schedule that projected my deep understanding of self during this past stay in Rishikesh, India at the foothills of the Himalayas was as follows
4:30am - wakeup bell
5:00am - 6:00am - Meditation Discourse by Master followed by Meditation
6:30am - 8:00am - Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga
8:00am - Breakfast
10:00am - 12:00pm - Free time (I submersed myself in self practice of Breath Control "Pranayama")
12:00pm - Lunch
2:00pm - 4:00pm - Free time
4:00pm - The glorious and much anticipated Chai break
5:00pm - 6:30pm - Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga
7:00pm - 8:00pm - Meditation Discourse by Master followed by Meditation
8:00pm - Dinner



Interviewing Sw.Shankarananda 
at the Kriya Yoga Ashram
Julia Roberts with Sw.Dharmdev at Hari Mandir Ashram

Everything from the teachings, meditation halls, yoga studios, surrounding gardens and even the food have been meticulously cared for and created for inner transformation. The Food is something incredible, every meal an Ayurvedic masterpiece created to fill your body with nutrients and minerals and for the prevention of disease, each meal somehow exponentially better than the last.

This Ashram I stayed for just about 3 weeks, my free time was spent studying the ancient and modern yogic philosphies with the Masters and Gurus in the surrounding Ashrams ie. Omkarananda, Parmarth, Kriya, and Yoga Niketan Ashram. Sunday's were always a day of rest that first began with a Kharma Yoga session where all those in the community come together and clean the meditation and yoga centers - the rest of the day spent exploring the Himalayas and the temples surrounding the spiritual and giant Ganges River Valley.


How does the Spiritual Experience arise?
To verbalize the spiritual experience is attempting to describe the indescribable. All that can be provided is a guide to invoking this experience within you. Going to an Ashram or traversing all the Temples in India is not a sure fire way of achieving it, it begins simply within you.

Yoga and Meditation will bring you to a state of awareness of the subtleties of life, your body and how it functions, your mind and how it interprets and leaves imprints. If this awareness goes on, goes on, goes on, it goes deeper by itself. It is an automatic process. It becomes deeper: from the intellect it goes to your capacity to be completely in the moment, within a state of complete passion; and from the intelligence it goes to your intuitive mind; from the conscious slowly and slowly it goes into the unconscious. Someday you become totally awakened. Not by any cultivation of fiction, doctrine, principle, technique, but as an awakening to an inner fact, inner division, something has gone deep in you.

Self-realization can happen anywhere and at anytime, be fully in the moment, completely aware of your Self, be the silent witness, and the experience will come.

Over the past 4 years, experiencing life in over 50 ashrams if you have any questions about your spiritual journey please don't hesitate to email me at michael.apollo@yogaallianceamerica.com .
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