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The road to self-discovery is not packed only with jasmine flowers, crystals and incense perfume. Sometimes, in order to remove a layer of preconceptions and useless identifications, we must dis-habituate the mind and the ego through exercises and intense practices, for a long period of time.
An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory! – Swami Sivananda
I’ve just returned from another experience that changed my life, I spent a month in an ashram in the Bahamas, where, for 16 hours daily, I practiced meditation, yoga, pranayama, rituals, took philosophy classes, studied the Hindu Scriptures and learnt Sanskrit. The most beautiful part? It took place in the paradise of the Bahamas. You can see the first articles of this experience here: http://myexoticdream.net/category/bahamas/
This month is a profound insight into an authentic and spiritual lifestyle, exactly as in ancient India children were sent to the ashram and spent a good part of their life, and only then they would join society. In this case, it is said that approximately 8 years of practice have been condensed into 30 days of yoga Teacher Training Course (TTC) or Advanced yoga Teacher Training Course (ATTC).
It’s a break that you get from normal life, escape into an exotic paradise, practice an authentic spiritual science and begin a mental, emotional and physical cleansing. It’s not all pink, most of the time in order to get rid of negative emotions and limitations you need to step straight through them, analyze them and to finally detach from those concepts. It’s an experience that truly changes your life, you can give a new momentum or stimulus towards a better direction, but it is important to process and implement these changes as best as possible so you can maintain them in your life back home.
I kept a diary, and now I will share with you what I wrote on day number 30. What I felt that night, where I took a few moments to make a comparison between my inner universe at that time, and what was happening in my inner world 30 days before, when I arrived at the ashram without any expectations, open, but somewhat emotionally troubled. After this paragraph from the diary, I will say a few words about the way I feel now, a week after returning home …e felul in care ma simt acum, la o saptamana de la intoarcerea acasa . . .
After 30 days …
The days pass extremely fast. There is only one more day left until we take the final exam and go back home.
I don’t have the time to cry or think of something else. The past few days have been increasingly more intense, and now this exam is stressful for all of us. Even today, I was laughing with a few colleagues and saying that we will lose all the Zen we gained, because of studying.
Although, I do have moments when I stop and reflect on myself. Have I changed? Certainly my thinking patterns have changed, as if my thoughts are different, fewer and a bit clearer.
FIREWORKS!!! Sorry, while I was writing these lines, the entire island was covered with fireworks probably from Atlantis. We are like children, as if they are in our honor, the heroes of the ATTC, those who succeeded to finish the 30-day spiritual army.
Coming back, apparently I need to work on my focus a little, it seems.
I look at the faces of Lory and Agata (the friends that have accompanied me in this experience), they are serene and smiling. This is also how I feel, though I’m almost sure that we did not have these expressions when we arrived. Each of us had their own uncertainties, fears and matters to be resolved.
I for one, came up with the following matters:
Simple isn’t it? :)) Said and done! I will tell you what and how I managed to find out, at the end.
Today I was strolling the oceanfront with Lory. It was calm and clear as crystal, an incomparable turquoise. It was as if it were an aquarium. In that moment, an analogy came to mind that made me have a few precious moments of bliss, grace and gratitude. Why? Ever since I came to the ashram, the ocean was extremely agitated and troubled, I hadn’t managed to get in too many times because I was a little afraid. But now, a few days later, it calmed down suddenly. So did my mind and my emotions. During all these weeks I’ve been agitated, either sad, or joyful, my mind was continuously chattering, I went through all kinds of fears, limitations, preconceptions, but during the last days, everything was settled. I was actually was a bit scared that I’d get back more imbalanced than I left :)). But somehow, all that practice showed results sharply and suddenly. Now I am like this ocean, calm, serene, present, without expectations, I just AM.
In numerous Hindu philosophy classes, the ocean is always given as an example to understand concepts difficult to digest, especially when you talk about the nature of the mind. When the ocean is stirred, it becomes cloudy, but when the waves stop, we can see in its depth. The same as with our own person, when we succeed to calm our mind, it is only then when we can see into the depth of our being and we know our true nature.
For this reason I had this epiphany when I realized the connection between the state of the ocean and our inner state during this period. It was a magical moment, especially because the ocean has been our friend to whom we turned every time things became too intense. I ran straight from the ashram and throw myself in the water just wanting to cool and get rid of all that pressure accumulating due to intensive classes but also because of the emotional processes that were taking place. And he, poor dear, would give me a dose of new energy every time. I am totally in love with his color and energy.
How to describe in words my condition now, after 30 days of intensive practice in this reservoir of pure energy? Hmm, I’m quiet, present, optimistic, open and unattached. I feel love and give love … without having a specific target.
My perceptions and mental attitudes are definitely changed – new concepts that I try to introduce in my mind as best as possible in order to be able to apply them in real life.
I am in a state of awareness and serenity which I’ve never experienced. I feel like myself, but I also feel like I’m so much more than I think I am. Perhaps I feel a part of that “self” we all learned about, that self, which has no boundaries, which does not identify with this body or with this reality.
The idea is that I am and I don’t want to get into a process of mental analysis too deep, because I am afraid to lose the state.
Tomorrow is the exam and I will use my mind enough. Now I prefer to feel, to be and to observe …
I left there with a thirst for life. I was missing the city life, going out, friends, a glass of wine, music and driving. But at the same time I had a new inner foundation on which I would enjoy these material experiences.
As we were flying closer to Romanian territory, I started panicking. What if I forget everything I felt, everything I’ve proposed to practice and everything I learned? What if I enter into the same reality again, instead of changing it with the help of these newly found ideas and philosophies of life?! I asked the girls how they felt, Lory said she felt the same way and Agata said that her entire life has changed. So everyone was doing their own thing. What was to be done? I should relax and let things flow, that’s exactly what we just learned there, right?
In the first two-three days I kept my Bahamas Zen, so to speak. I had an enthusiasm to do even the most mundane activities such as going to the notary or the gas station, but also had an inner balance, the inner certainty that now everything is done from a new perspective.
Challenges followed, naturally, because the challenges are not on an island surrounded by turquoise water, the challenges are waiting for you at home, the ones you left behind when you eloped to Paradise.
At first I stood my ground, and then I fell back into old patterns, but eventually I regained my position. I realized that I had some unrealistic expectations from myself, you cannot stay on the same high vibration continuously. The lesson is to recall that state and come back to it whenever you can and cultivate it further.
Today, I can say that I found the balance between that state and the one at home, I have a much more balanced perspective and more detached towards everything that surrounds me. I think I have learned to relinquish control and let things flow, I am just an observer. The state I’m in cannot be described in words too well, it’s as if something inside me is smiling all the time, and that smile is omniscient.
In response to these three desires, I received a general answer, valid for all of them and for many other matters. The answer is: DIS-IDENTIFICATION.
One day, the Swami spoke about suffering. I instantly identified with the subject. But out of those two hours of theory, two ideas impacted me, instantly entered into my soul and started to do its thing.
This is true freedom, removing all useless movement from our lives.
You probably know that in the yoga philosophy it’s said that we are not the body, not the mind etc. It’s useful to at least no longer identify with emotions, with fears, limitations and situations that cause suffering.
From this epiphany of mine I started to also feel what true self-love is, when you don’t limit yourself through different identifications, you will realize that you’re perfect. After you stop identifying and tying yourself to certain situations and people, your happiness will depend only on you, on no one else. From the point of dis-identification, you become aware and you gain a natural state of relinquishment.
I hope the realizations I’ve had in that magical place will be of good use for you and I urge you to reflect upon them and, who knows, perhaps a seed will be planted that is going to turn into a belief beneficial to your life.