Majakali is in the northern part of India, where my daughter and me went on a retreat. Though not actually in the Himalayas, it was exciting to know that it was near it, and one may see the peaks in the distance…
…depending on the weather!
The group turned out to be a group of mothers and daughters, with an interesting vertical combination in ages of youngsters and teenagers.
Though the retreat seemed to be fairly informal, it was a memorable journey for each of us participants, with a lot of learning.
Though we may typically take our everyday food for granted, here we could see a different and invaluable perspective of it.
Eat such that the food the people and the environment, the conversations, and the whole moment, nourishes our body and mind.
Cooking, serving, and eating is an art, which should be done without rushing.
In the whole process, we can appreciate and thank people, and build the relationships. Deepen our knowledge, get rooted in your culture, and learn from a new culture.
Eating without rushing also makes us unknowingly develop deep understanding, and respect towards our ancestors. This may seem surprising, after all, how would they have anything to do with it…?
For what we have in our plate today, is the result of the whole past knowledge developed and passed on over generations.
A deep connection and gratitude towards Earth/soil/nature developed when we could see… as we are consuming nature, we’re also a part of the nature that we are consuming.
So how we’re eating matters a lot.
In a nutshell, over these 5 days, we did all this, all these activities nourished our mind and body. It deepened our relationships with food, people and the environment.
The surrounding nature around Majakali, the landscapes, the weather, and the excitement of being in a new place, brought out a new life and curiosity – and made us more alive.
Vrikshalaya – the home where we stayed, in itself has a beautiful landscape to immerse oneself in nature and deep silence. It gives ample space to explore more about oneself. The support and activities from the facilitators helped us to take this exploration to the next level.
Even teenagers exploring this for the first time could gradually slow down their pace of life and thinking, and look into their mind patterns and connect with nature in most beautiful ways. They could collect precious memories and experiences, not just with pictures on their phones, but also within themselves.
The tools and supporting activities from the facilitators gave us the tools to revisit / recreate these experiences in our daily life.
The walks and drives through the villages around Majakali through various routes witnessing the natural beauty there was a memorable experience.
It was clear to see the effects our actions or lifestyle has a bigger effect on the environment, which will again reflect back to us.
As each grain contains the whole earth, each action of each individual is connected with the whole world. What action we take where we live has effects all around.
This was better understood here. The value of the peaks, the origin of the rivers, the deserts, the livelihood of people… the damage caused all brought in a sense of responsibility towards our future.
This program’s main pillars were the facilitators Ajay Rastogi and Sunil Chauhan . Its their deep commitment in their lives towards what they believed made a lot of difference in connecting us at a deeper level through various topics… Like the impact of modernization, urbanization, the carbon footprints, etc.
Their 20+ years of experience and working on the ground with the environment and being part of day to day aspects and retaining some of the low impact on nature and lifestyle were very healing experiences for us.
We saw a very balanced approach in their commitment to develop their inner self first to connect with the external world. They reflected so many things through the way they carried themselves, and the whole retreat reflected their kindness, flexibility, and generosity. They always had this calmness and tranquility in their presence.
The conversations and reflections with them just helped us in connecting with ourselves and with the children much better, by giving opportunity for free expressions, and creating an environment which is open for expressing different perspectives.
Just by broadening our minds and lives, we could unburden ourselves by letting go of some fears in our relationships too.
In today’s nuclear families, constantly running from schedule A to schedule B, we hardly appreciate the presence of such people around us, as we’ve outsourced seeking knowledge to the outside world. But the strength of understanding is built on how we share, learn and live from people around us in our day to day life.
We definitely need people like Ajay and Sunil to keep reminding us of the value of slowing down, and spreading that loving kindness which our teenagers may be missing in an urban lifestyle. This way, we can create a world of hope for the future. We can give them space to take more conscious actions, and find better solutions for a better future to connect with their intentions. It can be more with human needs or humanistic efforts, rather than merely a materialistic, competitive, consumerist approach towards life.
We need to create these kinds of spaces, for learnings and engagements around us, to balance out the pace of our modern life.
So finally what I carried for myself is a lot of memorable moments with nature, and tools to help me to reflect on and reconnect with nature. I found a sense of calmness and tranquility within me, and a better understanding to connect with people and environment around. I’m finding a deeper understanding of the simplest things often taken for granted – love and care.