Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ordinary yet Magnificant

by Atma Jyoti
From the 2013 Annual Ashram Newsletter

Living in the ashram as a resident for nearly a year has been both a challenging and an inspiring time for me. I came here as I felt I had no choice. I was in the middle of a physical and emotional burnout. I felt that my life had come to a dead end and I had become overloaded with patterns that no longer served me, especially around work. The feeling that I am meant to be here is very strong. There are few places that are a true refuge in this world and this is one of them. I came because I needed to make space in my life for new experiences.

In the ashram I have experienced very intense mood swings. Yet, I am here willingly and happy to allow whatever comes up to be processed. I have been through a process of purification. The ashram is a safe sacred place where you are held, a special place where you are protected and allowed to unfold. I feel lighter and freer of my patterns. One of the reasons I feel lighter and relieved is that I do not have the stress of paying bills and having a home to run. This freedom is wonderful. Ashram life here is simple and I have become used to having less. Living here has the benefit of living close to nature. I have seen red kites sitting staring at me on the ashram gate; the large tawny owl on the tree outside; the polecats, the hedgehogs and the swallows and lots more. The sky is clear at night and the weather is very provocative and sensual here. The view from the ashram overlooking the Brecon Beacons is fantastic, and the changes and colours of the seasons can be stunning.

My relationships with friends and family have changed, no doubt, and the letting-go on an inner level inherent in this process has been a necessity to allow me to grow. My heart has been opened as this is a space where you can be vulnerable: there is an openness and honesty here. You are able to share deep concerns which are accepted as they are and, because so many people visit from many cultures, you are able to learn from different lifestyles and cultural perspectives.

Being a resident, you are responsible for the smooth running of the ashram during the regular residential courses, and there is a genuine motivation to ensure that guests are well cared for and their needs are met. Karma yoga is my main practice, and I have realised how profound it can be. What I feel through this practice is grace, and I feel nourished and healed as a result, purifying both my body and mind.

Taking time for oneself is a necessity during the fullness of ashram life. I have learned to value and respect my space and energy. I talk less and gossip less, and I prefer my own company more than ever before. Furthermore, I have a greater appreciation of quietude which has brought a profound change within me. I have a sense that this inner growth will enable a greater fulfilment in life wherever I may be.

I enjoy my weekly quiet day when I can go to the local town for a coffee but I am also glad to come back into the security of the ashram energy. I have lost my desire to buy clothes and only now need some basic possessions. Growth and change are the key benefits of living in the ashram. It offers a chance to explore who you are in a direct and honest way, without the distractions of everyday life; to take a step outside one’s usual lifestyle, to enquire beyond the layers of conditioning built and sustained over time for ‘protection’, and to reflect deeper and deeper on the very essence of who you are. 

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