Arriving at Sadhana Forms early morning on 2nd October 2019, I was filled with anticipation and excitement. I came with a blank slate, thinking of all the fancy ‘Nature Cure’ courses I had heard about in my lifetime. I was greeted and welcomed by a volunteer who I thought was down-to-earth, kind, gentle and lovely who I later realized was also a fabulous facilitator and support guide. And similar thoughts would soon follow for all other aKarma Volunteers. I’m actually at a loss of words, thoughts, and feelings for those 7 memorable days. But I still attempt to write my deep heartfelt feelings for something that got imprinted on me for life.
So, here I am, Purva from Pune, 44, a single mother to a 9-year-old amazing daughter. I came to aKarma Life Nature Cure Level 1 camp as it was suggested by a dear friend Arvind, who thought it might help me and my daughter.
I was happy to meet a small group of 20 enthusiastic participants. I learnt later that the size of the camp was kept small as aKarma volunteers had started an experiment of making the camp experience match the theory shared here. And our camp was the first in that line of design.
The realization that dawned from day one, was how ignorant I was, and how much it was needed for me to first understand myself, my body, inner workings of my mind and body-mind sync. How could I help my child if I didn’t know how the body works, it’s functions and most importantly awareness about the Health Indicators like Sleep, Hunger, Elimination and Stillness.
Each of the aspects above and more was discussed in the format of a circle with real-life examples and questions from day to day life – just as we live and experience them. That was the key to aKarma being so Real and Authentic. And the facilitator Raghu and volunteers were living this lifestyle themselves for many years now. Being vulnerable with us, they shared their journeys, challenges and how they overcame the inertia and initial resistance.
The first 15 minutes of waking up in the morning was a time to be a keen observer – never have I paused to take that time to feel what my body is saying to me.
I experienced it challenging to actually to:
• ‘Pause’ And Observe
• Wait and See What Happens
• Be Still to Hear the Body’
• To Let Go of My Ego Sometimes
• A policy of Not Looking at Phones 3- Minutes Before Sleeping at Night
• To Not Just Get Up and Get Going, But to Wake Up and Listen to My Breathing
Learning to be comfortable with these was the Key in the 7 days to unlock the wisdom Nature Cure has to offer.
Subtle foods-.What? Is that even a thing? I think most of us just know about ‘food going into the mouth’. Before we were introduced to subtle foods in this camp experientially and theoretically, never have I ever thought of Space, Sun, Air and Water with such deep intensity. Taking in fresh, long breaths of air through Pranayam, in our lovely surroundings felt like a blessing, and full of newness and energy to surpass the day.
As we discussed metabolism, five-fold food, fasting, understanding that disease is the cure and the role of fasting in the cure, gaps in my mind filled up. Experiencing partial fasting on the 4th day allowed me to understand the potency of subtle foods even better.
Drinking food and Eating water-was a huge, huge learning and felt so tiring to do in the beginning. I realized that it was because of so much unlearning was needed.
In the last couple of days, we tried to understand our creative intelligence in tangible ways and discussed the importance of the lens through which we look at life.
The mornings were insightful..as we have never spent 15 minutes observing our own body and what it feels to feel it, what it’s saying to us.. So many questions get answered by that observation alone. A sense of rhythm came in with Suguna Amma guiding us through beautiful and mindful Yoga sessions in the morning. The beauty was to concentrate on the slow and steady. We also practiced Pranayama 3 times a day before each meal. And these made a huge difference even for someone like me who is not regular with these. After Yoga in the morning, we went for sun basking and hydrotherapies which rejuvenated us.
We had 2 circles in the morning and evening, post breakfast and post-lunch, each with Raghu, our facilitator. So every day, we had 4 hours of discussion on theoretical aspects of Nature Cure. The welcome bag given to each of us had work sheets for reflection. I
The lunch buffet was a spread of salads, dips, and dressings that were a new experiment at aKarma camp. Everyone was encouraged to make their own salad(s).
