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Retreat and Seminar in Dallas

The margi of Dallas welcomed the visit of Sectorial Secretary Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta by organizing several meetings and opportunities for pracar. Among the activities that have been taking place most relevant was a Seminar of one day attended by more than 35 people. All three topic of the seminar were covered with classes given also by Acarya Anudhyanananda Avadhuta and Acarya Advayananda Avadhuta. Avadhutika Sutiirtha Acarya came from San Antonio and extended a great help supporting all the activities. In this way Dada Abhiramananda and Dada Anudhyanananda where able to visit also Houston where an Ananda Marga Center is going to be open soon.

Chai Spice Scones

Derived from the Chinese chá, “chai” means tea in much of the world, including Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of Africa and Brazil. Masala chai is an aromatic blend of black or green tea with warming spices. Sugar and milk often are included, as well.You can find hundreds of chai recipes associated with different locales, restaurants and even families. Travel to India, Nepal and Tibet, where masala chai originated, and you’ll likely see vendors peddling the tasty brew on street corners or at train stations. According to Ayurvedic tradition, masala chai boosts the immune system, enhances metabolism, relieves stress, aids digestion, provides antioxidants, and sharpens the mind.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
    1 tablespoon grated orange peel from an organic orange
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
Glaze
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or maple extract
Instructions
  1. For the scones, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, seeds (optional), zest, , cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and sugars in a medium bowl. Combine vanilla extract with 1 1/3 cups heavy cream; drizzle cream over flour mixture and fold in just until flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms – if needed, add 2 more tablespoons cream.
  2. Divide dough in half and turn out on a lightly floured board. Use lightly floured hands to pat each half into a 6-inch circle. Place the two circles of dough on prepared baking sheets and cut each circle into 7 wedges. Chill baking sheets in the freezer for 20 minutes while preheating oven to 425°F.
  3. Pull the wedges slightly apart, leaving an inch between them. Bake for 16 to 17 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until tops are set, edges are beginning to turn golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool scones for 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool.
  4. For the glaze, whisk together melted butter, powdered sugar, salt, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over scones and let set before serving.Yield: 14 scones
Make ahead: Cut each circle of dough into wedges on baking sheet; cover and freeze overnight. Brush with cream and bake directly from the freezer, adding 1-2 minutes to baking time. For longer storage, transfer frozen scones to a freezer bag until ready to use.

Summer Retreat 2017 at Ananda Kanan in Missouri

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Namaskar!

It is my pleasure to inform and invite you all to the annual program of New York Sector, which is going to be held in the month of July 2017 in Ananda Kanan. Ananda Kanan is the blissful land of Baba, where every devotee feels happy and relaxed. The beauty of Ananda Kanan in the lap of nature, where every devotee will enjoy the divine programs during the blissful retreat. You are welcome to attend the Ananda Marga Summer Retreat 2017 at Ananda Kanan!

Ananda Marga represents a model of society based on spirituality and universal love, which stands on the sublime ideology given by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, our beloved Baba.

Year 2017 is the new beginning of a new era. Society is going through a lot of transformation and we should always keep in mind that only spiritual force and energy will give the right solution for the present situation

Bádhá sá yuśamáná shaktih sevyaḿ sthápayati lakśye. [Obstacles are the helping forces that establish one in the goal.] We need moral force and collective spiritual endeavor in order to establish the glory of spirituality.

Fight against inertia! Break it to dust! Don’t let your mind indulge in any low thought! This is real courage. This the path of the spiritual warrior. This is the beauty of selfless action.

The retreat facilities at Ananda Kanan are improving every year. The natural environment is most conducive for sa’dhana’. By enjoying together kiirtan, meditation and devotional programs, sharing and preparing delicious vegetarian food and participating to the programs organized for the event, we will surely feel enlightened and close with Baba – to that love that brings us together as a universal family.

Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta – Sectorial Secretary – New York Sector

 

 

 

Inauguration of Ananda Marga School in New York

On March 7 2017 a new school of Ananda Marga has been opened and already ten kids are enrolled . Ananda Marga has adopted an after school program created by LEAD – a non-profit organization striving to provide the best after-school learning at an affordable price.

At the celebration were present Ananda Marga senior monks, teachers and board members of LEAD, students and parents, sponsors and sympathizers. The event spanned over the all afternoon and evening creating a very blissful atmosphere.

Four kids were and two parents came and enjoyed playing under the supervision of LFT  Tanmaya who will take care of the school together with Andrew Lee – co-founder of LEAD after-school program. In the evening the whole Board of LEAD assisted to a presentation of Ananda Marga activities and Rev. Thomas Lee – co-founder of LEAD presented a vision for working together with Ananda Marga in opening more schools in New York, USA and Americas.

Ananda Marga Sectorial Secretary Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta inspired words recognized the effort of everybody resonated with the ideals of Ananda Marga which are expressed in the motto “Self-Realization and Service to All”. The celebration ended with a price distribution to the Board members of LEAD.

In the picture below Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta with two of the students of the school.

RDS of New York Sector – March 2017

On the spiritual vibrated ground of Ananda Girisuta Master Unit the Sectorial RDS have taken place attended by the monks and nuns of Ananda Marga in New York Sector. It was an important event for coordinating the service activities that characterize the Mission of Ananda Marga as well as for the spiritual company that all participants enjoyed. Three days were dedicated to spiritual practices, meetings and discussions focused on the projects in North and Central America run by Ananda Marga.

