Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Connecting to Mother Earth

by Maria Miguel Ribeiro

Connecting Children and Adults to Mother Earth: Post-Workshop Reflections
Workshop organized by Maria Miguel Ribeiro, Alan Richard, Pravin Kumar Soni

The Nature Workshop of the 2014 Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat is now finished.

What surprised me most was that to organize an 8 hours workshop I had to work an extra 28 hours to prepare it. Please don't get me wrong; I am not complaining about it, but just raising awareness that although a workshop might look short in time, one should also consider the time needed for preparation. Most of the preparation time was used in meetings to revise process, understand different needs and desires, and to coordinate the flow of information between the various people, who somehow were involved in the process.

The workshop was planned in such a way that children could perceive a logical thought pattern behind the planting of 37 trees (27 Ficus Benjamina on the SRSG contemplative walking garden) and other 7 trees (camellia, allspice, guava, plum, custard apple, pomegranate) to strengthen the hedge near the river (as many trees have been lately cut from the land outside of the ashram). Every child planted and gave a name to her/his tree. Now every time they return to the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) they can visit their tree and talk with gardeners or other ashram’s children about the development of the tree during their absence. Oh! How much I enjoyed just watching their joy of gently and lovingly handing the trees to the soil!! It reasserted something deeper in me, that we (humans) are natural life givers and protectors!

If people don't understand the purpose and value of trees and “really” connect to them, the whole planting event can be a waste of time. It felt good to be involved in this workshop, because I notice it reconnected children and adults to nature – our primordial Mother.

Most people enjoyed being outside near the Ganga, enjoying the sun, watching the ducks, the butterflies, the monkey families running around… We were impressed by the lack of awareness of the people who were there before us. How come so many people do their Ganga oblations and leave all type of rubbish behind? Although these acts are made with love and devotion, they carry negative consequences to Mother Ganga and all life which depends on Her. One of the most known impacts of plastic in the waterways is killing fish, birds and mammals by food poisoning as they take plastic as food. Also one of the most important principles of yoga is ahimsa (non-violence towards all beings) so here we have – the opportunity to live the highest of all ahimsa – compassion. We not only restrain from doing any harm to others, but also show how much we care for Her and all Her indwellers by collecting plastic from the river banks.

Maybe because our mothers are so much willing to give, we often fall in the habit of just taking. We take from our Mother Nature, from our Mother Ganga and from our Human Mother. But life is also and most important about giving. What are we giving back to our Mother Nature? Rubbish?

So the three field trips to the Ganga and the realization that we are the very responsible for Ganga’s pollution was a way to make participants realize that we have the duty and opportunity to do something about it. Local and central governments should be doing something too, but we (citizens) have the power to change things. When local organizations, people, schools, children get together they can do something. We, mostly a team of children, collected 99 kg of plastic in half an hour! Local people saw us cleaning the banks and came to us to express how impressed and embarrassed they were feeling of not having done the cleaning before us. They even asked us to contact them next time we organize such event, so that they can join forces with us!

As we clean Ganga’s banks and plant trees we support life and thus we offer our love, time and energy to care for our Mother. By protecting Her we are protecting ourselves.

Planting trees help us to reduce the impact of floods, reduce outside noise, pollution and heat in summers. For me the most important reason is that trees are beautiful living beings that can teach a lot about silence and they are great listeners too. As a child I would spend hours climbing them, talking to them, they would be the always-supportive-silent friends. Under their graceful green branches, I could read a book protected from the hot summer sun and the whole family would get together for picnics. The birds would also join the feast joyfully singing, getting the bread crumbles from us and the fruits and seeds offered by the trees.

Oh! How glorious and perfect you are Mother! … Have you noticed? Wherever You are, life is!

Editor’s Note:

The 2015 Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat will be 22nd – 31st December 2015 at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh.  Contact: [email protected]  Plan now so you and your family can benefit from this precious opportunity.

The "comtemplative walking garden" is a new garden being put in next to the meditation hall. Hopefully we'll have some photos of it in a future issue.



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