One Month of Ananda

August 18, 2012

I’ve been here at Ananda for a month, and it’s flown by. It’s beautiful here, and I’ve been meeting new people every day. Most of them thought they knew me or had met me before, that odd sense of familiarity – what is that? Is it the knowing of a prior lifetime? A soul recognition, a soul resonance? Is it a product of my Irish/English face, the genes that have spread around the globe? Is it merely my love for people in general, my work at being open that causes them to feel that we are closer than strangers normally are, that I accept them like an old friend would?

My days at Ananda usually begin around 5:30am. Recharging exercises (a series of breathing and muscle tensing exercises), kriya yoga, and meditation at 6am or a shorter one at 7am, in the temple or the yoga hall. Breakfast served at 8:45am – homemade yogurt, fresh baked bread, honey, oatmeal, cream of rice, corn flakes, fruit, coffee, tea… and, occasionally, unfortunately, Nutella. I cannot NOT eat Nutella if it’s within eyesight.

While here at Ananda I participated in the ‘Yoga in Action’ and ‘Service is Joy’ programs, so for a discount on room and board I volunteered around 20 to 30 hours per week, washing dishes, peeling potatoes, vacuuming the large dining room, cleaning bathrooms. We were given a few tips on working joyfully that were actually quite effective, so I almost always enjoyed the work – I even learned to scrub toilets without minding. This for me was quite interesting. I feel like I didn’t really learn to clean the house growing up – searching my memory banks (which are fairly sparse on childhood memories), washing dishes, cleaning windows, washing the car and taking out the trash were some of the chores I remembered doing. I don’t remember ever actually cleaning the house or bathrooms, so I think for those reasons they were always chores I’d avoided after growing up. Through this work at Ananda I learned (and practiced) cleaning efficiently, without negative feelings or resistance. The daunting concept of cleaning has become more manageable.

Sometimes in the morning we would have Sadhana meetings with Tony and Namasia, the two directors of ‘the Service is Joy’ programs, during which we would meditate and discuss spiritual readings and topics – part education, part therapy. During ‘Yoga is Action’ we were allowed to take one of the courses offered at the center – I did “How to Live With More Energy” and the incredible art workshop with Dana Lynn AndersonPainting from the Heart and Soul”.

Lunch is served at Ananda at 1:30pm. Vegetarian/vegan, always a salad bar and fruit and steamed veggies and rice and then the day’s offering – gorgonzola pasta or stuffed zucchini or a lentil dish. I’ve been eating entirely too much as I always want to try everything, and the fresh bread is so good.

Afternoons are more work or class, yoga and meditation around 5:45pm, dinner served at 7:30pm. Most evenings there’s something to do after dinner – kirtan music and dancing, a talk about art or community, a concert by the resident cellist or a visiting violinist.

There are about 150 people who live here in the Ananda Community, and anywhere from 30-100 guests who stay at the retreat center. So there are always people around to chat with and new people to meet.

Everything is in Italian and English, which I absolutely love. I’ve gotten to translate a few times – in a yoga class, in a meeting. It’s a skill I’ll have to practice more – it’s challenging to be talking at the same time someone else is an trying to keep up – but I enjoy it.

Sunsets here are amazing. In 30 days I think I only saw one sunset that wasn’t spectacularly vibrant reds and oranges. And the views are 100% Italian – rolling hills, patchworks of fields, green trees, stone houses.


5 Responses to “One Month of Ananda”

  1. Dale said

    Sounds glorious! Think there is any connection to the Ananda here in Palo Alto?

  2. Virginis said

    Oh dear Michelle, I am so thankful you had the guts to go. You are truly living in bliss, Ananda. Now you can give some presentations on manifesting your dreams. It is fun to think you went, even a little strange, that you went from Patagonia to Italy. And thank goodness you speak some Italian. Thanks for sharing. Always love you. Maureen left yesterday and I really miss her. She might be back next year, as she wants to write a book about Sky. They grew to be good friends. What a character. You should read Maureens blog since you have been to the same places. Keep up the great life. Sending lots of love, Ginny

    • lunasealife said

      Love you Ginny!!! Thank you for providing the “Creative Cluster” space where I was able to gain the fortitude to make the leap over here… one of the best decisions of my life. Remember when we picked up Maureen from the bus stop and she was all fashionable in a skirt and boots…we were unsure as to whether she could hack it… 😉 Ha! I think of you and talk about you often, and send healing energy your way every day. xoxo

  3. D said

    Great post, Shells. I’m curious–what were the tips on working joyfully?

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