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Living in an Ashram in India (for westerners)

Updated on June 26, 2015

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

https://www.facebook.com/MariaZuzeena

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 didn´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.

monks meditating
monks meditating

Meditating in the wee hours of the day

Does everyone wake up in the early morning to pray or meditate? I didn´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. It´s hard to miss. Some temples even use loud speakers so that everyone hears their prayers, not only God ( I hope I didn´t offend anyone with that joke).

So if your Ashram is close to a temple or a full boarding school chances are you won´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.

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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 Master´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.

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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 Master´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!!

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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.

type=Master giving Satsang in the Ashram of the mountains
type=Master giving Satsang in the Ashram of the mountains

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 others´ 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 it´s forms (money, spiritual energy, time, etc) is automatically taken care of by Karma. Let´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.

Public spiritual talks
Public spiritual talks

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 I´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 can´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 México, 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.

By all means! It is exploring, adventure and travel that will make you a grown up.

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    • Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      Only if they exhibited the level of maturity to truly understand the implications of their decision. Are they just seeking adventure or truly seeking our Father. Some are ready for the path and some are just looking for a different experience. JimHouston33

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      yes, that sounds like what i want to do!

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      no. youngsters often don't know what they want. so i would try to make some obstacles on their way.

      ONLY IF ONE TRULY WANTS TO FOLLOW THAT PATH, WILL BE ABLE TO GO PAST THE OBSTACLES AND CONTINUE THEIR JOURNEY TO INDIA

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Definitely!!! It would be a very proud moment.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      yes

    • Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Lisa, Sorry, I don't know of any such place. Maybe buddhist groups may know of suchlike communities. I know of some that were trying this many years ago but unfortunately the parents were not being responsible enough for their kids and they (the children) became a bigger and bigger issue as they grew up almost without discipline and by the time enter prepuberty they were totally out of control so the project was abandoned.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I went to India when I was 21, and brought my 18 year old sister with me. I'm still surprised my parents allowed it! We didn't stay in an Ashram though, and I have been longing to go back ever since. Now, I'm 33 and married with two young children. Do Ashrams take families? I'm talking about the spiritual ones, not the resorts. In my mind, there might be other families either foreign or local, whose kids play together on the ashram's grounds while the adults practice yoga and meditate. Of course, as parents, we would be available and attentive to our children's needs. But in my ideal setup, kids would be part of the whole picture... if they made a sound or needed something, it would not be seen as an interruption but as part of the process of raising aware people in our community. They would see and be exposed to spirituality from early on and gain an interest that way. Know of anything like this? Where to start looking?

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      do it

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      As long is that what we want...I don't really give a damn

    • ocoyorg 4 years ago

      If I had a boy he would have grown up hearing about India, its wonder, its miseries, its holiness. If he didn't have a wish to go (and a hesitancy) by the time he was 12, I would think I had failed to communicate. I would of course advise and advise, and be anxious for his well-being, but would be thrilled at the prospects that he might experience half the wonders I did. I experienced the spiritual India that was, and is, for those who truly seek it. Anyone seeking comfort, quiet, privacy, or logic when traveling to India should give up their plans now.

    • Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Rachel, Here are my answers to your questions:

      1) No. Usually all ashrams allow couples.

      2) Usually yes, staying in an Ashram qualifies for a student visa because you are going to study yoga in any of its´ forms (meditation, assanas, mantras, etc). If the Ashram can write an invitation letter for you to show at the Embassy it would be even better, unless you have an actual letter from the school you will attend. Unfortunately I do not have information about schools that teach Chinese medicine in India. It is truly a pity that the West puts so much value on certificates. I know that 99% of the yoga teachers in the West, including some BIG names have a very wrong approach to the actual, original YOGA practice. I am amazed at the fortunes they make and when it comes to basic yogic principles they are totally lost! Oh well, to each their own. That said I think you have a great plan. Get a certificate on something, practice spirituality and then you will be able to teach it (spirituality) from your own experience. If when you speak of Chinese medicine you mean homeopathic medicine I think you should be able to find a bunch of schools in India. The good part about aiming for enlightenment is that there is always room for more! until you become one with God. At the same time that you teach you will learn. You have no idea of how much you can learn from anyone! Also keep reading. To me the search for God is like a puzzle, you find bits and pieces here and there until eventually you have the whole puzzle (God).

      3) Advice for a couple who will spend a few years in India....hhmmm.... Be prepared because India is VERY different from the West in many ways. So be ready to be flexible when needed and not to yield when it comes to important matters like cleanliness in the environment and food especially. Make sure you know the telephone number to your Embassy including 24 hours emergency telephone number to reach someone in case you need it (usually all embassies have one). I never did but it felt very good to know i had it.

      Also, depending on the type of visa you get you may or may not need to leave the country to renue it.

      Oh yes, foreigners are required to register with the local police. Make sure the Ashram gets you registered. And if you move to a new City you need to get registered again.

      4) As far as laptops go I think it´s best to bring something small that you can easily carry without people knowing you have something valuable. There is a lot of poverty in India. Watch out for thieves. In one of the Ashrams I stayed my room was broken in, not by a local but by a fellow westerner that was staying in the same Ashram. Needless to say she run away after stealing my money...

      I wish you all the best in your spiritual quest!

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi thank you so much for your willingness to give advice, please if you can help me I would be extremely grateful. Ok so I have several questions...

      1. Would there be any problems staying with my husband in an Ashram?

      2. We plan on exploring an Ashram for a few months (would that count for a student visa?), and then enrolling in a school that teaches ayurvedic medicine, yoga certification in several styles, and that offers some sort of meditation therapy courses, (we want to open a retreat back home). Also we wanted to find a place that might teach Chinese medicine as well (not the best place I know but why we're there why not right?). Do you have any advice on schooling in India? I would love to just stay reaching for enlightenment my whole life, but if I want to spread health and peace, I unfortunately need certificates to do it.

      3. Also just any other pertinent advice you might be able to give a couple that will be in India for a few years..

      4. and on that note I don't want to bring anything too big or valuable, but do you recommend taking a laptop with sattelite internet in case of emergencies where one might need to get in quick contact?

      Sorry for all the questions. Thank you so much in advance for any help you might be able to give me.

      Love

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Great! I'll come with you.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      YES. An ashram is a great place to explore yourself , something needed for the youth today - http://newgen.nithyananda.org/about-newgen/avatars...

    • nikitakapoor 5 years ago

      Great lens! (:

      I personally feel that books gives you knowledge but not experience! Traveling is a great way to do that!

      P.S. Checkout my Kerala lens https://hubpages.com/travel/what-to-see-in-kerala and do let me know how do you feel about it! Thanks in advance! (:

    • JaneEyre9999 5 years ago

      Oh, yes, we are big travellers in our family and open to all beliefs.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      yes but i donno why ????? :s

    • mrducksmrnot 5 years ago

      For sure. Having traveled all over the world myself I learned more about the different cultures and way of living quickly. The world is a wonderful place if one just adjusts to the culture and way of life. Yep I've been to India and for those who don't know the Guru is the leader/teacher or one of many with Wisdom. Great lens for sure.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I say yes! Well, I'd try to get the youngster to finish high school at least, but then I'd be completely supportive of him/her moving to India to follow a Guru. It's a very different experience that if he/she wants to experience, who am I to say no?

