Living in an Ashram in India (for westerners)
Ever wondered what it's like to live in an Ashram in India?
I spent 4 years in India living in Ashrams. Those years were full of meditation, chants, asanas, spiritual books, a real Guru and some wannabe gurus. Some not-so-beautiful spiritual experiences too. I will narrate my story and anecdotes in this lens and will give some advice.
In the meantime if you have any questions please feel free to post them and I will reply as soon as possible..
In this lens I also suggest books that will introduce you to the culture so your integration is smoother than if you simply arrived fresh from the West for the first time.
I'm still adding more information as the memories come to me. (Update as of September 16, 2013. I'm no longer adding more information, instead I'm writing a book where I make sure to cover all the questions I receive. For more info please Like my Facebook page and to stay updated as to the publication of my book. Update on Jan.8, 2014. My ebook A Choice, A Journey, is now available on Amazon).
Like my FB paga MariaZuzeena to stay in touch
I've also created a meditation course, in case you are interested.
I share the techniques I learned from my Master, however not the mantra which is supposed to take care of all your Karma. My Master may have been able to handle all our karmas, that's why he was a Master, but not me.
However you will learn to meditate in your inner Light and your inner Sound to start awakening your Soul-Self.
Is it as Hollywood presents it?
Did you watch the movie Eat, Pray, Love?
The Ashram where Julia Roberts' character lived during her stay is indeed very similar to an average Ashram. From the clothing it seems to have been filmed in Bombay, I didnÂ´t see that many turbans. What is the difference between Ashrams in Bombay and those in Northern India? The large number of turbans you see on the streets in Northern India, mostly. And maybe the weather, with the South being warmer. So no major differences really ;)
So yes, it is pretty much the way that movie depicted it. Details and requirements vary from Guru to Guru but in general that is what Ashram life is all about if your Guru is not in the Ashram during your visit.
That's what my Ashram life was like when foreigners were allowed to visit our Guru in India. When he was away in world tours we were left to follow our own intensive meditation schedules with seva (chores around the house) and listening to a recorded lecture given by our Guru. Otherwise, when he was in the Ashram and no visitors were allowed it was pretty quiet and with lots of contact with and personal attention from our Guru.
Meditating in the wee hours of the day
Does everyone wake up in the early morning to pray or meditate? I didnÂ´t live in the South of India but I think I would not be exaggerating if I said that all of India wakes up in the wee hours to pray. ItÂ´s hard to miss. Some temples even use loud speakers so that everyone hears their prayers, not only God ( I hope I didnÂ´t offend anyone with that joke).
So if your Ashram is close to a temple or a full boarding school chances are you wonÂ´t be able to miss the loud prayers, whether you intended to wake up early in the morning or not.
By the way, the picture shows the monks inside their moskito nets. Something so vital in India! Sometimes, when the weather allowed, we would spend the whole night outdoors, inside our moskito nets, either sitting in meditation or laying down sleeping. The only drawback is that it tends to get a little too warm inside them. They are best for cool or breezy nights.
What about clothes?
Now, clothng. My very first day in India, after having arrived the previous night, was interesting. I put on some comfotable loose cotton pants and an, also, loose comfortable top... that went as low as my waist. My waist is something I've always been proud of so I have always showed it off. Uh-uh, big NO/NO in India. Especially in an Ashram. The moment they saw me outside the building for foreigners I was asked to change into something longer than that top. I did, and later on I went to the local store to buy punjabis. The traditional clothes from... the Punjab, in northern India. Strange that saris, being as sexy as they are, are ok for the locals to wear but not for us. No biggy. Punjabis were very comfortable, both for asanas (what is commonly known as Yoga in the West) and meditation... and traveling!
Clothes from India
Introducing the comfortable punjabi!
This is the comfortable punjabi suit. The ones we wore in the Ashram were very simple. They were made out of cotton and usually pastel colors or plain white. Clothing was required to be simple and modest. A chooney was required for women when going outside of the Ashram. The chooney is the shawl like piece of clothing that covers your head (and boobs!). Remember your boobs have to be covered too to be considered modest. Yep, it was required for all women, including westerners, in my MasterÂ´s Ashrams. I mean, the punjabi was required and so was the chooney although it didn't really matter whether it covered your chest or not as long as we were in the house of the westerners. If we went outside that building we, indeed, were required to wear it the way a local. would.
