Ashrams have been around for thousands of years, however, only in recent years ashrams became known to many Westerners through the popular book and movie Eat, Pray and Love. Most ashrams are the spiritual home of a living spiritual teacher who teaches a path to find peace and inner freedom. I personally became aware of ashrams only after seeking a place where I could do a spiritual retreat. I wanted to retreat myself to find answers about life, know my real self, and find my life purpose. I thought I would have to travel far and I was willing to go anywhere just as long as it felt like the right place for me. I found many retreat locations across the US, but somehow they seemed to be more like fancy resorts or luxurious yoga spas, which honestly felt to be more like a vacation spot. I wanted a much deeper experience and I knew the place had to be simple and pure — I just didn’t know I would find it so close to my home in Texas!
AN ASHRAM EXPERIENCE
Visiting an ashram is the perfect getaway for reflection, self-discovery, relaxation, healing, and spiritual transformation. An ashram is a simple place conducive of spiritual learning. It is a place that promotes spirituality, wellness, and simple living through higher thinking. It takes away the over-indulgence and distractions of the world to allow you to look at yourself and work on yourself. There are many ashrams around the world and they will all vary depending on the different values and teachings they promote.
A real ashram, though, is never a resort-type, hotel, fancy, a spa, or a clinic. A real ashram is simple, yet it provides all the basic human necessities in a clean space and environment, which are perfect for reflection and self-improvement. You will not find things that feed the senses like TVs, Internet or spa treatments. Instead, you will find things that feed your soul — teachings that will help you grow spiritually like yoga, meditation, purification breathing techniques, and more.
Ashrams follow strict rules and guidelines such as practicing nonviolence, cleanliness, no use of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, practicing celibacy, discipline, waking up early, not wasting food or natural resources, and practicing humility and respect among other things. Activities at an ashram will vary but may include yoga and meditation classes, mantra chanting, wellness workshops, spending time in nature, and kriyas to cleanse the body. Some ashrams may have an ashram living program where you live there for one month and do selfless service helping with the chores and upkeep of the center. Personal time is dedicated for silence, reflection, the practice of spiritual practices, reading, meditating, engaging in spiritual conversations, and relaxing.
Ashrams promote simple food in the purest form, which is a clean and light vegetarian diet. And although the food might be light, it is usually very delicious! The attire at most ashrams is modest comfortable clothing. Be prepared to visit with a mindset to learn many lessons.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF TRANSFORMATION
I was lucky enough to find a pure and true ashram so close to my home in Houston, TX. I know! Who would have thought? After hours of research, I finally came across Siddhayatan Spiritual Retreat and Ashram. Little did I know this place would change my life, forever. I had no previous experience in ashrams, yoga, meditation, and I didn’t know anything about enlightened spiritual teachers. When I arrived at Siddhayatan Spiritual Retreat, though, I knew I had arrived at a sacred place. It was simple and very quiet. I spent one full week learning different workshops to help awaken my soul. I learned directly from master Acharya Shree Yogeesh, whose profound teachings touched the deepest part of my soul. He taught me so many precious and valuable teachings, principles to follow, and techniques that truly worked when practiced.
My perspective on life changed completely. I understood the importance of working on the self and being responsible for creating my own destiny. Many limiting beliefs and ideologies shattered and last, I felt my soul finally becoming free.
My favorite memories are sitting in front of master Acharya Shree and learning from him, going on reflective walks, sketching and creating two special pieces of art that reflected my experience there, practicing all the techniques I was learning and feeling the amazing results, drinking Indian chai in the afternoons, and engaging in conversations with the incredible people I met there.
I remember leaving the ashram after 7 days and feeling like a new me. I still remember leaving with a big knot in my throat and a few tears. Tears of joy. I had found exactly what I was seeking and more; I found myself and discovered my real purpose. I was fully equipped to face the world. My tools were now meditation, yoga, looking at myself, and following nonviolence. Most importantly, I found the guidance from the purest and wisest person I had ever met and who now continues to help shape the path to liberate my soul.
If you are ready to embark on the spiritual path I highly suggest that you consider visiting Siddhayatan, which is now my spiritual home. Before you visit, be sure to leave all expectations at home and be ready to experience simplicity, surrender, humility, and transformation. Leave all superficial desires behind and tune in to your heart’s deepest wishes – there you will find what your soul really needs.
Click on each retreat to learn more about each program.