    • Maria-Zuzeena 6 years ago

      This is actually what i did, and it became one of the most important experiences that shaped my life so yep, if I had kids I would definitely support them in their exploring of the world and of themselves.

    Whaaaaat?! No way hun, look we have everything planned for your college and, well, just follow our advice and you'll do great. We know best.

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      • Jogalog 4 years ago

        I'd be terrified! I think travelling is great for youngsters but I wouldn't be able to stop myself from worrying.

      • the777group lm 6 years ago

        From my experience, I'd say "No" - if my opinion was asked for.

        If they had a strong background of physical / Spiritual discipline (e.g. Martial Arts) or discipline in the arts (e.g. piano / dance) or even Social Empathy (e.g. working for the poor) that might be different.

        Until they offered me that type of proof, I'd say that their ashram adventure would probably be misdirected sexual energy. I'd recommend doing their studies and jumping into a discipline to take up every moment of their day.

        If they still wanted to go to a guru at 25, when their hormones had settled and they had gained their own respect and achieved some degree of self knowledge, I would probably then say "Go".

      Random Thoughts

      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.

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          the777group lm 6 years ago

          A wonderful lens and a great story - that could easily have been my path.

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          the777group lm 6 years ago

          Thumbs up and Lensrolled to my Understanding Chakras lens.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 6 years ago

          @the777group lm: Thanks for your comments! Why was it not your path? what stopped you? You sound like you would have loved it. It*s never too late! :)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 6 years ago

          @the777group lm: Thanks! Did you check out the one about my Golden Aura? you will see some interesting pics about the results on the 6th chakra from keeping a mantra :)

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          everythingsbaby 6 years ago

          thank you for your great experiences writing, i found this very interesting

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          Maria-Zuzeena 6 years ago

          @everythingsbaby: I'm very glad you liked it! Thanks for reading it and letting me know what you thought about it.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 6 years ago

          @anonymous: Unfortunately my Guru has passed away. The present Guru is Baljit Singh, you can find out more information about the organization here http://www.santmat.net/who_is_sant_baljit_singh.ph... I have not been in touch with them for many years now. I have felt very strong in my spiritual path following the inner guidance God provides so I have been flying solo for a while now. My Master had Ashrams in Delhi, Chandigar, Sai, Panipat, Nalagarh to mention only a few of those in India. I hear the current Master has 2 Ashrams in the US and a few in some other countries. Let me know if you need more info. I wish you all the best in your Spiritual search :)

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Hello, My name is Emilie Welch, I am very interested in living at an ashram for a few months....I am a uni student and have found that I am at constant conflict with my own heart and mind. I am wondering who i need to contact in order to secure accom at an ashram asap?

          I am very happy to have found this page as i was greatly overwhelmed by the google results

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Emily, I am really sorry about my very late reply :(

          I get asked this question quite often and I would love to have the right answer for everyone. You'll see, ashrams have different requirements and different purposes. Now a day there are so many people, in India even, who have started to charge western prices at their "Ashrams".

          Originally Ashrams were places were followers of a guru would go to immerse themselves in the doctrine of that Guru. They were like monasteries and food and boarding were for free, in exchange for a few requirements which could include being assigned some chores for the community ( like cleaning the floors, helping in the kitchen, etc), attending a daily talk called Satsang (the talk can be called different ways though) and, of course, meditation or practicing whatever spiritual discipline the Guru sugested.

          There are also some ashrams which, in exchange for a small amount of money, they will host you and you will have access to the talks given by the leader. I have done some research and, without having any ties to them or being able to personally recommend them, I can tell this one seems trust worthy http://www.anandprakashashram.com/Programs.html#re... Although they do charge some money for your stay I think it is pretty reasonable. They say they charge $14 dollars for accommodation, meals and yoga, unfortunately they do not specify the length of time covered although I am assuming it is per day, and this price is very different from the $2,000.00 USD some want to charge per month. I also found this page http://www.bharatonline.com/uttarakhand/rishikesh/... and this one http://www.yoga-centers-directory.net/india/rishik... I believe the latter one will recommend Ashrams on the expensive side though.

          There are also ashrams in the US and almost in any country now. There are world wide organizations that will host their followers in their centers/ashrams like The Great Universal Fraternity or Bhuddist associations.

          I may actually write another article just based on this since a lot of people seem interested. Stay tuned!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Helena,

          I do not, yet, have an ashram although I'm working towards it. You may check the answer I just gave to Emily. All ashrams are different now a days, although a "real" ashram will not charge you for food and lodging since it will be assumed you are a follower of their Guru or leader. You may want to bring some money for your own personal needs, though, especially if you want to do some travelling around too. India is very cheap and a couple of hundred of dollars go a very long way. However there are other "ashrams" that will charge and the ranges vary immensely so I suggest you first decide whether or not you wish to follow the teachings of a Guru or if you prefer to visit ashrams open to anyone. Risikesh, in India, is the best place to find an ashram, they are everywhere and although most do not have a presence on the internet I would suggest, if this will be your first trip to India, to get in touch with those with a website and email address and telephone number and ask all the questions you need. Also, like traveling to any "exotic" country, make sure you have the telephone number of your Embassy so you can call them in case of any emergency. Usually all embassies have a 24 hours number for their citizens in cases of emergencies.

          I hope you find what you are looking for =)

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          RecipePublishing 5 years ago

          Thank you for informing the web community.

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          Meaghan_Busch 5 years ago

          This was a very interesting article (or lense?). I'm a Senior in High School now, but I know I want to travel and especially want to stay in an Ashram in India (Not just as a tourist but for spiritual purposes. Through months of my own research I've found that my beliefs parallel many buddhist beliefs, and I'm very interested in meditation.). I have plenty of time to do the necessary research, so I don't need to ask anything about what kind of ashram I should go to. Mostly, I want you to know I enjoyed reading this very much. Also, how has staying in an ashram for four years changed your life? You said you miss buffalo milk (I'm interested to taste that myself, now!) but do you still get up early and meditate a lot during the day? It must've changed your spiritual understanding (I haven't yet read your other piece on the golden aura.), but what else? Did you make friends at the ashram that you keep in touch with? After leaving the ashram, did you have to get a job? How did you switch back from living in an ashram for so long (four years seems like a long time for me, although it isn't really.)? I'm just so interested in how it can spiritually change your life. Oh, and this may seem silly but I'm honestly curious. I have a terrible sense of smell, so do you think if I spent years dedicated to meditation and living at an ashram would I be able to strengthen my sense of smell?

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          All-About-India 5 years ago

          hey awesome lens on the beautiful country India...the land of gold.

          Check out my lens on INDIA-

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          LANGUAGES OF INDIA -http://www.squidoo.com/languages-of-india

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @RecipePublishing: My pleasure!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @RecipePublishing: My pleasure!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @Meaghan_Busch: Hi Meaghan, Sorry for the late reply. I was away on holidays for a whole month.

          Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed my post. It encourages me to keep on sharing my experiences. As for your questions here are my answers:

          how has staying in an ashram for four years changed your life? Well, since spirituality was, and still is, my passion it has given me a more solid base regarding my believes, who I am, where I want to go, how to get there and when to get there. It carved my ethics and my principles. It made me more secure of myself, God and my relationship with God. It made me a stronger person. It's like when you learn a language in school and you eventually end up on the Country where that language is spoken. Once you have spent some time there you become proficient and very sure of your use of it. Very different from the first year you learned it in school in your City or town.

          do you still get up early and meditate a lot during the day? sometimes I do, most of the times I don't any more. It has been almost 20 years since my first arrival in that spiritual Country and much has happened in my life. As with any sport that you were excellent at, if you stop practicing it your muscles loose the strength. The skill is still yours but you need to retrain your muscles to be able to achieve what you once achieved (this I know because I once was a gymnast). It is particularly challenging with the mind once it starts getting used again to wandering, trains of thoughts, wants and wishes... I think it also matters that I feel very confident and pleased with my very close connection to God, result of so much effort and so many years of meditation. I no longer feel as much the need to meditate for so long hours. However, when it is a matter of opening up in order to received guidance from God, as opposed to a "yes" or "no" answer, I do meditate to purposedly clear my mind of any thoughts, wants or preconceibed ideas of what should be the "best" thing or the "most desirable". I also meditate just for the pleasure of it, a very stimulating pleasure to achieve peace and quietness of the mind and joy and contentment of the emotions.

          Did you make friends at the ashram that you keep in touch with? I sure did. A handful of them that are very dear and very close to me... all of them from different countries. Keep in mind that email was not yet very popular back in 1992, FaceBook started only a few years ago... what was it? 2005? 2004? But those friends I have they are very good friends, not just acquaintances.

          After leaving the ashram, did you have to get a job? After leaving the Ashram I went to Canada and got married with my then boyfriend, now ex-husband. I had to wait a year and a half for the work permit so in the meantime I took French lessons and volunteered at the Mexican Consulate in Toronto. Once I had my work permit I did get a job and had to join the rat race. It was hard, it still is but not that much any more. Yep, living a full time spiritual life, especially in ashrams in the most spiritual country of the world for four years makes a very strong impact on anyone, especially someone at that young age. The thing is that you need to keep in mind (easier said than done) that the Western Society has very different values and demands from us. Some are totally opposite and the way we choose to react, or not react, sends different messages in different cultures. Remember the so much recommended by Jesus "show the other cheek"? well in India you will be praised and looked up to if you do it, you may even become a role model, however in the west, in a professional life, you will be perceived as week, insecure, immature, afraid, without character.... etc So very reluctantly, I have had to be "aggressive"... rather to pretend to be agressive, to appear aggressive. I still want to stay true to my belives, and at the same time I want to advance in the world (this is my personal preference) so I have had to learn and put to work some tricks :) But yep, it was very hard to reincorporate my self to our western society.

          Regarding your sense of smell, I can not guarantee a spiritual practice will strenghten it. Certainly if you do a lot of meditation it might, like it happened to me, although when I meditate I do it just for the purpose of meditation, not with any goal in mind. I think the acuteness of the senses is a very personal one, I know some people have problems with the glands that allow us to perceive and differentiate smells. But one thing I can assure you, if you do meditate a lot, and follow a vegetarian diet, healthy lifestyle (no drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco)... and, I insist, a lot of meditation, your perception of the world, life and death will be different. You may become intuitive, insightful. Don't expect the superpowers of a superheroe, but it will be like a clearer version of you. =) and you yourself will notice the difference in you. This takes time, do't be discouraged if after 2 months you don't notice any changes. However, if you meditate for 2 months in a row approximately 10 hours a day, or even 8, you WILL definitely notice a more centered and peaceful you.

          Enjoy your spiritual journey! It is a fascinating one! And who knows, you may even experience things I didn't, and then you should come and share with us! Just make sure you eat healthy, and stay healthy and balanced in all aspects of your life.

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          sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

          ~blessed by a squid angel~

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @sukkran trichy: Thank you very much sukkran! =)

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          mrducksmrnot 5 years ago

          Wonderful lens and great advice on learning the culture no matter where you may be in this wonderful world. Louis Armstrong says it best in his song "What A Wonderful World". Keep on adding as I will venture back.

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          indiavacationplans 5 years ago

          Thanks for a very well written informative lens

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          pawpaw911 5 years ago

          What a full day. Thanks for sharing your story. I always thought that India would be a fascinating place to visit.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Very nice to see the Western perspective of a life in an ashram! India is a land of unfathomable mystique and beauty! :)

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          waldenthreenet 5 years ago

          Thanks for sharing your experience and a valuable lens. I am an Indian and have deep roots to Indian spirituality, but my perpective of Indian spirituality is very different than yours. But we can co-exist and learn from eachother's experience as we go. I grew up in USA, and do not really undesrtand why and how westerns go to India to do what you have done. I have much to learn but little time to do accomplish all that I wish to accomplish linked to Indian spirituality. Hope we can exchange and communicate as we go. Thanks

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          takahaan 5 years ago

          Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I have a spiritual longing myself and would love the feeling of being part of a spiritual community. Reading your article was a bit like being in an ashram myself. I joined this site just so I could give you thumbs up and say thanks! But there is one thing I am wondering. Why did you leave the ashram? It sounds like you were doing really well there.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am 19 years old and want so badly so start my spiritual path. I am a beginner with all of this but i can honestly say that i would love nothing more than to live in an ashram and see where the journey takes me. But can I just ask, how long did it take you to be able to meditate for such long periods of time? Thank you

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @takahaan: Hello Takahaa! My deepest apologies for taking so long to reply! it was not until now that I saw your comment :S

          Anyway, the reason I left was because I had started dating my now ex-husband and we were concerned about our future in case we decided to have a family. I was approaching my 30´s and became "worried" about my future, financially. So we decided to leave and land in the West, in Canada, in order to start a regular life, with jobs and such. I do not regret it as I believe it was the right thing to do. However I now realize those years are what I incarnated this time for. Simply to spend that fast forward spiritual time. They were awesome and everything I learned has become the base of my existence.

          Thanks for asking!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Alexia,

          You´ll see, when I first started to meditate I could only sit for 15 minutes at a time. By the time I was 21 (I got initiated when I was 19) I was able to meditate 3 or 4 hours at once. When I arrive in India for the first time in 1992, when I had just turned 22 I started to meditate for longer periods.

          Not all teachers, whether from the East or from the West, will recommend to meditate for prolonged periods. I was lucky mine did as I got to experience the awesome effects of prolonged meditation.

          My best wishes for an awesome spiritual experience!

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I have a longing to be back in India and to live an ashram life. This longing brings me to tears on a daily basis. I am living a disciplined life here in the west but feeling vastly removed from the American culture, however when I was in India I felt completely at home. I am desperate to get back but can't seem to find the way as my guru's ashram charges westerners to stay there (and I don't have the money to stay for long periods of time), and I have a child which may make settling in an ashram difficult. Any advise you can give me would be wonderful.

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          waldenthreenet 5 years ago

          As "Asram" can be broadly defined. Not all Ashrams are the same. Not all all Ashrams are equal from a western perspective today. Tagore's "Ashram" in West Bengal became now a university after two generation. But Tagore's vision of combining "arts and science" pursuits on an individual basis with a second focus on community service to surrounding villages is inspiring still for many. But not sure how this vision/mission still attractive to Westerners. India surely still is a land where religions and spirituality governs life. Any follow up topics of interest to anyone on Tagore's Ashram in West Bengal ?

