Learnings from importing and exporting mattresses in and out of an ashram

I am back in Zurich, working in my bank and just reminded of one story, which happened when I was in Puttarparthi, where the ashram is, where I was in September.

I was just wondering about how I treat myself and others in my daily work and what I am bringing home from India. I just felt that I am taking my job serious but compared to other jobs before I don’t take it so serious in a tight sense anymore, which wore me often down, which made my head feeling bursting with thoughts which separated me from my job instead of connecting to it and doing what has to be done in an easier, happier way.

So what happened? What makes me more relaxed and therefore more enabled to take responsibility for what I do, in a more relaxed manner?

First of all, it is how I treat myself. This is the key. Not looking for recognition from the outside but rather for my own recognition, that I am confident and happy with what I am doing. Sounds logical, straight, easy. It is not, if you are caught in fears: For example: Will I be able to write my phd, will my professor accept it? (Fears are always so big! Having their own lives…) Instead of: This is my thing. I love it. I just do it as it feels right for me.

I don’t say that I have had always these negative feelings – it is just one aspect, sometimes I am on the positive “flow side” and sometimes on the hard, stuck side, loosing myself in the “I-have-to-have-recognition-from-someone-outside”-thing, which is NO FUN.

There is one story from the ashram, which illustrates the whole thing. So often I discover situations in the outside which mirror a situation inside me. This story is about one of these situations.

We arrived at the ashram and bought new mattresses for our rooms. We came in and the police stopped us. They wanted to know everything about the mattresses, where we bought them, etc. We had to show our yellow receipts by the shopkeeper, which showed, that we actually bought them. We wanted to bring the mattresses back to him at the end of our ashram stay to get the money back to get part of the money back and so he can sell them again. To prove that you didn’t steal the mattresses you have to show your buying receipt when you leave the ashram with the mattresses. Accidentally, the shopkeeper filled in a wrong buying date on our yellow paper receipts. The police took the receipts, said we should come back tomorrow, and after a lot of arguing we were allowed to bring in the mattresses into the ashram.

I was on vacation. I was open to how India works, thinking “So What?”. Importing these mattresses, talking with the police was fun for me. I was more curious to see how everything works. There was no fear, or thought I have to get this thing done. I could have survived on the other mattress, which was already in my room (although have a new one is really really really nice :-)

The next day I went back to collect the yellow receipts. Not successfully. Other policemen. I told the story again. To make it short: I went there for at least one and a half weeks or even two, different day times, different police officers, being patient, fighting in a very very friendly way for my yellow receipt. There was nothing depending on it – so my feeling. I would have given the mattress as a gift to someone else, if I weren’t be able to bring it back after my stay.

But: Somehow it felt important to get these yellow receipts. I was so clear about this.

So, dropping in at the police station, telling my story again and again, became a regular practice while being in the ashram. I was always very friendly. Some of the officers liked me, some disliked me. I didn’t care, I just dropped by again and again.

One evening when I thought, I finally chased down “CA”, the police officer of that evening who collected the yellow receipts. But in fact, I did not, he was not in. We came to the truth then: The other officers told me: “You are a problem.” I replied: “I know that I am problem for you. I know that you have no clue where the yellow papers are. But I need them, because it is a lot of money, and I also would like to know what we can do.”

One officer disappeared and returned after ten minutes with exactly these yellow papers!! I don’t know until today where they came from. CA didn’t come and I was too happy to ask him where he got it from. The translator was also happy, translating my story so many times :-)

Why do I see a connection to my daily work? The whole thing was a play and no play at the same time. It was a play because I was relaxed inside (no fear), and still worked effectively on the outside (staying friendly and calm the whole time, focusing on the others, not forgetting what I came for, knowing my borders and what I can ask for).

Going there felt like being in the flow. At home such an administrative thing could have driven me crazy, but there I was just relaxed and curious about what this situation shall teach me.

Finally, I was so happy and grateful to get these receipts. I brought my mattress back when I left. The shopkeeper was happy as he could sell it again, and I gave part of the money to my carrier, who always helped me, bringing me papayas every second day for my breakfast (so important!!), also bringing my mattress home.

My wonderful friend interprets the story like this: I talked to my superego, which is usually my biggest critic. I mean, what is there more fearful in a state than the police? If one part of me has fear of rejection of my work for instance, it is the loud voice of my inner critic. So the policemen represented my superego/critic.

I could have been lost in the guilt-pattern: “Why didn’t I check the date on the receipt on the first day?” or judging the policemen. There was non-judgement. I felt for the policemen, and they for me: compassion.

All together: It was fun. And it was serious. I stayed centered. I went there every day, accepting, thinking: It is as it is. Not concerned about the outcome. Just having the feeling I want to do this as good as I can. Feeling joy in that. I felt responsible to get the receipts back. Really. I interacted with the policemen in a very constructive, playful manner. We got work done together.

I am trusting that I keep this playful, respectful manner in this play with myself :-)IMG_0928

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Sandra Veronika Gross is an advanced yoga teacher and a Rose Program Certified Counselor for nutrition and detoxification. She helps people with a busy schedule to engage in a healthy life style in their own pace to be full of joy, follow their intuition and experience inner peace.

2 Comments

  1. Yes, I very much like the story of the mats. This is surely the way to deal with officialdom of all kind. For the Epicureans, life should be treated as a dinner party. But one could do worse than deal with life’s hassles as if they were mats….

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