Reflections by Justin Maggart
This year’s Retreat to the Heart of Silence at Camp Brotherhood was a powerful opportunity for me to reconnect with the spiritual practice of retreat. When I was in high school at Seattle Prep, I went on several retreats to wilderness areas, surrounded by trees and the distant sound of waves washing upon ocean shores. In the tradition of Catholic Jesuit priests, we were encouraged to reflect deeply through conversation, writing, and time spent quietly contemplating and awakening our awareness in nature. We also had a lot of fun playing together and building relationships over shared meals, music, skits and deep learning. Looking back, many moments from these retreats are some of my fondest memories of adolescence.
As the end of October neared, I eagerly anticipated the chance to spend a weekend in silence focused on spiritual practice. The journey up to Camp Brotherhood and dinner were full of many pleasant conversations, meeting new friends, and reconnecting with familiar yogis from the Ananda Sangha. The food and the accommodations were excellent, as was the fellowship of many spiritual seekers. Following the orientation for the weekend’s retreat, all participants went into silence with chanting and a group meditation. The collective intention was a palpable presence in the sadhana room that evening, as were the guiding, nurturing vibrations of the Masters of Self-Realization. I experienced one of my deepest meditations in years. Thanks to Murali’s pre-dinner Ananda Yoga class, I was able to sit in the silence long after many had gone to bed. As I blissfully walked back to my room, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be.
Saturday and Sunday were full of opportunities to meditate, practice yoga postures, breathe the cool country air, and reflect. Many hours of meditation were balanced with two Saturday yoga asana classes lead by Murali that were keenly focused on helping us experience stillness in each pose. As morning turned to afternoon turned to night, I felt more and more aware of the subtle currents of energy gathering in my spine and flowing upwards to my spiritual eye. Instead of the static of idle chatter, my mind’s ear resounded with prayers, chants, affirmations, and the sound of OM. In the midst of all of the sadhana, I also took time to journal and witness the seasons turn throughout the verdant grounds of Camp Brotherhood.
In many ways, this weekend of silence allowed me to better know myself and my Self. The ripples of feeling and whirlpools of worries calmed to placid morning waters. I felt a keener and keener awareness of spirit as I tuned my consciousness to images of wisdom within and without. I felt reluctant as the end the silence neared. But the door of my heart, open wide, would not close as we shared our final meal and resumed talking. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I was glowing. I look forward to many more sessions of group sadhana, and the deep bliss that comes from sweet satsang.
I came to Spiritual Renewal Week for Kriya initiation, which was certainly one of the highest moments, but so many blessings throughout the week. Everywhere I went and everyone on staff radiated joy and enthusiasm and helpfulness. Connecting with one another on that level was so wonderful I had to remark that my experience of love for this extended Ananda family was an ever-present joy: a freedom to be able to love so freely frequently brought me to tears
Every time Swamiji began speaking I was filled with that divine energy anew. Again, there is no doubt that Swamiji carries the Light of the Masters. I am always inspired by his wisdom, his example, his graciousness and humility. Being able to play veena for him, and to receive his blessing several times was a beautiful fulfillment. But that Light and humility and wisdom was expressed by SO MANY of the people I met, including so many young adults. I got to experience more of the village and am amazed, again, at the remarkable success of this endeavor, begun by Swamiji from an idea of Master’s so long ago.
There were so many amazing connections with individuals that I cannot recount them all.
I was most grateful to have my spiritual brothers and sisters from our Temple there with me, reflecting with one another, and especially those who took their Kriya initiation with me. One experience worth telling: I’ve been experiencing singing problems for several years now and inquired about it. Swamiji gave some advice: Sing from the heart, project it upwards and leave the throat out of it. Knowing this alone did not make it so. However, during the singing after initiation, the voice came out amazingly strong and clear and on pitch. Jai Guru!
As we post this blog entry, children are enjoying the beginning of the second week of Ananda Yoga Day Camp 2009, at Ananda Community in Lynnwood. About 40 children each week enjoy yoga postures, arts & crafts, swimming and much more in the uplifting environment at the community.
Click here to see photos from the first week.
Yoga Day Camp is a program of Living Wisdom School Seattle. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 425-772-9862.
The Living Wisdom School finished its school year on June 13th;. We had our graduation ceremony for 26 children. The children were awarded “qualities” based on a long-standing Ananda tradition. These “qualities”- non injury, patience, calmness and even mindedness – to name just a few – were carefully selected by the teachers based on the child’s abilities and challenges that he/she courageously mastered this year.
We shared many stories together along with new events happening for the next 2008-9 school year .
The classrooms will have a new configuration, and we are bringing on new teachers to the Living Wisdom staff.
Chandi Holliman will be teaching the Kindergarten and a few Pre K children. Our interviews for our 1st and 2 nd grade teacher are coming along smoothly with a variety of highly educated and experienced candidates ready to explore the Education for Life principals in the Elementary classroom. We will be announcing the new teacher very soon.
The classrooms will have a new look to them next year. We are adding additional space for our Art Studio, coordinated by our Artist in Residence, Martia Denniston and a new 1st & 2nd grade classroom. The kindergarten is moving into last years’ k-1 space, and we’ll have a newly remodeled preschool room, foyer and reception area.
We invite you all to come help out at our remodel workdays in July – 12 & 13 and 26 & 27. Any and all help is appreciated as this is a big project and will take many hands. Please contact Nivritti if you can help! [email@example.com or 425-772-9862]
We look forward to seeing you and sharing in our quest to help children grow to their highest potential.
Fantastic Fridays at the Ananda Community
During the summer months the children and families are having play dates together. If you would like to join us the dates for these summertime events are:
July 11th 11:30-2:00
July 18th 11:30-2:00
August 15th 11:30-2:00
Please bring your sunscreen, sun hats, swimming attire and we will share in the joy of our newly remodeled pool area. Please call Chandi Holliman: 206-790-5905 if you are coming.
You can find directions to the Ananda Community at http://anandaseattle.org/contact/ContactUs.php#MapCommunity.
Summer Day Nature Trips bird watching with Children
Chandi Holliman is also coordinating day trips for viewing of our Northwest birds. If you would like to join our experiental group of bird watchers. Please call Chandi for dates and times.