So what does a regular day in the ashram look like?
For starters it begins very early in the morning, even before the sun comes up. Normally we wake up around 4 in the morning, get dressed in devotional clothes (picture below), and attend a ceremony called Mangala Arati. As I learned over the course of my time visiting different temples, each temple sets their own time. In Sweden, for example, arati is at 6am! A whole two hours later!
I didn't quite know how to put this Gopi Dress properly (notice how off the scarves are in each picture)
After the mangala arati we have some time for personal meditation and japa chanting. The latter has become a personal challenge since I am quite slow and I struggle to chant the required 16 rounds. It is supposed to take 2 hours to accomplish but it takes me many many more!
After the meditation and arati are finished we take prasad, or prasadam (offered food) at around 9:30am. Remember we wake up around 4am, so it is around 5 hours of empty bellies until breakfast time. Meditating and reading vedic literature are best done when the mind and the body are clear. For the newcomer, this is quite the task, and one can hear the symphony of growling bellies as the morning progresses. Morning fasting is normal for those who make waking up before sunrise a habit, and they are also quite active and energy and surely more productive for those of us who were used to college life. Before, I would probably be going to bed this late/early if there was a project or essay due the next day.
Clearly there has been a major change between having a college life and a spiritual life. Life after graduation for me has taken a 180° turn. Has anyone else's life after college taken a major turn?
I will be back with more!