#TheWriteChoice Challenge; day-3

Sastang dandavat at your lotus feet oh Swamiji!

Today’s topic is related to our Ashram visit. I wrote a series on the visit to Sri Badrika Ashram. However, I have not written about my takeaways from the visit and the holy experience. In this post let me write down what are the takeaways from our Ashram stay.

1. Gentleness and politeness: At the Ashram, everyone is polite. May it be Om Swamiji or other Swamijis or the Sadhvi jis or Brhhmachari ji (Prabhuji). They talk very softly in a soothing manner. They all have a very calm and quiet appearance. This is the very first thing to learn and implement. If we are soft-spoken, we will definitely be at ease to deal with people and situation. If we are calm and composed with a graceful appearance, people will find it very easy to connect with us without much inhibition. There is nothing more reassuring than a soothing and sweet voice and perhaps because of this most of our stress are blown away the moment we start interacting with the Ashram residents.

2. Maintaining Time: Right from the dining hall timings to Aaarti timings and Swamiji’s lecture, everything at the Ashram is bang on time. Respecting time is really a great virtue which is needless to mention. But we do it less often than we speak. But at the Ashram, we saw it being respected with utmost dedication. Punctuality has a whole new definition at the Ashram. Sometimes we saw the Kitchen Sevaks or even Sadhvi jis literally running to keep up with time. Swami Vidyanand ji keeps a watch on the clock and informs Swamiji’s visitors that time allocated for the meeting has been over, but in a quite polite manner with a gentle knock on the door.

3. Remaining physically fit: Everyone in the Ashram is pretty fit in terms of physical appearance. Even if the diet is purely sattvic and ghee is in abundance, no one has a protruding tummy like most of us. The level of fitness can be gauged from an example. The way to Giri Ganga river from Ashram is quite steep. But the ease with which Sadhvi Vrinda Om ji descended and ascended the height was quite amazing. I did not stand a chance in front of her agility and fitness. We provide ‘n’ numbers of excuses for not finding time to exercise. And finally our physical body goes out of shape with numerous diseases targeting to reside in it. There is a very close relationship between a healthy body and a sound mind. One can disrupt the other.

4. Continuity: All the residents of the Ashram follow a regular routine. Time of waking up, performing Sadhana, morning aarti etc. are very much systematic and regular. There is almost zero lapse in the regularity of daily routine. The main problem with most of us is we start something but cannot continue the same for long enough to reap the benefits.  For example, most of us start a fitness regime as a resolve, but fall apart within a short span of time. We lack in dedication and regularity in schedule. There are no half-hearted attempts of doing anything at the Ashram and Swamiji warns against this bad game of mind not to let the guards down to this devil. ‘Dedicated effort’ is the buzzword in the Ashram environment.

5. No complacency: Even if all the residents of the Ashram have accomplished much more than most of us in terms of spirituality, mastered mind management much more than most of us, still there is no sense of complacency. Everyone is eager to learn. When interacting with someone, the residents are all ears. They listen to them very carefully and acknowledge if they learn something new during the interaction which is quite amazing. Everyone in the Ashram is trying to progress in the pursued path without any complacency.

6. No ego: Like no complacency, there is no ego among the Ashram residents. Nobody shows off anything like we do. Even if we achieve something very trivial, we make sure that the world notices us. But see, there are people with much more achievements and yet they are so humble and down to earth to believe. We can understand the truth of dropping ego to progress in life if we spend some time at the Ashram. Ego has no place at Swamiji’s abode. It is cleaned like we clean clothes and is never allowed to settle down.

7. A life of austerity does not necessarily translate into a life of more spirituality and vice-versa: This is really a great learning I had at the Ashram. Use of Modern Electronic Gadgets, Air Conditioners, self grooming items, quality shoes does not mean that one is away from spirituality. One does not have to sacrifice everything to be a Sadhak. I could learn how these materialistic aspects can be used to enhance one’s Sadhana while not becoming the slave of luxury. Using Air Conditioner in a hot climate increases the concentration as we are not distracted by the heat and sweat. Good quality shoes makes walking, jogging or running easier to maintain a fit body. Self grooming is an essential part to feel good about your own self and have a relaxed mind frame. Instead of obstacles, these can be good assistants.

8. Empathy instead of sympathy: In one of my previous post, I described the difference between sympathy and empathy. Human beings are better acceptors of empathy than sympathy. Everyone in the Ashram has more empathy than sympathy. When anyone explains about his / her ordeal, Swamijis or Sadhvi jis do not jump into a damage control mode with sympathetic words. There is more practicality in their words. The explanation that ‘all the problems are part and parcel of life and struggling to overcome them is the key’ connects well with the person in trouble. Not empty words, but practical solutions which is given at the Ashram is unparalleled.  

9. Being mindful and truthful: Everyone in the Ashram is very mindful about the words they use, the action they perform, the way they conduct themselves. There is an extraordinary level of mindfulness and consciousness in the Ashram atmosphere itself. Another thing which is remarkable is the truthfulness. As Swamiji himself explains ‘truth and trust are the only basis of his existence’, with his deep Sadhana, he has made the Ashram a hub of truth. There is no pretention. If something cannot be done, you will not be promised, rather you will be told that it will be tried to get the thing done, but there is no surety. In Swamiji’s abode, ‘truth only prevails and triumphs’

10. Love for nature: The gardens in the Ashram are very nicely maintained. The plants are taken care of. The cats and dogs are very lovable. Mother Nature is at her full glory in the Ashram. The closer one is to nature, the more the stability of mind. This is because manmade things create a lot of artificialism as well as distraction whereas nature calms down even a wavy mind.

Thank you very much and Jai Shri Hari…