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          hi do u have to say any agreement to do stuff like "i will not steal" or something cause im doing a project @ school about Gandhi. Im at the bit where he has made the first Ashram and i need to explain it more, so can u help me please? thanx

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Hi Maria, thank you so much for writing about your experience, it's so interesting to read. I will go to India soon for the first time and want to spend some time in an Ashram, where I can learn to meditate properly and with a good teacher like you did. I am in a spiritual quest and have been seeking God and changing sincerely, I'm looking for a real experience with many hours of meditation and no money business around, just like yours: it would be amazing if you could tell me how i can find the Ashram/s you lived in, as they seem great. I hope you can help me. Thank you!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hello Alessandra, I would gladly let you know about my Master and his teachings but he has passed away. The current Master has a lot of controversy surrounding him, however I have heard that they have a great course for seekers to learn about meditation before they actually get initiated. You may find it interesting. You can find out about them in www.santmat.net. My suggestion is to contact them try the course, the teachings, get initiated and then, find out about going to India or to the center in the US (if you are in the US). I think they do ask for a daily donation if you stay in their Ashram in the US but I´m not positive. Unfortunately I can not recommend or not recommend the Master because I have not followed him or met him. However I know the teachings are very good, and as with everything, take what makes sense and leave the rest aside. If you have any further questions or comments I will be glad to answer them.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: If you wish to use some material I wrote in this lens you may go ahead but please give credit to this lens. Good luck with your project!

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I read you amazing lense yesterday and i can't remember if you wrote in which ashram you stayed and what city. I'm sorry if it's written there, but i would really appreciate if you could answer me. It was a great lense and i'm much more smarter now :) Thank you for sharing.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Windy Nicely,

          My apologies for the long time it has taken me to reply. Somehow I missed your post. Anyway, does your Guru have an ashram in the USA, or in the country you are from? If he does it might be easier to be accepted there. Have you tried Buddhist groups? some of them have great organizations and communities. Now-a-day it is becoming easier and easier to find retreat places where we can go for peace and quiet and meditation. Check out the Omega Center in New York State, I know they accept volunteers, however I do not know if they allow kids too. I hope you find what you are looking for... actually, I know that if you really want to find it and keep looking for it you WILL. All the best to you!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Egerli,

          No, I did not mention the name of the Ashram because I stayed at several, all of them belonging to my now departed Master. My journey started in Delhi, and it took me to Chandigarh, Nalagarh, Sai and Panipat mainly.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Thanks for an informative and interesting lense! I have done a lot of research lately on ashrams in India and find it difficult to get all the information I need. Do you have any recommendations on ashrams in Southern India?

          Thanks!

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Hi there, spent some time in an ashram a couple of years ago and am thinking that I would like to spend a longer amount of time..the only glitch is that I have a 16 month old daughter. I am trying to find some places that will take us both and still allow me lots of time to spend with her. Any suggestions?

          Thanks, M

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          JaneEyre9999 5 years ago

          This is a fascinating story. Thank you so much for sharing.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @JaneEyre9999: I´m glad you liked it Jane.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Melanie,

          I know some Ashrams do accept children although the parents need to make sure the kids wont disturb the rest of the guests. In general Ashrams are only for adults. My suggestion is that you get in touch with the organization that runs the Ashram and let them know of your situation. Some communities even have spiritual activities for parents and children. I´m sorry I can not provide the name of any specific Ashram that allows children, but if I know of any I will certainly come back and let you know. Good luck in finding it!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Signe Luca,

          Sorry, I´m not very familiar with Southern India. However i can tell you that a lot of Gurus who have ashrams in the North also have them in the South. You would need to find such a Guru/Organization. I hope you find it!

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          allenwebstarme 5 years ago

          Ashram in India true great place for real meditations. Definitely you will connect with your soul. Fantastic lens.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Maria-Zuzeena: Hello, my name is Brooke I'm 23 and I am thinking about joining an Ashram , but i have never left the US and the hardest part would be doing it but i constantly come back to the idea that i wish to go. I would be a beginner. The books you listed seem helpful but I'm just not sure exactly which Ashram to try ? any suggestions.Thanks

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Maria-Zuzeena: Hi Maria,

          Could you please suggest me a best spiritual

          live in Ashram in US that focuses on meditation?

          Also when I talk about spirituality people close to me

          say I may have depression and should check with

          doctor. Not sure what to tell them. Any suggestion?

          Thanks,

          Kian

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          am still unsure how to find an ashram to stay at? I am coming from tasmania australia in a week to really start my spiritual journey

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          kianalex 5 years ago

          Due to different majority of religions, cultures and tradition thus every religion has some own spiritual Gurus and lots of followers. Get more details over Indian Ashrams and spirituality by clicking this link - http://www.southalltravel.co.uk/news/travel-tips/t... there are number of ashrams and spiritual gurus who continuously involve in teaching Indian mythology, humanity and art of living.

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          Kamalakannan 2000 5 years ago

          I am basically from Madurai, South India. At my place, I have seen a lot of abroad youngsters (seem like college universities) practicing yoga. At times, I feel if we people here are missing to realize the importance when compared to those students.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Hi Maria, Thank you for such a fantastic post. I have been wondering if you know any ashrams that include a yoga practice as well as meditation? Or if you have any information as to why/why not to practice a yoga during the time there? Also what is was like getting back into reality after 4 yrs. Thank you

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @allenwebstarme: Thanks allenwebstarme!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi, I suggest you visit Rishikesh. I´m positive you will find a great Ashram there! Let us know if you do!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @kianalex: Hi Kianalex, thanks for the information. Personally I do not recommend Ashrams that teach about any particular type of mythology. Only those that will teach spirituality. But maybe someone will find the ashrams in that list interesting. Thanks!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @Kamalakannan 2000: Kamalakannan, I know what you mean! sometimes it seems like foreigners appreciate our own culture better than some of us! (my background is Mexican) Personally I strongly recommend meditation as opposed to asanas. I believe assanas are a good way to get people started into meditation but I think the West in now confused and think asanas will give them what meditation gives. Oh well, everyone is walking their own path and making improvements, and that is what life is all about!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Hello Miss Pitkanen. You have asked a great question that could take me another lense to reply: What it was like to get back into reality after 4 years in Ashrams... ahh (sigh). For now, and while I gather the energy to start, or maybe continue, a lense on that I can tell you that I believe yoga asanas are helpful when you are also meditating. Definitely. One obvious way is by helping you get centered and focused. By practicing asanas before meditation your mind has already quieted a lot and concentration becomes easier. I do not have the name of any ashram I can recommend since my Master has passed away and I am not familiar with the current Master. If you wish I can provide you with the name of 3 organizations that currently teach the same spiritual practices I do and they all have Ashrams in India. Let me know!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hello Maria!

          I was reading your post! Really enjoyed to read it!

          Do you happen to know some ashrams in Delhi or nearby? With yoga for beginners?

