A discovery, courtesy of our four-day stay at the above ashram: I really like yoga. Hurrah! Chanting mantras: not so much. Sitting cross-legged for hours and hours every day: about as enjoyable as sandpapering your own ankles. Anyway, here's an extract from the diary:
My limbs ache. At 2pm we have a lecture. Yesterday's was given by a man who looked quite like the actor Zachary Quinto.
He really did, you know. What's that? More? Okay.
Every morning, we have to do Karma Yoga, jobs around the ashram to help out. This consisted of a rather forlorn-looking man with a beard showing me and a Finnish girl "bin locations". He pronounced these two words with perhaps more gravity than they deserved. We're supposed to pick up full bins and haul them to a spot in the woods where two rough-and-ready Indian men sort through the rubbish, selecting items for compost, reuse, and so on. I suspect they just burn the lot. Still, there isn't that much waste - although there are 250 people living here, there's very little trash generated on-site. Sarah got toilet-cleaning duty lol.
Before you get me wrong, as you so often do, I should reluctantly concede that the whole thing was a really positive and enjoyable experience, and the ashramifications of this are that we are thinking of paying another visit, maybe to one of the Sivananda joints up north. However, the negative stuff is far more fun to type up.
Last night we were shown a short documentary about water. It was dreadful bollocks. This quack in Japan had apparently discovered that you could make water produce "beautiful crystals" if you said nice things to it, or more blobby crystals ("ugly shapes") if you said things like (and I'm quoting): "You fool", "You make me sick" or "I will kill you". I wonder if he got this hypothesis soon after watching Ghostbusters 2, with its psychoreactive pink ectoplasm. Brilliantly, the doctor's experiment even works if you write a few words on a piece of paper and sellotape them to a jar of water - and the scientists in the documentary demonstrated that water understands both French and Japanese! I kept expecting Ben Goldacre to come Tarzanning into the hall. The reason for all this, by the way, was to show that chanting mantras can have an effect on the outside world and therefore mantras are the best thing ever. I shouted, "YOU FOOL" at my water bottle on the way to bed and the liquid within has now turned the colour of Satan's piss, SO IT MUST BE TRUE.
But it wasn't all snarkiness:
There have been some quite special moments. In the mornings, you close your eyes to meditate, and when you open them, the light of day has crept in. In the evenings, you sit with hundreds of people in a completely silent room, and all that's audible are the crickets and the roaring of lions from across the lake.
Lions? Yes, really - there was a wildlife sanctuary nearby. One girl told us she'd visited it and that although there were real lions there, the noise wasn't from them, but was in fact the sound of a tape being played over a loudspeaker. We soon realised this was absolute drivel, since you'd need a PA the size of Portsmouth to achieve such a pointless effect. We left her before she got started on the water crystals.