St Francis Pond in Winter at Ananda Village

St Francis pond below our home.

As part of our spiritual practice here at Ananda Village, we are urged to take seclusions regularly. Perhaps just a day here and there, and to at least annually take a week-long seclusion, as a balance to all of our busy outward service activities. In fact, employees like me, who work for Ananda Businesses here at Ananda Village, are offered a week-long seclusion as paid time in addition to our standard vacation hours. Since it is not cumulative and I didn’t schedule the time and consequently lost “taking seclusion”, I really missed it.

In the Bhagavad Gita it says: “Free from the hopes (engendered by) desire, and untouched by any craving for possession, the (waves of feeling in his) heart controlled (by yoga concentration), the yogi, retiring alone to a quiet place, should try to unite his little self with the Supreme Self.” (Chapter 6 verse 10). (Commentary in “The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita” Page 255 in chapter 18)

This week I am taking seclusion for seven days. Well, it is really only six because I had company over weekend and then had to prepare on Monday, etc. What I plan to do is not speak with anyone, have no work related activities at IT, or the clinic or solar complex, stay quiet, walk, meditate, chant, read books, and listen to inspiring music, in essence, to focus inward, attempting to go deeper into the quiet spaces of the soul, and each little bit helps. I will chop wood and carry water, but with the Divine on my mind, not just the mundane.

This is an opportunity for longer meditation and for releasing, at least for a few days each year, my mind from the outward push and pull of daily life. Some people’s seclusions are very deep, others aren’t. I’ve had mixed results upon first impression, but always feel renewed. I don’t claim to be even conversant with how to seclude, sort of “just do it”. One recommendation I have heard is to maintain silence. For this seclusion, I interpret that to be not speaking nor, hopefully, interacting with anyone. But, as mentioned, I am listening to certain music with a deep spiritual vibration and with deep (a relative term) concentration on some talks by those souls whom I feel have a deeper understanding of the infinite than I, in hopes of gleaning some inspiration towards my own goal of self realization.

Seclusion location is up the individual. I am taking seclusion at home because my spouse is visiting and volunteering some time in Ananda LA during this week. The challenge at my house is to not get too wrapped up in all the little home projects. The advantage is low cost and sleeping in my own bed. Plus our home is in a quiet, isolated part of village (whole village is pretty quiet, really) so I don’t see neighbors and can walk into the woods pretty far without seeing anyone. Others go to a meditation retreat. Lots of options. More later.