Holistic centres hold a welcoming and supportive space for participants. And sometimes we need to give ourselves that very same gift and rest and renew ourselves. The Professional Renewal Retreat offered by Yasodhara Ashram, which I recently participated in, is a wonderful offering. Who could resist the invitation to “immerse yourself in a focused, reflective environment to revitalize yourself and bring new focus to a project?”
The renewal retreats offer a choice of accommodations and the option of either two or four hours of Karma Yoga each day. Creek Cabin, where I stayed, is a cozy log cabin by the creek with a lake view and is the perfect place for a reading or writing retreat. Immersed in nature at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by trees and overlooking the lake, it offers nourishment for the soul in simple comfort. Three healthy meals are served each day in the silence of the dining room. After a week in China and listening to continuous translation, I needed hours of silence to rebalance. To eat mindfully in quiet contemplation can be a precious gift of self care and spiritual practice.
Yoga is offered each morning at 6:50 am, and I was grateful there was no pressure for me to attend as I gently adjusted to the time difference and a few long flights. After breakfast the community would gather outside, practice the Divine Mother prayer – a beautiful standing prayer of flowing mudras – review the mornings tasks and then fan out in quiet commitment to the daily running of the ashram.
I felt blessed to be assigned to the garden and embraced the rows of kale in need of weeding! For the duration of my stay the kale patch become my little area of stewardship, simultaneously weeding the inner garden, creating more space for the plant/soul to grow into fullness. The rest of the day was then free for personal projects or practice, reading, contemplating, sitting on the beach or in one of the prayer rooms.
After dinner the community gathers for evening satsang in the Temple of Light. An architectural masterpiece that would be at home in Barcelona or Bilbao, the Temple was completed just over a year ago to replace the original temple that was sadly destroyed by fire in 2014. The sacred space is dedicated to the Light within each one of us, and every day we practiced the Divine Light Invocation, chanted kirtan, shared daily reflections on life and sat in silent prayer.
After years as a resident co-worker in the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland I felt a deep resonance with the Network of Light as described by our founders – the linking up of centers around the world dedicated to transforming ourselves to transform the world. Arriving at Kashi Ashram in Florida last December, it felt only natural to discover Kashi means ‘City of Light’. Several months later Yasodhara seemed to complete the trinity with the Temple of Light.