Just weeks ago when I was attending a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica, several girls would pull me aside and say, “I am embarrassed to admit I don’t know what an Ashram is. Can you tell me about it?”
My personal definition is a spiritual community. Another aspect of living at the Amritapuri Ashram is that it is a completely self sustainable community. There are about three thousand people from around the world that live here permanently. They are responsible for the cooking, cleaning, gardening, composting, and whatever else you can think of. Volunteers who visit the Ashram are also asked to do seva (selfless service).
There are also programs that help one grow on their spiritual path such as yoga retreats, silent meditation retreats, Ayurvedic appointments and so much more. We also gather to pray, meditate, sing, and participate in spiritual talks together.
What I love most about this atmosphere is how similar my mindset is to the residents in terms of my deepest desires. Where I grew up in Orange County, California, I always felt different and even alien. Though I have amazing friends, their tastes have always differed than mine. My idea of torture is going shopping at the mall, while many friends have told me going to an Ashram in India seems miserable.
My thirst for all things involving the spiritual life is shared by everyone around me at the Ashram. I suppose this is why I feel I will always come back to this place especially when I am feeling lost and unsure of myself and my path. This Ashram has become my spiritual home.