Ashram Life Day 3: Motions

There’s something about being in an ashram that makes you pay attention to the details. I’ve been catching myself – how I constantly look at my phone, how I keep going through social media, how my hunger pangs erupt violently, my cravings for meat and the desire to escape through constant stimulation. All these stimulants have been deeply ingrained in me. It’s so important to just observe them though. I’ve been practicing celibacy for four days. I haven’t eaten meat in a day. These are all cycles. On the other hand, there’s beauty in the discipline here. Taking cold showers at night. Waking up at 3:00am to go to sadhana. Trying to keep up with intense yogic movements. Fighting the urge to sleep during mantra singing. It’s grueling. It isn’t that type of exercise wherein you’re basking in enlightenment. It’s quite the opposite. You’re instead sharpening yourself. You’re seeing how much space and capacity you have inside. Call it grit or tenacity. But a lot of self control and will are involved.

Today is technically the first day of Seva Sadhana. We had our first meeting at 8:30am. All the rules and schedules were explained. Each day is different but it’s a balance of serving, learning and devotion. Before we started the meeting, we tuned in and did an 11 minute meditation on finding strength and our inner teacher. Afterwards, each one shared their reflections of our idea of fearlessness. I think this was so apt for me since I had just decided to stay on in the US and explore the great unknown. This morning, our task was to sort out the donations from Summer Solstice. We had to segregate the blankets and yoga mats we wanted to keep for the program and the rest would be given to charity. We washed down the yoga mats with a hose and scrubbed them before hanging them on the porch to try. It was so much fun actually. It felt like we were in summer camp and we were all just playing. I think a big part of it was the team work – we created a system wherein one person would be in charge of the hose and the other two would scrub and hang the mats to dry.

Afterwards, I helped out Mico screw in covers on the sockets and light switches. It felt good working with my hands. Before 11am, we all jumped into two cars and made our way to the school right next to the ashram. Our next task was to help unload these huge trucks filled with food and move them to the storage areas. There were boxes of cereal and orange juice. Again it was a team effort. We created a human chain passing on the boxes while the last person would stack the boxes neatly inside. A piece of dirt entered my eye and I had to take off one contact lens and when I tried putting it back on, it fell on the floor. Thank God I didn’t get dizzy with just one contact lens.

I talked to Adam who was a firefighter back in Arizona. He shared how it wasn’t exactly what he thought it would be. He was expecting to be fighting fires with the team but mostly, he gets called to do paramedic work. He’s been practicing kundalini yoga and been a vegan for a couple of years now. He decided to stay here for two weeks to enrich his spiritual life. Been talking a lot to Rebecca as well. We seem to share the same obsession for coffee and food (meat specifically). I admire her strength for coming here in spite of having two young kids and going through a divorce. She seems like a person who has achieved a lot of success professionally but has struggled internally because of family and being misunderstood.

There was a white bearded man in a green turban who was just a bundle of energy. He kept cracking corny and funny jokes. He was originally from Michigan but had kept going back to Espanola for thirty years until he decided to just move. He drives a school bus but is deeply involved in ashram living. The lady in charge of the feeding program for the less fortunate kids was from the Netherlands. Yogi Bhajan had asked her to live in Espanola decades ago and she thought he meant Spain that’s why she moved. She was a sweet old woman. She treated everyone part of the Seva Sadhana program to a Mexican lunch. She asked all of us where we were from and what we did and why we were here. She had an authenticity to her. She talked passionately about the youth in Espanola and that they were the highest percentage of the poorest in the country. She stressed how the youth were the future of the planet and how they needed to be fed properly. She knew of many adults living in the area who were so angry because they were hungry as children. I was so in awe with her generosity. I could sense a tinge of sadness in her voice when she talked about her husband who had left her years ago. Now, she dedicates her life to helping feed kids. It’s so inspiring.

Our last workshop today was on tantric numerology. It was so fascinating how numbers run deeper than what they seem. I learned I need to master my body. Physical exercise is imperative to balance out my entire self. I am prone to negativity so the challenge is to over ride it through pranayama and exercise. Rituals are important. Also learned that this is a year wherein I need to be open to social experiences and enjoy them. Next year will be focused on hard work.

