Didi Ananda Devapriya's Meditation and Yoga Blog

Story in Susan Perrow’s “Therapeutic Storytelling”

After reading Susan Perrow’s “Healing stories for Challenging behaviors” –  I was so inspired, I sat down and immediately wrote a therapeutic story for one of the children in AMURTEL Family, using the metaphor of a rabbit who is adopted from a crowded, competitive litter to live in a spacious new home, with plenty of food and a clean bed of straw.

I looked Susan up on the web, found her email address, and sent her a thank you letter. Imagine my surprise when only hours later, I received a personal response directly from Susan and a request to publish my story in her upcoming collection.

That is how “Juniper the Rabbit” ended up in Therapeutic Storytelling, on page 133!

 

Peace in your Hands – early years supplement

I wrote this early-childhood adaptation of the “Peace in your Hands” teachers manual, together with Anke Keulen of Mutant, in the Netherlands. It is part of a wonderful set of free materials available on the Peace Education in Action website for free.  The early-childhood version is already translated into Romania, and the primary-school version is available in many languages.

This manual includes story, songs, games, and discussions to help children connect to peace in themselves,  recognize peace-makers in their communities and the wider world, and challenge them to be active participants in creating peace.

 

Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share in Education

The Children in Permaculture Manual

 

This book was the result of an intensive collaboration during the three years of the Erasmus plus funded project, “Children in Permaculture”, which brought together formal and non-formal educators and permaculturists from 5 countries and 7 organisations!

I was one of the three co-authors – together with Lusi Alderslowe and Gaye Amus, but the book was the fruit of many hours of discussion and sharing with all of the members of the CIP team.

Here are some of the reviews:

“Earth care, People care and Fair share can serve as principles for all seasons and all professions. If incorporated into the lives of enough children, and the lives of the adults who care for them, this philosophy can change the world.”

— Richard Louv, author of “Vitamin N,” “The Nature Principle,” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

“Making use of this book is a great way to start taking learning outdoors. The ‘hidden potential’ in the outdoors should be placed into the hands of conscious educators to a much larger extent. There it can provide a foundation for developing reflective learners and a paradigm for critical thinking and knowledge in action, not only in Europe but all over the globe. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to do permaculture with children because a muddy child is a happy child in an affective and cognitive way! I wish everyone an enjoyable, playful and fruitful time outdoors with this book.”

-Dr. (Fil lic) Anders Szczepanski, author of Outdoor Education, Assistant Professor of Outdoor Education, Spetsa Company at University Holding, Linköping University Sweden.

“Brimming with practical examples of how to support children in connecting with themselves, each other and the growing cycle. This handbook illustrates the scope of permaculture that is relevant for children, using gardening as an entry point into wider issues of fairness and connection. Written with such a deep sense of care and consideration for the future generations, it is invaluable for parents and educators alike.”

– Looby Macnamara, author of People and Permaculture, and 7 Ways to Think Differently, and co-founder of Cultural Emergence project.

 

TO BUY THE BOOK PLEASE CLICK HERE.

OR READ IT FOR FREE ONLINE HERE.

Santa Rosa to San Diego

We continued driving, and driving, and driving – a good long eight or so hour stretch from Eugene all the way to Santa Rosa, where Divyapriya organised a cozy get-together with neighbors and friends. Now Suprabha, who interestingly is working on a thesis about environmental education had joined us!  Many good conversations on the way…

The next day, we continued to the Los Altos Ananda Marga Yoga Center – to join a meditation class and tell about the work in Romania, inviting more people to join our family. One of my best friends from high school days, Kate, joined and also will sponsor Lorena!

Then onwards, again on a very long drive, this time to Los Angeles, the day before Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving,  I prepared vegan pumpkin pies and made acorn squash with bread stuffing. Everyone came prepared with all kinds of goodies, and the table was laden!  I was lapse in my photographic duties and forgot to take a picture….sorry – but it was indeed spectacular.

A few more sponsors entered our expanding family that night as well, and we did a lovely gratitude circle, using a small pumpkin as our “talking piece” to go around the circle and take time to celebrate the good in our lives together.

