Meet the Empowered Youngsters
They came. They learnt. They evolved. They went back empowered and ready to live a healthy and happy life. Such was the invigorating Summer Youth Retreat, recently organized in the evolutionary ambience of Rishi Chaitanya Ashram for youngsters from the age group 14 yrs to 24 yrs.
With so many questions on their mind and an intense quest in their hearts to seek the answers, all youth retreat participants arrived in the ashram during the twilight hours of 19th June to be part of the life-transforming retreat from 20th June to 24th June 2010.
This time, the retreat was rather special as it had in store a vast array of activities the youngsters could opt for. We labelled it – Great FUN is about to begin. Here, FUN is not as it is usually referred to; rather, it means Five days filled with Unique and New learning.
On the first day of this dynamic retreat, all the participants were made aware about the code of conduct during their stay in the ashram. They were also given an insight into the daily schedule specially designed for their overall growth. Each day, in fact each hour of the retreat was very diligently planned, with the sole aim to offer the maximum practical exposure of the activities in store, namely, yoga, candle making, photography, dance, culinary skills and lots more.
Let’s get a view of the excitement and thrill that these lucky youngsters experienced in this Summer Youth Retreat.
Dawn & Dusk Aarti Celebrations
Aarti in Rishi Chaitanya Ashram twice a day is always special, and even more so with the enthusiastic participation of all the youngsters! Divine aarti celebration is a wonderful way to welcome the day, and for the youngsters, to initiate the beginning of their stay in the ashram. It is indeed a divine celebration with the Almighty. Smiling faces with twinkles in their eyes and devotion in their hearts used to gather every morning and evening for the mesmerising aarti in the Guru Mandir, the heart of Rishi Chaitanya Ashram. The sound of conches and bells together with the chanting engrossed each one of them in divine worship.
Youngsters are more into gymming than into Yoga. And the basic reason behind this tendency is that they are not aware about the disguised ill-effects of heavy-weight lifting and body-building, because they are yet to know about the tremendous impact that yoga can have on their life. In this retreat, they were given exposure to the fundamental yoga asanas, pranayama and certain advanced techniques for those interested participants who wanted to go deeper. Now, they know what to practice in life for a healthy body, mind and balanced lifestyle.
Engaging Sessions with Gurumaa
No one can guide the youngsters as a Guru can. It is verily a matter of experience and immense compassion. All the youngsters got a chance to participate in interactive plus meditative sessions with the contemporary master, Anandmurti Gurumaa. They asked their questions, learned to meditate, talked about their confusions and sought guidance from the beloved master. Their experiences of Urja, a dynamic meditation session with Gurumaa really stand out as it not only relived them of soaring pressures, incessant thinking and suppressed emotions but also connected them with their inner source of energy. They were all extremely happy and expressed their experiences of tasting bliss while meditating in the presence of the master.
Troubleshooting Group Discussions
Youngsters have their own set of problems which are mainly common but yet unique. Group discussions were held every day to give them a chance to express their thoughts, share issues of concern and learn to cope effectively with imposed expectations from the people in their life.
More Activities for Overall growth
Both these wonderful techniques are a boon for students to enhance their learning skills and be super-effective in the areas they want to pursue. Tratak enhances memory and concentration, while Yog Nidra harnesses the power of the subconscious mind to transform our lives in whichever way we choose. Youngsters zealously participated in these sessions every day and benefited immensely from the practice.
Out-of-the-box Career Counselling
It was out-of-the-box because it not only made them aware of how to make a living but also gave them a view of what all careers they can pursue to unleash their creativity. The gist of it is – Live your dreams! Don’t work just to make a living. It included success stories of renowned entrepreneurs which motivated them so much that a few came over after the session to thank the presenters for such motivational counselling.
Culinary Skills for the Real Taste of Life
This session was aimed at introducing youngsters to an entirely new approach to cooking with efficiency and awareness. They realized much to their amazement that cooking can be quick, lots of fun, creative and absolutely delicious! The youngsters excitedly shared that they would indeed make these recipes for their friends and family after returning home.
