The group had the opportunity to go to the Art of Living Ashram. I was on the fence about going because I had so much to do in preparation for school. In the end I decided to go and I am very happy I did. It was about an hour journey to the Ashram and it was filled with great friends and good conversations.
When we got there it was unexpected scene. This place was so large with shops, ponds, and several different temples. In my head I envisioned one temple on the side of a street like the other temples we’ve seen. But I was soon to realize that most of what I imagined was completely wrong. I was fine with this and was totally open to whatever came my way. I also was expecting to be silent the entire time, while sitting criss cross with my eyes closed. I thought there would be men in white robes leading the meditation. I realize now that my prior knowledge was very limiting and very inaccurate. In reality it was a beautiful lush grounds sitting on top of a hill that overlooked the city with people all over visiting and shopping. Our first stop was to visit an outdoor area that looked like a ceremonial place. it had gazebos surrounding it and in the middle was a small pond and stage. It was so beautiful. Thats where I thought we would be meditating but yet again I was wrong.
We went up the hill to this huge temple. The details of it were so intricate. The steps to enter were marble and there were figurines on the steps that represent some Indian culture. When you walk in it is a circular building with steps leading down to the alter. I really enjoyed the high ceilings and circular design. It was so open and welcoming. Being in a meditation temple that is foreign to me was nice to feel welcomed. We realized that the actual meditation did not start until 6 and we had originally thought it was at 4:30 so we had some time to kill. But being in the temple even though nothing was happening was very relaxing. It was a nice time to reflect about this trip and remember what we came here for. It made me realize that I have probably made several life long friends while doing something I have such a passion for: teaching. These people have something so precious to me in common and it has been amazing to share this experience with them.
When the meditation finally began I was expecting something totally different. At first it
was silent except for one man humming. Thats what I thought it was going to be the whole time but boy was I wrong. After about 5 minutes of humming they started singing and chanting. The whole temple was singing along and dancing. Several of the men were standing up and made a circle and jumped up and down. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was almost like a meditation party. It is the only way I can think to describe it. After the initial shock of it being more of a dance than a silent meditation I joined in in the clapping and dancing. I was not brave enough to get up and join the women who were dancing but I did dance on my little pillow while I watched.
When we finished meditation we looked outside and it was pouring down rain in true monsoon fashion. We were very far away from our car and none of us had umbrellas so there was no choice but to just go for it. We went for it and got pretty soaked as we ran down the hill to the first shop. We got ahold of our driver to come pick us up from there. Finally we got on the bus and headed home. It was quite the experience and I am so glad I got to witness something so different than what I am used to. It was a fun time and a great learning experience.
Until next time,