The next day, I continued south for my last road trip – going to San Diego and back in a day to make a couple more visits – seeing another good friend from high school and Dr. Bharat.

I had a couple of days to visit a botanical garden in Pasadena, and Griffith Park Observatory – to relax and recharge before more than 20 hours of travel back to Bucharest!

Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary!

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UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1c3dI was so happy to visit old friends from when I used to work as a volunteer in Portland – Kamalanayna and his wife Kit run an amazing animal sanctuary “Out to Pasture”. It is a veritable children’s home / old age care for abused and neglected animals. Quite impressive – a ton of work, but a wondeful place for the animals to live out the rest of their years!

Come and see:

Out to Pasture Website

I also really enjoyed watching this video – very philosophical and brimming with Neohumanist compassion:

Children in Permaculture at the Kailash Eco-Village

Matt and Didi

On Thursday, I gave a talk at the Kailash Eco-Village in Portland Oregon about “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share in Education – the Children in Permaculture Manual” I co-authored. The crowd was underwhelming in size (3 people joined) but I was really excited to meet Matt Bibeau.  He is leaidng the Institute of Permaculture Education for Children! They have been doing exactly what we are setting out to do in Europe – but have been at it for at least 10 years. It was a really valuable exchange of experience and I am looking forward to visiting his educational farm today!

Portland Oregon!

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Another small but sweet gathering with Ananda Margii meditators in Portland Oregon last night – gave a talk about the children’s home, and looks like we are welcoming two more new sponsors into the family! It was particularly nostalgic to be back in Portland, this is where I began my journey as a volunteer working with the New Day School and leading yoga classes!

Spent time reminiscing with Shiva Kumar. Indeed, it has already been 21 years since I left Portland to go off to acarya training.  I had so many memorable and formative experiences during the two years in Portland:

Kiirtans and Oatmeal 

I remember 24 hours of kiirtan at the New Day School and the incredibly beautiful dharmacakras with Maitrii’s joyful bhajans,  Diipal’s exquisite kiirtans and Devakii’s Krsna-like flute.  I also remember when we started  bringing a huge pot of warm oatmeal to homeless people on Sunday mornings.

Homeopathic magic

Once the weekly free homeopathic clinic volunteers arrived just after a pressure cooker of beans exploded onto my face,  and I experienced first hand the amazing instant healing of the right remedy in the right moment. In fact, I still have the homeopathic remedy set for acutes that Kamalanayna and the unit had given me as a going away gift.  Those remedies have helped countless trainees, children and margiis over the years!

Painting the jagriti

I also remember overcoming my fear of heights, climbing up high on a ladder to paint the orange rays of a rising sun on the jagriti. By the way, I don’t know how long it lasted, but my apologies for the very dark teal color choice – the paint was donated and ended up several shades darker than I had imagined it…I started the painting with a group of international volunteers during a workcamp, but they left and still the bulk of the painting wasn’t finished….so guess what I did for the next month or so :-)

Permaculture gurus

Portland was also the beginning of my permaculture journey – with Maitri and Ole as my gardening and sustainability gurus :-)
Indeed, when Maitri visited me in Romania last year, she told me, with quite a few giggles, about how the first time I came to her house with its edible landscaping – I pointed to some greens and asked what it was. When she revealed that they were carrots – I was so astonished, having never seen carrots actually growing in the ground.  Thanks to that inspiration – it has become a life long passion, and now in Romania, one of the projects I coordinate is an organic Community Supported Agriculture farm, and I helped to write a book on how to engage children in imbibing the ethics of permaculture (earth care, people care and fair share) from an early age.

Visit to the Sunshine Coast in Canada

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Cozy gathering at Liilamaya and Lalita’s home

I have visited the Sunshine Coast of Australia a few years ago, but didn’t know there was one in Canada, as well.  Though, I had my doubts that the Pacific Northwest could really be a sunny place – indeed, the weather was beautiful and sunny the whole time!  Spectacular islands and ocean – I even saw a seal, swimming and playing near a wharf.