Close to 3 pm, Suguna Amma also pampered us with a different kind of eye pack every afternoon. For our screen-tired eyes, this was such a gift. The way she would skilfully reuse kitchen waste for eye pack and the care and gentleness with which she would place them for each person was touching and made me wonder what did I do to deserve such service…
In the evenings, we split into different teams and on a rotation basis, learned and contributed to cooking. Dhamu was our enthusiastic guide and master chef among so many other hats he wore with ease. Cutting veggies and rolling colorful Rotis with others were enjoyable for me. We also helped to maintain the common spaces like classroom and dining room clean.
Swapna, Nagaraj and their daughter came over for weekend volunteering and shared their experiences which melted all our hearts. Thank you so much for being you – it was a joy to see such committed parents.
Every night, we did a different activity like a Story night, Art session, Movie night, Dance night and Music night. One of the past attendees Kanipriya, drove long hours to teach us some awesome movements and it was great to see every one loosening up in her magical presence. As a person who enjoys dancing, this was a memorable night for me. On movie night, we watched a movie called Healing Forests of India. All of us loved its theme of showcasing communities that live close to nature. I taught Warli art on one of the days and the outputs ranged from amusing to amazing.
On the 6th day, instead of Yoga, we took our spades and hoes and attempted farm work, Connecting with the soil was an experience like no other and even the sweat tasted sweet.
The last night was set aside for pending questions and answers. On the last day Roopa walked us through other features of aKarma tech platform. The fact that many of the questions that arose were already documented and accessible, was a relief for many of us.
The closing circle on Gift Ecology touched all of us. We could resonate with the ecology that thrives on gifting forward so easily in that meditative setting.We were enjoying the abundance of Nature. Our hearts grew bigger and our egos were taking a backseat.
One of the volunteers was inspired by the kindness of a participant towards another and kept the tag alive by paying for my bus ticket back home. I decided to pay it forward as a gift to Robinson, a brilliant construction and farming thinker-doer there who wouldn’t buy new clothes for himself, even during an important festival like Deepawali. Couple of hours before the camp closed, Robinson and his wife Rejitha sprang a surprise on all of us by offering baskets of 8 different varieties of organic veggies grown with passion on a “pay what your heart feels like” basis. There was no price tag. Having understood the difference between “free” and “gift”, most of us happily filled our aKarma bags and contributed what our hearts felt like. These veggies traveled wide and far and served as a great reminder to start the new day in our own settings in a healthy manner instead of falling back into old patterns.
Swapna, Nagaraj and their adorable daughter came over for weekend volunteering and shared their experiences which melted all our hearts. Thank you so much for being you – it was a joy to see such committed parents.
The parting was difficult but we all had work to do – inner and outer.
Fast-forwarding to 60 days after the camp:
I and my daughter have not gone totally the way of Nature Cure diet as yet. We have been traveling a lot and not consistently in one place. But what I learned in that one week is so well ingrained, that I’ve become so much aware of food and subtle foods around me. We now make conscious decisions to make sure we carry fruits with us at all times. We are eating mono fruit breakfast, but still letting my daughter eat a little cooked bf after a good gap. I am trying to cook as much sattvik as possible. We eat fresh food and avoid food kept in refrigerators. And the dinners are happening before sundown, and are automatically much lighter. All in all, the body and mind have become so much in tune and aware of what’s good for us and what’s not. I now understand my body, my mind, my surroundings with so much deeper involvement and care and hence I feel better equipped to help my child now.
Wanting to express Gratitude to the facilitators and The Sangha for being there with us, online and offline.
Raghu, deep Deep gratitude to you for facilitating with such joy, dedication, and humor.
We are on a journey where it seems like there’s no turning back.
Before I forget, here are some memories of these 7 days. Thank you, Aum for being our enthusiastic photographer.
And these are some snippets I heard from my fellow participants as their feedback on this camp:
- Friendly Environment ?
- The commitment of all people there was deep
- Clarity with which the knowledge and experience were shared was wonderful
- Down to earthiness of every organizer in every fold.
- People were wonderful (volunteers and participants).
- The place was so serene.
- How things were taught to us was very good.
- The one thing I loved was the fact that volunteers were all coming from a space of personal experience of “living it” instead of just ‘telling it.’..
- I would have loved to have some more ‘Me’ ‘Alone’ time in that inwonderful environment..
- Superb volunteers supported by the excellent ambiance.
- Connecting with nature has no flip side.