          Best regards Mira

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          What a blessing to find this article. I've been transitioning spiritually for the past 18 months and recently felt like I needed to take my meditation to another level. I also attend a sweat lodge on a regular basis. I'm recently unemployed and see this as an opportunity to explore India and their ashrams. Thank you for sharing in great details your experiences. S.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Mira,

          Sorry, nope, I do not know of any Ashram I can recommend at the time. I may visit India again sometime next year and check out Ashrams, but for now I can not recommend any.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: My pleasure! I´m glad to hear my story was of some help =)

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          sunny saib 4 years ago

          No question as such. Good lens :)

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          Indiazinha 4 years ago

          Hello friend! I´m from Brazil and will be vacationing in September...unfortunately only 2-3 weeks available...and want to have the ashra experience in India. Very hard to find trustworthy places online though...can you recommend anything? Tried the RSSB site but the only have contact info for snail mail in a couple other countries in south america...nothing in Brazil or portuguese. THANK YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL THURSDAY!!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hey Maria, I am looking for an Ashram on the way from Goa to Mumbai..I have been to one in Thailand last year and now I am looking for one where it is not just meditation. More like doing yoga, cooking and stuff like that. Can you may help me..? I would be so glad, thanks!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @Indiazinha: Hi Indiazinha, I wish I could help you but I haven´t been to India for a while now and don´t know what ashrams are reliable any more other than those I have posted about. Try looking for ashrams in Rishikesh, that is, tradionally, the Ashram city of India. Not sure where in India you will be but if you are going specifically for an Ashram experience, then go straight to Rishikesh, I´m sure you will find a good ashram there. There are usually a lot of foreigners and you can ask them. Good luck in your search!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi! I´m sorry I can´t help you. I am not familiar with Ashrams or organizations South of Delhi. Usually in Ashrams you don´t cook, the arrangements have been made for someone to cook for you, however you can always talk to the person in charge of the Langar (communal kitchens) to see if you can assist in the preparation of the meals. Good luck and I hope you have an awesome time in India!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I will be 68 in November and am in very good health.

          I have lived in seven countries and speak several languages.

          I studied Zen and Kabbalah along with several other things.

          Meditate every day and do yoga every other day.

          Am thinking of leaving for an Ashram in mid-November.

          Would you suggest one or two that might suited.

          And if you have time and inclination, maybe write about cost etc.

          Thank you!

          Michael

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Dear Michael,

          My apologies for my late reply. I left India 14 years ago and I´m no longer in touch with any organization that has ashrams there. I do know that if you head for Rishikesh your chances of finding an ashram are very good. There are all kinds of Ashrams, those that want you to follow a certain Guru, certain teachings, those that are open for anyone, etc.

          You seem to have traveled already a long spiritual path. I bet you must be very satisfied with yourself. The one organization that I think at this time is still reliable is Rhada Soami Satsang Beas. I suggest you get in touch with them to find out what the requirements are to stay at their Ashram in India. Beware that they do require you get initiated in order to stay longer than 3 days. At least that´s how it used to be when I was in India. Other than that, a real Ashram should not charge you anything. However, if you are willing to pay, you may find more options.

          There is a very interesting experience being offered, Monk for a Month in Thailand or India. Check out this article and then visit their website. It may be for you. http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/473649-the-exp...

          I wish I was able to help you better but, as I said, I have not been in touch with anyone that runs ashrams for a while.

          All the best in your spiritual quest!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @allenwebstarme: Thanks!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi,

          I am planning a 6 month long stay between different Ashrams and for the Kumbh Mela in 2013. My two questions (and I am sorry if you previously answered them) are:

          1. If and when you get sick in an Ashram, do they help you and still feed and allow you to stay or are you kicked out and left to fend for yourself? I am not going through a program so my concern is for how I will deal with when I get sick and where I can rest in order to get better.

          2. Is it possible to just show up at an Ashram and expect housing, or do most require that you make a reservation ahead of time? How easy is it to make a reservation for a group of seven people at an Ashram? (Do you think on average they would have room for a group of seven?)

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Oh dear I meant to post a question but I put it in the above comments section, I hope you still see it. Oh, and if you have time to reply my e-mail is rachelesther89@gmail.com

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Niki,

          I'm happy to tell you that during my whole stay in India I never got really sick. I was always careful to eat in places where I could trust the cook (most of the time I ate in the Ashram I was at and when I would going to town I ate at established restaurants) and made sure to always drink either bottled or purified water. Having said that I did see a few people get sick during their stay in the Ashrams.

          Usually the Ashram hosts will take care of you. You are allowed to stay in the Ashram unless you need to stay at the hospital. In that case they usually know a hospital with doctors who speak English and are used to foreigners. When I stayed at my Master´s Ashram the hospital costs were covered by the organization. In India your friends or relatives need to bring your food to the hospital as it is not provided.

          It depends very much on what kind of Ashram you stay at. My Master´s organization had drivers, cars, buses to transport people to and from places our Master made appearances at, etc. So when someone needed to go or stay at a hospital they had someone to drive them there, someone to accompany them during their doctor´s visit (usually another westerner), if the person needed to stay at the hospital they would make sure they received their meals, and when the person was finally well they would send someone to drive them back to the Ashram.

          If you get sick from a minor thing like a cold, diarrhea, headaches, etc, they would still allow to stay in the ashram. They are a very compassionate culture.

          In answer to your second question I must say it is safer if you find out about a suitable Ashram before leaving home. Ashrams are not hotels that always have rooms available for whomever shows up. You may want to find out about requirements (some may be stricter for women than for men, some may not allow you to wear western clothes during your stay at their premises, some may want you to adhere to their rituals and believes, etc.).

          However, if you and your 6 friends get lucky and show up at an Ashram with enough vacant rooms they will, most probably, let you stay.

          It used to be that those staying 6 months or longer in the Country needed to get registered with the police. I just found a recent article on that http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-0... Make sure your Ashram gets you registered with the police office.

          All in all it is not more difficult for a group of seven to find accommodation than it would be for a single individual provided they have enough rooms available.

          I wish you all the best to you and your friends! You will love it there. By the way, depending on your age and what you are looking for in regards to accommodations you may want to contact the YMCA in New Delhi, a lot of foreigners arrived there before going to their final destinations.

          Once again, all the best and Namaskar!

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          stefano-forconi-75 4 years ago

          Dear Maria,

          was great to read your amazing experience in India.

          I have been in mumbai and then Goa but only for 3 weeks all together and never really experienced any of what you have talked about.

          I also have approached very little meditation while leaving in Australia but now that i am leaving in London since more then 2 years, the feeling of wanting to experience something spiritual it's very strong.

          I would also like to find somewhere i can perhaps live and teach in exchange or anyway particecipate in the everyday basis routine.

          Do you think i can make it and there will be people following me and helping in achieving that level of expèerience perhaps you have in the techniques of meditation and the inner peace within myself?

