There is something very special about participating in a yoga retreat. Sometimes the focus in life is about doing more, having more, achieving more, bigger, faster, stronger etc. Sometimes its the struggle of trying to keep up or stay with our head above the water, so to speak. Therefore it's so very nice, and essential, to step away from all of that from time to time. That's just what we did.
We were 16 people spending 5 nights at the beginning of August 2017 at Sanctuary Retreat, Mission Beach, far north Queensland. We love how the venue is designed to be integrated with the lush tropical rainforest, giving us the feeling of living amongst the trees yet at the same time still enjoying creature comforts. The casual and friendly atmosphere. Stunning views across the treetops to the ocean. Elusive cassowaries. The best vegetarian food ever.
And YES, we've booked this retreat again for 2018! details are > here
The easy going program followed with the rhythms of the day and effectively slowed down our internal pace. This allowed us the opportunity to listen to our own inner voice, supported by the yoga practices and the teachings imparted by Swami Madhuram, we got to reset our inner compass.
There were many highlights at this retreat, though seeing Cassowaries was not one of them. Where were they?? The weather was perfect. We yoga-ed alot, swam, snorkelled, walked, laughed, enjoyed each others company, ate well, rested well. So much, so I'll share one part about the magic of mantra ...
A few of the mornings & each evening Swami Madhuram lead the program. His speciality is Nada Yoga. This means something like the yoga of sound. We did a few different techniques / practices with this and one of them was mantra chanting. He chose the Gayatri Mantra because it is one of, if not the oldest mantra.
"Mantras are words with great vibration and powerful spiritual energy"
Mantras are used to help bring the mind to a meditative state.
"The two syllables of the word Mantra mean 'man' - mind and 'tra' - liberation. Mantra is a sound that can liberate the mind ... once the mind is freed, other problems are automatically resolved because the greatest problem is the mind itself."
Learn more about mantra from the Yoga in Daily Life the System book by Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda > here.
Here are the steps we went through ...
OM BHŪR BHUVAḤ SVAḤ
TAT SAVITUR VAREṆYAṂ
BHARGO DEVASYA DHĪMAHI
DHIYO YO NAḤ PRACODAYĀT
Let us meditate on the admirable and benevolent Light of the Divine, that dwells within our hearts. May it awaken all our abilities, Guide our intellect and rapidly illuminate our understanding.
1. Likit - means write the mantra over and over. Swami Madhuram encouraged us to take our time, don’t hurry. We are not trying to fill the paper within a certain time. It's like you are drawing something, so try to make it beautiful.
2. Bekhari - chanting the mantra out loud. Chant with us ...
3. Upansu - innerly chanting, lips moving but no sound.
4. Mansik - mentally chanting
5. Ajapa - spontaneous repetition of your mantra. Generally this takes practice and time to come .. But ...some people in our group had the mantra repeating by itself in their head when they woke the next day and on walks.
The feelings after this practice are indescribable.
This is a talk by Swami Parvati about the power of the Gayatri mantra.
Follow this link to our Facebook page to listen to Swami Madhuram playing his flute for our meditation practice.
Here are lots of photos of our time on this blissful retreat ...