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Teen Retreat: Wise at Any Age

July 30, 2007 by Lightwaves

18.teenheaderMichael McCarthy is inspired when 22 teens come to the Ashram to discover their inner guru.

Youth between the ages of 13-18 have been coming to Yasodhara Ashram to participate in the annual Teen Retreat for more than a decade. Over four hot days in July, 22 teens attended workshops, participated in Karma Yoga, and became part of the Ashram community. For many youths, the weekend was an introduction to the teachings of Swami Radha, while for those returning to Yasodhara, it was a chance to reconnect to their inner peace.

18.teen3For Nissa, a 16-year old resident of nearby Crawford Bay, this year marked her 4th Teen Retreat at the Ashram. “My experience here is different every time. It depends on where I am at when I enter: it’s always something new. This year I was very stressed from the school year and really needed to be rejuvenated. The Ashram is where I come to fill up my cup. I will definitely be back next year.”

Throughout my six months at the Ashram, I have been graced by watching people walk away from this place with their own, unique experience. I saw this happen once again with the teens. Despite their age and boisterous nature, all of the participants revealed their own unique inner wisdom over the four days together. Truly, one’s race, religion, gender and age are no boundaries to unlocking the divine within.

The teens participated in many of the Ashram’s daily activities, including daily morning hatha classes and evening satsang. Satsang seemed to provide participants with a different way of coming together:

“Satsang provided the space to be myself. The daily activities tended to be really social. In satsang I got to be with everyone, but remain in myself.” (Josh, age 17)

“I always enjoy satsang. It’s a time to just be. I don’t feel the desire to socialize. I can just focus on myself and be engaged in the ceremony; it’s my favourite part of the day.” (Nissa, 16)

“It is a uniting experience. And I enjoy it because of the singing and chanting.” (Melissa, 15)

l.w.18teen2When asked what he brought back to his daily life from the retreat, Josh commented that he developed an ability to flow with life’s events and gained a new perspective on the social atmosphere of high school. “The culture of high school can be very opinionated, very structured. I could easily change myself to fit in with others…. The ashram brings me back to my center. It brought back a calmness, a flowing way.” Joshua said that he is interested in participating in the 3-month Yoga Development Course in the future.

Nissa remarked that she was able to integrate her learning from Karma Yoga into her job at home. “I am working with my Mom at Barefoot Handweaving. Before, work was something to get through quickly so I could go home and have fun. Now it’s a different standing point – it doesn’t need to be rushed. Weaving is repetitive but it can be meditative. Work has new meaning.”

The teen retreat was very inspiring for me to witness. All of teens came to the Ashram with a desire to18.teen1 make a deeper connection to the Divine within themselves, a commitment that I surely did not see in myself nor those around me at that age. The four days were summed up for me when all of them gathered in a circle around a tiny candle and sang the Beatles’ song “Let it Be”. I was reminded of how precious Yasodhara Ashram is, passing the light from generation to generation.

By Michael McCarthy

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  1. Nice article, sitting in circles and singing songs is as rewarding of an experience as can be. I remember when I was in a park in Barcelona and four Brizilian kids had their Guitars and shakers out and they started signing Beatles tunes with heavy accent, within minutes a large crowd had gathered and they all started singing along to Yellow Submarine, It the best I had ever seen.

    Comment by Ali MAnsour — July 30, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  2. i was able to participate in the 2007 teen retreat. while i was there i was able to come to peace with my inner self.Just seeing someone going to the trouble of writing this brings back so many happy memories.

    Comment by Tessa Loree — July 31, 2007 @ 10:20 am

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