          What do you thinkof Tibet or Nepal? I was thinking thoese places as they may have a little less tourists influence and therefore maybe easier to find a very close experience as yours as i am now a little concern that after the various books and movies the all scenario may have been a little commercialised in the north west of India. Just a though, what would you suggest? I know you said most likely they are free of charge but what budget shall we be looking for a year over there?

          your answer would be very much appreciated.

          wish you well.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Rachel, I have replied directly to your comment, I hope you see my answer =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @stefano-forconi-75: Hi Stefano,

          It is hard to find spiritual places in India or Nepal without tourists. You will see them everywhere! But, most of them are the spiritual kind. The one good thing about spiritual tourism is that they create the need for ashrams or places that can host them. Rishikesh, in India, has a lot of ashrams, you may want to ask around in that city for a suitable one. Tibet is currently part of China and I believe tourism is really restricted everywhere in China so I don´t think it will be very easy to find a place there. Then again I have no idea about doing tourism in China. I didn´t go to Nepal for spirituality so I couldn´t advice you on that. I know a lot of people opt for Dharam Sala in India, where the Dalai Lama spends most of his time but they do it on their own budget, so they pay a rent. The thing is that rent in India is really cheap compared to the west. As far as an example for a budget I can only tell you how much money I needed while I was in India. I believe I would spend a max of 200 dollars a year. As I said the Ashrams I was staying at provided food and lodging, and since I was there mainly meditating, reading spiritual scriptures and volunteering in the international office I didn´t really have many expenses.

          Hope this information was of help. Cheers!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Do the ashrams provide facilities if you are disabled? I need a cane to walk, and must sit on a chair when I meditate. Would this be acceptable in an ashram?

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          hi My Name is Dominic and i Live in Washington State, U.S.A. and i have been wanting to travel to India and Stay in An Ashram For a Month or so? but i don't really know how to or know how much money i need. Do they really let westerners stay there for free? for how long can a westerner stay there? because that would be nice because i don't really have very much money saved away, How Much Are Other Expences?

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hello Dominic. As I mentioned in my lens I no longer have updated info for travelers to India. However I ran into a very good forum that I'm sure you will find useful http://www.indiamike.com/india All the best for a fabulous journey!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: I believe that sitting on a chair during meditation should be perfectly fine. I think I have already replied to you by email... Anyway, you may want to contact the Ashram administration beforehand to explain your situation and special requirements. Cheers!

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          ocoyorg 4 years ago

          Great lens, reminding me of my visits. One question...what is your favorite place, city, or area of India? Mine would have to be rural Bengal, as long as I could maintain my health.

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          RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

          Loved reading your article - very interesting journey!

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          RinchenChodron 4 years ago

          Great job on this very interesting lens. I am Buddhist and their monasteries have almost the exact same daily schedule.

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          ishugupta94 4 years ago

          really a good work...

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @ishugupta94: Thanks! =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @RinchenChodron: Thanks for your kind comments. And also thanks for letting me know about the buddhist monasteries´ schedules. I have been intrigued by them too, although I have never stayed at a monastery. Maybe further down the road I can =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @RuralFloridaLiving: I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Have an awesome day!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @ocoyorg: The village I felt the most comfortable at, in India, was Nalagarh. so peaceful and close to the mountains =) Shimla is another amazing place. Thanks for your comments!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hey what about language? I speak English only. Is that a barrier?

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Dove, not at all. In the big cities in India a very high percentage of the population speak English. It would be only in the smaller villages where you would have a harder time finding a lot of English speakers. One more thing, in the same way as there are a lot of people that like to help foreigners there are also people who want to take advantage of them. Just like there are good and bad people everywhere. So if you travel to a small village try to plan everything ahead of time. Or just stick to larger cities or people you already know and trust and you should be fine. Cheers!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi, we are from Lithuania, we are going to go in India, ashram, about for 6 months. So I woul like to ask, does in India ashrams where you could live for food and place, or does it cost money. If yes how much does it cost for person. And maybe you could write an address really good ashrams in Varanasi or north side India. Thank you!:]

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          My son recently went to a ashram outside of deli a month ago , he called me when he got there but nothing since , how the heck do I try to contact him , I might be freakin out needlessly but I need to know he is OK and happy

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Caro,

          This may be something drastic and your son may not like you very much after this but my mom found herself in a similar situation. She got the Mexican (I'm born and raised Mexican) Embassy to call the Ashram to speak with me and tell me to get in touch with her. Of course she had the telephone number of the Ashram because i gave it to her. I know all foreigners that go to India for at least 6 months need to get registered with the police (or at least that was necessary back in the 90's) so the American Embassy (I assume you are american?) can try to contact that Ashram or the police in Delhi directly to find out where your son it. I must tell you that it is very scary to suddenly have someone tell you that your Embassy is calling you so make sure you are prepared to deal with the reaction from your son. One thing is for sure, if you do this, your son may be so embarrassed that he will make sure to let you know that he is ok more often. Well, at least that's what I did since i didn't want my mom doing the same thing again. Good luck! By the way, back then the internet was not so well spread, now a days i think it is a lot easier to let those you love and are far away that you are ok. Agree on an email once a week or once a month, depending on how long he is there for. I hope you hear from him soon and that he is loving his time in India. Cheers!

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          Jogalog 4 years ago

          A fascinating lens - I love all the detail you've given.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @Jogalog: Thank you Jogalog!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Wonderful information, thanks so much!! I have looked into RSSB & they have a location here in Chicago. Perfect introduction.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi, i would love to go to india and practice yoga and meditate. And i'm married and have a little daughter. Are there whole families in ashrams, with little kids?

          Thanks for your answer :-)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Awesome! I´m glad to hear that. All the best in your spiritual Quest =)

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          siobhanryan 4 years ago

          I very much enjoyed your lens and sense of humor

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Very good information !

          Have one question, in what ashram did you stay? Best regards, charlenehaglund@hotmail.com

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          i would like to go to india to find an ashram to find my soul and get peace and tranquilty, can you please reply thanks, p. farrr

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Reading this page has been great info for me, thanks for sharing!! I am left with 2 questions...The first is when you mentioned money and spirituality, I think these should not be combined and I often feel that money is truly evil and can hold me back from doing what I love. How do I live a healthy life in the Western world, meaning not working 3 different jobs (having time to practice meditation) and still put enough money away while paying student loans and rent etc. I understand this is probably not a question you can answer for my life...Are you aware of any travel grants? 2) What is it like to be in such a loving place, and live a life of quiet and peace for a period of time, and then come back to the chaotic world as we know it?

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi Maria, I have questions! Are the people usually supportive in the community? Is there hostility from the Indian people in the Ashrams towards westerners, because you say each group keeps to themselves? I don't understand why with all this spiritual awakening people can't get over cultural customs. And how are they with gender identity and sexual orientation? Are they open-minded in Ashrams in Indian or where they judgemental? I wish I could have met you in an Ashram. What was life like for you after leaving? Did you lose some of what you gained in India? Do you have any feelings about meditating 22 hours a day now you are so far removed?

