As an aspiring bhakti practitioner, I'm well aware of how easy it is to start seeing everything I do in my day to day life as routine. Chanting, deity worship, reading, associating with devotees- all of it can become mundane if we don't go deeper than the superficial coverings. Sometimes we may feel that Krsna consciousness has lost the "freshness" and have to seek ways to rediscover that feeling.
Recently, I was fortunate to go on a retreat facilitated by HH Devamrta Swami and HG Bada Hari prabhu. The retreat was for newcomers offering an escape from the rigamaroles of everyday material life and an opportunity to discover the great jewels bhakti has to offer in the forms of kirtan, prasadam and deep devotion-centric discussions.
Upon hearing about the retreat, I immediately wanted to invite three people. Two of them were ladies I had distributed books to and had developed friendships with. The other was a student who regularly attends the Bhakti Yoga Club at the University of Ottawa.
Upon inviting Marcelle and Geoff, both immediately said yes. Unfortunately, Nadia, whom I have the great honour of regularly reading the Gita with, was unable to make it.
The weekend of the retreat came upon us and I was both trepedatious and excited. The potential for this trip being a life transforming journey for both these individuals was unbelievable. How many relative newcomers to Krsna consciousness get an opportunity to get one-one time with devotees of the highest caliber such as HH Devamrta Swami and HG Bada Hari prabhu for two and a half days? Not only that, but to have the association of like-minded individuals with a genuine thirst to dive deeper in bhakti can be rare.
Although I was happily engaged either in kirtan or cooking for most of the retreat, two moments stand out for me during those two and a half days. Those moments allowed me to fall in love with Krsna consciousness all over again. One morning, over half the participants got up early out of their own volition and chanted japa. The main room where the programs were being held became completely surcharged with the vibration of the holy name. In that space, I'll never forget looking over the participants, and in particular Geoff and seeing him with eyes closed, a look of determination on his face chanting the holy names of Krsna.
The second moment was during the final kirtan. HH Devamrta Swami simply took us out of the material world with his kirtan. Every single participant, was dancing. It was as though no one had a say in the matter! Everyone had to dance. After dancing and dancing and dancing, finally the kirtan came to conclusion and sitting down everyone sang in unison, hands outstretched and a look of complete bliss on their faces.
That is what Krsna consciousness is all about. Feeling a sense of connection to the holy names and the devotees. Although I may have passed along the message and invited both Geoff and Marcelle to come, they gave me the greatest gift during this retreat. Watching their experiences allowed me to rediscover the magic of Krsna consciousness all over again.