Inspiration from the Ashram Garden
The contribution and impact of nature on our lives is often taken for granted. How many of us take the time in the middle of our busyness to stop, look, and listen? And yet, a simple walk around the gardens and natural spaces of the ashram gives us an opportunity to be nourished and healed and to learn spiritual truths. All that is required is that we become silent and open our eyes, ears, and most importantly, our hearts.
The Sacredness of All Life
The ashram garden is kept and maintained in the most pure way, according to the instructions of Daniele Laberge, a well-known traditional herbalist from Quebec, Canada. The sacredness of all life is the main guideline: the animals, the trees, the shrubs, the plants, the rocks, all are included in the spirit of unity of all life.
Creating a garden on a sandy, rocky island can be a great challenge. Compost is so essential for our gardens that we call it “the black gold." At the ashram, active composting is done by the ashram volunteers. We use all the materials that nature and the environment provide: dry leaves from the trees, seaweed from the ocean, and waste from the kitchen.
On the property, there are more than 300 coconut trees, some of which are 70-80 years old. You will also find a variety of Palm and other tropical trees, including the Yellow Elder, which is the national tree of the Bahamas and gives a yellow bloom from the end of summer to mid-winter.
There are many Sapodilla trees, or Dili trees as they are known in the Bahamas (called Chico trees in Ayurveda). In Ayurveda, the Dili fruit holds special healing properties: it replenishes and revitalizes energy and is a vital source of vitamins and minerals. In the middle of the ashram, there is a very large Dili tree; a local expert said that this is the oldest Dili tree she has ever seen, probably the oldest one on the island.
Two small Neem trees can be found on the property and were donated by a local Bahamian company, Abaco Neem (some of their products can be found in our Boutique). The Neem tree is described in Ayurveda as the "wonder tree of India,” and holds many healing properties. The root, bark, resin, gum, twigs, leaves, seeds, flowers, and fruit of the Neem tree contain chemical compounds with extensive therapeutic qualities, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-anxiety among others.
Plants and Flowers
The ashram garden is home to many tropical plants and flowers, including the Red Ginger (Alpinia Purpurata) as well as several varieties of the Ti plant, which is considered to be a temple plant in Hawaii. You will also see many Hibiscus, the national flower of the Bahamas, and is traditionally offered to the divine mother Durga, due to its red color. Interestingly, the name for the Hibiscus in Ayurveda is Japa, which in Sanskrit means repetition of the divine name.
As you walk around the ashram, allow yourself to pause at one of the three water ponds, simple, serene places where you can sit, relax, read, and meditate. Take in the incredible beauty of the trees and flowers, the uplifting songs of the birds, and the ongoing sound of the breath of the ocean.
Ask yourself, what is it that they all come to teach us?
In fact, looking around, you will see that many of the plants in the garden have the shape of a heart, serving as a constant reminder of the teaching of Swami Sivananda:
"All creation is the family of God. Love all God's creation. Love even the leaf. Love the animals. Love the birds. Love the plants. Love everything. This is the way to knowledge of the mystery underlying them all." (Bliss Divine, page 308)