Good Vibrations at the Bahamas Ashram: Healing Connections with the Mystical Past
People visiting the Bahamas ashram, from visiting presenters to Sivananda devotees to yoga vacationers, often talk about its special qualities — with good reason. "For many years, when masters and healers came here, they all saw the same thing," says Swami Swaroopananda, director and spiritual leader of the ashram. "It's a very powerful place by itself, even before we started the ashram."
That power seems to emanate from the earth itself. When founder Swami Vishnudevananda opened the Bahamas ashram in 1968, he noted that a good place to meditate was on a large rock near the bay entrance. "One day while we were all meditating, a mysterious force made me aware that this spot had been holy ground during the Atlantis period," he wrote. "Each day, I felt more vibrations from this spot."
The Dialogues of Plato, dating from around 360 BC, are the only known historical sources for information about the iconic city of Atlantis, swallowed up over one day and night by the sea. Debate about whether Atlantis ever truly existed has lasted for thousands of years
"...I knew very little about Atlantis when I first had the vision," Swami Vishnudevananda wrote. "I knew only vaguely, if at all, that Plato and Pliny and other ancient philosophers had mentioned the fact that such an island had once existed somewhere in the Western world..."
Swami Swaroopananda, who spent 18 years with Swami Vishnudevananda, recalls his guru’s description of the entire Bahamas ashram being built on top of an ancient temple. “Swami Vishnudevananda said, 'This is a temple from the time of Atlantis, quite deep under, and the sanctum sanctorum is where our temple is.'
"People would come here with different types of diseases or exhaustion and they would heal just by the energy of this place," Swami Swaroopananda says. "He also told us that the temple is still active; he mentioned huge crystals under the ground, still building its energy. He saw this in a vision."
Rukmini, a senior staff member and teacher at the Bahamas ashram, adds, "The ashram is a place for healing. People talk about a healing energy on this ground. Swami Vishnu and others felt the power of the ancient civilization of Atlantis."
Through the power of this healing place, she says, Swami Vishnudevananda believed ”civilization would be brought from destructive material life to constructive spiritual life."
Krishnan Namboodiri, the ashram's Tantric priest from South India, recalls that when he arrived almost 20 years ago, it looked like an ancient place. "God was already here," he says.
The corner near the temple has even more power, Namboodiri says. "Swami meditated in that place; there is a strong God connection here. Many people, in my experience, coming for one week or three months, when they come and they put their feet here, feel that it is a special place. I have seen sickness be removed here. That is my experience."
A shaman, healer, and author in the Huichol tradition, Brant Secunda understands about special places of power and life force. "The ashram is definitely one of those places," he says. "There's a special vibration there; I felt it even on the dock, the energy. It must be the original temple that Swami Vishnu recognized and that's what I felt, what my tribe calls kupuri, coming from the earth and the sky meeting in that spot."
The Huichol use the term wkakuyari to mean a sacred place, place of power, Secunda says, "and we say that in ancient times certain gods or goddesses transformed themselves into mountains, lakes, rivers, and sacred stones — and that stone is definitely a sacred spot. I always tell people in my workshops, you get off the boat and you're in another world, a healing place of power. It takes away stress, literally, and makes our spirit and our body beautiful."
This by definition is a place of healing, says Lalita Devi, an Ayurvedic specialist who runs the ashram's Well Being Center. "It's an ashram with a traditional lineage from Swami Sivananda to Swami Vishnudevananda to Swami Swaroopananda," she says. "The details of that healing are different for everybody — what they will encounter is what they need because it's all held in the container of the ashram."
She first arrived at the Bahamas ashram three months after Swami Vishnudevananda passed away, returned to take the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course in 1996 and, with additional training as an Ayurveda practitioner, opened the Well Being Center is 2003.
The treatments offered at the Well Being Center are connected to the body-mind-spirit ideal and supported by the unique qualities of the ashram, she says. "The whole thing is available here because of the lineage."
People come and it's a transforming experience, agrees Swami Hridyananda, a direct disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and senior staff of the ashram. Here, healing emanates from the temple and even the ocean is in front of the ashram. "Something is taking place at a deep level," she says. "It's a reminder, like going home. Many leave here with tears in their eyes."
Indeed, it is a powerful place, says Swami Swaroopananda, but even a powerful place means little without the people. "For many, many years, so many wonderful people have come to this place, so much practice has been done. So therefore the place is special," he recently said at a gathering of the ashram community. "It is special because of you, because you are here and you serve and you practice."