This past Sunday I was able to spend my evening meditating at the Art of Living Art Ashram. When we arrived to the temple grounds I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be mediating on the floor with my legs crossed? would it be completely silent? Will everyone be able to concentrate but me? I was anxious to begin.
Once we came upon the temple we would be meditating in we took off our shoes and started climbing the marble stair case that led to the temple. Everything inside and outside the temple was beautiful. The grass seemed greener, the marble was smooth on our feet, and the inside was brightly colored. After giving ourselves a tour we each grabbed a pillow and picked an area to sit. Hundreds of people trickled in the next half hour and I was amazed to see how popular this mediation session would be. I started to feel less nervous.
Finally, the event began. By this point I decided that we would most likely be quietly mediating while the leaders would be telling us when to breathe in and breathe out. This is the exact opposite of what happened! The mediation started with a quiet song to get people going and as time went by the music became vibrant with beats and rhythms. Men and children started to dance. Women sat on their pillows and danced in their seats. It was amazing how the music was unifying everyone in the audience. While the mediation (songs and dancing) were taking place I started to notice more things about the temple that I hadn’t before. For instance their were different religious symbols circling the entire room. A Jewish star, a Muslim star and moon, Hindi symbols, and even a cross. This made me love the service even more. I truly feel like anyone in the world could come to this temple and feel free to be their true selves. This experience solidified for me that India is one of the most welcoming cultures in the world. Everyone in India can find a place to belong and I am humbled to have found a home away from home.