I’m one of those ones who jumped into the ocean without knowing that spiritual journey is a lifetime transformation. Sometimes I can’t believe how my life has changed this much… It’s been 2.5 years since I turned my path to yoga and since then I’ve only listened my inner voice. I’m in the Bahamas now. How many people (Turkish?) are destined to come to the Bahamas? Its’s not even a honeymoon plan, I’m here for living yogic lifestyle…
I have no idea what I’m offering to you in this article. Just as it’s been 40 days on the island, and feeling my self as the Self, and complete with the whole, so these words happened to be written. Yeah, we can call it as a yoga journal. I think this is the best frame for this article.
How My Path Crossed Here?
For those who do not know, I’ll give you a brief summary; I’m in one of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers; Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Bahamas. Volunteering here; doing Karma Yoga. My spiritual journey has started 2.5 years ago, regarding transforming myself. After I took my first yoga training in Istanbul, I quit my job and hit the roads. And as my first experience in an ashram, I lived in Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, California. I was there for 4 months, then Sivananda Seva Samiti, Uttarkashi and Sivananda Kutir Ashram Netala, Uttarkashi India … After taking a very long break of 1.5 years which has passed with a long Asia tour and back home, I’m back to ashram life again. I came to the Bahamas by passing 9600 kms. If you ask how can I afford to be in the Bahamas, I only paid my flight to make this route, and since I came here I just spent a very small amount of money for my expenses, that’s it. I mean, they take good care of me …
What I am Doing at the Ashram?
My main duty at the ashram is to work in the kitchen. Of course I teach yoga once a week. We don’t call it work, we do Karma Yoga here; which is selfless service. Because it’s not a work! If you see it as a “work”, I can say that we really do the hardest job here. But the beauty of Karma Yoga is that it’s not working! If we are not chanting mantras during the day, or speak about the philosophy of yoga; satsang, I don’t know how much challenging it would be. But I feel like I am more and more shining every single day. Love is growing within me, my heart is expanding layer by layer and it is embracing every being. Isn’t it a bit strange that 5.5 hours (sometimes 6) of real hard work can be completed without leaving any negative effect on us, on the contrary a positive effect?! Yes, this is possible! How is that possible? Possible with a positive attitude. It is possible by seeing the same essence in everyone’s eyes. If we want to bring peace and tranquility to the world, we must reproduce this ambience!
I get up at 5.30 am almost every day at the ashram. I even sometimes get up earlier to do more practice. After half an hour of meditation starting kirtan at 6.00 am, and then running for half an hour of satsang, just after that we need to attend the staff meeting, then I attend a yoga class (if I don’t teach the yoga class that day). Then I’m running to the kitchen to support the am kitchen team for food service. It is a great gift to serve people after a fresh start to my day. Even though the food might finish at the end of the service, you want to give like feeding your baby as a mother. This is another self-respect. Then the first 3-hour block of personal time begins. I’m finding myself at the beach if it’s a sunny day. Sometimes I do some more yoga, I read my book, I write or draw something. I spend time with my friends and then I prepare myself for a 5.5 hour Karma yoga. We cook for 300+ people, we serve them, then wash all the dishes, clean the kitchen and close the day. To serve meaning that to put all beings before yourself. To give humbly, within expecting a speck in return. It’s purification, it’s a practice rubbing the ego.
After my Karma Yoga again meditation, kirtan and satsang programme starts. That’s all! So Sivananda Yoga combines all types of yoga in order to reach the goal. Intense, routine and simple.
As a part of Karma Yoga Programme, all Karma Yogis stay at their own tents. Even though staying in a tent for 3 months may seem very uncomfortable to you, it’s another beauty making my life more joyful here. Through staying in a tent, I am enjoying 7/24 being outdoors, sleeping in the fresh air. Being outside of the walls is like opening up to the vast sky. So, as human beings we all get use to everything in a very short time. The more you feed the mind, the more it’s frustrating. It’s experience speaking, trust me.
