Friday, February 19, 2016

A "Spiritual Vacation" at Shree Peetha Nilaya

Hrdambuje karnika madhya samsthe
simhā sane samsthita divyamurtim

Dhyā yed gurum candra kalā prakā sam

cit pustakā bhī stavaram dadhā nam

Meditate on the Divine form of the Guru who is seated on the throne in the centre of the heart lotus, who shines like the Moon, who bestows the desired boon and throws open the book of Consciousness.

Sri Guru Gita. Sri Swami Vishwananda.

In the middle of January at Shree Peetha Nilaya, there took place a five-day retreat for residents that one could call a "Spiritual vacation". And today we can share with you our little experience. 

It was a mix of an Atma Kriya Yoga retreat and a silent retreat. It showed to us all the beauty of daily practice, the importance of personal Sadhana, and how it is important to be self-disciplined in our everyday life as focus on our service. And finding a balance between Seva and Sadhana is an important point.

This retreat was our SEVA for 5 days, we did not perform our "normal" Seva. It was a total immersion into the retreat. The course was blessed by Guruji and it was truly a gift from him to us all.

Each day started with Surya Namaskar, AKY asanas and AKY group practice. We performed all the techniques, it was really the full program!

Then breakfast in silence. We had tried to be in silence for each meal.

Then at 10:00 we went for a japa walk. It is very important during japa walk to keep a very slow pace and for the whole group to try and go at the same pace. Constantly we chant the mantra "Om Namo Narayanaya", syllable by syllable matched to our steps Om-Namo-Naraya-naya. In this way you can feel the beauty and power of the Divine name, hear a single breath, feel all the beauty of silence, every minute of life.....

...what I felt during japa walks, it's was still 3 moments only. I was walking and I could hear – for some moments everybody was in same step (at the same pace) and it was really this strong feeling of the community. I could really see the steps shining with light. Because every time when you are walking unconsciously you are actually hurting Mother Earth. And very often I was thinking I should walk on my hands. To not insult Mother Earth by stepping with my dirty feet . And this is actually the opposite when you walk and do a mantra , you are actually giving her Love, giving light, doing the opposite." Swami Vishwakeshavananda

...To see how beautiful is the Divine Mother Nature. During the retreat, the weather was wonderful, and there came a real winter in all her beauty.

In one japa walk we visited our cows, it was a sweet moment.

After the japa walk we would have a class. And during the first class Rishi Tulsidasananda explained how to properly meditate. The first lesson is: "Don't move." It is necessary to keep silence, not only physical but also mental. Respect each other's space. Practicing in a group, in silence and without the slightest movements is more powerful. The slogan "don't move" had became the unofficial slogan of the whole retreat! One thinks they understand what 'don't move' means, until, you really do this meditation! Don't move, and of course, always remember that each breath is the breath of the Lord!

During the classes, the teachershared information with great focus and talked about the AKY techniques, about mudras, and each class was accompanied by group meditation under the guidance of Rishi Tulsidasananda.

After lunch we brought our books to the Bhajan cafe to read in silence, which had been transformed into a cozy living room, always with a burning fireplace. All of us brought Guruji's books to read. Someone read the Guru Gita, and some read the Just Love books, and many studied Guruji's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. It was a great time, when we all came together to drink the Nectar from our Divine Master's books!

It was a great experience. I took the retreat as a chance to be in silence for some days, but after the second day my mind got crazy and loud. It was like it was shouting at me non stop. Then I started to talk again sometimes... not much, but tried to keep silence inside rather then outside and just accepted whatever is. Suddenly it changed inside an my mind got calm and silent, which seemed to grow more with each Kriya practice. It was amazing!” Amaravati.

At 17:00 we went for parikrama around the ashram. Since the new year, it has been Guruji's wish for all residents, at 17-00 every day, to do parikrama around the ashram in silence with an inner chanting of mantras, but at a fast pace.

We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. So when we do circumambulation, we accept that our actions and thoughts are always centered around God.  
At 17:30 we came together for OM Chanting. The group OM chanting was remarkably powerful, as the sound resonated deeply and the atmosphere was transformed. It's amazing to also know that when one is participating in OM Chanting, one is helping Mother Earth. If you haven't heard of OM Chanting, feel free to visit the main website for more details:  After the OM Chanting, we did our second set of AKY together to finish the night with Divine Communion. 

On the last day of the retreat, Rishi Tulsidas told us not to bring our books to the Cafe after lunch, as there was waiting for us a surpise activity. All were in anticipation, we were asking ourselves, "What is this new thing that is waiting for us?" After lunch, Tulsidas told a story about one of the dearest bhaktas to God, who performs seva and constantly thinks about God. And then Tulsidas announced to us that we could all do this as well! And so, we together we cleaned the entire ashram from top to bottom. 

It was a spirit of unity! Everything was done for Him and with Him! The main points during the Seva was to be in silence, chant a mantra, and serve with the spirit of directly serving the Lord.

"In the word Karma Yoga, the first part is karma – service – and the second part is yog. Yog is union. Through doing Karma Yoga, through doing service, you bring the union that you have inside of you, inside somebody else. Through that union, lots of karmic negativity that you have created from previous lives is being burnt. That’s why the more service you do and the more help you give, the better it is." -Sri Swami Vishwananda. Just Love 2

And on the final day of retreat, each participant shared his/her experience that they had for the last 5 days. Each of us acquired or discovered something new. And not only did we discover something for ourselves but we all became closer to each other. Moreover, we all expressed the willingness to continue to do our kriyas together and meditate more than what we have done previously. The community truly united as one family, and the retreat proved to be a great success. 

Serve, Give Thanks,
Meditate, practice Atma Kriya:
Just Love.
With Love from Shree Peetha Nilaya.

If you follow your path, you have your own sadhana. Enjoy it and love it! That’s what will bring you closer and closer to your real Self. That is what will awaken this deep longing for the Divine, because once you have tasted this sweetness of the Divine, you will want more and more. This is the drug that the Divine gives you and it’s the sweetness of His drug that you will always want." -Sri Swami Vishwananda. (Excerpt from Just Love 2: The Essence of Everything)