Ashram Week has probably been my most meaningful week here so far. There’s always a certain calmness at the Ranch, but I would say especially during this week. In fact, it’s been almost magical. It’s come in the middle of a very chaotic time in my life and it was honestly just what I needed to calm things down and put life into perspective.
I’m like most other people who are new to meditation. With my life being so busy, I find it extremely hard to sit still and calm my mind. However, when I’m able to do it, even if it’s just for a minute, it’s so gratifying and refreshing.
The meditation was guided by Swami Nityamuktenanda Saraswati in the Oaktree Pavilion. The room was adorned in beautiful orange saffron drapes that matched her robe. Since the meditation was in the morning the light from the sun made the drapes glow which was just beautiful. Perfect setting for a morning meditation.
We focused on breathing through our belly and diaphragm, taking deep breaths in and making sure that our inhales and exhales were even. Then, we added a mantra to our breathing to help us stay focused. We could either come up with our own mantra or chant So Hum, a well-known mantra. Or we could even say 1, 2…anything that was simple and kept us focused on our breath.
It sounds easy enough, but I had a really difficult time with it! My mind was racing and it was definitely a struggle to stay focused. However, like anything you do for the first time, it gets easier the more you practice. It was really amazing and inspiring to watch Swami Nitya because she is so at ease during the meditation and her lectures. Even though the meditation was not easy for me (even Swami Nitya told us it was very difficult for her when she first started) I want to continue to work at it. I’ve seen it change people’s lives, my father being one of them. Also, I have to say, that for my first time in a group meditation, I’m pretty lucky to have been in the presence of Swami Nityamuktenanda Saraswati.