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Family Retreat

February 26, 2011 by Sandra Hindson

When I first came to the Ashram I wanted my family, my community and my world to become more like the Ashram – more accepting, open and whole. Swami Radhananda, Carried by a Promise

Families have always been welcome to the Ashram, many with school age children who have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the local school.  Skye Richards and her 2 children came from Vancouver to live at the Ashram for six weeks this winter.  During this time her 2 children attended the local Crawford Bay School.

Sandra Hindson spoke with Skye and her 2 boys, Kyle (10 years old) and Brendan (5 years old) from their retreat cabin one sunny Sunday afternoon a few days before their departure.


Skye, Kyle and I met in the living room of Parvati while Brendan played beside me. After settling down to a cup of tea and watching Skye’s slide show of her beautiful photos of the Ashram, I asked her why she chose a winter retreat.

Kyle playing on the snowy slopes of the Ashram

This time of year appealed to me when it is quieter and I can reflect, get closer to nature and find the quiet within. I have been searching for a deeper connection to my purpose in life and the Ashram was a place where I could reconnect with that part of myself, while at the same time deepening my relationship with my children.  Originally I wanted to take the Yoga Development Course but the logistics of getting my younger son to and from kindergarten made it impossible to attend the workshops throughout the day so I am planning to return for the YDC in 2013 or 2014 when Brendan is older.

I was Skye’s liaison during her stay at the ashram and I watched as she and her children entered seamlessly into the community.  I wondered what their experience was like living here.

I don’t know how everything came together in such an incredible way! I certainly did not expect that we would be as blessed as we were this time.  This was an ideal situation for a family retreat that also allowed us to interface with the members of the community. It was a dynamic balance between the two worlds, our family and the larger community. I like that we could participate in the Karma Yoga and Satsang and have time together on our own.  Kyle really liked Satsang and sometimes the young adults would help out by accompanying him to the Temple while I stayed home with Brendan.  I was also able to attend a couple of Satsangs with Kyle with the support of members of the community. Brendan became more accustomed to going to Satsang nearing the end of our stay and occasionally he would even drift off into sleep as we sang.

Kyle was delighted by the holiday in the woods and his new Ashram family. He enjoyed all the new sights and sounds of our local wildlife. Kyle added:

It’s been a nice change from being back in a big city. The atmosphere here is quieter and safer. Sometimes in a more children based environment there’s more violence involved. At the Ashram we (Brendan and I) could go out and play alone together.

Crawford Bay School, the new Leeds Environmental Gold Standard building

During their stay both Kyle and Brendan attended the local Crawford Bay School where they made several friends. Kyle spoke of his experience:

I learned that people at this school are easier to be friends with. I think because it’s a smaller school.

He is hoping to come back to this school because he feels he can build stronger friendships here.

I was impressed with Kyle’s maturity and ability to adapt to his new environment.  I wondered how other families would adapt to living in our Karma Yoga community.  So I asked what they, as a family would suggest to others who might be interested in doing something similar. This was Skye’s response:

I think it’s a wonderful thing for families to do.  We started with a week last summer and then this time we stayed a bit longer.  We started slowly because living at an ashram is different than visiting one. During our first visit it was easy for us to stay very localized on the ashram grounds and the children and I naturally wanted to embrace the Ashram community. There’s a beautiful spirit here. This longer stay at the Ashram has provided a kind of kernel for me to find a home in and at the same time grow out into the wider community and find out more about this whole area.

My experience interacting with the local outside community has been a positive one.  I have experienced more openness, with a less complicated and honest form of communicating than I experience in the city. People here generally have time for each other and are not so caught up in things that are peripheral to the essence of living. I have enjoyed participating in local events such as the Crawford Bay paint-a-thon, which raised over $3,000.00 for their music programs.

Families in the past have come to the Ashram for a healing retreat.  I asked them how they as a family had grown and changed.  Kyle said they had been getting along better and Skye spoke about being more patient.

Brendan in the Ashram garden. Summer, 2010

I mean we have our own struggles that we have to grow through and I definitely needed this time to be quiet.  There are less distractions and expectations than back in the city, which can throw me off balance. I’ve found that having this distance allowed me time to think things out and get clarity about what I really need to do.

When Skye was here in the summer she participated in early morning hatha classes, which she continued to practice back in the city to help with nerve problems in her leg.

After a couple of months of yoga practice, my nerve problems subsided and I have no residual pain. This time I am realistic that there are certain things that I cannot change, like other people. All I can do is remain positive. I have always liked to keep a journal and I have watched how I have changed.  I have encouraged Kyle to do the same.

Kyle said he liked to journal and thought it was a good thing to do.

I do too.


The Ashram community was delighted with the presence of children in our midst. Many appreciated the fresh energy that the children brought and they were a reminder not to take life so seriously.  Kyle was like a bridge to the outside community through the local school and he kept us informed about what was happening there.  Some Karma Yogis spent time with the children offering violin lessons while others made art with them. Kyle’s presence at Satsang was heartwarming for many of us.

Om Parvati

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you Skye and Sandra for this interview. Keep journalling Kyle, it is indeed a good thing to do and I hope someday I am lucky enough to meet you and your little brother Brendan.

    Lots of Light, Faith

    Comment by Faith Stuart — February 26, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

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