21 things I learned at ashram Amritapuri Kerala India
Out of the whole March in 2015 traveling around Kerala, India, I spent also 10 days at ashram Amritapuri, the main ashram built by the famous AMMA. It was a completely different experience to Kerala Backwaters or Wayanad homestay, let me tell you.
It was my very first time at an ashram so I did not know much about how it works. But as every experience teaches us something, here’s the list of the things I learned there.
21 things I learned at ashram Amritapuri Kerala India:
1. I can never stay 100% disciplined no matter how much I try. There are days when I can accomplish everything I want to, or even more, but then also many when I don’t even feel like doing anything. It was the same with yoga at the ashram. I tried to practice every day. TRIED. But not every day I had energy for it so I had to force myself into it just to keep the word I gave to myself.
2. I could get ”horny”, or let’s say ”sexual” no matter where I am. I was at ashram Amritapuri after I spent 5 months trying to convince myself that my spirituality was way bigger than my animal needs. Boy, was I wrong! The idea of having someone to cuddle or even better, to have sex with, crossed my mind once or twice. Ok, sorry, no lies when speaking of such a sacred place… I wanted to have sex badly and I felt ashamed of feeling that ”thing” at the ashram. Sometimes I got paralized as I thought some holy people out there could read my mind or feel my sexual needs when I walked down the street…
3. I fell in love with Indian vegetarian/vegan food. I even started to like spicy (before, I could not even stand it for 29 years!) Who cared that the tears were rolling down my cheeks most of the time?! The pleasure in my mouth was still bigger …
4. I do not enjoy eating with my hands instead of with cutlery. I mean I would not mind that much if my nails were short and everyone did not have to see then all the different meals I’ve eaten in the past few days with leftovers under my nails. Also, trying to eat rice with water using my fingers? Wait, how does that even work? … I want to eat everything always with a big spoon only for the rest of my life … and trust me, eating out at posh restaurants do not make it easy for me.
5. It’s really true that the Indian cuisine based on Ayurvedic principles of mixing all the flavours makes me crave less sweets and chocolate. I did not eat anything like that since my second day at the ashram even though I walked around a bakery with cakes and muffins every day.
6. There’s very few things I could repeat over and over and over again without getting into an unpleasant stereotype, but I could definitely spend hours walking up and down the coast soaking up my feet in the sea EVERY D*MN DAY.
7. Spending time on the beach and not being able to swim is too painful! Because of the strong current it’s not allowed to swim in the sea at the beaches around Amritapuri. Trust me, it was very difficult not to strip into bikini in that heat and humidity.
8. Sunrise and sunset are the best parts of every day, no doubt! Each day I was up and watched every sunrise from the balcony just after I woke up and then walked down to the river bank; and then observed every sunset from the beach. Their uniqueness made me happy and really calmed me down.
9. Practicing yoga on the beach is so much fun … however, mission impossible at times. I couple of times I tried to focus with my eyes closed to hold the positions for longer, but unexpected waves, crabs or sea gulls decided to change it. Once during the meditation a huge sea wave hit me hard up to the waist and I was left covered with wet sand and had to go change. I know, it was meant to test my patience and strength.
10. I need fresh coconuts every day when staying in a tropical place where I am able to get them. There’s nothing more refreshing than drinking cold coconut water. The best feeling ever!
11. I LOVE chasing animals to take photos of them. Every morning I found myself running with the camera outside of the ashram trying to get some images of different birds, iguanas and squirrels. It brings me pure happiness to watch them move, play, eat or breathe. It puts me right into moment.
12. Staying at a holy place does not necessarily mean I will feel calm and happy all the time. To be honest, I was nervous half of each day when it got too hot and I could not do anything without sweating like a pig.
13. It’s impossible to get a good night sleep at the ashram. It was not only too hot & humid to sleep, there were some mosquitoes, too … and most of all, it was so loud! We were staying on the 11th floor where at first I thought we would not hear anything but then it seemed the echo was right there. We could hear the bhajans singing from the temples starting since 4.30 – 5 am, then music and voices from the street radio at night sometimes until 2 am! And then there were those crow-looking birds that would screech in between. Not even 1 single night I got a good night sleep so at the mid-day sometimes I tried to nap (when I had no work on my laptop.)
14. I really do not need many material things and I could easily wear just lose white clothes. For the entire 10 days I only wore 3 different shirts and 2 pants (1 shirt for yoga, the other 2 for the rest of the day. I always hand-washed one at mid-day and changed into the second one for the afternoon and then washed that one at night. It was so humid I simply had to wash them with water only.)
15. It is no fun to feel like a tuna packed in my own juice 24/7. I do like hot weather, I do NOT like hot humid weather when I am not inside the sea up to my neck.
16. There’s always something unexpected happening. Almost every night after our beach sunset time, we heard music, walked to the street and saw some celebration going on. Dancing, singing, drum playing, elephant riding? All that and much more!
17. I spent the entire 10 days walking barefoot. And no, I did not care if my feet were super dirty. It’s for my own health, right? No one really cared there and people did not stare at me. Yay!
18. Wearing something tight or seeing a man even slightly touch a girl’s hair, hand or any other part of her body, no matter how innocent it might be, caught my attention each time I saw it. And not just that, it even felt wrong to me somehow! Spending a month in India I got so deep into the culture and customs that it took me some time to change back to our ”normal Western” behaviour when any affection between men and women seemed okay to me.
19. The world is small. We met Marek, a Slovak guy I was in touch with via emails 3 and a half years ago. He lived on Koh Phangan in Thailand when I was going to visit the island in late 2011 but we missed each other there. Only at ashram Amritapuri Kerala it was our time to meet up. It was so funny to find someone from the same country at the other part of the world who even had mutual friends with me and who I talked to online in the past! How crazy is that?!
20. When I can’t get online and work from time to time, I feel anxious and cannot really enjoy my time doing nothing. After 2 weeks of very bad internet connection when exploring Kerala state in India I had so many unanswered messages, and so much work and planning to do it made me feel guilty not being online at the ashram. But, obviously, there was no wifi at Amritapuri as people go there to disconnect from the outside world in order to connect with their higher self and go deeper into themselves.
However, there was an internet room opened for a few hours at mid-day but as I could not connect my laptop there and other people were always waiting, I was not able to do much. I think I spent max 3 hours online there during those 10 days. On top of that, I had mobile 3G data which I could use every night for a few minutes just for important messages (to tell my clients I could not get the work done.) It did make me feel nervous not working and only chilling… but then, even breathing well and not sweating in that heat was a challenge!
21. People do change. Or at least, they can adapt to the environment. My dad became a brand-new person after his stay at ashram Amritapuri 🙂
Bonus: I cannot stand mosquitoes. It’s nothing new to me, it’s a fact. Just reassuring that the world knows it.
Bonus 2: read also my other article 33 things to know before going to Amritapuri.