Day 82- a day in the life at the Gedong Ghandi ashram

Situated in Candidasa, on the East coast of Bali is the Gedong Gandhi Ashram. It lies between an enormous lotus pond and the ocean and feels like one of the holiest places in Bali. I stayed here once before in April, 2010 and had one of those life changing experiences I will never forget. They remember me and even offer me the same bungalow to stay in this time. It is right next to a doorway made out of coral and wood. The door leads out to a break wall and in the distance beyond the clear blue water I can see the surrounding islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Lombok.

The morning puja begins just after 5am but in my eagerness I get to the common area at 4.30am. I sit in silent meditation and wait. I try a new technique today; instead of giving my mind something to focus on, I just give it ten minutes to think whatever it wants. I allow my inner dialogue to wonder why nobody has turned up yet for morning puja. Where is everyone? How embarrassing that I am sitting here alone. What if it isn’t on or I’ve come a whole hour too early? Maybe I should sneak off back to bed? I stop my thoughts. Ten minutes is up, guys. Let’s clear out. Who cares if you are the only one here. How great! You can meditate in peace before the puja.

After some time I get up and slowly walk back to the room. Just before I walk around the tiny school, I hear the bell ring. I’m probably equidistant between the common area and my bungalow but I don’t want to miss out. The morning puja is the best as it involves the Agnihotra, a small fire offering. Normally they burn dried cow manure patties but today they just use incense. The small collection of devotees of the ashram chant the morning prayers and I once again find stillness and peace.

The sun rises with the last of the prayers and I go back to the room. The young girls bring a thermos of hot water for tea or coffee soon after and my intention to practice asana is thwarted by more sleep.

The morning bell for breakfast rings around 8.30am and we are fed Bubur Nasi Hitam; black rice porridge and coconut milk, followed by crepes with shaved coconut and palm sugar. Hands down this is some of the best Indonesian food I have ever eaten in Bali. But I wonder if the food tastes better because we chant a prayer before each meal? One of my teachers, Twee, once said that food should always be honoured with a prayer before it is eaten because it goes through so much to get to our plates. Not only must it be grown and cared for, but it also passes through many hands to get to us. Considering the amount of energy someone can pass into things through touch, it makes sense to offer a prayer and perhaps clear out any residual ju-ju the food may have picked up along the way.

There is a tiny attic above the porch where a decent hour of hot yoga asana can happen. I push through my lethargy and make it happen twice today.

The wind carries away the sound of the lunch bell so we are late for the feast of fried tempeh, mixed vegetables, tofu and potatoes and fresh cucumbers from the garden. I seriously need to stop with the second helpings!

Kawi, who teaches yoga on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4.30pm, comes around to apologise. There is no yoga today as they will be performing the Ogoh-Ogoh cleansing ritual in the village to clear the bad spirits out before Nyepi.

Afternoon tea is brought to the hut: tea, coffee and deep fried bananas. (I wish those things didn’t exist!)

Dinner is a tempeh curry, carrots and green beans, frittata and a vegetable fritter of some kind. Why does everything taste great once it’s been deep fried?

Evening prayer is at 7.30pm. By this time mosquito repellant is an absolute necessity.

Sleep comes quickly with the sounds of the ocean pounding the break wall. A distant lighthouse shines across the mosquito net around the bed; land is here.

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  1. Trackback: What's a yoga ashram really like? -

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