The ashram is a symbol, an external expression of what should be happening in everybodys minds and hearts. Ashram life is designed in such a way that it reminds you of illumination every moment you are there. There is a synthesis of karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga in the ashram.
An ashram is not a monastery or organization, but a place where you are taught to realize your spiritual self. That is the purpose of an ashram. Therefore, every seeker on the spiritual path must expose himself to ashram life. Here, the richest and the poorest, the virtuous and the vicious, the peaceful and the restless, all live and work together in harmony. It is an environment where we not only meet physically, but also exchange energies. We share, partake of and vibrate within the same energy field.
The atmosphere of the ashram is charged with spiritual vibrations created by the system, discipline, good thoughts and spirituality of all those who live in or visit it. When we go to the ashram, we find those positive, spiritual energies flowing which the mind cannot comprehend and the senses cannot see or smell, but the inner being understands. In order to maintain the purity of those vibrations, it is important that ashrams are simple. An ashram is not an expression of desire; it is a place that gives you what you need, not what you want. Swami Sivananda used to say, Ashrams are born of the pure mental ray of a yogic sankalpa, not of desire.
When you go to an ashram, participate in all its activities so you can contribute to the ashrams progress and growth. If you work selflessly in the ashram, you also get the reward. The growth of the ashram and your spiritual growth are catalyzed simultaneously.