Words by Nicky Daez
All names have been changed for privacy purposes

India Chronicles: Goa and Mumbai

Infinity | Mumbai, India
Infinity | Mumbai, India

 

Low rider | Goa, India
Low rider | Goa, India
Ride | Goa, India
Ride | Goa, India
Waiting game | Goa, India
Waiting game | Goa, India
Peace | Goa, India
Peace | Goa, India
Walk on water | Goa, India
Walk on water | Goa, India
Hover | Goa, India
Hover | Goa, India
Boiling point | Goa, India
Boiling point | Goa, India
Burnt | Goa, India
Burnt | Goa, India
Local color | Goa, India
Local color | Goa, India
Seaside living | Goa, India
Seaside living | Goa, India
Poetic | Goa, India
Poetic | Goa, India
Wash away | Goa, India
Wash away | Goa, India
Glow | Mumbai, India
Glow | Mumbai, India
Blues | Mumbai, India
Blues | Mumbai, India
Never-ending | Mumbai, India
Never-ending | Mumbai, India
Gazing | Mumbai, India
Gazing | Mumbai, India
Passing through | Mumbai, India
Passing through | Mumbai, India
Old meets new | Mumbai, India
Old meets new | Mumbai, India

Photography and words by Nicky Daez

India Chronicles: Jaipur

Magnificence
Magnificence
Intricate detail
Intricate detail

 

Mystery
Mystery
Infinity
Infinity
Lost for words
Lost for words
Deserted
Deserted
Secret garden
Secret garden
Shadow play
Shadow play
Burnt
Burnt
Go deep
Go deep
Quiet explosions
Quiet explosions
Middle ground
Middle ground
Void
Void
Floating happiness
Floating happiness
Conversation
Conversation
Hustle
Hustle
Leap of faith
Leap of faith
Cycles
Cycles
Utopian dreams
Utopian dreams
Better days
Better days
Contrast
Contrast
Wishing
Wishing
Blood ties
Blood ties
Serene
Serene
Water rising
Water rising
Stare
Stare
Here and now
Here and now
Random
Random
Flight
Flight
Enter
Enter
Monkey walk
Monkey walk
Passing time
Passing time
Stand
Stand
Fire
Fire
Look
Look
Patterns
Patterns
Wanderers
Wanderers
Shapes
Shapes
Sensory overload
Sensory overload
Orange
Orange
Weary
Weary
Laughter
Laughter
Flow
Flow
Ride
Ride

Photography and words by Nicky Daez

India Chronicles: Dharamshala

Hope
Hope 
Into the wild
Into the wild
The great Himalayas
The great Himalayas
Infinite blue
Infinite blue
Local life
Local life
Voyeur
Voyeur
Wisdom
Wisdom
Conversations
Conversations
Free Tibet
Free Tibet
Close shave
Close shave
Waiting
Waiting
Greens and texture
Greens and texture
Grim reality
Grim reality
Wishing
Wishing
Toil
Toil
Alms
Alms
Feather seller
Feather seller
Mixed media
Mixed media
Morning view
Morning view
Grind
Grind

Words and Photography by Nicky Daez

India Chronicles: Amritsar

Bicycle work | Amritsar, India
Bicycle work | Amritsar, India
Point of view | Amritsar, India
Point of view | Amritsar, India
Street life | Amritsar, India
Street life | Amritsar, India
Reality | Amritsar, India
Reality | Amritsar, India
Prep | Amritsar, India
Prep | Amritsar, India
Bird watch | Amritsar, India
Bird watch | Amritsar, India
Eyes wide open | Amritsar, India
Eyes wide open | Amritsar, India
Worship | Amritsar, India
Worship | Amritsar, India
File in | Amritsar, India
File in | Amritsar, India
Depth | Amritsar, India
Depth | Amritsar, India
Depth | Amritsar, India
Introspection | Amritsar, India
Intensity | Amritsar, India
Intensity | Amritsar, India
Enigma | Amritsar, India
Enigma | Amritsar, India
Symmetry | Amritsar, India
Symmetry | Amritsar, India
Guard | Amritsar, India
Guard | Amritsar, India
Prayer | Amritsar, India
Prayer | Amritsar, India
Color break | Amritsar, India
Color break | Amritsar, India
The Golden Temple | Amritsar, India
The Golden Temple | Amritsar, India
Freedom | Amritsar, India
Freedom | Amritsar, India
Purify | Amritsar, India
Purify | Amritsar, India
Coming of age |Amritsar, India
Coming of age |Amritsar, India
Wash away | Amritsar, India
Wash away | Amritsar, India
Warriors | Amritsar, India
Warriors | Amritsar, India
Solitude | Amritsar, India
Solitude | Amritsar, India
In love, we are speechless. | Amritsar, India
In love, we are speechless. | Amritsar, India

