Question: I notice that you lived in an ashrama for several years. Should I also live in an ashrama to improve my understanding of Vedic astrology?
Let me see what “words of wisdom” I can give you. An ashrama is not a location or a building – it is a lifestyle. There are four types of ashramas – brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha and sanyassa: which you could roughly say means “learning”, “applying”, “retiring” and “perfecting” the subject that all the ashramas study – self-realization.
You must always dwell in an ashrama otherwise you are not on the evolutionary path. Astrology and metaphysics is clear only to those on the evolutionary path so it is not a question of living in a particular location for a certain amount of time. it is a question of dedication to self-realization that enables a spiritualist (astrologer or otherwise) to excel.
So don’t so much look for a temple or organization as your “ashrama” but look to develop a “sadhana.” Sadhana is the backbone of ashrama. Sadhana means spiritual practice. You will need a guru in some form or another to help you find the sadhana that truly fits you. There are many details of Sadhana, but the main essential is the focus on the divine via the instrument of sound (“mantra.”)
So regardless of where we live, or what groups we do or don’t belong to, what we really need to do to live in an ashrama is practice mantra regularly and with care.
Next the question comes, “which mantra” and this falls to the supersoul to reveal to you. Mantras composed directly of the names of the All-Attractive are the most powerful, both in theory and in my personal experience. Although you will need the divine to grant you a mantra through a guru, there is a general dispensation to everyone to meditate upon the devotional sounding of the “maha-mantra:”
hare krishna, hare krishna,
krishna krishna, hare hare.
hare rama, hare rama,
rama rama, hare hare.
It is also essential to read texts which create self-realization. Especially, in my opinion, Srimad-Bhagavatam. I am doing a blog on Srimad Bhagavatam right now, you might really enjoy it: http://bhagavatambybraja.wordpress.com