When I began teaching, I found early on I ran into mental blocks & difficulties when looking to prepare & arrange a class outline/idea/syllabus to teach over the coining weeks. After some experience, my confidence & interest grew, I suppose I got hungry & this allowed me to look at my block & find some inspiration to broaden my horizons, I found 'the 8 elements of Excellence by Yogi Bhajan'.
The 8 elements were the focus of the GBKYF 2015, I found a leaflet from the festival outlining them thus; The Vision, to see your goal & keep it in your consciousness, The Courage, to attempt it & keep up, The Grit, to go through it, The Humility, to know who the doer is, The Knowledge to substantiate it, The Prayer to feed it, The Grace to carry yourself through it & The Determination to achieve it.
I began to put together a mental outline of what the 8 element classes might look like & consist of. I realised that the first element 'The Vision' requires a goal, I shut my eyes & began to think....'My old teacher had mentioned to me that. Shiv Charan Singh owned an Ashram in Portugal & you could stay free of charge in exchange for 'Seva' working there for bed & board. He was trying to poke/provoke me into getting involved, to look at things deeper & confront whatever came up, to stand on my own two feet & go find the teachings for myself.
This idea of going to this Ashram felt like a seed planted long ago, when I first heard the name Shiv Charan Singh spoken, maybe a year into Kundalini Yoga my ears pricked up, I felt something stir deep within me, from my unconscious to my sub-conscious, a process was beginning somehow. I went to see Shiv Charan Singh & Satya Kaur, (Shiv’s wife) talk in London about; the benefits of communal living, the ethos behind an ashram & the way of living together can work. After the talk, I reflected, what appealed to me about ashram life was; finding a space that promotes a regular Aquarian Sadhana & living in a space that was cultured to living & understanding the teachings of Yogi Bhajan.
So, before I could move on seriously & begin to teach about the 8 elements of excellence, I had to set my goal & committed myself to visit the Quinta do Rajo Karam Kriya Ashram in March of 2017'' this was Summer 2016 (my birthday is in March). I began to use the Sixth element, The Prayer to feed it.
I began to find out lots of information while researching for the 8 elements, I didn't know where to start with Humility, lol. I really enjoyed learning about each one & what they meant to me, each class felt exciting, it was all new material. The 2nd element is ''The Courage'' which I needed to commit & seriously enquire about a possible stay at this here 'Ashram'. I began to feel a little heat of commitment beginning, as the internet opened the communication channels, it was easy to click away online, but this commitment was going to be quite a deep challenge.
I received two basic forms to fill in, one about personal details & the other was about your experience with Macrobiotic cooking, garden/handyman work, teaching, translating, computers, first aid & driving. It all looked simple, but I soon felt a tightening within me as 'The Process' began to unfold, a page or two about myself was required & I soon found that 'The Grit' (Third Element of Excellence) was really going to be needed to go through with this project! Prayer seemed to help as you could potentially manage what was going or not going on with things, however Humility help me release lots unto the Cosmos by asking your Will is my Will oh Lord, guide me through please Great One.
I also had to fake it till I made it, I began saying to people ''I am going to visit the Karam Kriya Ashram in Portugal around March 2017'' the more I said it, the more I felt confident about it. I hadn't booked a flight or even been accepted at the ashram yet, 'but' you gotta feel as though your already there, it would definitely happen this way, if I could keep putting out the right vibrations it might come true.
It was still 7/8 months from March, I was promoting my new destiny & goal at the time, I’d asked for a reference from my teacher & employer & the ashram had submitted my application to the directors, I got a reply asking how soon could I start, would I be able to attend fairly soon? Early October maybe? This was Aug/Sept?
I was in town doing some flyering for classes & to think things through, when out of chance I bumped into some fellow teachers, we began catching up, I reeled off my now mantra'' ''I was going to the ashram in Portugal around March next year, they could accept me earlier though I added'' both asked ''why March?'' I said ''well it's my Birthday see & wanted to stick to my plan etc etc etc.'' They both said; ''You're are ready now & it's your ego that wants to relax & wait till March, go now & then at least you'll get it out of your system'' My stomach sank as I realised they were right, If I had also to keep saying the Ashram mantra till March, I’d have driven myself half insane & what if it failed to happen by the time I was due to go in March?
I needed something concrete to work with, I again needed the Grit & Courage to help me attain my Vision. I did an 'I Ching' it said along the lines of 'go now, great success will come to one’s spiritual development, if one waits too long the chance might be missed or the energy will be drained'' I replied that day & accepted the position of Sevadar at the QDR Ashram starting 12th September, leaving on the 5th December.
So, I’d gone & done it, next step get some flights, tell my boss I was going wandering for a while & would she mind if I could go at the end of the month? Let my students know & close all my classes down. Write a C.V. of myself & get my references submitted & tell my mum & dad. Things were moving very quickly suddenly, a few days ago, I had months ahead of me, I needed 'Element Five' 'The Knowledge to substantiate it.'' The ashram was chasing up my references again, as I received an information pack online outlining my newly found future role of Sevadar.
A Sevadar offers to serve out of selfless service & works from a place deeply connected to Humility & Grace, (element 4& 8) my translation is thus, that you work from the heart with a deep essence of altruism, the idea is you work from a perspective where you work out of love, not to impress anybody & try to buy their time gain brownie points. It's between you & GOD basically, Gods your boss so be humble to know who the doer is.
My teacher supplied me with a glowing reference which lifted my spirits a little, deep down I was beginning to question myself, was capable of staying at the ashram for 40 days plus, could I handle this I wondered? It could be quite tough work & would I be able to manage to make Sadhana every day? They might kick me out for not keeping up, I felt very small & kind of shocked that all this was happening & so quickly too, be careful of what you ask for washed over me a few times, but a yogi stays in elevated spirits!!