The end of the school year is always a spiritual beginning for me.
After a very heavy teaching schedule, exam correcting and the completion of infinite year- end reports, I can finally take a breather and focus on my spiritual self more. I finally have time to focus on the inner ME more-meditate more, read more spiritual books and reflect upon the progress I have made during the past year. I finally have more time to focus on eating better and getting back into shape.
A few years ago when my teacher Sri Chinmoy was alive, this was always the time I’d be ready to leave for our annual Christmas Trip cum spiritual retreat. His student from around the world would meet in various countries around the world and de-stress from the daily grind by doing many hours of spiritual work. We would meet and meditate with our teacher(Guru) early every morning , starting the day with blissful silence and chanting. There would be spiritual poems to learn and plays with spiritual themes to put on( that was my specialty ).
Getting in shape was easy with long walks and runs along exotic sandy beaches, and by participating in the various races of various lengths our group would organize for us and the public.
There were wonderful new songs to learn in Sri Chinmoy’s native language Bengali ( always a joy and a challenge ), and there were so many new people to meet and share spiritual inspiration and insights with. Meals were always delicious vegetarian extravaganzas prepared by the chefs of the hotels we stayed at, and keeping the weight off was another challenge. ( Hence, the many races and longer and longer walks on those beaches !) We enjoyed wonderful spiritual conversations as we ate. Everything was bathed in the light of spiritual progress.
At Christmas we always meditated on the’ Saviour’ as Sri Chinmoy called Jesus, and we faithfully sang all the carols we knew in as many languages as there were people represented there( English, French , German, Russian, Swedish- you name it). One year we were in Indonesia, a Muslim country, at Borobudhur, a sacred Buddhist heritage site on Christmas Day!! As I sat blissfully in the blaring sun, contemplating the spiritual messages of the Buddha , Jesus and Sri Chinmoy, I ( a Jew by birth) ,said to myself,’ this is what the world needs-the oneness of all faiths and paths sharing their common goals and messages- peace on earth and good will to all.”
That message is a constant in my heart, especially at this time of the year when people become more aware of their spiritual selves and the spirit of giving becomes a ubiquitous theme( commercialism notwithstanding ).
As the New Year approaches,it is a common theme for everyone, no matter where they come from, to reflect on the ways they can improve themselves in the future.
On our trips, we always brought in the New Year with a powerful meditation, silently invoking the capacity to change, grow, improve and make more progress in the upcoming months.Sri Chinmoy usually gave a powerful message for the New Year, a message upon which we could reflect so that we could become better citizens of the world and make faster spiritual progress. I am still in possession of these priceless messages as they were always printed out in Sri Chinmoy’s own handwriting and decorated with his sweet soul-bird drawings.
So now I feel I must take this time at the year’s end and the New Year’s beginning to dedicate this time to making spiritual progress, just as I did on the trips.I am so grateful to have seen the world with my Guru and to have come back renewed each year ready to enter into ‘the battlefield of life ‘ as he called it.
In our meditation Centres we carry on the spiritual traditions taught to us by Sri Chinmoy. We meditate on Jesus and his powerful message of love and oneness at Christmas, and we meditate on newness and progress on New Year’s Eve.
This is why my holidays are more like holy days and I will try as much as I can use this precious time for reflection and renewal.
I wish everyone who might read this Happy Holidays and an insightful and peaceful New Year.