Am I in Heaven?
I usually think that I am in heaven here. The island that the ashram is located called Paradise Island, coincidentally! Isn’t it mind-blowing?
Believe me, when I first came here, it wasn’t my intention to do intense sadhana. I didn’t feel the energy of an ashram, since the ashram surrounded by touristic resorts and hotels. They were making a shade to the atmosphere of the ashram. However, by the time I began to grasp the intense energy of the ashram. Now, I feel the holistic and transformative energy of the ashram.
Ocean … Turquoise, that you can ever take. It’s the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.
Sun … These lines are written in January and I am sunbathing every day. I’m having hard time on writing date to my diary since I’m mentally conditioned to winter at this time of the year.
Meals … Vegetarian and sattvic! Food is another input about our well-being. What you eat, what you smell, what you touch, what you see, what you hear, you become! And guess what happened recently? I decided to become vegan:) Since I serve the food, I know the ratio of vegan people. And it’s far more than I expected. Two days ago, one of my vegan friends showed me a 2-3 min video as I was enjoying my lasagne with cheese. It was a very intense one that I couldn’t enjoy my meal at all. And as a result of this video I decided to go vegan. At least I’m not gonna consume dairy products that I don’t know the source. Nonviolence is one of the most important virtues. Sensitivity to nature and other creatures are inevitable on our spiritual journey.
Meditation, yoga, kirtan, concerts … Everything we do as part of the schedule here, makes us more beautiful every day. Imagine that we are, all mankind, made up by mud. Sadhana (spiritual practice) gives a little more shape to that mud every day. In the end, the essence of all of us is mud, but some of us look like a beautiful statue, while some of us doesn’t have a form. Does it sound understandable? Every day we give that mud a little more shape by doing sadhana.
People… People from all around the world, with a big variety of age range, and from different origins live together in harmony. We touch each others’ heart and contribute to the others every day. We all feel like we’ve met before. We walk the same path, towards the same goal. We are brothers-sisters, even though we were raised up in different countries, were born from different genes. This is ‘spiritual family’. Being on the same frequency, talking from the same state and vibrating the same channel make us closer. In the end, we can even telepathically communicate. Our receptors are wide open.
The Caterpiallar Turns Into Butterfly
It’s been a while since the caterpillar turned into the butterfly. It was the first awakening, the first labour pain, first flutterings… For sure, everyone has an inevitable development, transformation in their life. Nobody is the same as in the seventh when they are 70. But there are only slight changes in people’s lives who build their lives only on worldly norms. So whenever there is something we cannot solve with our worldly knowledge, then we start to question life. “What’s happening?” However, for some of us those circumstances even don’t make any change. Every soul has it’s own time.
For example, my foundation stones were laid after losing my father. It was such a mental condition that I had to question what was behind this fact ; death- as in the birth. I couldn’t accept it with ordinary simplicity. Yeah, death is just an ordinary thing. But why are we here? The answer is not ordinary. In order to discover this, you may need to apply ancient teachings, finding a teacher and definitely finding your True Self.
Whatever We Believe, We Create
Whatever we believe in life, we create our reality. We need to understand that we are the Creator. If we believe that the job we do is what we need to do until the retirement, who can take us away from this fate? I’m very sorry to say that, none of our decisions made through our minds, belong to us! The mind simply works like a computer. Would you let a computer to make decisions for you? But you do! You didn’t even pick the person you chose for your life. You didn’t choose the profession you thought you chose. They are all social and genetic conditioning. You have entered a code in the computer. And when you press enter, it responds through those codes that are stored in its database. What else can a computer do? So this is just a computer. Well, maybe you’ve never been yourself. You may not even understand what I mean. Well, when you have so much voice in your mind, you may not even hear your own voice.
So, this is an invitation! I invite you to be a little spiritual. Maybe yoga, maybe meditation, speaking about the truth or reading a book … Once we hear that voice, we will be speaking the same language. Really!
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