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Enjoying the Lake District
One sunny weekend this July, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centres from across the UK met up in the picturesque Lake District in the north of England.
One sunny weekend this July, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centres from across the UK met up in the picturesque Lake District in the north of England. On Saturday evening there was a chance to meditate together, as well as practising a new song - the 13,000th song in his native Bengali language which Sri Chinmoy has composed. There were also stories and a video of a recent trip some people had recently made abroad with Sri Chinmoy. Sunday morning started with group meditation at 6am, followed by a race at 7am. There was some confusion over the actual distance of the race, and as a result some people raced one mile, and some two! Oh well, it was a beautiful course anyway, and the weather was already hot and humid even at that early hour. A two-mile race is always best when followed by a hearty breakfast which was duly supplied by Bijon and helpers, who slaved over a hot stove to provide everyone with plates of scrambled eggs and beans on toast. After breakfast there was free time for everyone to choose from the wide range of activities which the Lake District has to offer. Some went walking or running in the mountains, while others went boating on Grassmere Lake. For some this was a peaceful and meditative experience, while others begged extra oars from the boatman and embarked on a series of raucous and hotly competed races. Here they are changing their rowing order around in search of that extra edge. Unusually for a Centre boating outing no-one fell in and the only thing that was wet was the tea. Yes, there was plenty of time to enjoy tea and cake with friends in the sunshine or to sample the delights of the traditional English cream tea. In the afternoon came a very special event - the highlight of the weekend. We headed along a path for about a mile above Rydal Water to a large cave, where music group Ananda and soloist singer Adarsha gave a hauntingly beautiful concert of arrangements of Sri Chinmoy's music. Sri Chinmoy's compositions are always deeply meditative, and here in such beautiful natural surroundings with the sound of the voices and instruments resonating throughout the cave it was truly a deeply peaceful and uplifting experience. Afterwards there was time for quiet reflection or a chance to share the joyfulness of the occasion over a box of Kendal's mint cake, before heading out of the cave across the stepping stones. The concert was well attended by members of the public, we all had a great time in "the Lakes", and we are already looking forward to doing it all again next year! by Fran Chamberlain View more photos in the Lake District View:more photos from Lakes at Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team
Temple-Song-Hearts in France
Temple-Song-Hearts is back giving concerts again and it feels great!
Its been a fair few years since our music group last performed to the public and I had forgotten what a rewarding experience it is. Since the group gained a new pianist; the excellent Eshana from Serbia, plus a number of other musicians headed up by the multi talented Utsava of Germany, we have been concentrating on improving the the sound of the group. Its not always easy as the members of the group are scattered all over Europe and we can't get together more than a couple of times a year. So it was with great anticipation that we headed to Montpellier in mid March to spend a couple of days rehearsing and then to give our first full concert. Montpellier proved to be the ideal place to get together. It is a beautiful and mostly traffic free old city, we had great fun checking out the local shops, particularly an exquisite chocolate shop ( not great for the voice but wonderful for the spirits!). But most of our time was dutifully spent practising. On the second evening we performed in a lovely little theatre, to a full house of friends, meditation seekers and general public. The concert went almost without a hitch (just a small interaction between cello and horn trying to decide where to meet on tuning towards the end of a concert under hot lights), and I felt the spirit of Temple-Song-Hearts was well and truly back with us. I find there is nothing more satisfying than singing your heart out performing Sri Chinmoy's music; the feeling of joy that comes from these pure, beautiful and prayerful songs. It was a joy we were able to share with our audience, as they all seemed to enjoy the concert.
The following day we were off to Marseille. Due to the challenges of fitting us and a 7 octave synthesiser into a van, plus very heavy traffic, we didn't arrive until 7.30pm, incidentally the time the concert was due to start! However, the good natured Mediterraneans didn't seem to mind the half hour delay and soon enough we started our second concert. This time we were in a lovely hall without the bright theatre lights and it was nice being able to see our audience. The concert went very well and afterwards some people stayed behind to chat to us. When a man approached me and said he was a professional pianist, part of me went 'Oh no, he will have noticed all our little errors', but instead of criticism we received generous praise and I was very touched when said how moved he had been by the music. When this was followed up by a lovely lady saying that the concert had brought tears to her eyes and that "today God has come as a woman" I knew that once again Sri Chinmoy's music had got right to the hearts of its listeners. I have to thank our French friends that went to great lengths to make sure we were really well looked after, especially Gambuja, Padmasini and Keyarie, who made the whole experience possible.
More pictures on Temple-Song-Hearts concert in France.
Inspired by the Australian Sri Chinmoy Centre, who organise a large triathlon each year, we decided to organise one ourselves - in our own unique way of course.