The chooney wasn't so bad after all! you got used to it, plus it was useful to cover your face from the Sun.
How to find a reliable Ashram?
Google it! Sorry, just kidding.
Actually Google doesn't help that much with finding TRUE Ashrams...
The best way would be to contact a representative of the Guru in this side of the Planet. A lot of reliable Gurus have expanded their "Mission" to almost every country now.
Speaking of Google I need to warn you about all those Ashrams you find on the search engines that want to charge you thousands of dollars. As you may have already guessed it, they are there to make money. People need to make a living and I guess that is not bad however I wonder how honest is it to call them "Ashrams". Of course if what you are looking for is a resort like experience where all your needs will be taken care of and you will not be asked for anything in return other than money, by all means those places may be just what you need. As i said there is nothing wrong with them except that they are not the real experience. They have become some sort of spas or "theme" resorts.
If what you are looking for is a sincere spiritual experience you need to first find a sincere spiritual group. The best way to do that is in person, over here, in the West. Are you interested in Meditation? Visit meditation groups and ask them if they have a Guru in India. It is usually only Gurus who will have Ashrams.
The main idea of the Ashram is to be some kind of monastery which promotes an austere life, hence the no charging for you to stay at their facilities. Now you shouldn't think it is for free. In exchange, most of the time, you are asked to join a daily chat about their teachings. Remember, you are supposed to be there looking for spiritual enlightenment, not looking for cheap tourist accommodations. The rest of the day you may have it free. In the four years I spent in the Ashrams of my Master I was never asked for any money, except once, when 5 of us, westerners, stayed at a house that had recently been turned into an Asharm. I was asked to pay 600 rupies a month, which was approximately 14 dollars now a days. Not bad at all, except that later on I realized that this lady - an american who should have known better, shame on her!- that had asked for money had done it without the permission of our Guru...but then her actions are between her, our Guru and God. Yep, not because you are in an Ashram everyone will be holy, kind, nice or even truthful and sincere. But in general you will be ok. Never-the-less, lock the door to your room when you are not there, as you would do in any hotel anywhere in the world.
Another thing we had to participate in, in exchange for free food and lodging, was daily chores, like sweeping, moping, ranking the leaves, just general things to keep the house of the foreigners within our standards of cleanliness. Not cooking though, cooking was done by the locals... and boy! was it good!
My Guru, was also asking for a minimum of 8 hours a day of meditation and, of course, to attend the daily Talk called Sat Sang. That Ashram, however, was only for his followers, not for everyone. There are Ashrams that do accept anyone even if they do not follow their Guru or Leader. Some will allow you to stay for up to 3 days if you do not intend to take the initiation from the Guru. Then there are others that are more lineant and do not have so many requirements.
Here is one I know is reliable. It is not where I stayed because I stayed at my MasterÂ´s ashrams, but this one you can trust . They have an established reputation and are good people. To find out more about this group before getting there, and to contact them you can check out their website at www.rssb.org. That stands for Rhada Soami Satsang Beas, in Beas India, in the North, in the state of Punjab. The weather there is nice and cool, the extreme heat of the summer is not as extreme as in Delhi over there.
How do Ashrams survive if they do not ask for money from anyone? Have you heard of Karma? Well so have Indians... for as long as their culture has existed. Monetary donations are, as hard as it may be to believe, very popular. Everyone is aware of the benefits of sowing the type of seeds you want to reap. So even the poorest ones give financial donations.
Another source of income, if they have a Guru or focus on someone's teachings, is to sell books, tapes or CD's of those teachings. They also sell lots of pictures and some even memorabilia from the Ashram.
My Daily Schedule (now back to life in the Ashram)
Well, I loved -and still love- meditation, but others preferred a lot more free time
I went through different stages so at some times I would meditate a lot more than others.
The very first time I arrived in India there were 200 foreigners and the schedule was relaxed for everyone:
5:00AM to 7:00 AM Early morning meditation at the Meditation Hall
7:00AM to 9:00AM Breakfast at the Langar (common Kitchen) personal and community chores
9:00AM to 1:00PM Meditation at the Meditation Hall
1:00PM to 3:00PM Lunch at the Langar and personal and community chores
3:00PM to 5:00PM Meditation at the Meditation Hall
5:00PM to 6:00PM Talk with the Master
6:00PM to 7:00PM Supper
7:00PM to 10:00PM Personal time plus fit one more hour of Meditation
You did not always had to go to the Meditation Hall to meditate. You could stay in your room. However the afternoon session was the busiest since everyone wanted to get a spot as close to the front as possible, to be as close to the Master as possible.