Creative Candle Making
These days candles are in vogue – one sees candles of all shapes, sizes and hues everywhere. But the fulfilling experience of making your own candles really sparked off a lot of fun-filled creativity in the enthusiastic bunch participating in this program. Their commendable efforts were especially acknowledged by Gurumaa on the last day when they came forward to present their beautiful, artistic creations.
The budding talents who opted for this course were exposed to techniques and procedures which introduced them to the finer skills of photography. From their proficient teacher, they also learnt how to make the most of light, colour and texture to bring out the best shots. Technical knowledge about different cameras and equipment was also imparted to them and the participants were invited to practice and send in their best shots which would be exhibited on this website.
Intriguing Body Language
Actions indeed do speak louder than words, as effectively demonstrated in this inspiring program which generated lots of insightful thinking amongst the youngsters. The dynamic presenters gave them lots of tips and the know-how to extract the best from themselves and also to study the people they come in contact with so that they can maximize their potential.
This is the ultimate expression of the rhythm of life. Dance is inherent in all of us; as soon as we hear music, our bodies unconsciously sway in tune. This pure fun activity took over as both the young and not-so-young jumped into it with vim and vigour, enjoying their sessions immensely. They rehearsed a contemporary, foot-tapping bhajan of Gurumaa called “Ishq hi Maula,” and they had a chance to present their dance to Gurumaa on the last evening.
Zesty Talent Hunt
With the huge number of bright youngsters participating in this camp, it is no wonder that a lot of budding talents were discovered. Whether it was singing folk songs, bhajans or the classical genre, the youngsters had it all – attitude, aptitude, zest and zing. The last evening was a treat in store for all – song, dance, music and a yoga demonstration too! The ashramites added their bit as well by reciting Sanskrit shlokas ad verbatim which everyone enjoyed immensely.
Our body is indeed a miraculous creation, a wonderful gift from the Almighty. Reading about the networking between the different systems and organs which work so beautifully in synchronicity is one thing, but having a chance to see it in 3-D is a very striking experience. Some body videos were shown in the evening after dinner and the youngsters had a very good chance to understand just how wonderfully the body is designed and how resilient it is in times of stress and danger. They had a chance to understand the workings of the brain and they also learnt how the brain actually changes its chemistry to cope under the most trying circumstances, pushing the limits of endurance.
Special Talk on love, sex and infatuation
What do we label as love? How is the feeling of attraction generated? Is it possible to experience fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex?
These questions are the usual perplexing ones which teenagers and young adults face as their bodies mature. Movies, magazines and television glamorize attraction between the sexes, but it is actually only hormonal changes which trigger off fantasies, desire for sex and intimacy and the craving we experience to be with a certain individual.
Gurumaa pointed out the important distinction that what is usually labelled as ‘love’ by the younger generation is simply a rush of chemicals which are released in the body. Love is a different thing altogether; true love is a divine experience when all selfishness is transcended.
Gurumaa emphasised that it is more important to focus on quality education first in these formative years. Gurumaa also mentioned that youngsters should make use of the time they have between completing their education and starting their careers to focus on learning the art of living. This is the golden period as once responsibilities come up – career, marriage, kids, etc – one cannot devote more time for self – growth.
New Journey Begins
Five wonderful days filled with fun as well as the benevolence and blessings of an amazing spiritual master flew by and it was time for the retreat to end, but the children did not want to go home! They became emotional in their last session with Gurumaa, who urged them to take responsibility for their life and enrich it with the various tools and techniques they were taking back with them.
Repeatedly reminding them that life has a higher purpose than mere sense gratification and also that life is fleeting, Gurumaa urged them to use their precious time well and share what they had learnt so that they could live as happy, fulfilled person and spread joy and good vibrations to everyone they come in contact with.