Inspired by the Australian Sri Chinmoy Centre, who organise a large triathlon each year, we decided to organise one ourselves - in our own unique way of course. We thought we would combine it with a Joy Weekend and came up with: the Joyathlon. This made it much more fun and encouraged many more people to take part. In fact, pretty much everybody had a go at one of the events on offer. Now there aren’t too many triathlons in Great Britain, probably because of the weather. Luckily, we picked one of the hottest days of the year. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the swimming pool being really cold at 7am. And really long too. At 100 yards it is the longest swimming pool in England. It was great fun watching everyone plash around, swim into each other and not get anywhere… until you did yourself and realised it wasn’t that easy. Somehow the cold water took your breath away, which made swimming really difficult - well that was my excuse anyway.
After the 200 yards swim we had some breakfast and a bit of a chat – then a nice drive into the countryside for our next event – the cycling! Here we found a nice quiet road in the village of Oakington… only to discover that it wasn't so quiet after all. It was in this discipline that we noticed a big difference in the competitors. On the one hand we had Richard, who competes in cycling races at a national level, and had all the gear to prove it… to Udasina and Stef who looked like they were going on a Sunday afternoon ride in the country. I am sure it baffled passers by to see all these people completing in the same race. I also ought to mention Agnes here, who has competed in many Triathlons and brought her own bike from Scotland in a suitcase.
The next event was a 2-mile race. As we had taken our time with each event it was now mid-day and hot. The park was completely packed full of people which we all had to dodge during the race. Unfortunately as we were all so tired there were no pictures of the race, so here is a picture of a moose instead. After the race we found some shade, collapsed and had a really nice picnic. At the start and end of the Joy Day we had meditations, singing and videos of recent centre activities. It is amazing what you can fit into 24 hours and at the end of it we all felt inspired, uplifted and completely wacked out. What a good weekend! Suswara Links: Joyathlon pictures Amusing article by Shane on the Inspiration Group. Sri Chinmoy Races
Exhibition of Sri Chinmoy's Art
Jesper completes run around the world
On 23rd October Jesper Olsen finished his run around the world - the first person to do so. Students of Sri Chinmoy have helped him in his run through Australia, United States, Canada, Ireland and finally England.
He started on January 1st 2004 so has been running for nearly two years, completing over 26,000kms!
Jesper wanted to make the last day special and decided to run two marathons to get to London. He was joined by his main sponsor and other ultra-runners who had helped in Finland, Ireland and Australia. Steve and myself were also attempting to run the whole of the last day, but it was definitely new ground for us! However, being with these top ultra-runners made it easier - they just got on with it and somehow you just joined them and did it too.
Devashishu did an excellent job of helper. He worked out the route into London and met us every 5km where we would stop and do some stretching. He also did the odd run to Starbucks to buy us all coffee! As we started at 3am we unfortunately had to wait until 9am before one opened. Jesper would take photos every 5km or so and the photos went straight onto his website: www.worldrun.org. You can see photos there every day. The amazing thing about Jesper is that he didn't look at all tired. At the end of the last day some of us looked really dead, but he looked like he hadn't been doing any running at all. He didn't even have any sweat! He always looked after every else when they were running - he really puts other people first and makes sure they are happy. In fact, he is very humble about the whole thing. It was great talking to him and hearing about his adventures in Russia and Siberia and the people that he had met along the way. He had met students of Sri Chinmoy in many different countries and said that he really appreciated our help. One of the highlights of his journey was meeting Sri Chinmoy in New York and being lifted by him.
On the last day we started at 3am, so the first 4 hours were in the dark. I really liked it - it was the first time I had run at night and there was a real stillness and sacredness to it. At 5am BBC radio 5 interviewed Jesper when we has running. They also interviewed him after the race.
After it got light we arrived at the outskirts of London and other runners started joining us. By the time we had got to central London there was a big crowd of us running - weaving in and out of all the people, cars and buses that were there. It was a beautiful day and it was a really nice route into London - through parks, along the river and taking-in some top tourist spots! Finally we all ran up to the Greenwich Observatory, where Jasper started his run one year and 10 months ago. There was a crowd to meet us and a large inflatable finish arch for Jasper to run through. His family was there, friends who helped him during the run, well-wishers and lots of press! It was such a memorable, long day and truly inspiring to be part of Jesper's historic achievement. Well done Jesper!
More pictures of Jesper from his last day of running.
Nine birthdays in January are cause for a special celebration.
