These are uncertain times, and many of us still apprehensive of a world filled with confusion, mistrust and fear. Fenced in as we are, often by the four walls of our mind, we are unsure of what “opening up” comprises; we do not know which direction we must head and towards what goal.
It is at a time such as this, Antargaman or Exploration Within, the two-day residential retreat camp over the weekend of 17-18 October, 2020 at Sharanam – Sri Aurobindo Society’s Community Centre located outside Puducherry at the Ousteri lake, comes to our rescue. We could not then ask for the perfect opportunity and venue to step out of ourselves and explore a world which would restore our faith and dissolve dichotomies and stress; bestow the courage to admire all that is resplendent and peacefully centred within us.
When one combines Naad, Hatha and Bhakti Yoga with a place which offers peace, bird calls, replete with trees, flowers and silence, one is absolutely certain of its restorative energy and belief.
We woke up to early morning chirpings to participate in Hatha Yoga conducted by Shekhar and Shweta who prepared our bodies and minds to take that plunge within. Later through the day, accomplished musician from Pune, Maharashtra, Mandar Karanjkar, conducted Naad Yoga workshop. In highly participatory sessions, he delved into the world of sounds of Nada or Vibrations, significantly its Anahata (or internal aspects) of sounds. Apart from the chanting of AUM and the resonance of tanpura (stringed instrument) and Mandar’s singing, these vibrations were everywhere in Sharanam – in the pitter-patter rain, the sounds of insects, chirpings of myriad birds. Then there was “Sound Journey” and “Gong Bath” by well-known musician from Auroville, Aurelio, which completed the circle of Integral Yoga, healing our hearts and mind, restoring our faith. Both musicians took special and extensive care to guide our internal journey via deciphering the various chakras and associated mantras and significance. Experientially, we soon recognized how we are indeed instruments of consciousness or the highest vibration.
Besides, Shweta and Shekhar, along with Shruti and Kumar, organized the retreat in a gracious and efficient manner serving us wonderful herbal tea, snacks and delicious vegetarian meals; addressing all our needs. As the number of participants were a handful (around 15), it was not difficult to follow social distancing in the expansive space that Sharanam offers.
Shushanto and Rathi brought in additional beauty, colour and fragrance to the mix during their session on “Saundarya Spruha”. We admired a number of flowers they passed around identifying them by the names The Mother had granted to each and their significance from Sri Aurobindo’s Compassion to Transformation to Prayer to Power to Radha’s Consciousness to Hope . . .. They followed this with bringing out the artist in us with coloured pencils and crayons.
The inner journey continued in a vivacious playful manner with “Awareness Games” conducted by Shivakumar and Priti. Meanwhile, Harvinder Kaur took ordinary everyday objects and turned them into verses in her elegant “Heartbeat of Poetry” workshop.
“Stepping out” into this dream encapsulated within a dream meant we could be safe within the precincts of our mind and body aligned with our psychic being. What keeps us protected from the ravages of the world is something we already possess. With the Nada sounds created by a large number of flutes, chimes, gongs, and other string and wooden instruments Aurelio transported from Auroville, we crafted an alternate mind-space which helped us heal and evolve. While Mandar and Dakshayani stirred a deep chord of Bhakti within us with their Sant Tukaram and Jnaneshwar songs and Kabir’s dohes.
The Anatargaman retreat at Sharanam was that perfect confluence where our “inner” and “outer” worlds converged. It was a process of unlocking to view the world with fresh eyes and embrace all that it offers, yet again giving us the opportunity to transform ourselves. And you are invited to join.