Like most people (presumably), I go through times when, for no apparent reason, I just feel “down”.
This happened earlier this year. I don’t think anyone noticed, but I just felt as if my life was out of kilter, that there were “other things” that I should be doing, or pursuing. In other words, I was just not feeling “at peace” with myself, and the way my life was going. I ate a lot of cake – always good to stuff something down to try and the hide the feelings, right? Totally wrong. I got fatter and fatter, which of course made me less happy! What to do?
I spent a lot of time thinking about the happiest times of my life. They were not the times that were the most pleasurable. Pleasures are short-lived and related to the senses, like eating cake or chocolate, like dancing, or watching a ballet, or…….(see my earlier Brahmacharya blog).
Happiness is deeper than that.
So, when was I happiest? I realised that I had been happiest when I had been staying in an ashram – both at Mangrove Mountain when I was doing my Yoga Teacher training, and when I was in an ashram in India. Ashrams are not the places to go for sensual pleasures – especially in India. But they ARE the places to go to find your strengths, to find out who you really are and what is your life’s deepest desire.
I flourished in the ashram setting.
I became younger and stronger. I decided that I wanted to become more a part of the ashram community. In 2007 when the Satyananda guru came for a visit from India, I took initiation, and was given my spiritual name, Vedanta – the infinity of wisdom. What an exciting time that was for me! In 2009 I spent some months in one of the Satyananda ashrams in India, and on Christmas Eve there I took a further initiation.
During this experience my spiritual name was expanded: I became Vedantananda – the ultimate bliss of wisdom. I felt very blessed.
At Easter 2013, in the Satyananda ashram in Victoria, the other Satyananda guru was visiting from India, and I took a further initiation. I was now a Sannyasin, meaning that I have dedicated my life to following the path of yoga, and leading a yogic lifestyle.
Part of that was easy for me – I was already vegetarian, I already performed neti (nasal cleansing) every day, I was already doing my asana, breathing and meditation practice every day. But I still had a long way to go, in terms of understanding a lot of the philosophies that underlie yoga, performing a lot of the deeper, stronger asanas and other practices. I was (and still am) trying to “make a go” of my yoga business.
In relation to my feeling “down” earlier in the year, I eventually realised that life had got in the way of my real connection to yoga. I was running yoga classes, but was less connected to yoga than I had been several years ago.
Regular attendees at my yoga classes may have noticed in recent weeks my wearing orange/orange-brown quite a bit. The orange-brown is a colour called GERU (though it’s not listed in my Oxford dictionary) and it’s the colour worn by sannyasins. Wearing that colour is to remind me of what I want in life – to live as a true yogi.
That is what makes me happy.
One of my aims in teaching yoga is to help people to understand that not only is yoga much more than the asanas, but that the whole of yoga can be applied to enhance the whole of one’s life.
PS – the geru-clothed guru in all these photos is Swami Niranjanananda, who is the successor of Swami Satyananda. You will notice all the different shades of ‘geru’ that are possible 🙂