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13 April 2013
On our way down from Washington DC we decided to spend two nights at Swami Satchidananda’s Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. This Ashram is actually more like a small village, operating for the last 30 years, and has been affectionately named Yogaville.
Sri Swami Satchidananda is the founder of what is known as Integral Yoga, a practice that incorporates all branches of yoga, in order to find inner peace or enlightenment. He has received more than one humanitarian award and spent his life dedicated to the cause of Peace, both individual and universal, and to unity and harmony among all people.
Sri Gurudev (Swami Satchidananda) has authored many books, my personal favourites being The Living Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He also gave the opening speech and blessing at the unforgettable Woodstock Festival in 1969 (I’m not sure why this excites me but it does).
His Ashram is his Legacy and is a testament to his teachings.
Now firstly you might be wondering Why the F*** Buckingham Virginia?
Well we are still unsure of the answer to this but it really is a Beautiful place. Forests of Giant green trees and breathtaking hills scatter the countryside, and Yogaville is right in the midst of it all. According to a Lovely resident Yogi the Land used to be a deer hunting park, so Sri Gurudev bought it and created his Ashram.
As we arrived to check in at the Ashram we could feel our frenetic city energy and vibes standing out. Yogaville is a humble, kind and peaceful place and that is most important.
Our first meal at the dinner hall was a big bowl of sweet potato soup, followed by fresh salad with sautéed spinach and broccoli – exactly what we needed after eating out for the last 2 weeks.
Now as peaceful as the environment is, there is NOTHING peaceful about a large group of yogis at a vegetarian buffet. I personally find it quite traumatic. Once you are in that line, you dish that food QUICK, there is not a second to spare, no time to plan where you will put it all on your plate, you pile it on top of one another and MOVE along. A hungry Veggie is a Deadly one… you can kiss that jar of peanut butter GOOD-BYE! Hours of yoga, meditation and walking create an aggressive appetite, which must not be neglected :)
Dinner was at 5:30 as there was a Kirtan celebration afterwards. The Kirtan band began and almost like a wave of holy water washed every woe and worry off our bodies. The hall is encapsulated with pictures of Saints and Gurus. The likes of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Paramahansa Yogananda and Guru-ji all gazing upon us. The Ashram Devotees very Kindly placed chairs in the hall for the people on retreats to sit on. Jay and I come from the lineage that you SIT on the FLOOR, so we walked straight to the front and placed our Yoga Butts straight onto the floor. Ready for Kirtan :)
We started with a few Hari Oms, followed by Asato Ma sad Gamaya, Lokah Samastah sukhino Bhavantu rounded off with a wonderful Aarti ceremony (This sentence will make sense if you have attended a Kirtan before).
Our Guest speaker was Sister Jenna who is a Bramachari in Washington DC. She is the director of the India based, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization and has devoted more than 20 years of her life to encouraging a natural acceptance of spirituality in the daily life of busy city people.
She spoke to us about ALGAE (Attachment, Lust, Greed, Anger and Ego)and how you want to make sure that every action and interaction with other beings do not involve ALGAE. You want all of your actions and interactions to come from a place of Love. A Place of unchanging purity and respect.
She spoke about when other beings come to collect from you (when people cause pain, suffering or frustration in your life) the only way to approach them is with LOVE. If you respond to them with ALGAE they will keep coming back to collect.
You see Love is an energy and when you do not give it, whole heartedly , beings will come to collect it. So you must give your love… you must give your time…
Sister Jenna encouraged us to try giving Love as opposed to just keeping it bottled up. One must give Love to oneself, to people that you know, to people that you don’t know, to all beings everywhere. It is the cycle of Life – one must give in order to receive. This is the same with MONEY one must give / spend money on worth while people and things in order to keep it Flowing into and out of your life. The McNamaras are particularly good at this :)
The Next morning after a refreshing Integral yoga class, a breakfast of Vegan Cream cheese, Bagels and Bananas we took a long ASS walk through the Forrest to the Lotus Truth Universal Shrine. Which is a beautiful testament to diversity and Sri Gurudev’s Wise saying , “Truth is one, Paths are Many”.
At 12:30 everyday people flood into the Lotus temple to sit in a 30 minute group meditation – and this is what we did.
Yogaville was a really unique and special place to visit – it is also a very important part of mine and Jay’s Yoga Lineage, as Jivamukti is a form of Integral Yoga. We are so grateful to have spent those few days there…
Written by Mich Mac
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