Imagine a beautiful wooden house amidst trees planted in rows on a mound, with wide ranches on its backside and the Pacific Sea on its left: this is what the setting of the retreat looked like. It’s like in one of the most remote, secluded and secret areas of the world, you suddenly find yourself a house with all modern amenities and facilities including internet connectivity. Then imagine around 15-18 people, only a few knowing each other beforehand, coming together to live and learn, and quickly gelling like family members who care, share and prepare for each other!
Why? Well, the motive was to learn the deeper and significant meaning of Sanskrit alphabet and Mantras that have a hidden power latent in them–once they are aroused within, the power, the energy, the bliss is unlimited. It’s not that you can’t get these Mantras on YouTube, Internet, or on CDs, which you can play at home and learn it. It was about knowing the real significance and also to practice them sincerely so that a life-long commitment could be made. It was like you taste it once and you want it forever!
Yes, I am talking about a Mantra Yoga retreat that I recently attended in Kaua’i Island, of Hawai’i State in USA. (It’s my first international trip)
Lot of people asked me why are you going to USA to learn Sanskrit alphabet. Don’t you know it already? Don’t you have anybody here who can teach it to you? I knew this gathering had something special and I felt it worthwhile when I actually attended it.
Later, I attended a workshop in Tibetan singing bowl healing in Gurgaon, India, but I felt that the atmosphere, the special feeling of love and care that I experienced in Kaua’i was absent. It felt like a mechanical process.
I am not sure if I would be able to do justice to the experience that I had through my words, but I will try maximum to give you a glimpse of what and how it was.
Why I was there
I went there to attend a 7-day Teacher Training Retreat with Mantra Teacher and Life Coach Anandra George. She and I met in Gurgaon, India and quickly struck a chord that felt like playing music of old acquaintance. We quickly found out that we share common interests and share the common thread of spirituality in our lives.
She is gem of a person and it was great to collaborate with her; learn from her so much about Sanskrit alphabet and mantras. What I particularly liked in her voice when she chants the mantras is the sincerity and appreciation towards each syllable and sound.
Objective of the retreat
The syllabus included learning Sanskrit Alphabet, their connection with chakra petals, and also to learn the connection of these letters when they turn into Bīja Mantras.
As we got initiated into the alphabet, we also tried pronouncing various mantras in proper way and learnt their connection for our spiritual uplift.
Who attended the retreat
The retreat was attended by teachers–teachers of various arts, practitioners of various skills, and experts of various fields. This included yoga therapists, sound healers, alternative medicine practitioners, kirtan performers, and massage therapists.
People from USA, Japan and me from India participated in this retreat.
Some of us cooked food (big thanks to those who did it); some of us arranged the venue; some of us took care of logistics; some of us took care of planning and execution; some brought fruits; some served coconuts without fail; some delighted us with music, some with jewelry making, and some with dance; some encouraged us to swim and some actually trained us how to do it; some prepared Indian chai, and some enjoyed it regularly; some brought tattoos, and everybody had them; some brought Gaṇeśa pictures, and many colored them; some helped us with Yoga poses; some with linguistics. It was a group of abundantly talented people.
Apart from humans, cows, cardinals, anole, crickets, spiders, Molly (resident cat), mice (two of them died at the hands of the cat), roosters, chicken, crows, and doves participated in our practice.
We had rain, sea, earth, mountains, dales, sun, clouds, tree, and almost every natural element supporting us throughout the retreat. God protected and encouraged us from any injury, mishap, or accident!
How was the experience
I must say that the experience was simply awesome. I genuinely felt that the retreat should go on unending. (!)
We started the retreat in the evening with setting the intention and goals right–it was to feel the richness of these mantras but for our spiritual growth.
The next day, supposed to be the first official day of the retreat, we started our practice by visiting the beach (name was Secrets) and doing Bīja Mantra practice there. Anandra had a small Harmonium that acted like a Śruti box. It was amazing to see the roaring and raging Pacific (God in the aquatic form) supporting our mantra chanting on the beach.
After returning to the base-camp (a beautiful house in Kapuna), we had our breakfast and got ready for our class. This class was supposed to be a 3-hour class with Anandra taking charge as a teacher. We were given reference books and guide-notes about the alphabet, how to pronounce them, their relation with chakras and also mantras in the transliterated form.
In the evening, we had a musical meeting, either in the house or by visiting some place of interest.
This continued with 7 days with little bit of change in the timing and places to visit.
Stephanie (a participant) mentioned that she was feeling a lot of heat generating inside her when she practiced the Bīja Mantras. This was a clear sign of her genuine efforts.
The best part of the retreat was the quick familiarity of everybody with each other. I seriously felt that I was at home and did not find anything odd or foreign. We chuckled, practiced, cooked, ate, sang, and shared so much joy and knowledge that we wanted more of it every time. We made friends with each other and still continue to share our feelings with each other through various platforms.
There were some special visits included a Hindu Monastery, Rudraksha Forest, A bonfire evening on a beach, and also a class under the Eucalyptus trees.
We attended a special pooja in the Shiva Temple and later on had a private tour to the Iravan temple, which is still under construction. The stone and marble used to construct this temple is being shipped from India itself.
The highlight for me was, of course, the class. I have a basic understanding of Sanskrit and I can read and write Sanskrit with primary understanding of grammar. However, I never knew the real story behind the creation of the alphabet and the real significance. It was like I was learning the Sanskrit alphabet all over again, and of course with a lot of depth about every word’s significance and value. The love of Sanskrit made me put all the efforts to apply for a US visa, convince my wife (who supported me whole-heartedly) to let me participate, and also to make the actual travel (exhausting all the funds that I had saved till now). I can only say that I never regretted the decision. What more, we are expecting to have this retreat with advanced syllabus next year. Amen to that!
The chosen keyphrase for the retreat was: Outrageous Abundance. I am sure that it lived up to its theme and we bathed in the abundance every day, every jiffy that we spent in each other’s company.
At the end of the retreat, literally everybody felt that he/she has opened a new portal in life and it promises rich dividends if sincere efforts are invested in.
I owe a big thanks (words can’t express the depth here) to Anandra for making this trip possible for me. I wish her love and peace.
As Olivia (a participant) later on summed it–It was yum or Yaṁ (one of the Bīja Mantras)
Wish the whole Kauai Mantra Ohana blessings and mahalo for being the very best group!~Aloha