Hello everyone. This is the fourth post of a series. If you are a first time visitor, I recommend you read the other three to get a better understanding of the topics I am sharing with you. It’s ok if you don’t want to read them now, you can go on with this post, you will still be able to follow my story.
So next time we (me and my husband) went to the ashram (Thapovanam Siddhashramam, for details, visit http://www.nirvanayogaglobal.com ) all prepared to stay there for ten days and learn as much as we can.
So far, I had only seen the main hall of the ashram where yoga practices and meditation are taught. This time we got to see the whole premises and I was surprised to see that the ashram was quite small but still it accommodated more than 30 people at a time. Everyone lived in perfect harmony and co-operation and each one made the most out of the smaller spaces they were allocated.
We were given a small and perfectly clean room which occupied two small cots and a table which left a lot of space to move around. I was surprised to see how the simplicity of the room made it look more spacious than it was. Later I found out that two disciples were living in that room and they happily moved out to a much smaller room sharing it with its occupants in order to give us a room to stay. We felt a bit guilty and wanted to apologize for the inconvenience but they brushed it off like it was nothing, like giving us the room was the most natural thing to do.
The people in the ashram always surprised me. I have never before seen such a bunch of good-hearted and kind people together in one place. They always put other people’s needs before theirs.
I started to observe them and wanted to know how they behaved while away from the eyes of people visiting the ashram. And I found out that they behaved the same way with those visiting the ashram as well as among themselves. They didn’t have different faces as we did – a face for the public, a face for our friends, a face for our workplace, a face for our family and a very different face from all this when we are with ourselves.
The more I started to observe them, the more my curiosity grew.
The most frequent thing I noticed was that they all smiled so generously and with kindness. The smile always reached their eyes and you can’t help yourself from smiling back.
I observed that at times when they were interacting among themselves, they always spoke to each other with respect. But they also made jokes about each other and were laughing together. I noticed that they took everything with a tinge of humor and always found the funny side of any circumstance. But they never made fun of others or said anything that would hurt other people’s feelings.
The next thing I noticed was their patience. No one seemed to lose their temper ever, even among themselves I never saw anyone raising their voice at others. No one was considered superior or inferior. Everyone, even a child, was treated with equal respect.
We were given a schedule for ten days which included yoga practices in the early morning and evening, meditation and araiki(a self-healing energy technique) in between, and an hour of prayer in the evening. We were given simple yet delicious vegetarian meals and were allotted an hour of rest after lunchtime. We were not supposed to use phones unless to take an urgent call. It was a very refreshing experience. Ten days full of me-time, away from the usual hustle and bustle of life.
We were taught yoga by one disciple, meditation by another and araiki by a third one. And two others took care of our meals and other needs. There were times when I couldn’t follow an instruction and I would do it wrong again and again & they had to repeat it a lot. But they all did it with such patience and love that it always used to touch my heart.
At first, I thought all these disciples were like monks, who had left everything else behind in pursuit of spirituality. So I had a thought in my mind that maybe it’s easy for them to be happy and peaceful all the time as there is nothing much to worry about. Everything is left behind, right?
But then I was greatly surprised to find out that most of them lead a life much like ours. They went to work. They had a family. They had a spouse, children and old parents to take care of. They never left anything behind. Most of the disciples in the ashram stayed with their family and went to work. And many disciples lived outside the ashram. They stayed in their home with their family and spent time in the ashram during the daytime.
This is one of the main things that Guru Madhavacharyan (The founder of Nirvana Yoga, for details, visit http://www.nirvanayogaglobal.com) taught his disciples. Normal life and spirituality are not two different things. You don’t have to leave anything to pursue spirituality.
But then I wondered, how can they stay immune to the emotions that bind you to people in your life? How can they stay immune to the stress and tensions brought by the jobs and responsibilities in life? They had to find the money for their children’s education or to pay mortgages or afford the medical expenses of their parents or in-laws. They are exposed to the same kind of things we are exposed to in our daily life and yet it doesn’t affect them. They somehow found a way to always stay unaffected, happy and peaceful amidst all the chaos of life.
I asked Guruji about it one evening when we were given time with Him, to discuss our progress with the schedule. Guruji very kindly explained that many of His disciples are yogis. Yogis are people with a certain level of spiritual elevation that comes from a regular practice of the right kind of yoga and meditation. The spiritual elevation transforms them into a state of higher consciousness. They have higher wisdom and understand all the mysteries of life. This enables them to see and understand everything as it is and be a witness of everything that’s happening around them but stay unaffected by it. This enables them to live among people or family members who are completely immersed in the material aspects of life.
And the highly advanced system of Nirvana Yoga enables Guruji’s disciples to quickly ascend to the state of a yogi. Guruji further explained that there is a common misconception that anybody who practices or teaches yoga is a yogi. It’s a misunderstanding. The term yogi doesn’t mean a person who practices yoga. He explained that this misconception raised from the fact that in the ancient times when yoga was an unadulterated spiritual science, anyone who practiced it regularly with unwavering dedication could automatically ascend to a yogic state due to the energy processes that occur in a person while practicing yoga. But in today’s world yoga has lost its essence. Now a person may practice it for years deriving only physical benefits from it. His spiritual status will not progress.
Once you become a yogi, you will find yourself in a state of liberation. You liberate yourself from the clutches of the material world that bring a lot of sufferings and sorrows to the people living in it. You can still live in the same place, have the same life but inside you, everything will be different. You can still enjoy everything life has to offer, but the presence or absence of them will not bother your peace of mind. Gaining something will not make you overjoyed, and losing something or someone will not make you melancholic. You will never be hysterical, nor will you be depressed.
A yogi is always in perfect balance. A yogi’s peace of mind never leaves him/her no matter the circumstance. A yogi still fulfills the responsibilities towards his family, friends and the society yet nothing can distract a yogi from the path towards his/ her destiny.
In my mind, I thought “Wow! Impressive! I would also like to become a yogi. It sounds super cool”. Reading my mind, Guruji kindly smiled and said “Anyone can become a yogi. But it’s not an easy thing to be achieved alone. A person undergoes a lot of transformations during the process. Its a process of turning a caterpillar into a butterfly. One will need help from others who have already walked the path to help them understand all that’s happening with them and successfully overcome the steps.”
I smiled in return. I knew what Guruji meant. I made a note to myself that I will try to become a yogi.
The following days I practiced everything with a newfound determination. I found out that not all those who visited the ashram were disciples and not all disciples were yogis. There were many among the disciples who were still in their efforts towards becoming a yogi. This gave me more inspiration. I found myself subconsciously imitating the behavior of the yogis of the ashram. It was easy then because I was in the ashram doing all the practices of Nirvana Yoga which always left me in a calm and peaceful state. I wondered if I can keep up behaving like them after I went back home.
We left the ashram on the eleventh day morning with a heavy heart. We didn’t want to leave the place. But we had to go back. We were both silent throughout the entire journey back home. My husband has to return to China to pursue his higher education in Modern Medical Science. It means he can’t visit ashram for the next six months after which he will return to India for a short vacation and go back again.
Over the next few days, I found myself continuing to behave the way the yogis of ashram did. (Well! Most of the time. I still got irritated by certain things). But still, it was a huge transformation that happened to me. All my relationships were getting better. Our marriage too. Ever since we started visiting the ashram we have not been fighting with each other and treated each other with more respect. My in-laws seemed to be more impressed by me. I heard them fondly mentioning me over the phone to other relatives. My job atmosphere got better. Everyone found me an easy person to interact with. I gained more popularity.
But I knew I still had a long way to go. Now I had a secret aim in my mind- to become a yogi.
(To be continued…)