Later on, when the foreigners "season" was over -the Master wanted to go into intensive meditation- schedules changed. And I was very glad about it.
Those of us who were allowed to remain in the Ashram were asked for a minimum of 12 hours a day of meditation. Keep in mind there was nothing else to do. Food and boarding were provided free of charge and you didn't need to work or prepare your meals so... 12 hours to do something you love was quite easy.
As my concentration improved meditation became easier and easier and suddenly I was doing 14 hours of meditation a day. Not much compared to some of the Germans who were already at 20 hours. By the way, eventually I did reach 20 hours a day and once, for a whole 7 days in a row, did 22 hours. I tend to overdo something I love. As you may already know when you meditate there are times when your consciousness shuts off and it becomes a resting period for your brain, as if you were sleeping. So when you do intensive meditation you get periods of clear awareness which is when you can enjoy your meditations with all your five physical senses and your conscious mind, and you get periods when you become unaware of your surroundings. The Master explained that in some of those periods where our conscious mind is not working our spirit may very well be enjoying the subtle spiritual realms, which is food for our soul and rest for our brain and mind.
Meditation has amazing results. Intensive meditation is unbelievable. The changes in your personality come automatically, one only notices them when one remembers how one used to react at a given situation and how, when facing that same situation again, you can't care or bother less. It's so much freedom from our own ego selves!
There are other changes too with intensive meditation. For example not only do the visions with your third eye become more and more clear, and at some point like motion movies but they also begin to include sensations and, at some point, I could perceive, smell, the astral aroma of our Master. Really, intensive meditation opens doors to unimaginable things, well, at least it did for me. And nope, I wasn't losing it, I was becoming strangely aware of things that I didn't even know existed, like astral aromas.
Food and small details that remind you you actually ARE in India
Lovely, a magical Country.
Vegetarian food. The food was free in the Ashram. Was it good? Ya betcha! So tasty! Indian food is so good. By the way, don't fret. Indians know that westerners are not used to too many spices so they adjust their food. And it is still very good. Bengan (eggplant) is very popular, Rajma (kidney beans) too, in the south they prepare them sweet, so if you are used to Mexican beans don't be too sure you know what the beans you just ordered will taste like. Bhindi (okra) is so well prepared and tasty with tomato and onion. Karella, something totally unknown to us in the west was one of my favourite dishes, very bitter, grilled, but it was so appealing to my taste buds. Ok, I need to stop it here with the food selection because my mouth has started to water and there are no Indian restaurants around!
Ashrams that are prepared to receive foreigners, even if they are for free, take good care in cleanliness of the kitchen and when preparing meals, so the chances of you getting sick from Ashram food are very slim.
Did you ever imagine that you were going to drink any other type of milk that wasn't coming from a cow? You get to drink buffalo milk! Cows, the typical black and white or brown and white cows we have in this hemisphere are a total luxury there. You get to drink buffalo milk. What does it taste like? Good! Yes, it is different from the cow milk, especially in the smell but the taste is good. I remember when I returned I was actually missing it.
Now for the details that remind you you are in India, well, just looking at the window and seeing people, all women are wearing bindis, the dot on their foreheads that reminds them of the third eye. And, if you are in Delhi or the Northern areas of India you will also see a lot of turbans. Not so much so in the South though.
Animals you will encounter on the streets: buffaloes, goats, camels, elephants, monkeys and in the country roads, wild peacocks on the trees. It was quite the scenery!
I remember once, in the busy and transited streets of Delhi, we were in the car on an fast speed Avenue and suddenly something crossed the street at a very high speed. From the corner of my eye I saw some kind of a bulge. When I turned my face to check out what it was it turned out to be a monkey! Can you imagine? A monkey crossing an Avenue in the middle of the City!
I also saw, right downtown Delhi, elephants carrying wood, goats roaming around happily, and, on the highways, wild peacocks on the electricity wires!!
What about the different "type" of people you meet there?
Does the movie The X-Men tell you anything?
Ashrams attract all sorts of people all of them with one interest in particular: Spirituality. So, what kinds of backgrounds do they have? They are almost never beginners. Most of them have already tried different paths, some have tried... quite bizarre things.