In the London Centre we go straight from Christmas into birthdays galore – no less than nine of us have birthdays in January. Although everyone gets a special cake on their birthday on our meditation night (recently there were six cakes on the same night!), this year the girls in the Centre decided to celebrate in style with a joint birthday bash. Sri Chinmoy has answered many questions on the spiritual significance of birthdays and he has even written a birthday song, which we sing to our spiritual brothers and sisters on their special day. Sri Chinmoy says, “The birthday is the anniversary of the day the soul entered into the world, making a very special promise to the Supreme. On our birthday, we have the golden opportunity to renew that promise and offer our surrender and gratitude to the Supreme.” Sri Chinmoy recommends that on our birthday we do first things first: pray and meditate early in the morning, and then once we have received some inner wealth from our spiritual practice we can share this with our friends. So on a chilly Sunday after morning meditation, 17 of us piled into a sixth-floor flat in east London to spend a fun-packed afternoon. Once everyone had arrived we tucked into a tasty vegetarian buffet, which seemed to help quieten us down a bit – apart from Hemabha who became even more energetic than usual! You could say she was the life and soul of the party. Lunch was followed by a brisk walk to burn off some calories and on our return we relaxed while watching a video of our spiritual Master. Before we knew it dessert was being handed out and, full of energy again, we threw ourselves into some party games. I don’t know what the name of the first game was, but Shinja (from Norway) managed to get us all kitted out in paper attire – with paper bags on our heads, paper plates over our ears and paper teeth in our mouths. Bhashini was voted the funniest-looking of the bunch and won a prize, although we all looked pretty hilarious. We then proceeded to join Shinja in a sing-song – attempting “Happy Birthday” to the tune of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, and other well-known songs. No party is complete without some traditional party games. We didn’t have enough room to play musical chairs, so settled for pass-the-parcel. As there were many of us, we decided to pass three parcels around at the same time, which was definitely more entertaining. No matter how many birthdays we have had – whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, or so on – on Sri Chinmoy’s path we are encouraged to bring forward our childlike qualities, so birthday parties are not sophisticated gatherings, but in many ways resemble celebrations that most of us would have experienced in our childhood. Sri Chinmoy says, “If you feel that you are a seven-year-old girl or boy, every day you will see your life in a new way, and you will blossom like a flower, petal by petal.” Sri Chinmoy explains that to be “childlike” is not the same as being “childish”. While a childish quality is found in someone who acts in an immature, irresponsible way, a childlike person is simple, sincere and spontaneous in their dealings, without being stupid or foolish. As the day wore on we certainly felt like children and rounded off the party with some cracker-pulling and a box of chocolates. As everyone got ready to go home we vowed to do it again for the next set of birthdays – yes, there are quite a few more coming up in February and March. Any excuse for some innocent fun. Happy birthday everyone! Paula Bartimeus
A Day of Joy In Wales
A day trip to the Gower Peninsula, Wales
On a damp morning, ten met for a vast and strengthening breakfast. Bleary eyes were soon opened by the nourishing sight of recent Sri Chinmoy videos. Two washed dishes while I read favourite AA Milne poems from my childhood in the voices my father used to use. The others shrieked and chuckled as they worked. We agreed Milne was a genius and wished he had written more. Out of the whirl and hum of the city, seven set out along the coast. Now steel mills sit in a slumbering Sunday town. Bright, wind-swept boarding houses and stout promenades speed past as we enthuse about the way things are and how they may be soon. A horned cow firmly stands, blocking the other side of the road. An international airport boasts a new fence around its one hangar, one hut and a handful of tiny aircraft.
We make the last mile on foot across a green cliff. A castle ruin still looks out to sea after seeing eight centuries. A stone arch no longer holds a roof, but frames a seascape through a wall long blown away. This surely is the abode of legends! Surely King Arthur has seen this very view! Down a sheer slope of powdered sand, each step creates a downward elevator, making the body momentarily weightless. Then on to a crescent cove nestled in greenery. Pale sand and gentle sea.
We run, analysing our prints in the sand, then chasing up vertical dunes and flopping to the ground. Now we swim in the clear sea, which rolls and swells happily. The cold shock soon fades and the rain starts to fall. I become a playful fish, a baby in Ocean's loving arms, a drop in the sea of compassion, then joy just consumes me. For a moment I feel immersed in oneness. I am so full, I come out again to feel wrinkles of sand underfoot. I lie flat on the earth surrounded by sky.
Then back along a winding rivulet through soft marshes. Verdant weed clings to the pebbles. Twin velveteen calves stand motionless, dribbling and frowning. On to a canopied fresh stream and miniature mossy grottoes. If fairies and goblins are to live anywhere I am sure they would choose here! The dappled shade creates the sense that small things are moving just too cleverly to be caught by human eyes!
The rain now falls in earnest as we reach our tea-shop destination. Welsh rain I am sure is wetter than any other. With sturdy cups of tea, we compare past marathon mistakes and training insecurities, laughing heartily. Chocolate ice-cream (almost black with intensity) is served in polystyrene with a neon spoon and fuels further verbal rambling.
Scrubbed clean of sand we end a perfect day with meditation at Centre Meeting. Surrounded by fragrant yellow flowers I feel alive with a day immersed in simplicity. I offer all my heart's gratitude for the beauty and joy of life.
Anyone for Golf?