          Thank you Maria. <3

          Vanessa

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi last year may 2012 I spent two weeks at an Ashram at Neyyar Dam in Kerala, it was a Yoga Vacation a mix of yoga and meditation. Not at all a profit making concern - I loved every moment. I will definitely return to India, though will head to the Ashram up near the Himalaya Mountain on the bank of the Ganges also run by the same Guru. I am a 59 year old female from Australa - and can do anything I put my mind to. I ave loved reading this web site. Thank you

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi last year may 2012 I spent two weeks at an Ashram at Neyyar Dam in Kerala, it was a Yoga Vacation a mix of yoga and meditation. Not at all a profit making concern - I loved every moment. I will definitely return to India, though will head to the Ashram up near the Himalaya Mountain on the bank of the Ganges also run by the same Guru. I am a 59 year old female from Australa - and can do anything I put my mind to. I ave loved reading this web site. Thank you

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Aiste,

          As i mentioned in my lense I am no longer able to give advice on this subject as I am not in touch with any ashram in India now. Cheers!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi arwen,

          It is not uncommon to see couples in Ashrams, but not families. Especially not little children or children in general. Ashrams are for spirituality, meditation, simple life, and usually kids can't keep up with that lifestyle.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @siobhanryan: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed my lense =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Charlene, they don't have a name. One was in Delhi, another in Chandigarh, Panipat, Nalagarh and Sai. And as I mentioned in my lense they were all Ashrams run by the organization of my Guru who has already passed away.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Annie, thanks for your comments and thanks for sharing your great experience! Could you share the name of the Guru? Maybe a lot of people that read this lense could benefit with the info and possibly visit the ashram =)

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I'm 23, graduating college in May and I have been dreaming of packing my bags and seek spirituality in an Ashram in India. For the past 2 years I have been studying and doing my homework to the yoga station on my pandora, and I always go to bed with the thoughts that one day I will find myself in the middle of the holiest Ashram, meditating. I've never joined a local meditating group because being a college student doesn't allow me, financially, to truly embark on the spiritual journey I desire. I was thrilled to come across this article and know that there are some Ashrams that are free (I am aware that in exchange there is a lot of work and chores to be done, and believe me I am more than fine with that). I'm ready! I need to go make this dream come true, I need the bliss, I want to learn how to meditate, I want to find myself, as cliché as that sounds, I truly need to go on this spiritual seeking journey. It would be great if you could tell me how I can get started and help me find the right Ashram, give me some guidance. Thank you.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Anjali Devi April 14th 2013 @ 9.40am

          Hi, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and comments. My Dad would love to go stay in one of the ashrams in India, preferably south as he is a tamilian of Malaysian origin. Could you kindly give me sum informations on where or which ashrams takes in paying guests who would want to stay in the ashrams and join in the meditations and mantras. Hoping to hear from you soonest possible. And thanks in advance.

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          SayGuddaycom 4 years ago

          Extremely interesting. I have had a few friends that went to India and came back saying it was the most beautiful place on earth. Featuring on SayGudday.com

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          Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

          Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hello I am fifteen and I am wanting to dedicate my life to reach ananda and become enlightened and I want to do this by learning in a traditional(not sure what tradition, what type of yoga yet) way. I realize i will have to put my own effort to find the right place for me( I want to go to India, not a western place) but I was wondering if learning any Indian languages are a must because I know the whole world certainly can't communicate by english therefore it might be impossible to join a traditional eastern hermitage if you can't understand hindi or whatever Indian language your teacher speaks. Thank you.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Astrid,

          No, no need to learn hindi, sanscrit, urdu or punjabi. All those are languages spoken in India, except for sanscrit which is now a dead language, although some of the "scriptures" are written in it. A lot of teachers speak English (India was a British colony, remember? so a lot of people learned English and are still doing so). You should do very well in English... unless you go to remote areas in the mountains where, chances are, only the school teachers will speak fluent English. By the way, once you are there, you will pick up words and learn sentences very quickly.

          I have a new FB page since I will publish a book with all the details of my spiritual journey. You are more than welcome to join it, I will share spoilers and post images with spiritual messages. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Zuzeena/24627...

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @Cynthia Haltom: Hi Chaltom,

          Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion =) My apologies for the long time it took me to reply, I have been working on a book and just created a FB page about it. I will share spoilers and spiritual posts. If you are interested in spirituality you are more than welcome to like it. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Zuzeena/24627...

          And once again thanks for letting me know you found my lens interesting =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 4 years ago

          @SayGuddaycom: Thank you SayGuddaycom! I have been working on a book that will iinclude all the details of my spiritual quest and just created a FB page where i will share spoilers and spiritual quotes from it. You are more than welcome to like it https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Zuzeena/24627...

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          NibsyNell 4 years ago

          What a great insight! Sounds like you've had some amazing experiences!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @Maria-Zuzeena: thanks, yes I forgot about the raj period. Hmm I am still a little worried about communication though..but like you said I will also pick up a little bit there,

          thanks so much and I will check out your fb page:)

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          Hola Maria!

          Do you have any tips on what I can do to get funds for my trip to India?? Or do I really just need enough for me to get to the ashram?? I tell you this because I don't have much (I earn in mexican pesos) but I feel this is the year, I have a feeling of going crazy if I stay longer tan 3 more months in my work and my routine instead of letting go of everything and fly off to India to lear, meditate and help others.

          Gracias!! Big hugs :)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Philip farr,

          I would suggest you first find a group with practices and believes you feel comfortable with in your own City so that when you arrive in India all you have to do is adjust to the Country and not to too many things at the same time. It could be overwhelming. Once you are comfortable with the practices then think of going to India. I suggest you start your search for an Ashram in Rishikesh, only if the group you joined doesn't have an ashram or Guru in India. All the best of luck in your spiritual search!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @NibsyNell: Thanks NibsyNell, yes, they were amazing and eye opening... in many ways... =)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Steffy,

          First of all my deepest apologies for taking so long to reply. You ask deep questions and for some reason they got lost in my list of comments to approve. I don't want to keep you waiting for an answer so for now I will just say that I will be working on a deep answer, i think i will include it as part of my lense.

          Thank you so much for stopping by to leave your questions, just quickly I will mention:

          1) It indeed is very hard to find time for spirituality when you work 3 jobs HOWEVER, intention matters a lot and if you can, even for the briefest moments, meditate (not guided meditations, the pure meditation where you focus on your third eye thinking of God) here and there throughout your day you will be sowing spiritual seed which will bear fruit when they are due. Really, intention has a lot of weight and even if you can't achieve to find the time for your spiritual practice you yearning matters a lot =)

          2) I wasn't easy at all at the beginning. I had lost almost 10 years of growing up and learning to "live" in the rat race and I felt like a student just coming out of University... at age 29. It is still not so easy however i have learned to live in the world now. You know, a life in the ashram is not all peace, quiet and love, some people can not control their envy, jealousy, etc and do act on it, just as in the "real" world. So I guess in part I was trained in the Ashram to survive in the worldly life and still be spiritual.

          Thanks for asking and, as I said, I shall write a little more about this on my lens.

          My best wishes for you in your spiritual quest!

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          Bigwas 3 years ago from Philippines

          Despite the latest sensational case of a tourist being rape in India, India I believe is still a best place to visit.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          This is an excellent website and as a single "Westerner" woman, I found this information to be very helpful.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Thank you Michelle, I'm glad you found it helpful.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @Mr Criminology: I completely agree. Those things happen everywhere and all we can do - anywhere - is try our best to stay as safe as possible.

          Cheers!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hmm, watch it there. They have a saying in India: Trust in God but tie your camel's leg. I strongly suggest you make sure you have enough to get you there AND to return PLUS some money to keep you going for 3 months (or a month or whatever time you give yourself to find a place). India is very cheap but you may not feel comfortable with some aspects of it. Some people can't take it from the very first moment they step out of the airplane so just take your precautions.

          i suggest you keep earning money (your English is very good so make sure to find a job that pays you well!) and saving until you have enough for your roundtrip plane ticket. You can buy an "open" ticket for 3 months or a year even. just make sure you will be able to support yourself with your own funds while you find a place that will provide you with food and lodging while you practice spirituality with them.