There was once a european guy who arrived because he was visiting different Ashrams and attending the talks of different Gurus. He had quite a gift. He could see stuff from the Astral plane. What kind of stuff? Get ready. He told us that with every Guru he visited he could see, while they were giving a talk, a beam of golden light coming from above and entering via their head. However, when they spoke they each emanated different colors from their mouth. He also told us that our Master was the only one he had seen who emanated the same golden color from his mouth while speaking. He stayed with us a couple of weeks and he then kept on with his path through the world. That was not all he saw, he told us that while we were gathered chating, he could see the different deities like Krishna walking among us. Wacko, uh? But that was not all. One day he went singing in the forest and he said he ran into a demon... the demon didn't like him singing and stepped on his toe. His toe was fine when he returned to the Ashram and a couple of days later his toenail fell off...
There was another lady who had gone on a tour to south India and had seen a lot. Somehow, while she was with us in the Ashram she would behave ... how can I explain it? She would be talking to you calmly while holding her cup of coffee in her hand and suddenly her arm would throw away the cup against the floor. She would then explain it had not been her doing that, that someone else had. Go figure.
Then there were the ones with "entities". Remember the movie The Exorcism? Oh well, I got to witness a couple of those. This doesn't mean all ashrams have them, I do not wish to scare you away. Even if you found some of those you shouldn't think they go around trying to chase souls. No, they stick to themselves. Most of the time they are absolutely normal people, it's just when they have those episodes that their facial features, voice and behaviour changes. Once again, they won't go after you. But just as you would behave with anyone who is considered unpredictable it is sensical to keep your distance from them while they are not ... behaving like a regular human.
You would see things you never thought were doable. People making noises like real animals, you would not believe it was a human making that noice. Then there were the jumpers. I never witnessed those but I was told they would be sitting cross legged and suddenly would jump as high as one or one and a half meters.
One day, I was on the roof of one of the 3 stories buildings of the section for foreigners in the Ashram, lost in the horizon admiring an Eastern sun set. Suddenly something caught my eye. Not too far away, on a roof too, of what seemed like a 3 story building -at least it was a two story building of that I am positive- there was a tall and skinny guy making strange movements. It seemed like some kind of primitive dance, the movements were not gracious at all, they were fast and sudden, with straight arms and rapid movements of the head. He was also jumping up and down, abruptly turning his head and then continuing to dance. I was in the middle of dozens of inner questions wondering what he... oh! f***!! He is committing suicide!!! OMG he just jumped off the roof!!! OMG I have to tell som..... Uh?? He just landed and jumped up again so high he almost reached the roof again??!! and then landed on the ground and ... jumped again??
Jump by jump he was gaining less height until the buildings between where he was and I was didn't allow me to see him again. I had to run and tell someone! Maybe the guy was hurt. "Oh no, don't worry about him. He has entities. He does those things" was the answer I got from the lady who had been living in the Ashram for more than 10 years. What?? I was dumbstruck and went back to my room trying to digest the experience.
Enough about wierdos. Here is the twilight zone stuff
Actually, who isn't a wierdo living in the Twilight Zone!
Personally I had one weird experience with my Master himself. We were in intensive meditaion in the skirts of the Himalayan mountains. Every day we had a talk given by him. Some times it was at the fields and sometimes it was on the roof of the building for foreigners. This particular day it was at the roof. It was hay fever season and my nose was very senstive. No antihistaminics near those mountains. So I went to the roof where the people were gathering. We were supposed to meditate before the talk and our Master was giving meditation help. I sat and began with my meditation. Then my allergic reaction started. It was one of those sneezing attacks. Never ending sneezing attacks. Geez, I was feeling terrible, my nose was running, my forehead felt heavy and I was ready to leave in order not to disturb the talk but we had been instructed that under no circumstances were we supposed to miss any talk. So I stayed. Every one was quiet, meditating, you could only hear my sneezes every 15 seconds or so. But I stayed, meditating with a runny nose and a soaking wet kleenex. Suddenly I felt the urge to wipe my nose and upper lip, but my skin was already too sensitive from so much blowing my nose that I dismissed the urge arguing, to my self, that it didn't matter because no one could see me anyway, since everyone was meditating. All of a sudden I feel a big hand on my head slide down my face and, yep, down my snotty nose and upper lip too all the way to my chin. The hand remained covering as much as possible of my chin, mouth and nose area. I was so scared! not to mention embarrassed once I realized it was the Master. No wonder I got the urge to wipe my face! I guess something in me knew it was going to be needed soon. Great experience as far as paying attention to my intuition.
