Jenn McKnight is one of our new interns who came two weeks ago to experience an Ananda Laurelwood internship. She’s the mother of four children, ages 3-16, and she wanted to have time to recharge and heal. Be prepared to laugh out loud, chuckle inside, and weep with gratitude and honor for the work we do here.
I came to Ananda Laurelwood looking for a few things – I sought a retreat that offered peace, yoga and healthy vegetarian food. What I found, however, was a nurturing environment heavily rooted in spirituality.
What Exactly is A Yogi?
If you ask most Americans what they define as a yogi, many people have ideas of thin ultra-flexible people bent into pretzels. Well, in some sense I suppose that could be the definition, but from the Ananda point of view, it’s much deeper than that. Within 24 hours of my arrival at Laurelwood, I was quickly faced with this question, because it was apparent that I wasn’t going to be spending my time at some plush and comfy yoga resort.
In the ancient Indian tradition, a yogi is someone who practices meditation, and there was plenty of that to go around. We meditated in the morning; we meditated at lunch; we meditated before we went to bed. They even taught us how to meditate while walking – just try not to run into anyone….
In my two-week internship at their spiritual community, I did so much meditation, that I almost feel guilty writing this blog post. Why on earth would I share my thoughts with you, when I could meditate on them and reach a higher consciousness?
Of course, there was some yoga – hatha inspired, gentle goodness- but it was definitely secondary to the meditation, which included guided meditation, chanting, and group meditation with people who seemed to float through life. If you come to Ananda with any inner turmoil, I can guarantee it will rear its ugly head and float right on out of your heart chakra.
What Does Your Body Need Today?
Sometimes you want a salad, sometimes you want pasta, and sometimes… you just need a cookie. The community at Ananda at Laurelwood seems to get this point. So instead of subjecting its interns to bland diets of quinoa and green tea, the kitchen is stocked full of wholesome, healthy goodness that nourishes the body while you focus on nourishing the soul.
Before I came, I worried about not having enough to eat. By the first evening, I realized that was not going to be a problem. In fact, many of the other interns complained about the plethora of healthy vegetarian food options. How can you stop eating the raw carrot cake, when it tastes so good? After three days of indulging, I was fasting on apples and rooibos tea. Sensory overload for the soul.
Nature is Our Meditation Playground
Energy is all around us. If you learn one thing from an Ananda internship this will probably be it. Cosmic energy exists in everything, including nature. If you watch Ancient Aliens like I do, you’d know that this is highly likely from a scientific point of view. Our planet was just a huge lifeless rock until something landed on it from space, seeding us with life. Was it God’s breath of life, or small crystals containing alien DNA, perhaps we will never know, but the truth is, life (energy) exists all around us, and as an intern we were encouraged to experience it.
My days of washing dishes and deep meditation were often highlighted by beautiful excursions into nature. Sometimes it was just to work in the community permaculture garden, and other times, it was a beautiful retreat into the Tillamook forest. No matter the activity, I was surrounded with a peaceful energy that only furthered my meditation practice.
We Are All One in Love
I began this blog post by talking about how nurturing the environment at Ananda Laurelwood is. Sure, I am referring to the healthy vegetarian food, and the nature, but what completely caught me off guard were the people. However, when I think back on my experience with yoga, I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t already see this coming. …
Imagine if you would, a room full of yoga instructors. No – not the Bikram bark at you while you drip buckets of sweat yoga instructors – I mean the soft-spoken, heart focused yoga instructors. The ones that seems to tip toe around, gently adjust your warrior pose, and offer you some warm tea as you slip on you shoes to return to your hectic life.
That is what the spiritual community at Laurelwood feels like.
Every day you are greeted with a warm smile, and if you need one, a genuine hug. Long-term residents welcome you into their world without trying to convert you into their way of thinking.
And, if you let them in, they will reward you with more knowledge and love than you would ever imagine. It’s a bit hard to explain, and it was definitely not what I was expecting. However, after years of existing in the impersonal world of the Internet, it was exactly what I needed.
As they say at Ananda Laurelwood,
Bio: Jenn Marie is an online copywriter and business coach, that provides conscious internet marketing for entrepreneurs and businesses. She attended Ananda @ Laurelwood as an intern in March 2016. Read more of her blog posts at Ataensic Media and learn more about her on her website.