Family retreat: June 2022 – Our Reflections
The June retreat brought together three families to Tiruvannamalai. From being strangers, we became one large family, where we trusted one another, shared our lived journeys, and dreamt together a regenerative future for ourselves and our children, amidst a like-hearted community.
On the 17th of June, at 4 pm we started our journey with the second cohort of families towards embracing regenerative living. With a quick introduction about the Inner Companion Ecoversity, our purpose, and our intention, we were able to find a common ground for us to converse, reflect, and question. One of the intentions for us to host these family retreats is to find like-hearted individuals and families, who are also seeking a community of some kind, that they can grow with, learn from, lean on, and draw inspiration from. And by the end of the two days, community we did find in each other.
One of the highlights of this retreat is performing, learning, and creating rituals that bring us closer as a family, community, and people.
Lights, fragrances, and music, bring joy to our lives. We light up the environment to initiate a welcoming ceremony for our families. This ritual helps us demonstrate how grateful we are to have them around. Here is a glimpse of our first evening. The joy we experienced cannot be described in words.
Including a few tangible ways to demonstrate our happiness breaks the ice for us and brings us slightly closer to one another. Since rituals are usually part of familial gatherings, we already gain a sense of belonging to each other right on Day 1.
Our next morning started with more rituals. Sri Ananda Niketan also has rituals of its own. The gathering space near the kitchen is decorated with hand-drawn kolams, with the opportunity to color it up, as the sun gently strokes us from the east.
Another ritual we practiced was journaling our stream of consciousness. Drawing inspiration from Julia Cameron, we wrote non-stop for about 30 minutes/3 pages first thing in the morning. We encourage families to do this together, with some prompts to encourage the children to step into accessing their stream of consciousness.
Regeneration could mean many things. The way we mean is to leave things in a better place than they were. All of us lead lives that are a product of our circumstances and past conditioning. We deeply believe that each of us is trying hard to be our best selves. The fallout which happens is despite our sincere attempt to be the best versions of ourselves. Our question is, irrespective of where we are in our journeys, how can we better things for ourselves?
We spent the first day discussing the relevance of a regenerative mindset in today’s day and age, deconstructing what it entails, and identifying aspects of our lives where we can ignite the regenerative process.
We had a guest speaker, Dr. Parvathy Chandran, offering ways in which we can look at wellbeing from a regenerative mindset. Dr. Parvathy lives in Tiruvannamalai and runs an ayurvedic clinic called Arogyaniketan. Her practice allows individuals to understand the dis-ease we face, figure out the root cause, and ease it to lead a healthy, whole life.
Regenerative living is an interconnected approach to life. If we attempt to have good health it has to be in alignment with our ideas about wealth, work, values, and aspirations. How we define good health, is intrinsically linked to our idea of a good life. When we limit wealth to only the accumulation of money, the primary goal for our work would be to seek high-paying jobs, work in the wee hours of the day and night, and ignore our social relationships, mental well-being, and such.
We discussed how we can define each of these ideas for ourselves – and what it could mean for us to uphold them as a family. What does wealth mean to us, what is good health, who are part of our social fabric, how do we want to honor them, etc were some questions we inquired into.
While the retreat sets us in motion on this journey of the lifelong quest, we knew that we are doing this together. To us, to give this hope to families, that they could pursue this life, together, in the community, is the means and ends to this gathering.
Children at the Retreat
Children made use of the vast 3 acres of land to run around, explore, dance, discover new things, build bonds, and share resources. We had a volunteer who nudged them towards playing safe and being kind. They had complete autonomy over how they wanted to spend the time at the retreat center.
We had a local artist Sunil chetta draw portraits of children. It was amazing to see the children willingly sit down still for the duration of the portraiture. They beamed with pride to show the portraits to their parents.
The children also enjoyed face painting with natural colors bought from our dear friend Nikita Gandhi. There was an attempt to capture Picasso’s painting on one child’s face. We loved it so much that we forgot to take pictures.
Children worked with their parents listing rituals they’d like to start, stop, and continue, as a family. We attempted to discuss the why behind certain rituals – what are the values and beliefs guiding those rituals – and why those are valuable to us. It was not easy and very successful. But there we sowed the seeds to begin conversing as a family about who we are as a family.
As parents, we continue to repeat what our children must do. However, articulating why we want them to adhere to a few protocols/rituals/traditions could help them understand where you are coming from and why it could be important for the family. It also gives parents a chance to understand how children interpret these rituals and if they’d like to tweak it a little to feel included in the process.
Building a community
With each gathering and our reflections, we are articulating why we do what we do. We are also growing as a family learning our values, beliefs, non-negotiables, and what intentional living means for us.
The purpose of our family gathering remains the same. However, with each family that joins us, we expand our understanding, deepen our conviction, and hold space for a new cohort to walk this journey along with us.
One of the families joined us a week ahead at Recenter – a space for Alternatives. The extra time we got to spend with this family had multiple benefits.
- We got to understand their family values, beliefs, and priorities.
- They were able to see up and close how we manifest some of our conversations around integrating learning and living, and including regeneration and spirituality as the cornerstone of our being.
- We cooked, laughed, and learned together. Exchanging our gifts with each other.
- We seeded inspiration and motivation for them to explore starting similar communities in their neighborhood.
If you would like to experience it, we welcome you to spend a week at Recenter either before or after your time at the retreat. It might help you travel this path a little further and understand some practical ways you can navigate the opportunities and challenges when you go back to your own place.
We say we are looking for like-hearted individuals (not like-minded) to build this community. We welcome diverse thinking hats, but if all our hearts are aligned, the power of this community could manifest all things possible. Kindly accept our invitation to join hands in building this community; beyond space and time. A regenerative community in being.
Please follow us on social media to receive updates. We will upload the testimonials from our participants on our Instagram handle @innercompanion. We look forward to meeting you in Tiruvannamalai or in other cities/towns.
May you be safe
May you be healthy
May you be happy
May you be at peace.