Didi Ananda Devapriya: Yoga and Meditation Teacher in Romania

Three stories included in “Stories to Light the Night”

Three of the stories I wrote for our AMURT “Pathways to Education” project with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon were published in Susan Perrow’s latest collection of therapeutic stories “Stories to Light the Night”.

It is really such an important collection. Trauma, loss and grief are a part of being human, and as much as we want to protect children, many also endure these experiences. Whether the loss of a beloved pet, or grandparent, or the trauma of war or natural disaster, children need empathic support. The healing and transformational power of metaphor and story cannot be underestimated.



Snake Rescue

This children’s story was inspired by a real-life Neohumanist snake rescuer – saw the pictures on Didi Kusum’s Facebook!! She was my initiate long ago in Italy – quite the amazing tantric woman. Here are the photos that the story is based on:
11157507_1042783952411465_1223587998659835010_oSlithering through the long grasses of the field, following the trail of an intriguing scent, a brown spotted king snake named Kyle bumped against something hard and cold. It was the fence of a small garden and beyond the wire mesh, juicy sweet red strawberries were growing. Although king snakes are not interested in strawberries, a small brown field mice was very interested indeed. Already the mouse was so busy nibbling away at his delicious breakfast that he didn’t even notice Kyle approaching. It was Kyle’s job as a garden guardian to eat mice and other pests that munch on the fruits and vegetables.


But bumping against something cold and metal was unexpected. Kyle had never seen a fence and didn’t know what it was. It was just something new and interesting, and testing the air with his quick, sensitive tongue, Kyle didn’t find any scent of danger….

He slid along the metal plate until he reached a smooth white pole, perfect for wrapping around, and began to climb. But just as he raised his head and began to wind around the pole, he found himself caught in the wire fencing.
He wiggled a bit and realized he was stuck. He got scared as he couldn’t move forward or backward. He twisted and squirmed, but he just got more and more stuck and knotted up in the fence, as the wires pinned painfully into his scales.
He could not call for help, because snakes can’t talk and anyway, who would come and help a snake? Nobody likes snakes.
He usually hid away from the big stomping feet of the children and people that lived near his forest. They were scary. Once, a tall man had seen him and made a frightening scream. Kyle could taste terror in the air.
He got scared too and darted away as quickly as he could to hide under a rock and didn’t come out for a long time, until it was night and the stars told him it was safe.
The sun was hot and Kyle started to feel thirsty. He started to cry silently, thinking he would be stuck there forever.
The garden belonged to a kind yogini who cared for the vegetables and fruits every day with love and tenderness. That day when she came out to the garden to water the plants and pick some strawberries for breakfast, she was startled to see Kyle stuck in the fence. He heard her cry out something he couldn’t understand and she ran quickly back inside the big white house.
Then, suddenly she came back carrying a big pair of scissors!!
10862549_1042782692411591_4271643724413277591_oKyle felt a strong, reassuring hand firmly holding his neck. His flickering tongue didn’t taste fear in the air. Rather there was something new, something he that he had never tasted before – the warm, sweet, cozy scent of loving kindness.
Patiently, Didi snipped and cut the wires and spoke to him gently. “Poor little snake, I know your scared, don’t worry, I will set you free!” He eagerly wrapped his long tail around her arm. She sang her meditation song to him and it gave him hope.
Snip, yank and snap. Finally the twisted wire mess was free and Kyle was so happy! Didi lifted him up, his long body dangling to her knees, and said “There you go little brother!!” Kyle again wrapped around her arm and squeezed a big grateful snake hug.
She let him go and he slithered away in the grass, still feeling shaky from the adventure. Once he was a safely away from the scary fence, and back in the familiar long grasses, he turned around and saw Didi gazing after him. He knew had made a friend for life.


A healing story I wrote for Syrian refugee children coming to the Child Friendly Space that AMURT runs in Lebanon for the second training I was asked to lead – 9 months after the project launched. The story offers  a metaphorical mirror for these children whose lives have been uprooted into a new country. They have experienced interruptions in their schooling and must struggle to catch up again in a new, strange environment. 
A tiny tomato seed was planted in the warm, dark earth inside of a safe greenhouse. Soon, a tiny green shoot had sprouted through the earth, and began reaching up towards the sunlight. It grew, and grew…And then one day, a shovel came, and roughly dug into the earth next to her and in one sudden lurching movement, the tomato plant was dizzily free of its familiar bed of earth. A small chunk of earth clung to her tiny hair like roots. Several of the roots stung as they had been severed when the plant had been torn from the ground.

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The Nest Builders

AMURT CFS training
Staff training for AMURT’s Child Friendly Space for Syrian refugee children

This is a story I wrote for Syrian refugee children. I was invited to Lebanon in the spring of 2014 to give a training for the staff of a “Child Friendly Space” program that AMURT was initiating. It was my first trip to the Middle East and we were staying in an area that was predominantly run by people from the “Dru” religion. It was beautiful and I was very impressed – by the warmth of the people, beauty of the landscape, history and culture…not to mention the wonderful food…But I was also deeply touched by the plight of the Syrian refugees – most of whom were middle class business owners, or even rich landowners that now found themselves displaced and in atrociously impoverished, overcrowded, unheated conditions.  I wrote this story while on the trip to Lebanon – I missed a connecting flight and spent about 12 hours in the Istanbul airport.  At that point, I hadn’t yet met any of the refugees – I was just researching and reading everything I could find online about their situation. So the next day, when I began the workshop – I wasn’t sure if the story would resonate…but by the time the birds squeeze into the crack in the building – several of the Syrian participants started to say excitedly “Oh – it’s just like what happened to us!! What will happen now?”. The story is one that is designed both to reflect, using metaphor, the situation of having to leave a dangerous place (the bombing in Syria) and also one of hope….and nest building…
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The Great Oak and the Gray Squirrel

A strong, tall, shady Great Oak tree with deep roots stood in a meadow of butterflies and buttercups. The winter snows had long melted and the summer sun had warmed her leaves. Every day, calling on the help of Father Sun, she lovingly worked to slowly create acorns. All of the Light she received from Father Sun, and all of the minerals the earth generously gave to her roots she carefully saved and stored up inside of each and every acorn. And deep in each and every acorn heart  she wrote down all of the lessons she had learned from Life. How to bend in the stormy winds, how to seek water deep below the earth during dry seasons, how to reach towards the sun and how to spread a leafy dress to flutter gracefully in the wind.  She dreamed of her acorns growing into strong, tall oak trees like herself and it gave her great joy.

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Juniper the Rabbit – a healing story for children’s home children

Ionut from Familia AMURTEL with “Juniper”

I wrote this children’s story for our smaller children from FAMILIA AMURTEL. Many of them have certain behaviors – such as hoarding food, that stem from their traumatic history of neglect during critical developmental stages in infancy. This story uses metaphor to communicate compassion and understanding, and at the same time show a healthy way through the distressful behavior:

Juniper was a white baby rabbit. She lived with 27 other baby rabbits inside of a small cage. It was very crowded and uncomfortable. When the farmer came with food, all of the rabbits scrambled on top of each other fighting for their share. Juniper was small and not very fast, and the others climbed over her and ate up most of the food before her. She was always still hungry when the food was finished, and cried for more, but nobody listened. They were too busy trying to get food for themselves too.

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