 

Photography by Nicky Daez

India Chronicles: Delhi and Rishikesh

 

Basking under the sun | Rishikesh, India
Basking under the sun | Rishikesh, India
Youth portrait | Rishikesh, India
Youth portrait | Rishikesh, India
Caught off guard | Rishikesh, India
Caught off guard | Rishikesh, India
Lama | Rishikesh, India
Lama | Rishikesh, India
Happiness | Rishikesh, India
Happiness | Rishikesh, India
Bohemian vibes | Rishikesh, India
Bohemian vibes | Rishikesh, India
Mother Ganga | Rishikesh, India
Mother Ganga | Rishikesh, India
The great Himalayan mountains | Rishikesh, India
The great Himalayan mountains | Rishikesh, India
Meditate | Rishikesh, India
Meditate | Rishikesh, India
Dip and tan | Rishikesh, India
Dip and tan | Rishikesh, India
Pilgrimage | Rishikesh, India
Pilgrimage | Rishikesh, India
Lemon cream soda | Rishikesh, India
Lemon cream soda | Rishikesh, India
Wisdom in his eyes | Rishikesh, India
Wisdom in his eyes | Rishikesh, India
Holy man | Rishikesh, India
Holy man | Rishikesh, India
Market day | Rishikesh, India
Market day | Rishikesh, India
Third youth | Rishikesh, India
Third youth | Rishikesh, India
Second youth | Rishikesh, India
Second youth | Rishikesh, India
Youth | Rishikesh, India
Youth | Rishikesh, India
Kicking back in the garden. | Rishikesh, India
Kicking back in the garden. | Rishikesh, India
Hustle | Rishikesh, India
Hustle | Rishikesh, India
The center of attention. | Rishikesh, India
The center of attention. | Rishikesh, India
Indian-Chinese bartering | Rishikesh, India
Indian-Chinese bartering | Rishikesh, India
Afternoon stroll | Rishikesh, India
Afternoon stroll | Rishikesh, India
Vibrant solitude | Rishikesh, India
Vibrant solitude | Rishikesh, India
Youth and weariness. | Rishikesh, India
Youth and weariness. | Rishikesh, India
Back alley | Rishikesh, India
Back alley | Rishikesh, India
Wishing | Rishikesh, India
Wishing | Rishikesh, India
Make your move. | Rishikesh, India
Make your move. | Rishikesh, India
Stillness | Delhi, India
Stillness | Delhi, India
Morning commute. | Delhi, India
Morning commute. | Delhi, India
Working the fields. | Delhi, India
Working the fields. | Delhi, India
Shoppers and bystanders | Delhi, India
Shoppers and bystanders | Delhi, India
Vigilance | Delhi, India
Vigilance | Delhi, India
Cycling around the city. | Delhi, India
Cycling around the city. | Delhi, India
Reverie | Delhi, India
Reverie | Delhi, India
Prayer I Delhi, India
Prayer I Delhi, India
Family ties. | Delhi, India
Family ties. | Delhi, India
Sacred water. | Delhi, India
Sacred water. | Delhi, India
Men at work. | Delhi India
Men at work. | Delhi India
Introspection. I Delhi, India
Introspection I Delhi, India
Gold everywhere. | Delhi, India
Gold everywhere | Delhi, India
Outside the temple. | Delhi, India
Outside the temple | Delhi, India
God is in the details. | Delhi, India
God is in the details | Delhi, India

Photography by Nicky Daez