Ashram Life Day 2: Learnings

Woke up at 3am today for sadhana at 3:30am. It was pretty gruelling. I was able to keep up with the chanting for the first hour but afterwards, I could just listen and keep my legs up. The strain on my back was really pronounced and it became sort of a mindfuck to watch the other people lay down on their mats and doze off. I still managed to stay a few minutes before the end before I decided to head back to my room and get some shut eye. Before taking a nap, I decided to eat the instant ramen I had bought from Wal-Mart the previous day. I kept craving for a bowl of hot soup during sadhana since it was so cold. It was semi satisfying to eat it but I regretted it when I woke up from my nap. I felt like shit and my stomach was churning from all the sodium and processed ingredients. I did my business and headed to the women’s quarters to have my second breakfast.

 

I made myself a bowl of cereal oats with almond milk and bananas. Mara, a woman in her seventies who’s also part of Seva Sadhana program entered the kitchen to prepare her breakfast. She told me about her life a bit. She had been living in LA for a while then started following a group of people living at an ashram. She lived in Guatemala for a while, staying with locals in a native hut. She was big on signs, explaining how she would hear voices or have visions of her moving to certain places.

 

After breakfast, I made my way to the prosperity workshop near the ashram. It was just incredible -all the learnings and insight I was absorbing from the different legacy teachers. The conversations over lunch were so inspiring as well. I met a guy who literally had nothing – didn’t have a job or a cent to his name but a kind soul who was a Kundalini Yoga teacher gave him money and a place to stay so he could get back on his feet. Now he’s teaching yoga, has his own place and is building a life in Espanola, New Mexico.

 

It was my first time to help out with lunch. I was assigned to put dressing on all the salads on each plate and collect the used plates after everyone finished eating. It was humbling yet gratifying. Afterwards, I went back to the women’s quarters to heat up some left over pizza since I was famished from the workshop. Rebecca from Alaska arrived a few minutes after and asked if I wanted to make a coffee run to the nearest gas station. We talked about her spending all of the hundred thousand dollars she inherited from her Mother who had passed away last year. Her sister passed away 2 years before. She shared how her husband filed for divorce when she started taking antidepressants. Her main issue was not being able to talk and share her thoughts and feelings openly with people. Plus the 20 hours of no sunlight didn’t help. She seemed to have gone through dark times and joining Seva Sadhana was her saving grace. She gave me a crystal from Africa and I gave her a purple one which I got from Maha Rose in New York City. It’s so interesting how the people I’ve been meeting here (myself included) all have had issues with money – either too much of it or too little or not having any at all.

 

At 5pm, we all walked over to Yogi Bhajan’s estate for his birthday celebration. We did a session that benefited the parasympathetic system then we joined the festivities. There were kids getting their faces painted and playing with hula hoops. People lined up for the vegetarian buffet. There was a long table with free CDs, scrubs, tea and other organic products. There was free popcorn. The vibe was magical. I talked to so many kindred spirits. Anna was from Canada doing the teacher training immersion and she works a seasonal job supervising tree planting. She was raving about how amazing the immersion was. Got to talk to Sonya who’s from Brooklyn. We talked about our love for weed and the Ayurvedic place she’s setting up with her sister in Costa Rica. It was just so invigorating talking to her. Met Jack who’s been living in Espanola and his son just finished school at NYU for film. Talked to Sharon, a woman in her sixties still charming as ever who moved to Espanola six years ago from Pennsylvania. It was an amazing night.

Words by Nick Daez
All names have been changed for privacy

Thailand Chronicles: Chiang Mai

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Time travel
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Lazy days
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Contrast
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Visual feast
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Textures everywhere
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Fragments
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The art of roasting
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Working space
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Real life hustle
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Perfection
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Choices
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Scorching heat
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Deep fried treats
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Cooked
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Dumpling man
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Wooden patterns
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Stacks of life
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Time capsule
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Duality
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Sacred

Words and Photography by Nicky Daez