Author: Mary Westley
It was suggested to me yesterday that an ashram is not a home…it is the place you prepare for the next part of your journey. I had just told her that I had decide it was time to leave Mangrove and the words made perfect sense. I have tried to think about the ashram as home but it never quite felt like that. It felt more like school, in that I was constantly learning on so many levels.
Someone asked me last night what I had learned and it’s been good to give that some thought. Ashram life has been a great setting for seeing my own ‘stuff’, what yoga calls our samskaras, deep-seated beliefs and patterns of behaviour that are like imprints on the soul. Living and working 24/7 in close community with people with a deliberate intention to learn and grow spiritually reveals the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us…and that’s good because you do have to see it to be able to do something with it.
Ashram life is like a classroom that reveals these beliefs and behaviours clearly and provides the teachings and support to choose which ones I want to keep and which ones I don’t. That said, our beliefs and behaviours tend to be hard wired and the rewiring process is not easy which is where ashram life comes in. The structure, discipline and being thrown into situations that trigger your ‘stuff’, all help with the rewiring.
The triggers for me were things like being asked to teach a yoga class in 5 mins, when as a new teacher I would painstakingly prepare all my classes the night before. Or finding myself cooking a meal for 120 people on my 2nd cook shift having only ever cooked for 20 people before…and the list goes on and on and on. Over time I have learned that if I allow whatever is happening, before I know it I am on the other side, usually still in one piece, going “wow, I did it!” Or if I stuffed up nobody really cared, it didn’t define me in their eyes.
So, standing now on the other side of the last 2 ½ years I can say that I have learned to worry less about ‘getting things right’, what others will think and whether I am ‘good enough’…all my little Achilles’ heels. I have a stronger sense of being good enough and if something doesn’t go perfectly the world as I know it probably won’t collapse in a heap.
So that’s a little glimpse of my take on ashram life and I am completely and totally grateful for the gift it has been.
Now what’s next?
Like most things in my life the decision to begin the next chapter is based on trust and faith. Although I am clear that it is time to move on, I am not quite sure what that looks like just yet. At one time I might have said I was trusting in the universe but a dear friend reminded me recently that I am the universe so I guess it’s an act of trust in myself.
So, maybe this is the gift of my ashram stay, the opportunity to dig deep to find myself and grow in trust and love to allow this unique expression of the universe called me.
One thing I do know is that Coralie and I are taking 2WiseWomen to Bali on the 28 April to once again share the deep wisdom and practical tools of Yoga and Ayurveda. Our intention for this 7 days & nights is to uplift, inspire and empower our beautiful participants to live more consciously.
In a way this brings me full circle. The programme and the beautiful setting of Narasoma retreat centre is our way of creating an ashram like experience for you. A space to pause, reflect and reconnect for the next stage of your life journey.
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