When he removed his hand the sneezing was gone only to return once I steped one foot, yes, one foot outside that building after the meditation and talk were over. Cool, uh?
I also met women who experienced astral projection easily. Apparently there was a lot going on in the astral plae in the Ashram. Stuff only those involved in those projections knew. Even in Ashrams you have those who are not so open minded and no one likes to be considered a wierdo. I guess we don't realize that just by going to Ashrams we are considered wierdos by many!
Western Women in Ashrams in India
This is a common question
I have realized a lot of people wonder what it is like to live in an Ashram for a Western woman. For me, and all the other women in the Ashrams of our Guru, it was life as usual. As I mentioned earlier we, westerners, were always kept together, on purpose. Our Master was aware of the cultural differences, of the abismal cultural differences in some cases -an Indian woman would never sunbathe topless for example, especially not while in an Ashram- and so, for the sake of the Indians -men and women- and ours we were all told to stay among ourselves, especially in the Ashram grounds.
Some of the habits of the Indians could also be somehow... challenging for us to ... let's say ignore. Bodily functions, personal space, volume and tone of voice while speaking are just some among them. Plus our habits too, could throw an Indian who has never traveled abroad off balance. What to us is simple privacy could be taken as selfishness by them.
So basically, as a woman you will do well if you stay to yourself and yours. As anywhere else in the world, not everyone is well intentioned and that is something any woman -or man for that matter- from any country visiting any foreign country should always be aware of.
If you are going to wear Indian clothes make sure to wear them properly. If physically you do not have the type of an India woman, that is if you do not have olive skin or look kinda oriental, they will be more tolerant with you and your habits because it will be quite clear to everyone you are not Indian. This is a double edge sword because, due to Hollywood, in India it is belived that we, westerner women are "easy" to take to bed, and try they will! Nothing to worry about, seriously, it's just annoying, but that's all. The limits of Indian men are very narrow so they don't dare to do much. For example, it is not allowed to any man to touch a woman in public, not even husband and wife are supposed to hold hands in public!
If you have olive skin you'd bettter make sure that you are following all Indian protocols! They will take you for one of them and will certainly expect you to behave as such. Again this has it's advantages too ;)
Thank you for reading my lense, I will continue to add to my story as I have time and as I remember more things.
Nice people make a nice world, confused people...
What prevails out there?
(Updated Feb. 10, 2013) I have been going around on the internet finding out about othersÂ´ experiences in Ashrams.
I have noticed most go for a couple of weeks, some for months. I have seen people, who don't seem very happy but own nice websites with lots of also seemingly-not-very-happy followers, trash others who are asking for help. I wish they had arrived to my article before landing in those webpages, hopefully they continued with their search and found this article.
Some were asking if it is possible for such a spiritual place, without charging, to exist and the answer is yes. They do exist and they are usually the only truly spiritual places. Now-a-days, due to the huge need for places of peace and solace so many people are trying to make a living with spirituality, and some, a very good living. There is nothing wrong with making a living or a very good living, for that matter, the only problem I see is that money corrupts and corrodes. The ego can't let go of money so it does whatever it takes to get it until it reaches the ethical barrier of the person. Now it truly depends on the ethics of the person to put a stop to the ego and it's unethical ways. It is for each one of us to judge the ethics of the person we want to follow. In my opinion, and in my experience, spirituality and money should not mix.
In my internet search this morning I landed on this forum where "spiritual leaders", people who were actually making a living teaching spirituality, were being very critical of this person who wanted to find an ashram in India to try to meditate and find peace. They insisted he could find peace and meditation retreats at home. Sure they can, but the same as a traditional ashram? possibly yes, they are extremely rare, but yes, they can be found. But their insistence sounded more like they would like him to go to their meditation retreats where they do charge and it also felt like they had some kind of resentment towards someone who happily wanted to pursue his dreams. Bizarre. Beware of the teacher you choose, if you are capable of going beyond them they may turn into foe instead of the friend they pretended to be at first.
When you are really searching for something keep on searching until you either find it or end up creating it yourself. Never ever settle for less, and if circumstances force you to, for any reason, simply put your search on hold, but never give up.
Q&A: How do you feel about others supporting you in an Ashram?
