Monday, August 19, 2013

Why take a retreat?

I am here at Ananda Village, near Nevada City, CA, for the annual week of Spiritual Renewal. There are about twenty of us from Ananda in the Seattle area. Overall attendance I don't know but for the major talks and events there are two to three hundred (or more) people. There are guests and visitors from around the world.
A week-long retreat was a tradition begun by Paramhansa Yogananda during his years of teaching from his headquarters in Los Angeles during the Twenties and Thirties.
Each morning, Monday through Saturday, there are talks by different Ananda teachers from communities around the world. Most days there are at least two speakers, sometimes an entire panel of speakers.
Afternoons offer workshops or tours or quiet time while evenings bring such activities as a concert, a play, a kirtan, an Indian banquet, and kriya initiation (for those eligible).
For those of us who are not, strictly speaking, guests on retreat but members returning  "home," it's like a reunion. We do have some business or planning meetings, but mostly it is reconnecting with friends and getting up to date.
I cannot over emphasize the value of such retreats, no matter what one's role in the retreat might be.
Retreat differs from seclusion in that seclusion is private and individual. Seclusion is also entirely in silence. Retreat is often with others, although the hybrid is personal retreat which takes place like a semi-seclusion in the midst of other retreat activities.
At Ananda's Expanding Light Retreat you can come for a specific program or on personal retreat, tailored to your own needs and schedule. You can also come on "work exchange".
Many, including myself, get more recharge from retreat or seclusion than most vacations (where you are traveling, in hotels, airports, cars, surrounded by crowds, and over eating etc etc)!
If you want a true recharge for body, mind, soul, I recommend a retreat!  Seclusion is generally best for those with a strong meditation and prayer practice, and who are comfortable yet energized spiritually being completely alone. Thus retreats are the place to start and both are very helpful, indeed, absolutely necessary.
As Paramhansa Yogananda put it, "Seclusion is the price is greatness" and this includes retreat.
Reference Ananda's west coast retreat: We have retreat centers also in central Italy (Umbria, near Assisi), and, in India (in the hills outside Pune city).
Joy to you,
From Ananda Village!

Swami Hrimanananda