The Ashramic Stages of Your Life
While leisurely reading through my favorite yoga book, The Yamas and the Niyamas, I came across a wonderfully written grand overview of the stages of life. This comes from an Indian perspective and applies to our culture perfectly well. Think about your growing up years when play is the first thought of the day. Our parents mold us into little human beings with a few skills and an amazing curious spirit. What were you interested in as a child? What was your favorite class at school? What hobbies did you enjoy?
Once we (hopefully) graduate from High School, the pressure is on to use all that we’ve learned and get a job and maybe build a family, thereby becoming a part of the community. I remember my first “real” job, when I entered pharmaceutical sales. I was only 22 years old. Sharing the excitement with my parents was the best! You could see the pride written on their faces. Then the work begins and there is stress, pressure to perform, wonderful celebrations when things go right, humiliation when things don’t go right, and the need to repeat the performance over and over again. But I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. We evolve.
A lifetime later, we are finally able to retire. Now what? This is the question I hear most often. There is often a bit of fear of this unknown era. What do I do now? Will I simply be babysitting so that my kids can go off and have their adventures? Will I embrace the role of grandma or grandpa? Will I want to travel? Will I want to volunteer? Should I volunteer? What is my purpose? The Ashramic Stages romanticize this 3rd stage of our lives. It is time to simplify and declutter. It is time to pursue mindfulness. It is an opportunity to read the books we never had time to pursue. It is the ideal time to start a practice of yoga and/or meditation.
You’ll love this final stage. Once we have explored and gained wisdom from our search, we share what we’ve learned by participating in society. I think of my students from Brookdale and Belmont Living. The stories and the wisdom my students have earned by simply living and experiencing life is precious. Sadly, sometimes dementia and Alzheimer’s erase what was learned. So, it’s important to communicate and share before it’s too late. Sharing our stories with grandchildren gives them perspective. We all have so much to offer by simply living life.
Here are the four Ashramic Stages in summary.
The Ashramic Stages come to us from India and divide life into 4 stages:
Stage 1: a time to grow up and, with the support of your family, learn a skill in which you showed interest and ability
Stage 2: a time to use your new skills for the good of the community and to receive money from the community in return so you could live and raise a family
Stage 3: a time to leave worldly possessions and tasks in pursuit of inner wisdom
Stage 4: a time to return to the community with the inner wisdom that was attained
Where are you in the four stages? Are you happy? Are you where you’d like to be? What needs to change? What needs to stay? Simply living life one day at a time is good enough. We need not be famous to matter. The entire life process is like going to school until we have learned everything there is to learn. Then we get promoted……
Thank you for reading my blog. I enjoyed an entire evening reading, contemplating, and putting this story together for my students and friends. Please let me know if it has touched you. I appreciate you!
Dayna W. Culwell, C-IAYT,
Personal Fitness Trainer