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Love and Light

Region 5 - Regional Retreat

i am I – One with Sai- Make it Happen

With Swamis grace, devotees from various places including Regions 5&8, Leicester, London etc gathered at the picturesque location of Langdale in Ambleside, Lake District for the Summer retreat from 25-27th July 2014. The beautiful location amidst mountains and lakes was the perfect setting to get away from the hustle and bustle and to spend some time understanding Swamis teachings in further depth. The scene was all set for a spiritual and enjoyable weekend.

The prorgramme started on friday evening with melodious bhajans inviting Swami to bless all the devotees. Region 5 chairperson, Mr. Kailash Venkat welcomed all the devotees and then Region 8 chairperson Mr Bhaskar Ram introduced the theme of the retreat which was "i am I - One with Sai - Make it Happen through Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang". The theme was split into three parts. The first part was about- understanding who we really i.e. the eternal Atma and what stops us from realizing that we are divine. The second part was about how we can progress on this spiritual journey by practising Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang. The final part was about realizing the importance of time and not procrastinate putting Swamis teachings into practise.

The next day started off with a prayer session that included: suprabhatam, veda chanting, bhajans and Jyothi meditation. The vibrations were so powerful that it felt as if all of us had been transported to Prashanthi Nilayam. After breakfast, was the first interactive workshop by Region 8 on the topic "i am I". The workshop started with a small introduction by Samarth (facilitator from Aberdeen) and then the participants were divided into pre-allocated groups and were asked to prepare a skit or discuss on the theme. The objective of the workshop was to make us aware that we are not the body, we are not the mind, but we are Atma (real “I”) and we can realize this by removing our inner enemies and controlling our mind. All the participants were very enthusiastic and came up with interesting presentations, humorous skits. This was a nice ice breaker.

The next workshop was on Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang by Region 5. In this, the participants were divided into 3 groups. Study cricles were conducted on each topic covering Swamis teaching related to each of the topic explaining the significance of Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang. Devotees shared their experiences as well which made the whole workshop quite interesting.

After a sumptuous lunch that was prepared by the catering team, the guest speaker Mr Navin Patel, who was a student from one of the first batches of Swamis College, thrilled the devotees with his numerous personal experiences with Swami. He shared some of the oldest pictures of Swami and reminded all of us of Swamis love, compassion and concern for everybody.

Highlight of the evening was the wonderful musical performance by Region 8 SSE children and fun filled bhajan antakshari where everyone participated and the atmosphere was full of laughter and healthy competition.

Sunday prayer session included suprabhatam, veda chanting, bhajan followed by Pranayama session conducted by Dr. Sood from Region 8. Various types of paranayama were practised and their benefits were discussed.

The last workshop was a conversational play on topic "Time is Now" which highlighted the importance of time. As Swami Himself says - "Time waste is life waste, Time is God". The message was loud and clear - we should sanctify time by putting Swamis teachings into practise and make the most of this sacred human birth given to us.

This was followed by a panel discussion where devotees asked various questions about how to practise spirituality in daily life and what are the hurdles that they face. The panel members (Ram, Vijay, Dr Lakshmi Sherbet and Kailash) shared their own experiences and quoted Swamis literature in context to the questions.

Finally, the 2 day programme ended with a melodious song medley from Region 5 singers and instrumentalist that simply transported Prashanthi Nilayam to Lake District. This was followed by concluding bhajans that were truly elevating, the singers and musicians with their wonderful talents sang with hearts full of love and filled the atmosphere with devotion and bliss and truly made us immerse in the rapture of God’s name and form.

All in all, retreat was a huge success and all the devotees from both the regions came together to become one family. It was an enriching and elevating experience. Every moment of it was enjoyable and full of learning. We thank our beloved Lord for giving us this wonderful opportunity to take one step forward on our spiritual journey.

Sairam

Samarth Mehrotra
Aberdeen Sai Centre