"Darkness can not comprehend the Light"
Nothing, absolutely nothing is free in this Creation but God and spirituality practiced sincerely by each individual.
Indeed money from others is needed for someone to stay without any monetary cost at an Ashram. The real Ashram experience teaches many lessons like, generosity, compassion, kindness, detachment, sincerity. Why? Because for someone to experience living a place where they are accepted and have their basic needs taken care of (lodging and food) teaches, the receiver, that there is someone kind, generous and compassionate enough to have donated money for a stranger to benefit. That there is someone detached enough to not care who his money is used for. That there is someone who sincerely trusts God and the use He will allow for his money.
It is said that we can not give what we don't have and have not received. Once you have received kindness, generosity, sincerity,compassion and detachment you will become kinder, more generous, sincere, detached and compassionate and you will also be able to share all that with others who, in turn, will receive them and will be able to share them with others, who in turn....
Besides, karma comes into place. The donor usually has some extra money he can let go of for someone else to benefit, and the ashram meditator (because that is what you are asked to be in a real ashram) will generate extra spiritual energy he can also let go of in exchange for the "cost" of staying in the Ashram and benefit those who contributed with either money, time, effort or in other ways. The exchange of energy, in any of itÂ´s forms (money, spiritual energy, time, etc) is automatically taken care of by Karma. LetÂ´s keep in mind God created this benevolent Law which ultimate goal is to help everyone evolve in their spirituality.
So if anyone wants to tell you you are a __________ (whatever they want to call you) for wanting to live for free at the expense of someone else in an Ashram that person is only showing they have not yet understood karma and they do not know much about spirituality.
Now, if you can afford to contribute with money, out of your own free will, towards your food go ahead. Just calculate how much they would spend in food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for you and feel free to donate. It will be appreciated since that will allow them to use the money of other donors for food for someone who may really not be able to affortd theirs.
God truly takes care of each and every tiny little detail of His Creation, so relax and enjoy your real Ashram experience.
Q&A: What about Ashram Etiquette
Some people say it's hard to adjust to
I got asked this question recently. I can tell you that some ashrams are as strict as monasteries. It depends on the Master or Guru and the discipline he requires his guests to follow. You usually go to an ashram to become more spiritual so activities like partying, socializing, drinking, smoking (anything) and sex are forbidden. My Guru was one of those so, yes, I was celibate for 6 years of my life.
Some ashrams also require women to be in a section only for women, even when having lunch or attending the public talks. So, as westerners, I can imagine some people may have a hard time adjusting to these kinds of things.
Q&A "I would like to do this myself. Who was your Guru? Where did he have his Ashrams?"
Unfortunately my Guru has passed away. I would like to help you in your search for a Guru but, to be honest, after my Guru passed away (the only Guru I trusted as a true spiritual teacher) I have not felt the need to search for another Guru thus IÂ´m not able to tell who is a true spiritual Master and who is in it just for the perks. There was a successor to my Guru but I don't quite feel like he has the level of Mastership of Meditation and the Spiritual Science so I can not recommend him. However, what I can tell you is that each Master teaches a different path even if there are several teaching the same meditation technique. So my advice would be to find out what you want to get from a Meditation or a spiritual practice. Then search for several organizations that teach this. Contact them and ask your questions, especially if you would like to spend some time in their Ashram in India. Then decide which one would give you what you want. By the way, although you need to be open minded, please also be smart and if something feels wrong for you don't do it (like meditating too much or any other thing). And if possible meet the people of his organization in the City where you live so you can test the practices -and the followers- for a while before making the big decision of going to India.
In my case left India because of the politics, because the Master no longer had much time to spend with us foreigners and because I had reached a point where I felt my own inner guidance system very strong. What is that inner guidance? What most of us call God. I have felt very strong in my spiritual path for a while so I have been "flying solo" for a while now.
To answer your second question: my Master had Ashrams in Delhi, Chandigar, Sai, Panipat and Nalagarh just to mention the Ashrams I stayed at. He also had some in the South of India.
I wish you all the best in your Spiritual search :)
What Ashrams do I recommend in 2013 (and also 2014)
I would love to help
I receive a lot of inquiries regarding Ashrams I recommend to go to. As much I would love to help I canÂ´t. I left India back in 1998 and no longer have current information. I can definitely say that going to Rishikesh is a good start. Rishikesh has always been the Ashram City of India.
