Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Lithuanian Silence Retreat

by Stephen Parker (Stoma)

Just as I was preparing to leave for Lithuania, Swami Veda departed his body in Rishikesh. This presented Ashutosh and me a powerful dilemma: shall we drop everything and go home? Or shall we follow through on our plans in Lithuania. We spoke over Skype with each other and with Vaidas Deksnys, our host in Lithuania, and decided fairly quickly that Swamiji would have wanted us to continue the work of the mission, especially if he knew that people were in some pain about what had happened.

This year’s retreat, as in the past, was held at Kernave Bajorne, a resort that caters to spiritual retreats, beside a lake near a UNESCO world heritage site. About 50 people attended. Those from past years who could not attend the entire retreat came for a day or two or for the evening subtle body practice sessions. There is now an experienced core of practitioners who come regularly, and once again it was a deep and fulfilling experience. We conducted a 2 1/2 day workshop at the outset for people new to the Himalayan Tradition. Also as usual, we began the retreat with a sauna session, although I did not join this year as my bags were late in arriving.

After the Himalayan Tradition retreat which gave basic information and practices, the formal silence began (although some people had already begun by this time on their own). It was new to conduct the retreat without either Swami Ritavan or Swami Nityamuktananda, but all went very well. In this retreat we do just two meals a day at 10 AM and 6 PM and our cooks from the Hare Krishna tradition were as skillful and loving as usual. We did guided meditations in the mornings after Ashu’s Joints and Glands class and then a lecture after breakfast. In the afternoon, there was an intensive asana class, and people had ample time for solitary practice. This year I managed a 5:15 AM morning swim in the misty lake every morning and often one in the afternoon.

On the last full day of the retreat we joined the Gayatri practice in Rishikesh with a 12 hour akhanda japa practice that culminated in a meditation where we offered all the recitations of the mantra into the inner Ganga (sushumna) like handfuls of blossoms honoring all that we received with such love and self-sacrifice from our great kalyana-mitra, Swami Veda. It was all I could do to lead the meditation and pronounce the final savaahaa! through the tears of my own grief. That grief, however, was flooded with a sense of joy that Swamiji is now free of the burden of the body and able to serve where he always preferred to serve, from within, right under your nose! Meet him there. How about now?



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