20 Oct 2008, Nagano, Japan
Location of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is a mountainous area that receives large amounts (over 3m!) of snow each winter. This idyllic rural location became the backdrop for this year’s Japan retreat, with Swami Purnamritananda held at the Beech Meadows in the Nabekura Highlands. Despite the remoteness of the location, the retreat was full – even overbooked.
The retreat began with a preliminary program for the children, where Swami Purnamritananda taught them how to play the bamboo flute, and each child received his/her own flute (from India) to take home! Meanwhile, the adults went on a nature walk with Br. Shantamrita, stopping in the middle of the beech forest for meditation.
Atma Puja was performed on the first evening of the retreat. Swamiji guided the retreatants through the steps of the ceremony, where they meditated and offered flower petals to Amma’s Yantra while Swamiji led Amma’s 108 names.
The following morning began with Mahaganapati Homa at sunrise, held in a peaceful grass field surrounded by forest, pampa grass, and a gurgling brook. Everyone commented on how ideal the surroundings were for the ceremony – one could imagine that such places might have been used by the ancient sages, as well. The homa was followed by walking meditation, and eco-meditation in the beech forest. After lunch, the participants reconvened in the main hall for a Q&A session with Swamiji, followed by a meditation class.
At the conclusion of the retreat on the second night, many people were shedding tears, and had to force themselves to go home, in order to attend work the following morning.
The first Nagano Retreat was a grand success, and the unanimous feedback was to hold next year’s retreat in the same location – but this time add an additional day!
watch photos here