Maiya Irvine spent seven months at the Ashram as a Hospitality Learning Resident. Freshly graduated from high school, she came to the Ashram from across the country to learn about herself through living in a spiritual community. She reflects on her experience.
When I first applied I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but I’m so glad listened to my intuition and took that leap of faith. I feel how much I love this place in every cell of my being — how much it’s become home.
Before coming to the Ashram my relationship with cleaning was not so pleasant. I’d had different work environments that left me with a lot of resentment, so I was a little nervous coming since I knew that as a Hospitality Learning Resident I would be cleaning and taking care of the spaces in the Ashram.
As I worked with my resistance, I started to see how every action contributes to the broader scope of making sacred space, whether it’s preparing the tissue boxes just right, or placing the towels perfectly. At first I just wanted to clean and that be it, but like everything at the Ashram, readying a space is a process and each detail comes together to hold the bigger picture.
I’ve come to understand cleaning as a way of making sacred space for someone to enter into, and I acknowledge that when I do these things I’m creating that space inwards as well. Karma Yoga taught me that even the smallest acts in life can be an offering.
A couple of months ago I was training a new intake of people on the One Month Karma Yoga Program and someone mentioned that making beds was kind of like origami. I’ve come to see cleaning and making beds as an art. I didn’t understand every detail right away, but now I compare it to painting a picture or writing a poem. When I’m making art I don’t rush through trying to figure out the next steps. I see the importance of connecting with my heart space and working through the process to a point of completion. Now cleaning can be like that for me, too.
I know that when things get busy in life no matter where I am — at the Ashram or otherwise — I now have the tools to come back to myself and connect with who I really am.