Everyone should try to visit an ashram as often as possible. In the ashram, one discovers the method of stabilizing one’s energies in spiritual awareness. One finds the higher meaning to each and every act that is performed.
Traditionally, the word ‘ashram’ does not refer to a spiritual community, even though that is what most people believe it means. There are two words here: ‘a’ and ‘shram’. ‘A’ means to come and shram means making the necessary effort, putting your energy to good use, overcoming and transforming laziness and weakness into creative dynamism. Shram means to keep yourself linked with kriya, action, and karma, work. Ashram, therefore, means to come to a place where you can make the required effort to improve the quality of your character, nature, personality and behaviour.
Wherever and whatever that place may be, any place where you make an attempt to enhance the quality of your life, becomes an ashram.
Sri Swami Satyananda describes an ashram as a place where one works hard on the physical plane to transform the energies of the mind.
Ashram culture is not a modern-day concept, but one that stems from an ancient tradition in India and can also be traced back to ancient Greece and elsewhere. India, however, has managed to preserve this ancient culture over the passing of time, and for this reason ashrams still exist today.
The ashram is a place where people of all ages from different cultures and backgrounds can come and live for a period of time, away from the distractions and disharmonies of their current lifestyle. Here one imbibes the principles of yoga learning to live freely of any involvement or attachment.
The greatest lesson we have to learn is the lesson of life. This becomes available to us when we decide to step out of our routine existence and adopt some different ways to live by, even if it is for a short time. One of these ways is ashram life, where you can stay for a few days and live a life that is diametrically opposite to yours and learn how to deal with different situations, different people, and different problems and, at the same time, also learn to deal with yourself.
The running of an ashram is based on various types of discipline, whereby one foregoes the comforts of everyday life. In this way, the ashram creates situations for personal growth and accelerates one’s spiritual evolution.
Karma and seva yoga are the backbone of all activities of an ashram - these are selfless activities whose purpose is to uplift others while at the same time develop immunity to negativity, thereby establishing a state of equilibrium and peace within oneself.
An ashram is not a resort or an escape from one’s reality. On the contrary, it is a spiritually charged environment where one comes face to face with their own nature. Personal sadhana is practiced as it is the way to connect with the inner self and begin to gain a better understanding of who we truly are.
In an ashram, mouna (remaining silent for a specified period of time) is commonly practiced. Through externalizing less, and internalizing more, we become more in tune with how we feel and think in an effort to understand ourselves better.
In an ashram, one awakes before sunrise and rests by sunset. In this way, one becomes aligned with the rhythms of nature, which help to keep the body and mind healthy.
Ashram food is simple, fresh and sattwic. Sattvic foods are light on the body, but provide energy, vitality and have a calming effect on our minds.
The daily routine, disciplines and practices within the ashram help to free one from what is unnecessary and restrictive in one's own inner and outer life. As a result, the experience of contentment, balance and harmony dawns. One connects to the strengths and the happiness that lie within, and as these qualities are enhanced, one is able to live a life full of purpose, with clarity, creativity and positivity.
N.B. The below program varies according to season.
|05.00||Wake up and personal sadhana|
|07.00||General Karma Yoga|
|08.30||Departmental Karma Yoga assigned to individuals in administration, maintenance, publications, transcriptions, audio-visual library, art and craft, gardens, organic farming field, kitchen, etc. and/or Yoga sessions according to current program|
|13.00||Departmental Karma Yoga|
|14.00||Yoga Nidra of the Satyananda system of Yoga|
|15.00||Departmental Karma Yoga and/or Yoga sessions (as above)|
|16.30||Gardening and Tree pooja|
|19.30||Study or personal sadhana in one's own room|
|Every Saturday||Mahamrityunjaya Mantra and Havan|
|Every Ekadashi||Bhagavad Gita Path|
|Every Poornima||Sundarkand Path and Full moon meditation|
|Every 5th & 6th||Guru Bhakti Yoga - The Yoga of Remembrance|
|Every 11th||SWAN speaks|