The Ashram Within
The impressive Mediation Centre at Auroville - if you look closely you may notice a man standing at the entrance looking up.
Last I wrote was after my visit to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.
The routine over the past 10 days has been - to be on the bus the each morning at 7am, which is a sleep-in for me. I’m usually up at 2.45am to start in Sydney. Boarding the bus at 7am has meant sleeping in until 3.30am to manage a yoga practice, mediation, swim, pack, breakfast and then ready for boarding 6.50am. While my fellow bus mates have been heading back to their rooms after nightclubs and international drinking games.
This time we headed out to Auroville. Quite an astounding foresight in the concept of a universal town where men and women of all countries where able to live in peace and progressive harmony.
It was founded in 1968 by the Mother, a French women who worked with Aurobindo. At the time it was founded she was 93 years old, she died 3 years later, such a visionary at that age when most people are settled into nursing homes she was establishing a place in which to realise human unity.
In her words "Auroville will be a place of unending education of constant progress and a youth that never ages". It’s now 2016 and approx. 2,500 people live there from 30 countries. It was intended to house 50,000 people.
So we never really got to see anyone or experience the life of an Aurovillian. But perhaps that would be just asking too much and require snooping around people’s backyards.
There was an atmosphere of calmness and serenit, yet emptiness. Almost like the ship without its captain. Extremely well kept and maintained. The people we did meet where our guides and ushers over the tourist route of the Centre (all of whom where local Indians). They seemed pleasant and willing to answer any questions.
The Mediation Centre was remarkably impressive, shaped like a huge gold golf ball. But again, while an impressive structure, it lacked the hub of what brings ashrams alive: The PEOPLE, the Sangha, the community.
My ten day tour of India covered 27,000kms, 10 cities, 9 hotels, 6 ashrams.
I’m home now, sitting in my Bondi Apartment. Quietness surrounds me, each room in my apartment has ornaments and pictures of things that have meaning to me, make me feel joyful calm and loved. From the pictures of my family on the fire place to a small Ganesh that I brought in India 30 years ago. This is my ashram, my home, and when I'm away from my home, the ashram is within. It lies there within me. My comfortable familiar space that I visit daily.
I have come to appreciate and love the ashram within. Each day that I roll out my yoga mat - I’m given another opportunity to visit once again, an opportunity to visit all of myself and my hundreds of personas: the happy, sad, angry, grumpy, compassionate, critical ones, and to love them all.
India has opened my senses again to the wonder of the Mystical Yogi. From the austere loin-clad Yogi on the banks of the Ganges, to the devoted Ayurveda Doctors in Kerala and the joy of traveling on a bus with 24 other yogis. All on the same path, exploring the magic of yoga. Where is the yogi not? Some just realise more than others.