First-time golfers and an old-time pro have a pleasant round of golf in picturesque Oxford.
When we get together we normally play our favourite game: football. Now whether it was because we had a few injuries or whether we just fancied a change I do not know, but for some reason this time we decided to play golf. Not the real thing you understand but "pitch & putt", which is almost the real thing but the holes are not quite so long. "Golf??!!" I hear you cry. "But isn't that for retired executives?". Well, maybe it does have that reputation, but we all really enjoyed ourselves and learnt a lot too. Our progress can be attributed to our golfing expert, Chidabhas, who also seems to be an expert at pretty much any sport I can think of. Our first stop was the driving range where we had 20 balls to perfect our technique. For many it was the first time - and it showed. Balls went flying all over the place, but rarely where they were meant to be going. Sometimes the ball would be missed altogether!
On my first few attempts I just tried to wallop the ball as hard as I could - with little success. It was then explained to me that if you had the right technique you didn't have to hit it to hard. How true that was! For my next shot I tried to do everything right, but, crucially, I didn't try to hit it too hard. In fact I just totally relaxed and hit it perfectly. Wow! What a great feeling that was! Hmmm, I was beginning to get hooked...
We then proceeded to play all nine holes, which ranged from about 100 to 150 yards. We all laughed hysterically whenever someone messed-up a shot and tried not to get too upset when we messed-up our own shots! Occasionally someone would do a fantastic shot and we would all appreciate it like anything. My favourite shot was actually my first shot on hole 1. Somehow everything went perfectly and the ball landed nicely on the green. All my friends were seriuosly impressed with my first ever real golfing shot. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from then on... My funniest moment was watching Steve try to do a delicate chip shot onto the green only to mis-hit the ball and see it move about 1 foot and then fall back down to the point where he first hit it. Not only that but he then continued to repeat the exact same shot another 4 times! All in all we had a great time and no-one suffered any injuries, and hey, I didn't feel totally exhausted after playing for three hours (unlike football). Hmmm, maybe we should play this again sometime...
Concert in the Cave, Lake District, 2006
A free concert at Rydal Cave in the Lake District. An opportunity to relax, meditate and immerse yourself in the meditative compositions of Sri Chinmoy, performed by members of British Sri Chinmoy Centres on a variety of instruments. Sublime music with a unique blend of Eastern and Western traditions...
Rydal Cave, The Lake District (grid ref: OS355-058) Sunday 23 July 2006, 2pm
Musical groups Ananda and Shindhu combine haunting devotional melodies with simple accoustic arrangements using instruments from both East and West. Our music is an expression of inner experience of meditation. We welcome you to join us and enjoy the tranquil and uplifting atmosphere of our spiritual music in the beautiful surroundings of Rydal Cave. Location map of Rydal Cave Listen to the music: Listen to Adarsha singing Listen to Shindhu Listen to Ananda
Cambridge Centre Go Ape!
Cambridge Centre bravely tackle a tree-top assault course...
Cambridge Centre bravely tackle a tree-top assault course...
In the heart of Thetford forest, in the East of England, hangs a trail of ropes, nets and obstacles suspended 15 metres above the forest floor which goes by the collective name of ‘Go Ape’. Cambridge Sri Chinmoy Centre and friends recently went along for a day of clambering over treetop obstacles and gazing down tentatively from the not insubstantial heights.
First of all we were fitted with harnesses and given a safety talk and a lesson on how to use the climbing equipment. We learnt that we would have two clips (called ‘carabiners’) and a pulley system attached to our harness. As soon as we left the ground we would always be clipped onto a safety rope system. As we had two different carabiners, which could independently support our weight, we must always move them one at a time, taking care that the other was secure. And so we would always be safe. Hurrah!
Over the next three hours we negotiated an increasingly awkward series of obstacles up in the treetops. We crawled through wooden cylinders suspended in the air; we swung on Tarzan-style ropes and collided with cargo nets which we had to clamber up and across. There were different kinds of rope bridges and tightropes, and trapezes which had to be traversed whilst they swung around erratically. The course was separated into five portions, each one reached by a long climb up a rope ladder, and from which you descended by means of a zip wire.
The zip wire landings were always quite exciting since one would usually descend facing backwards or sideward and crash unceremoniously into a pile of woodchips provided for the purpose. Just occasionally somebody would land elegantly on their feet, but mostly we ended up lying on the ground, soaked to the skin and covered in mud from our soggy woodchip ‘bath’. Lovely!
We have differing opinions as to whether we will go back to Go Ape, or visit another of the Go Ape sites around the UK, but everyone seemed to have had an enjoyable and memorable day in the forest. It was great to be out in the fresh air together and to have fun in such a simple and spontaneous way. Now we’re looking forward to our next day out, which may just be something a little more sedate."
See more photos of Cambridge Centre having fun.