This summer, 2023, Ac. Diiptimanananda Avt., Avtk. Ananda Acira Ac., Ac. Dayashiilananda Avt., and Avtk. Ananda Kalyanmitra Ac. had four meditation retreats in the US and one in Canada. The retreats in the US were at Ananda Girisuta, Ananda Vrati, Ananda Kanan, and Ananda Dhiira. The total attendance was fifty-eight people.
This summer’s first meditation retreat was from July 19 – 23 at Ananda Girisuta Master Unit in Marshall (close to Asheville), North Carolina. Seventeen people attended this retreat, which had classes on meditation, sentient (sattvik) diet, and other topics, as well as Kiirtana, meditation, yoga classes, and an outing to a nearby river and a trip to Hot Springs, where the group relaxed and had a picnic. After morning meditation and breakfast, we drove to a nearby river, where we walked and meditated by the river. The river ran swiftly at our side, creating coolness in the air and pure energy (Prana.) After the walk, we reserved five hot tubs at a resort in Hot Springs town, and the men and women had separate tubs and relaxed and socialized in the natural, clean spring water. After that, we had a picnic on the lawn of the resort.
Most participants were from North Carolina and nearby states and made good friendships during the five days together. They called this retreat the Turtle Frog Retreat after a creativity game they played and seeing those in the natural environment at Ananda Girisuta.
Ananda Vrati Retreat Pennsylvania, August 9 – 13, 2023
The second meditation retreat this summer was at Ananda Vrati Master Unit in Pennsylvania from August 9 – 13, 2023. The Ananda Vrati retreat buildings have been renovated beautifully and can now accommodate up to eighteen people in dorm rooms.
During this retreat, we visited the Salt Springs Natural Reserve, where we hiked up the trails and meditated by the waterfalls. Meditating in the forest was peaceful, with the water’s flow blocking out all other noises. This retreat had twelve attendees from various backgrounds and ages, and everyone shared beautifully and found peace and companionship during the retreat. At the end of the retreat, we formed a circle and took turns to come to the middle and say some beautiful and kind words to each other. It was a very touching and enriching experience.
Meditation Retreat at Ananda Kanan, August 16 – 20, 2023
The meditation retreat at Ananda Kanan, Missouri, was attended by eleven people from August 16 – 20, 2023. This retreat was unique in many ways. The group had two professional and one amateur musician (Dada!), and many of the attendees had been meditating for many years. So, the overall feeling was very spiritual. During the outing to the nearby river, after swimming and exploring the cave with ice-cold pure spring water, we danced and sang Kiirtana. A person noticed us and joined for the Kiirtana and meditation. During lunch, it turned out that he is a healer and musician who knew Ananda Kanan, and he played some beautiful spiritual music on guitar and Indian bansuri flute. The music was inspiring, and Dada Diiptimanananda continued the flow by improvising Kiirtana tunes while everyone relaxed in the shade by the river. It was a lovely moment. In the evening, we had a cultural program featuring Native American flute, new Kiirtana tunes accompanied by harmonium, and some Prabhata Samgiita. The participants enjoyed their time at Ananda Kanan, and most of them learned individual meditation from Dada and Didi.
Ananda Dhiira Meditation Retreat, September 20 – 24, 2023
This meditation retreat became very devotional, especially towards the end. We had twelve participants, two volunteers, and two teachers, so we were sixteen. Out of those, only four were entirely new, and the rest were young brothers who had been initiated by Dada Diiptimanananda and sisters initiated by Didi Ananda Acira. Some of those young Margiis really love Kiirtana, so the Kiirtana during the retreat became very vibrant.
After the retreat formally finished Sunday morning, ten of us did Akhanda Kiirtana until noon. One sister became inspired to stay longer with Didi Ananda Acira and possibly become an LFT and Didi.
The outing to the South Yuba River was also very nice. The weather was warm enough to swim in the river, and we did mud-packs and sunbathing on the stones and sand next to the river. Afterward, we did Kiirtana and meditation into the sunset.
Avtk. Ananda Kalyanmitra Ac., LPT Nirmal, and Ac. Dayashiilananda Avt. led a meditation retreat for beginners on August 11-13, 2023, in the beautiful resort of SAJO, close to Ananda Kanak Master Unit, Quebec. Eleven people attended this joyful event. Some of the participants donated quality foodstuffs, and we made delicious meals for us from those.
The several Kiirtan and meditation sessions created a powerful spiritual flow. Baba Nam Kevalam was constantly sung spontaneously by almost everyone, which was beautiful. The interactive class on spiritual practice given by Didi Ananda Kalyanmitra was a wonderful moment of sharing. She addressed many good questions from the participants. During our recreational time, we had a refreshing walk to the lake on top of the hill. Despite the rain, we enjoyed canoeing on the lake for an hour. That was really fun! It was a memorable retreat.