Author: Lee Jung Myoung
Lee Jung Myoung
Why did I come to ahsram again?
Why did I come to India, especially to this ashram, twice? The reason why I came to India two years ago was very simple. I met a Korean swami by accident several years ago who told me that she had had cancer but she had been recovered after having staying in ashram for the Bihar school of yoga for about 6 years. I was very curious about what the ashram was like. To me, it sounded like a paradise or heaven.
So I decided to go to the Bihar school of yoga, where I took a 4-month course. Before going there, I expected that all the people staying there must be very nice and kind and I would enjoy a happy life for 4 months. But the life in the ashram was totally different from what I expected. During the course and after going back to my country, I have spent much time on thinking about what the real meaning of the ashram life was and what I gained from the experience. So this time, I would like to write about my story.
How is the ashram life different from the outside world?
In ashram, you have to live a regular and simple life. Getting up early in the morning, following a fixed and tight schedule, and joining various programs. All these things make you learn how to be in harmony with other people.
Food is another important factor in ashram. You eat only vegetables and fruits. It is impossible to eat fish or meat, drink alcohol, not to mention using drugs. It is absolutely true that you will have a healthy body and mind when you accept a simple diet.
Also you cannot contact the outside world. Of course, there is no internet, no television or even newspapers in the ashram at all. It can be a good chance to be freed from the outside world, which is so busy and noisy most of the time. Sometimes you have to keep silent, which makes you have your own time and really focus on yourself.
You don’t need to care about family and friends any more. You can just enjoy being alone.
Last but not the least, you have to do karma yoga. In Bihar, people usually do karma yoga for at least 3 or 4 hours, and sometimes more that 6 or 7 hours a day. It is no doubt that karma yoga makes you really tired physically but at the same time, it could be an opportunity to experience the joy of physical work, especially for those who sit in front of a desk all day and use their brains too much.
My ashram life
In the first month of the course, people were as I had expected. Everyone, including myself, just smiled at each other all the time. However, over time, things have changed. As we became so tired and exhausted after hard working, we got irritated and sometimes could not control our emotions.
Moreover it was the first time in my life that I have stayed with those from different countries in a same place. There were cultural differences as well as a language barrier which made me more depressed.
To make matters worse, the simple life made me feel my emotions more intensely. I was able to feel every kind of emotions from disappointment, anger, frustration to even despair. Many times, I considered if it might be better to leave the ashram and at the same time I tried to find a reason why people come to ashram and why I should stay there.
Swami Satyananda’s teachings
One day, in the ashram’s library, I happened to read a book written by Swami Satyananda who founded the Bihar school of yoga. In his book ‘teachings of Swami Satyananda’ Swamiji said that ashram is a place where your body and mind are tested to the utmost extent. And he really emphasised the importance of karma yoga, saying that intellectual work is a barrier to spiritual life and physical works relaxes tensions, minimize passions and excitement, at the same time, balances the metabolic processes.
In his teachings, we have to control our mind, otherwise, the wind becomes negative and poses a threat to us. Also, in ashram life, the first function of karma yoga is to control the negative aspects of the mind. He defined the ashram as a place where people come from every walk of life and live for some time without having any involvement or attachment.
After reading his book, I realised that I was wrong. Ashram is not a paradise or a heaven. That simplicity of life is a kind of penance you have to go through. In fact, I got to know that there are many ways to be enlightened. It is possible to become an enlightened one anywhere, even at home, if you really want.
But in the modern world, it is really difficult to have your own time and concentrate on yourself, because there are so many distractions such as television, video games, party and alcohol. Therefore, Swami Satyananda said ‘ashram can be a place where people come from every walk of life and live for some time without having any involvement or attachment’.
It is no doubt that it gives you time and space to fully focus on yourself and find your own identity. And I am so sure that in ashram everyone has a different experience, depending on the status of their mind. But nothing is trivial and nothing is comparable. I also had my own experience that made me improve in my many ways.
Every experience and feeling is so valuable that everyone can improve in their own way in ashram. That is why so many people are coming and staying in ashram constantly. And that is why I am here again.
“The statements above are soley those of the author. Yogapoint.com may or may not agree with all views presented.”
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