Maybe when the Beatles and other celebrities introduced us to transcendental meditation around the 60’s, it created the common association of meditation with ashrams, fasting and other austere practices. While such practices can be enlightening, they can also make meditation seem inaccessible to the average urban dweller. This is far from the truth.
I believe there is a hierarchy to spiritual attainment. And if your goal is to arrive at the upper echelon of spiritual evolution, then ashrams, fasting and other austere practices may be the right path. However, for us everyday folks who want to experience life beyond just “everything in moderation,” there is still a place for meditation in our lives. We need not let our modern lifestyles hinder our spiritual growth.
To me, meditation is simply a process of self-awareness — taking stock of your accomplishments and failures, and measuring them against your goals and life purpose. Meditation is also the process of developing your life purpose. So when we talk of meditation and the Self, what more do we need? It is simply a journey within yourself. And an ashram is just a destination in a world of infinite paths.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” — Regardless of who said it first, it is a universal truth.