November 13, 2012

Tales from the Ashram. ~ Gin Gavran

What does your day hold?

A little over four years ago I was about to set out on a month long journey to an ashram in the French countryside. And no, I hadn’t even heard of Eat, Pray, Love.

Along with my friend, Jenny, I’d opened a Pilates studio two years prior. Business was great and I was working from six in the morning until nine o’clock at night. While I was living my dream, I was getting burned out.  Living off coffee and power bars wasn’t exactly the healthy lifestyle I wanted my clients to emulate.

My yogi chiropractor told me about a trip he was taking to teach at the Sivananda ashram in France, and said I could really benefit from the course. At first I thought he was crazy even suggesting I leave my business for a month. Who could do that? I wasn’t independently wealthy. If I didn’t work, I didn’t make money. I let it go.

A couple of months later, thoroughly caffeinated, I was running on empty.

I shyly ran the idea by my business partner. “It’s crazy, right? There’s no way I could do that?” Her response, “I think you should do it.”

Yay! Approval. The one thing I longed for and needed to do, the very thing I wanted to do. So, suggestion became plans, and plans became reality. I bartered sky miles for my ticket, and paid for the training which included room and board.

Getting to France was one of the hardest trips I had ever taken.

It was a real life Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Storms, delayed flights, lost luggage, stuck in traffic, missed train;  need I say more? All of this in search for the peace and tranquility missing in my life. It was a rough start to say the least.

As I walked across the grounds ringing the wake up bell chanting, “Om Namah Sivaya,” I smiled realizing that my Karma Yoga could have been cleaning toilets or washing dishes. I must have done something really good in a past life, or at least built up some karma points for the terrible trip over.

After all, I was in borrowed clothes and dirty underwear with my bag still unaccounted for.  Seriously, what was the lesson with the missing bag? Yeah, yeah I get it—I shouldn’t be attached to worldly possessions. Duh, I’m at an ashram. No, really, what’s the lesson?

I entered week two with still no bag or clothing of my own. So, I sat down with the head Swami pondering the these questions. Is it okay to want my stuff? Am I supposed to just let it go and not call the airline everyday? What was I supposed to do?

Her response was frankly unbelievable. She told me I was absolutely right to call regarding my bag everyday. I had worked hard for those things, and they were mine.

The Swami then followed those words with the greatest lesson I received at the ashram.

It was all about being present. When the time allowed to call—call. When it was time for yoga, meditation, scripture classes—be present, be there and no where else.  I couldn’t let myself get consumed with the fact that I didn’t have my bag while I was in the middle of a headstand. Aha! Light bulb moment—the power of now.

At home, things were getting routine.  Wake up at 5am, make coffee, client, client, client, etc.  There was no presence or awareness, no wonder I was getting so tired.

Staying present keeps things fresh and new, and it opens our eyes to every moment unfolding before us.

It doesn’t let us predict the outcome and ruin the ending. So, what will my day hold—zombie reruns or a fresh start?  It really is up to me. And it’s up to you, what does your day hold?


Gin Gavran is a movement coach and holistic trainer, teaching pilates and yoga in Los Angeles, CA. Trying to make sense of the body, mind and spirit in a nonsensical world. She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, or her website, gingavran.com.


Editor: Sara McKeown

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