Growing up in San Francisco, I’ve been constantly stimulated by the hustle and bustle of the city. So when I found out that we would be spending our first five weeks in India at an ashram, I was so psyched. For those of you who don’t know, an ashram is a spiritual monastery focused in Hinduism. So I was pumped up to learn how to meditate, do yoga, and get grounded – but when we arrived at Chinmaya Vibhooti Ashram, secluded in the mountains, I was immediately intimidated by the tranquility. It was the first time I had been in an environment where I could clearly hear all my thoughts, both positive and negative, and actually have the time to further understand them.
This intimidation combined with the incredibly thought-provoking sessions that were being conducted was very difficult for me to handle, and it took me a while to figure out why I was so uncomfortable in this situation. Yes, San Francisco is plenty stimulating but I think it is very easy to get lost in the flow of the city. When Shannah from the Oakland office came to visit us, she and I were discussing this over dinner one night and she said something along the lines of, “It’s almost scary to be taken out of the flow of things. It’s so much easier to go through our daily schedules and not really think about what we are doing.” This thought of living mindlessly truly disturbed me. After realizing this, I overcame the intimidation of serenity and was able to appreciate the different type of stimulation Chinmaya gave me: mental stimulation.
Although we did not participate in yoga and meditation classes like I had previously thought, I quickly learned the importance of mindfulness at Chinmaya. I can’t say that I’ve perfected the act of mindfulness, and I don’t know if I ever will, but it’s definitely a work in progress.