Zenrich has always strived to provide workshops that enable our children to excel at everything they do and help them discover their true potential. And what better way to give them the opportunity to learn new life-enhancing skills as well as be in a joyful environment than to invite them to the ashram for an incredible 3-day retreat? As a bonus, there was a special session for the parents too!
Thus, the first week in January saw parents, sometimes grandparents, and children arrive in joyful anticipation. The next three days were filled with sessions led by Sadhvi Vrinda ji and Sadhvi Nishtha ji, a workshop for parents by Ravi Gulati, interspersed with meditation, Antakshari(a game of songs), around the bonfire, feeding the cows and walks and activities along the banks of the river Giri Ganga. Swamiji’s discourses were the high point of the evenings, as was learning about the young Swamiji from Mata Rani. And the best part? The group meeting with Swamiji which was definitely an event for the memory album.
Children and parents reached the ashram on 6 January 2023, and the first event they participated in was the evening discourse by Swamiji in Sri Hari’s temple. After listening to Swamiji and attending the Aarti, everyone gathered for the induction by Sadhvi Nishtha ji at the dining hall, setting the mood for the days to come.
Sadhvi Vrinda ji’s session, the next day, asked participants whether they wanted to be Asuras(demons) or Devas(Gods). The session, interspersed with short video clips and a presentation with questions from a 12-year-old, held many lessons for the participants.
The afternoon session facilitated by Sadhvi Nishtha ji focused on emotions and was held on the river bank. The children were then joined by Mata Rani, who encouraged them to ask questions about Swamiji’s childhood. After a sumptuous snack, everyone clamoured back to the ashram. At 6:30 pm, everyone gathered for Swami’s discourse at the temple and immediately after was the highlight of the day – a group meeting with Swami which, as the children mentioned, “was amazing, and we got to learn a lot from Him”. The day ended with antakshri around the bonfire and a delicious supper, and even a little stargazing!
Day 3 started off with Sri Hari’s Aarti. Sadhvi Nishtha ji’s session on Saptarshi Vishwamitra who saw the challenges before him as opportunities. The session ended with a Q&A that saw all the children participating enthusiastically. The last session was on gratitude and ended with the children filling up their intentions in the Goal Planner along with writing a letter of appreciation to their parents.
Ravi Gulati’s session was on how to navigate the journey that parents and children take: From Dependence to Interdependence to Independence. He began with two questions about the collective and individual identity that his session addressed. He asked the parent group to contemplate and then discuss amongst themselves before sharing their views:
- What are some of the things that they would like their child to be independent in?
- What would they like their child to continue to rely on them for?
Ravi had used an excerpt from Stephen Covey’s acclaimed book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to design the session that he conducted with such panache that it extended beyond the scheduled time. Parents felt they learned a lot from the varied viewpoints that were aired that by the time the session drew to a close, most felt more confident about handling the everyday challenges of parenting. Ravi thought he managed to run only half the design in the allotted time, as the range of attitudes towards our children’s independence was much wider than he had anticipated.
The retreat came to a close with Swamiji’s discourse filled with gems for both parents and children to help each one become successful adults and have meaningful relationships.
This was the best experience of my life and with Sri Hari’s grace, everything went great. I would really love to attend an event like this again, and this wonderful experience will be with me forever. I am so grateful for this. – a 17-year-old student from Chandigarh
Say yes. Avoid but. Tell them why. Forgive and express your gratitude. Never put off a
compliment until tomorrow. – Om Swami