Dharam Sala, where the Dalai Lama has his permanent residence, is also very popular. I don't know whether there are ashrams there or not but since it attracts a lot of westerners the community is prepared to welcome them.
Keep in mind that there are all kinds of Ashrmas, those that require you to follow a certain leader, those that charge as if they were luxury hotels, those that are open to anyone and everyone. A real ashram should not charge you or may be will charge something just symbolic. You could always just arrive in Rishikesh in a hotel, and start your search there. Maybe visit 5 different Ashrams, ask for their requirements and choose the one that best suits your needs. Compare facilities, cleanliness, maybe talk to one or two foreigners hosted there...
Or talk to your meditation or buddhist group closest to your area, they may have groups in India too.
If you do decide to go to India please make sure to have the telephone numbers of your embassy in Delhi, just in case...
I wish you all the best in your Spiritual Quest.
Stay safe in India!
Always travel safe and travel smart. Remember to take the telephone number of your Embassy in New Delhi. I can't stress this enough.
Drink only bottled water when you are in the street or travelling. Do not drink from public water fountains.
Enjoy your adventure!
Going to an Ashram as a teenager, debate!
My first visit to an Ashram (in MÃ©xico, where I was living at that age) was when I was 19, the second when I was 21. I arrived for the first time in India 5 days after turning 22. If you had a young kid, 18, wants to leave school and you (of course) to follow a Guru and move into an Ashram in India indefinitely, what would you say to him/her?
If one of your precious youngsters who just became of age suddenly told you he was dropping school, saying goodbye to you and selling all his stuff to follow a Guru in India, would you support him/her?
By all means! It is exploring, adventure and travel that will make you a grown up.
Just to keep my lens current
Nov. 28, 2013.
Lately Google changed it's algorithm to determine what content is most valuable.
During the past 2 years since I wrote my lens it had consistently gone up in rank until this latest change. Now, I need to constantly add new content to it in order to keep it from going down in rank so I will add new information as frequently as possible but not more than once a day. It will be mostly about my recent experiments with awareness and consciousness. So stay tuned!
Nov 29. Finally! Today I start a period of 4 weeks devoted only to writing my book. I hope to be done by the end of this year so I can submit it to an agent very soon. I should also have time to continue with my self-hypnosis sessions so I will have interesting stuff to post. See you tomorrow.
December 2nd, 2013. Well, this section may end up being the diary of the writing of my book. Although I had already written 27,000 words (aiming for 60,000) today I managed to write the outline of the whole story. Due to the topic and to the depth of the spiritual experiences I'm concerned it may look like a fiction book! ... On second thoughts I think that's rather funny... =) Anyway, it is what it is and it is all true.
Dec, 7th. This lens will soon be substituted by an awesome book!
Dec. 10tham. Yesterday was a great day for my book. Yet so far I have only written about my first trip to India. I still need to mention a break I had back at home, and then my second trip. I have been asked what life after the ashram is like. I need to mention that too because, the path to God doesn't end until... you merge with him in full awareness =) So I'm getting there =)
dec. 10th, pm. Today I finished telling the story of my first trip. Tomorrow I start with the 2 1/2 years at home, before my next trip.
Dec 12th. The third part is over! On Monday I will start part 4 and with some luck I should be done by Friday. After Friday it will be a matter or revising the whole manuscript again, and possibly start inserting the pictures.
Dec. 19th. It's done! Today is the day I finished writing my story. Now I need to revise it, fix what needs to be fixed, select the photos I'm going to include and insert them. I'm working on getting a book cover for my ebook. If the agent doesn't reply to me I will be publishing, with some luck, at the latest in January!
Dec. 22. I've got the ebook cover! With some luck tomorrow i will finish the last revision of my manuscript. Then I will give it to my boyfriend for him to read it and tell me of anything that might need fixing. The thing is that he is Swedish so for both of us English is our second language. It won't be a Shakespearean piece but the story is what I want to share.
Jan 6, 2014. So my book was born with the year. Amazon says it went live on January 2nd, but I uploaded it on the 1st. I'm happy that project is over... Now I'm looking forward to the reviews =)
Thank you for reading my thoughts all the way here. Please let me know if there was a particular question that you were looking for and didn't find the answer in my lens.
Share your comments and thoughts either here or at my FB page. It may take me a little while to get back to you but I DO get back to everyone.