OM - I've just found some notes that I made seveal years ago, listening to a talk by Swami Chidanandaji - which made me think of the benefits of ashram life:
The purpose of an Ashram is not to stimulate you or to provide enjoyment for your senses - although you may enjoy the scenery and the people you meet. An ashram is a place to spend time and return home feeling refreshed. It was established to offer an oasis of peace to real spiritual aspirants who have realised that there is really something greater than commercial and social activities, ordinary worldly life. Its purpose is enable you to rise higher and higher.
Sometimes your home atmosphere is not conducive to spiritual life and practice. There are so many obstacles. After visiting an ashram we may find the strength to develop a daily routine which will enhance your spiritual practice. You get the strength and direction when you get up early to sit and commune with God.
An ashram gives an ideal atmosphere, completely saturated with thoughts of God. The daily programme, from early morning to night, is connected only to God. Sitting in silence, turning to God, chanting, reading and study of scriptures – all the facilities for sadhana.
When entering an ashram, it is best to leave behind all daily thoughts, all shortcomings and faults, bad habits. In your secure home life you may have a short temper, a sense of self-importance – all this you should leave behind. Come with sense of humility, sense of serving God and serving humanity, i.e. in the spirit of humility, spirit of service, spirit of devotion, spirit of longing for God – can be combined in a place like this.
Look inward on yourself – “since the day I arrived I have released the following negative thoughs and habits ….”
An ashram is not a place for gossip, the inevitable consequence of worldly chit chat. In an ashram, if you want to talk, talk of Bhagavad Gita or some other scripture. Speak of the lives of saints, or about bhakti or vedanta. An ashram holds up to you an ideal of love and service. Every person is welcome. There is a vision of divinity in all beings.
Whatever service you do in the ashram, whatever experience you have, it will also improve and deepen your life in the outside world.
I look forward to seeing you in Haus Yoga Vidya, Bad Meinberg in August!