How does a day in a typical Indian ashram look? At 5am meditation mantras, pranayama or shatkarmas. Translated into English: praying, breathing exercises, or various detoxication treatments. At 7:45am, tea break. At 8am, yoga exercises.
Everyone waited for 10am – breakfast. The breakfast consisted of oatmeal cooked in milk with papaya, banana, guava fruit, and finally we encapsulated generously everything with honey. After such a delicious breakfast, we are, at 11am, ready to listen to a lecture of yoga philosophy. At 1pm, lunch: traditional chapati (nan bread), rice, some kind of spoup from peas, beans or pumpkins and stewed vegetables. At 2pm, yoga theory: anatomy, yoga therapy, communication or ayurveda. At 4.30pm, another yoga exercise followed by a shower and at 7pm dinner on the carpet.
The dinner could consist of daugh-baked aubergine, cauliflower, potatoes, onions; don’t forget to soak in the sauce with some herbs and mmmmm… you are ready for self-studying at 8pm. The teachers gave us two thick books and a tour through the bookstores, and in the evenings we fell into sleep with a book in our hands.
And every day the same procedure except Fridays, when we got a day off to spend on mountain climbing or visiting surrounding cities.
Six teachers for seven students – more than enough. The theory lectures were held on the fourth floor in the building with large windows through which we looked at high mountains, and perhaps a monkey. Sometimes the monkeys stared at us through the windows, following the lecture with big interest, but most often they wanted just to steal something from our balconies.
You never know what is waiting for you during the lectures, one day we laugh hysterically due to laughter yoga, the next time the teacher is giving you a tube and asks you to put it in your nose and take it out trough your mouth, a classical cleaning procedure. Fortunately, the student has the right to refuse.
Needless to say, after a month of strengthening – early prayers, meditation, cleansing procedures, intense workouts and exclusively pure vegetarian food – you are transformed into a strong, peaceful, beautiful and happy creature. You start to feel the world and yourself differently. Before arriving to the ashram I had an idea: I can endure without wine, but how to survive without coffee…?
Thus, I left the ashram with a mantra in my head: when I return home I will continue this healthy lifestyle, but, but, but… Already on the plane flight home I couldn’t say no to the stewardess when she offered me coffee. It’s easy to talk while you are in the spiritual city of Rishikesh, exposed to only a few temptations. Anyway, the Beatles chose a good venue for their spiritual journey to India in the 60-s.
In India I was doing different practices, chanting, concentrating on chakras, etc. I thought this is how I can know better myself. I stood up before the sun and practiced hard. But it is not about attaining or succeeding. It is not a competition with yourself, it’s not body building. In order to become yourself you don’t need all these decorations: to become a member of a fancy yoga studio, to follow a secret path, to go to India, to become a yogi, a vegan…
All paths lead you away from yourself. You don’t need to search outside in order to find yourself. The real you is what you already are. You just need to remember yourself. Everything what you can get is not you, everything what is within you are you. No teacher is necessary.