In August of 2007, I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. My entire world had changed since I adopted the raw food lifestlyle. My body had released nearly 100 pounds of unhealthy weight, my health had dramatcially improved, I ended unhealthy friendships, I released a lot of stored emotional memories from childhood abuse, I realized that I wasn't living in a location that met my needs anymore, and so much more. I can't think of any aspect of my life that hadn't changed, in one way or another, over the year and a half that led up to my urgent need for a retreat.
I told Jim that I was going to India. I didn't know how I'd manage such a trip, but an urgent need to be at an ashram, alone with myself so that I could process all that had been happening in and around me, was so strong that there was no denying it. I needed to fully connect with my inner self, to give birth, in a way, to the person I had become -- to fully embrace the new me and release the stress that came with all of the changes in my life. I needed to say goodbye to my old self and celebrate my new beginning.
Well, I didn't manage to make it all the way to India because the Universe had something else in mind for me. "You must be at an ashram," was the sentence that came loud and clear from my inner self. When you hear something so clearly, you can act on it and grow in many ways, or you can ignore it and miss out on a step along your personal journey in this life. I knew I needed to be at an ashram and since a trip to India wasn't happening fast enough, I knew I needed to find an alternative. That's when I remembered reading about an ashram being developed right outside of Pittsburgh (where I live)!
The ashram wasn't open, yet. I didn't let that stop me. I sent an email to Leela Mata, the spiritual teacher and visionary behind the Peaceful Valley Ashram, explaining my urgent need to get away. She opened her arms, heart, and doors to me for ten days. During that time I was able to quiet my mind, say goodbye to my life before adopting the raw food lifestlye, and give birth to my new self.
It was during that retreat that I asked myself a lot of important questions: Who am I, exactly? What fills me with love and passion? My answers were that I'm a lover; I genuinely love people. It fills me with even more love when I openly share my love with others, when I help others. There were many questions I asked myself. The many answers began to come together and point the way for a new path along my journey.
Before I left for my retreat, I purchased the Pure Jeevan domain name. I knew that I wanted to share information about the raw food lifestlye with others, so that they could have the opportunity for positive life changes just as I had experienced. It was during that retreat, however, that Pure Jeevan was truly born. Once I began to understand who I am and what I am passionate about, I was able to bring life to Pure Jeevan in a way that I had never imagined before.
In a little more than four months after my retreat, I officially launched Pure Jeevan with Jim's immense talent and help. Out of my love for others, out of my desire to help others, I have been able to touch many lives. We have nearly 5,000 Pure Jeevan family members at this point (a year and a half later) and that number continues to grow. The letters I receive, sharing with me how my story and the information I share has helped so many of you change your own lives, brings me to grateful tears so many times.
Finding out who you are, what your passions are, and truly living your life to the fullest is one of the most beautiful parts of being alive. We need to take time for ourselves, however, to tune-in to the messages we're getting from our inner selves. Too often the stresses, responsibilities, and relationships in life make us temporarily deaf to our true selves. That's why it's vitally important to insist on having time for yourself. It's not selfish, as I once thought. It's what allows us to thrive and blossom more fully into ourselves. It allows us to more fully live passionate lives.
When's the last time you took time for yourself? When's the last time you asked yourself some important questions and sat quiet enough to hear the answers so loudly that there was no denying what your next steps in life would be For me, I may not have taken a trip to India, but everything I wished to accomplish by going away to India was gained. I was able to process many of the changes that had been occurring in my life, make plans for some new adventures, and gain personal insight and more fully understand what I want for myself.
I wish that for you, too! If you can manage to take a personal retreat at the Peaceful Valley Ashram, you won't be disappointed. It's truly a peaceful location with a beautiful spiritual teacher who has a loving mission. Keep in mind, though, that even a short retreat away from your daily life for just a few hours can do wonders!
To read an article I wrote about my ten-day retreat at the ashram, click here.
Contact information for Peaceful Valley Ashram:
- Peaceful Valley Ashram Web Site
Peaceful Valley Seminars/Workshops Schedule
(Beginning July 24, 2009, there is a two-week teacher's training yoga course being offered. There was another session for the course going on while we were there this weekend and it looks like an incredible program for becoming a certified yoga teacher!)
- Email: contact [at] leelamata [dot] com
- Phone: 814.902.1180 (main), 814.316.6307 (cell), 814.316.6307 (fax)
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On July 14, 2009, wrote:
Amazing and thought provoking . YES!