Lisa is a long-time member of Ananda India, and recently moved from Gurgaon, near Delhi, to help start the Ananda community near Pune.
Recently, Ananda Sangha in Pune held the first Youth Campout and Retreat on the land where the future Ananda Community will be, an hour outside the city.
We defined “youth” as being “anyone willing to sleep in a tent.” Indeed, the participants ranged in age from pre-school to a youthful gentleman in his seventies.
The weekend included group meditation, service projects, free time to enjoy the peace of country life, and a group discussion lead by Jaya Helin, who has been a member of Ananda Sangha for 40 years.
The topic of the discussion was “When To Sprint and When To Be a Long-Distance Runner on the Spiritual Path.” Jaya said, “When you enter the spiritual path, you will awaken seeds of past good karma. These can help you with your spiritual practices, and bring comfort and security in these troublesome times.”
There was also a great deal of enthusiasm for the service projects which included beginning a “test garden;” painting a small house where the land’s caretaker currently lives; digging terraces and swales to recover rainwater; and starting a greywater recovery system, in order to use water more efficiently.
When asked why they chose to participate in the retreat, two young men from India’s high-tech world said that they came to get away from the stresses of daily life, and to enjoy the company of other like-minded people. They also wanted to have time to meditate with others in order to deepen their own meditation practices.
A young mother of two, who, along with her husband, is a dedicated member of Ananda Sangha, said that the retreat was “an opportunity to get away from the harsh crowds, noise, and traffic of the city, and to recharge myself with time in the countryside in order to go back to daily life with more gusto.” She and her husband open their home in the city every week to host group meditations.
It was an amazing weekend with devotees of varying ages, countries and backgrounds coming together and finding joy in uplifting company, simple service, and, most satisfying of all, meditation with like-minded souls. We are all looking forward to the next opportunity to take a break from daily responsibilities, recharge with service and satsang, and then return to daily life “with more gusto.”