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The three-day long Deva Das kirtan retreat weekend was more than I could have even imagined. Right from the beginning on Friday evening, as people started arriving in the farmhouse — it felt like they were coming to a home to settle back into a comfortable, familiar place– even though a the majority of folks had never been here before!

I think everyone felt the energy of this — and it helped foster a space for relationships to be open and a warmth to be shared right from the start. .. And then, once we gathered in the candle-lit yoga studio to chant that night– it was officially a heart-opening experience that had everyone involved and moving and singing from a place deep within. And then, to go to sleep and know that we all got to wake up and be together in asana practice with the big entourage of talented musicians excited to play for us/with us, well, that made it all the sweeter!

Saturday began with intentional silent time , mauna and mediation so that we could be as present as possible and be even more fully enveloped by the music and the many sacred names as we moved through Bethel’s class.

The catered vegan meals in the Art barn were superb– in particular, I want to get the recipe for the channa dal Kachoris served with the Cilantro, Coconut and Ginger Chutney.

After we had some relaxation time– with snowshoe-ing for any who wanted to adventure out into the woods– a harmonium workshop was offered ; those who didn’t have harmoniums paired up with people who did, so that everyone who wanted to get a taste of the instrumental aspect of this traditional kirtan instrument was able to.

I loved how Deva Das taught in such an informal way , and yet by modeling and repetition , we all got the mantra and the simple melodies to sound beautiful as we went around and around in an environment that was supportive and fun.

The whole weekend actually, was such a balanced blend of spiritual practices and laughter and light-hearted fun and joy and new friendships and vigorous asana. I have never before had the experience of being among such a spiritually invested group of people who were all so humble about their beautiful offerings; and so happy to connect and enjoy each other in this most natural setting for days on end.
The budding trees and the flowing maple sap in the brisk air and the bright blue skies matched my inner landscape — so fresh and full of the promises of Spring!

We continued the kirtan after a light dinner and more members of the local community came to join in and add to the healing bhav.

I woke up Sunday morning earlier than usual.. the sounds of the kirtan from the night before still harmonizing in my head… “This is what it’s all about”, I realized, the usual brain chatter was replaced with beautiful mantra and sound!  I was being filled with new space for this spiritual music. I did not wake with the heavy eyelids I usually feel– I bounced up! I was so excited to re-join everyone and get back into the sadana we had been co-creating. By the time we had our closing ceremony on Sunday I felt as though a new dimension had been given to us all. The entire farm was buzzing and  reverberating with all the days of good vibrations we had been pouring into it from our collective heart energy all weekend long.

I am so thankful to everyone who made it such a joyous event and I am re-newed in my excitement for the possibilities for our special place and the things that we can grow here!

-Audrey

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