          Finding yourself IN INDIA with no money is something i surely do not recommend to anyone! Please don't.

          And in the worst of the cases go to your Embassy in Delhi to ask for advice of where to stay or how to return home. But, seriously, India, as spiritual and romantic as it can be it can also show it's other face. You are responsible to God to take good care of yourself. Do so! You can do it =) It's just a matter of time before you get sufficient funds to keep you safe in India.

          Once you get there keep in mind that stays longer than 6 months may require you to get registered with the police. Make sure to ask many questions in the Indian Embassy when you get your visa.

          Good luck and have an awesome trip to and from India, and to find what you are looking for!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Anjalk, As i mentioned in my lens I can no longer recommend any Ashram since It has been a while since i was last in India. However you may be able to find some information in Lonely Planet books, not sure about Ashrams in south India, but there should be at least some. Good luck! and all the best to your father in his spiritual search!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Ely,

          I'm sorry I can not help you with your request. As I mentioned in my lens I can no longer recommend any ashram in India since it has been a while since I was there last. However if you check the Lonely Planet books under Rishikesh, you may find some information. Or look for ashrams in Rishikesh, you should find one that meets your needs. All the best in your search!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Annie, thank you for sharing your awesome experience with us. All the best to you in the Himalayas!

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Vaness,

          Sorry, i thought i had already replied to this and other posts that now seem to be showing up again in my inbox. Strange. Anyway, the answer to your question is no, no hostility per se. Our Master wanted us to remain separate because indians, in general, are used to very simple life. In India we, westerners, as asked to also lead a very simple life. HOWEVER what is considered simple in western standards can actually be quite the luxury to a local thus spoil their purpose of staying in an Ashram. And what can be simple to a local can be considered out righteous and undoable to us. That is the only reason our Master didn't want us to mingle.

          Now, gender and sexual orientation... they are a VERY conservative culture. They mind their own business and if you are caucasian they usually don't mind you too much, we, anyway, are already considered "weird" to them as we are so they basically expect anything from us. But on that line let me tell you that it is preferable to not display affection in public. Actually, except for the younger generations, a man should not touch a woman, in any way, in public, even if she is his wife. It is a No/No.

          So we just have to respect that. On the street no one needs to know your preference. AT home we all can do whatever we want. Now, in an ashram, if you go with a Guru, chances are you will be expected to practice celibacy, so whatever our sexual preference we are not supposed to be having sex anyway =) So I guess, in the end, there is nothing to worry about =)

          Oh... what life was like when I left?.... ahhh (sigh). That's a whole other story and this is the reason I am now writing a book. I want to share it all: the Before, During and After the Ashram life. 43 years in a few pages... =)

          All the best in your spiritual search!

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Annie!

          Which ashram is this you write about above? Is it Sivananda? Thanks :)

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          I am 26, and have a zest to enter spiritual aashram for rest of my life... Far Away for worldly life and matters, I want to set myself up in just search of peace & enlightenment... Please help... (from delhi - india)

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi Amaaan, go to Rishikesh. I'm sure you will find the right Ashram for you there =)

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          Mohan Babu 3 years ago from Chennai, India

          Well written.

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          Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

          Hi Maria, Great lens and it truly offers introspection. Before making a decision to live in an Ashram one has to ask if it is to truly seek God or just to try something different.

          You can follow a Guru and continue to lead the life of a householder. Anyone can set aside a meditation area wherever they call home and maintain it's spiritual vibrationary environment separate from the rest.

          I have been a businessman all my life and still meditated daily. My Guru is Paramahansa Yogananda who brought Kriya Yoga to the west and spiritual freedom to millions. I entered into the sacred guru-disciple relationship 40 years ago and keep this commitment alive even now. I know that I and my father are truly one.

          Again, Maria thank you for the excellent view of a world most never see. Jim Houston33

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @Jim Houston: Thank you so much for your words, Jim. I agree, with determination everything is possible. God is US and we are God no matter where in this world we are. And if we manage to realize that... we have achieved THE goal =) Congrats for achieving it! =) And thank again for sharing your thoughts =)

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          poojamaina 3 years ago

          hello...i want to live in an ashram because i have not any job for this my parents torturing me a lot. i just want to know that is there any place which is safe for girls and from where i can build my carrier,but i could not pay any amount.

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          poojamaina 3 years ago

          hello...i want to live in an ashram because i have not any job for this my parents torturing me a lot. i just want to know that is there any place which is safe for girls and from where i can build my carrier,but i could not pay any amount.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 3 years ago

          @poojamaina: Hi poojamaina, some ashrams in India may allow you to do this but I do not know of any in particular,sorry.

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          jess-ward-9421 3 years ago

          Hi Maria, My name is Jess and I am heading to India at the end of August and am really interested in staying at an Ashram for a long period of time. I have just reached that point in my life where I need to find meaning again. I have always been seeking something more to life and I consider myself a spiritual person who is very lost in the rat race of society and material things. Im only 25 but my dream has always been to go to India and escape my job and all the crap that has consumed my entire life. I was just wondering if you would be able to recommend any good REAL Ashrams in India. Preferably the South or anywhere really. I would really appreciate any help or advice you may have. Thankyou so much in advance!! Im desperate and am looking to fill that empty void i wake up feeling each day.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 2 years ago

          @poojamaina: Hi Poojamaina,

          Ashrams usually only host people that are on their spiritual quest and require from them to devote all their time to spirituality so I'm not sure any ashram will host you and support you to develop your career. Sorry about that.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 2 years ago

          @jess-ward-9421: Hi Jess,

          As far as ashrams go I no longer can recommend any in particular. As you may have read in my lense I left India in 1998 and haven't been back since so I'm not current on the ashrams or organizations there.

          As you may have also read, in Rishikesh, there are good chances to find a reliable ashram. There a lots there, you would just need to find out which one offers what you are looking for.

          My best wishes for you to find the Ashram you need, and lots of success in your spiritual quest!

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          foodistto lm 2 years ago

          @Maria-Zuzeena: Ashram is place name in Delhi near Nehru Nagar.

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          foodistto lm 2 years ago

          Nice Article, About Delhi and its famous places.

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          Koushik Dey 2 years ago

          Respected Swami Ji

          I am Koushik Dey 40yrs old i am very much unhappy,disappointed frustrated in my life and looking for same peace in my rest of life to join in any ashram outside west bengal. .I will do every work of ashram I will serve in the ashram for lifetime .Please give me any ashram's address where I can live peacefully my email id is koushik.2win@gmail.com and my contact no is +918436166852.

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          Maria-Zuzeena 24 months ago

          Hi Koushik,

          My apologies for my super late reply but Hub Pages doesn't notify me of any comments =-/

          As I mentioned in my hub I'm no longer in touch with the ashrams community. So my apologies for not being able to provide more info. However, I can tell you that you might find what you need in Rishikesh where there are many ashrams.

          All the best in your spiritual quest!

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          avi 22 months ago

          Nice: I guess something in me knew it was going to be needed soon.

          I think it was some marketing going on with the man jumping 2 floors, etc. You may have not wondered. No matter what, it was good experience for you. Keep it up.

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          Biswa 22 months ago

          Hello,

          Can you people name some ashrams in India to stay permanently as a member. It doesn't matter which community it is.

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