I was invited by Liilamaya – who has been part of the Sojha kiirtan band, my very favorite kiirtan artists. A t his home, he and his partner Lalita  a really sweet, cozy gathering of friends yesterday. He played kiirtan, accompanied by harmonium and cello.  We had a short meditation, and divinely delicious vegetarian coconut curry!

I then shared about Romania and our children’s home, and I am delighted to announce that we have six new people joining our AMURTEL Family as sponsors for the children! I am so grateful!

Mark Benson – Fine Arts Photography!

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LIilamaya – aka Mark Benson, had some really amazing artwork on his walls, that I was convinced were paintings.  They turned out to be some of the most beautiful landscape photography I have ever seen. If you aren’t aware of his work, you must visit his website:  Mark Benson Photography

Beach walk with Solstice

The next day,  we showed up just minutes after the ferry between the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver closed the gates… but as a result, I got the chance to take Solstice, Liilamaya’s dog, for a walk to the beach. Gorgeous!

 

Blackberry fiasco:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1beeWhile walking with Solstice  on the beach, she decided it was time to go home. Liilamaya had reassured me that she didn’t need a leash, and she was heading back on her own so I followed her.

On the path towards the house, I noticed, to my great surprise, considering the season, ripe blackberries growing by the side of the path. Curious, I reached for one of them, but it required leaning in over the bushes. As I did so, I had the thought that it would be bad to fall into the thorny bushes, especially wearing a sari….and just then I, of course, lost my balance.

I twisted to avoid completely landing into the bushes, but got rather scratched up. Meanwhile my sari was now inextricably tangled up in the thorns. Solstice didn’t even look back and was already out of sight. I carefully worked to extricate my sari from amongst the thorny bushes. When at last I was free, I couldn’t see Solstice, and got a bit worried. Returned to the house, and didn’t see her anywhere in sight….uh oh…Liilamaya – I think I lost your dog…. But I asked some children on little bicycles and they said they had seen a black and white dog and pointed in the direction of the house. I found her politely waiting for me in the back yard….

Hours later, after the dharmacakra in Vancouver, I realized that my hands and ankles were fully of nearly invisible, teeny, tiny little thorns that I couldn’t even see. Luckily a sister with younger eyes than I was able to find them and help take them out. Ouchy….

Meditation Marathon for Children in Romania

meditation marathon
Join meditators from many traditions to generate a deep, peaceful vibration that will lift your spirit and nourish your heart! At the same time, you will be contributing to offer a childhood to children in Romania, living in AMURTEL Family, a children’s home run by a meditating yogic nun!
 
Is this marathon only for experienced meditators capable of sitting for hours?
 
No – not at all! You do not have to be an expert in meditation and first-time newcomers to meditation are also welcome. There will be an optional free intro to breath work and mantra meditation before the marathon for newcomers to meditation.
 

How does it work?

Decide on an amount you want to donate per minute of meditation and challenge yourself to meditate from 10 to 100 minutes!
 
Enjoy the silence and peace of meditation for as long as you can, benefitting from the collective energy of the gathering. You may surprise yourself with a new personal record! There will a soft bell chime every 10 minutes. When you are ready to quietly leave and join the herbal tea and sweets outside, your meditation marathon achievement will be recorded!
 
At the end of the 100 minutes – we will celebrate and those who reach 100 minutes will receive a special gift of appreciation from AMURTEL Romania.
 

Who will be benefitted?

 
Your meditation will bring hope, safety, and love to eleven children aged 5-16 years old from the AMURTEL Family Children’s Home in Romania. These children come from situations of neglect and abuse and are placed in the care of AMURTEL Family by child-protection authorities.
 
The home is run by Didi Ananda Devapriya, a yogic nun and meditation instructor since 2001. Besides helping spiritual seekers to find deeper meaning, peace, and bliss through teaching yoga and meditation practices, Didi has dedicated her life to serving vulnerable children and youth. She has been in Romania for the past 14 years, running AMURTEL Romania (www.amurtel.ro), a non-profit serving neglected, abandoned and abused children.
 

Would you like to organize a meditation marathon?

 Let me know, and I would be delighted to have your support in setting this fun challenge up!

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