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What does an Ashram teach?

The first time I came to this obscure hilltop in Wales it was a month after passing my driving test, but the draw was enough that I braved the motorways and backroads to get here, over safety objections from my brother.

What I initially found was a friendly group of people, very welcoming, and some old pirate singing sea shanti’s on a harmonium. I felt like I’d lived here a long time, or that it’d been built just for me (and I still sometimes suspect that).

A me... or not a me

A me... or not a me (1) - a couple of years ago I was at work doing what had to be done. I walked off the shop floor into the warehouse, with a degree of tension and disquiet in the mind (which is nothing remotely unusual), and….bang! I almost stopped dead in my tracks as the realisation arose that there is no-one in here, in reality there is no me. This has come many times before, as it does for many, however this felt almost cellular – deep down. It was so abundantly clear that this ‘me’ is a collection of experiences, conditioning, attitudes, concepts etc. The effects of this ‘knowing’ seemed to spread out, almost instantaneously, into so many other concepts, assumptions – into ignorance.

Overcoming Challenges

During my Sadhana (yoga practice) there have been many obstacles to overcome, both small and large: all bringing with them a process of discomfort and challenge but all giving way to growth and expansion. I would like to share with you a recent challenge in the hope that it may inspire you to continue to let go of old patterns and limiting beliefs.

A message from Swamiji

Alongside joy, life also presents us with pain, suffering and frustration. No-one can deny this. But if we look deeper and open our heart then existence can offer us joy and meaning. In all of us, there is a jewel – obviously not a material jewel, but a metaphoric jewel, the jewel of explored potential. My wish is that this jewel becomes evident to all.

Intuition in the Seemingly Mundane

We are often taught to look for our intuition in the third eye, the Agya Chakra. But that is not its only home. It manifests in our thoughts, our emotions, physical tension and release. It is there in the headache, the sickening feeling in our stomach, the anxiety, the dread, the guilt...or in the absence of these! Of course there are times where these thoughts or feelings are based on some false perception (most of the time some may argue!) e.g. fear of a perfectly harmless house spider. But there are times when they are guiding us and we need to take the time to listen deeply in order to hear their real message.

The Dawning of Awareness

The luminous space of Awareness is the space in which all phenomena arise and pass. This apparent ‘you’, ‘me’ and all of the 10,000 things (2) all happen within and through this Consciousness. It shines through all that is – both what we like and what we don’t - through times of peace and harmony and through times of war and natural disaster. Slowly this can lead to the arising of humility – our thoughts, concepts, likes and dislikes, beliefs, attitudes, lives are no more or less important than any others. All arise in this Light of Awareness. It’s all part of the same play.

New Beginnings

The regular renewing of our aspirations can take the traditional idea of New Year’s aspirations to a new level. It is a renewal that can happen at other times of the year – on our birthday, on dates that are meaningful to us, or for that matter, any day that we feel inspired to ‘start again’. These regular renewals – fortified through self-effort, self-belief and perseverance - help to strengthen the beginner’s state of mind that keeps us fresh in our practice, humble and grateful in our hearts, and open and available in our minds.

Chakra Course Reflections

For over 20 years I have been on the yogic path and the chakras have always resonated with me on a very deep level. I have been fascinated by their mystery, their beauty, their colour and by all the symbolism associated with them. I knew they had a lot of depth to them but I never thought that after a year on this course I would change so much. Over the year I experienced many things from great sorrow/depression, to anger/frustration, to acceptance and forgiveness, to moments of great bliss, understanding, wisdom, insight and a wonderful feeling of spaciousness and interconnection.

Yoga and Addiction

This article includes Karunamayi personal work with addition. It is divided into sections which include: treatment, why yoga works, how asana, breath control, concentration and meditation help addiction. Karunamayi also explores the effects of deep relaxation and her experiences of teaching people who are overcoming addiction.

Live Yoga: An Ashram Approach to Daily Life

The following thoughts were written in India while I was on a 3 month sabbatical. During this time I realised that the most important thing in my life was to realise my True Essential Self and that I had to be at Mandala Yoga Ashram. This was not a choice but life telling me this in no uncertain ways. So on New Years Eve 2013, I moved into Mandala Yoga Ashram and begun a new chapter in life. While the thoughts that I wrote in 2013 are still very much valid my personal situation and thoughts have developed since then, however I have decided to leave the essay as written because it clearly shows my thought process at the time while I was living a ‘normal’ life and not as an Ashram resident, so it may be more use to the majority of people reading it. Hari Om Tat Sat Dharmakirti Yoga Point YTTC essay November/December 2013 - edited in April 2015

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