Ashram as a Spiritual Haven

Master Sivananda said that “one ounce of practice equals tons of theory.”  Swami Vishnudevanandaji not only gives us the teachings but also provides the camp ground to bring everything we learned into practice.

He created the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and Ashrams in many locations throughout the world to allow Yoga practitioners from all walks of life to practice selflessness and to apply the spiritual principles in daily life.

Many Yoga students, seekers after Truth have decided to take refuge in this spiritual haven and school, not to run away from life and responsibilities, but in fact to face it with fortitude and concentration, with a good heart and good intention.  They started the search with the clear idea that, “I know that I do not know,” and became a seeker.

Heaven is not “later on” or somewhere else. It is now and here.

Karma Yoga in the Ashram

Karma yogis in the Ashram have the chance to practice this by focusing on the task at hand, keeping the mind positive, optimistic, patient and smiling, and learning to bear all difficulties with equanimity and balance.

90-95% of the practice is the forbearance practice. How will this manifest? If we have a desire and we do not get to satisfy our desire, we suffer. By bearing the suffering and waiting and in the meanwhile doing right actions, we are working out the karma and we are given the direct experience of the truth of selflessness and the truth of calmness in adversities. We are not a victim.

Keep bearing a good countenance, keep practicing a good asana-straight and balanced posture–in all situations. A good body posture at all times shows a good approach to Self realization as inside and outside is the same. It shows equanimity, balanced mental attitude and self-confidence.

Most of the time we do not know what we are doing, why things are this way or that way. But we need to bear it all:

  • the frustrations,
  • the expectations,
  • the peculiarities of people we interact with.

We think we are bearing other peoples’ imperfections and oddities but in fact there is only one thing that we bear:

  • the sufferings coming from our own mind, past and present.

This is called karmic suffering. By bearing, and at the same time trying to adopt a positive attitude, we are working out our karma. By practicing Swami Sivananda’s motto, ‘Adapt, adjust, accommodate,” we learn to bend our ego and to remain detached. This will lead us to wisdom and to karmic release.

Yogic Methods to face our Karma

In the Ashram or Gurukula, we are being helped in the journey by the life example and the strength of the Teacher that is concentrated and clear, with no selfish motives. In this way it helps us to see ourselves and our impurities.

We can practice many methods to face the karma:

  • we can either see the obstacle or the problem as Divine will and accept it, or
  • by negating it, keep uplifting the mind by thinking of the perfect Self, or
  • by working on calming the mind and replacing negative thinking with its opposite positive thought.

All these yogic methods are taught theoretically but also practically and daily in the Ashram as the karma is playing out one moment at a time and we need to be in the Here and Now and practice ‘D.I.N.’ as per Swami Sivananda’s teaching – Do-It-Now, to be at once  eternally good, happy and peaceful.

The Eternal is Now. There is no world, no in nor out, no friend nor foe.

The Yogi keeps the right attitude towards life and action, working on themselves with God/Guru as the witness to move from now to Eternity.

© Swami Sitaramananda 2018 No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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