“God has no religion.” -Gandhiji
Two weeks ago I began working at the Ashram dining room, every night at 8 o-clock. I usually have my dinner at home and then get in place for my shift. I work in the washing section, where I dry plates. The Ashram has a large car-wash-like sanitizer for the thousands of metal cups, spoons, plates, and bowls that are used everyday. A worker delivers stacks of hot plates that we wipe dry and place in a neat pile for another worker to collect and take back to the main dining room. You have to wipe fast because before you know it another hot stack of plates will have arrived.
I chat with my fellow plate-dryers, and nod hello to my friends that pass through to drop off their empty dishes. I have been trying to correct my posture, and so I practice sitting perfectly straight on the wooden bench for an hour. My mind is free to wander over the day’s happenings, listening to the clatter of dishes, fans, and the whirring of the monstrous sanitizer. I usually think about Hindi, turning the day’s newly learned words and phrases over and over, polishing them like collected stones or seashells. Many of the ashram workers converse in Hindi. (I can now read and write very slowly! Very exciting.)
Doing physical work as part of my yoga spiritual practice is rewarding in many ways. Karma yoga is the yoga of performing selfless work. One’s being and intentions become purified, and with constant invocations of God to guide you, one can better connect to the Divinity within.
It is a healthy contrast to my peaceful days spent in the air-conditioned Society office, overlooking the sea. It makes me feel more connected to the ashram community, starting to recognize the faces of those who have lived and worked here for years. Every day I appreciate how well this place runs without anyone in charge but the guidance of the Divine. The shift passes quickly, and by the time I am finished hanging the wet rags on the line I am more than ready to cycle home and fall into bed.