January 3, 2010
When you live in an ashram you live simply. You rise with the sun to practice yoga, you eat delicious vegetarian meals that are prepared with time and love (you can taste it) and you spend your time moving slowly, with awareness. There is so much beauty in simplicity - mist rising out of the valley at sunrise, an om symbol etched into the ground. At present there are about 50 residents, mostly swamis (those that dedicate their life to spiritual work) living at the ashram permanently.
On New Years Eve there was 300 of us and we gathered at 7pm to begin chanting in the new year. It was also a chance to celebrate the life and teachings of Swami Satyananda, the founder of the Satyananda lineage of yoga, the guru of the ashram. On the 5th of December 2009 he phoned his disciples at 11.30pm and told them it was time for him to leave this world and that he would do so at midnight. A few minutes after midnight he was found sitting in lotus, his mala beads in his hands, a big smile on his face, he had attained mahasamadhi.
From 7pm till midnight we practiced kirtan (devotional chanting to music) and the continuous chanting of hari rama hari rama, hari krishna, hari hari. The energy lifted as the hours passed and at one point most people were up and dancing. Ché slept peacefully throughout most of the night, lulled by beautiful voices and warmth.
We woke early New Years Day to practice a havan, for the new year and the full moon. The rest of our time was spent quite peacefully, enjoying the quiet, the stillness and the space that has been so lovingly tended to.
Daniel first visited the ashram when he was eight and so it was special that three generations of our family were there to celebrate. I spend time at the ashram to remind myself of what is important in my life and how I want my family to live. I have the opportunity to reconnect with my practice that, since motherhood, has taken a slightly different path. The ashram runs to the same rhythm each day and so it works so beautifully with everything we have learned at Steiner playgroup - how families move smoothly through their day when a rhythm is observed and followed.
What was most interesting about our time away was Ché. He was last at the ashram when he was in my womb and I told him that we were going on a little holiday - not once did I mention 'yoga' or 'chanting'. On the drive there he started chanting om in his seat. A few nights before we left we woke to him saying 'buddha' in his bedroom. Daniel went and got him and brought him into us. He was awake and sat in bed pointing outside the door and he said (and waved) "Hello Buddha". The next morning I asked him about it. He told me he saw buddha, that buddha was smiling and that he was turning in a circle. Take it with a grain of salt but I do believe that children are so much more open than we are. I'd rather him see Buddha than the Boogey Man, any night. hehe.