 

 

Kiirtan Retreat at Ananda Girisuta Master Unit in in Asheville – North Carolina

“Intelligent people should do kiirtan as much as possible. When people, due to psychic complexities, cannot find the solution to their difficulties and they are at a loss what to do, if they sit together at any place and do kiirtan wholeheartedly for a while, their psychic complexities will be removed and they will easily seize upon the solution to their problems.” (from the discourse Serve the Supreme by Kiirtana by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti)

 The Kiirtan Retreat in Asheville concluded in great swing on March 5, 2017 on the highly spiritually charged Master Unit of Ananda Giirisuta . Two consecutive six hours Kiirtan were performed on March 4 and March 5 with the participation of Monks and Nuns of Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha coming from different corners of New York Sector and the Margiis of Asheville Unit.

During the two days of the Kiirtan Retreat several classes on Spiritual and Social Philosophy of Ananda Marga gave the opportunity to all participants to focus on the devotional and practical aspects of human life.

Kiirtan helps in all spheres of human existence and lighten the mind from all kind of burdens. Devotees joined joyfully in all the spiritual practices of Ananda Marga which includes Kaoshiki and Tandava Dances. Several children were also present and on the sidelines of the Retreat it was possible to visit the Kindergarten opened recently near the Master Unit which has become the nucleus of the spiritual community living on the premises of the Master Unit.

There are several projects and developments happening at the Master Unit including:

The Prama Institute which is a recognized Retreat and Conference Center

The Wellness Center specialized in Natural Treatments and Ayurveda

An Agricultural and Forestry Development Project

A Kindergarten based on Neo-Humanistic Principles

More educational institutions are planned including a Primary School and a College of Neo-Humanistic Studies which are part of the far reaching academical endeavors of Ananda Marga Gurukula.

In the picture below some of the participants to the Kiirtan Retreat in the final day on March 5.

5 Days Juice Cleanse and Yoga Detox at Prama Institute in Asheville – North Carolina

Our 5 day juice cleanse & yoga program is a very popular retreat.  You will feel refreshed and revitalized when you leave our center.  It is a great way to cleanse in a supportive environment.  You will enjoy 3 full days of liquid fasting, two days of delicious and detoxing meals, workshops, private health consultations, group support, daily yoga and meditation classes.  Our retreats are held in our beautiful retreat center with private and semi-private rooms, hot tub, sauna, and walking trails, and it is only 20 mins from Asheville.

Our 5 day detox program will give your digestive system a well deserved vacation. You will free up energy to heal. You will feel more energized and nutritionally satisfied. Why? Simply because raw juices are brimming with nutrients—they are full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and healing phyto-nutrients.  For those that would like a deeper cleanse, you can arrive early, stay later, or come separately for an individualized stay.

This yoga detox program is designed to create better health and relaxation. It is especially designed for those who want to feel more energized, struggle with weight problems, need help kicking bad habits, want to eliminate toxins, or simply wish to feel less stressed. The usual method to achieve better health is to heal various ailments, to focus on what is wrong with us and then treat the symptoms. But in our programs, we build better health by creating an environment where problems and imbalances simply do not thrive.  Together we create a higher frequency of being where optimum health arises naturally. That’s the power of our holistic rejuvenation program. That’s the effectiveness of simply combining juice fasting, yoga therapy, power foods and meditation. This comprehensive program will teach you simple, effective techniques to take charge of your own health.

In this program, you’ll receive much more detailed training and experience than during our weekend programs. It may even transform your life.  Dr. Linda Page, author of the book Detoxification, and many other health experts recommend a week long detox and rejuvenation program once a year. Combined with yoga and meditation, such a program can unlock the secrets to vibrant health. And that’s what this retreat is all about! The solutions to preventive health are quite simple! This program will teach you all about them!

Here is a podcast Episode 001 – The Benefits of Juice Fasting

Dharma and the Art of Time Management

“And remember – Life is very short – Do not waste any single moment of your life”

These were the last words I heard directly from my spiritual master – Shrii Shrii Anandamurti three days before he left the body on October 21st 1990.

At distance of almost seventeen years those words still ring in my ears and push me to find better ways to utilize time.

Many times I questioned myself about what is the best utilization of time. In spirituality Kiirtana is considered the best utilization of time. Kiirtana is a spiritual practice that consists in chanting the name God and dancing softly at the same time. It is a very subtle science which is able to elevate the mind in the loftiest realm of joy and infinite happiness.

Unfortunately we are not in the capacity to do Kiirtana all the time. We live in a world that needs many different utilizations of time which may or may not be conducive for spiritual pursuits. Of course it should be also considered that not everybody has a spiritual inclination and human society is a quite a complex and heterogenic body.

Time Management is defined as the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work. Several authors consider it both an Art and a Science. Here we wish to consider the relationship between the essential characteristics of human being in relationship with time management. As we are dealing on an uncharted ground it is rather premature to call it a science. It is rather safe to call it an art of living which outcome or product is happiness and wellbeing for both individuals and society.

Matrixes are common tools in Time Management. In one of the most common time is considered in the form of urgency and importance of an activity. Each author add its own twist of it. Above is the Eisenhower Matrix as an example.

When we talk about Dharma we consider four types of specific engagements or essential pursuits common to all human beings:

Expansion – It relates to all types of activities that gives the satisfaction of growing.

Flow – It related to all types of activities conducive for unity and togetherness.

Service – It relates to all types of activities meant to give without compensation.

Spiritual Love – It relates to all types of activities conducive to a state of grace.

Taking in consideration and nurturing these four aspects of human life transform Time Management in the art of living a fully productive and satisfactory life.

Time is the psychic measurement of the motivity of action. For there to be time, there has to be a place, for without a place no action can be performed. Over and above time and place, a person is also necessary, for that person will take the measure of the motivity of action. And thus where there is time, there have to be place and person as well.”

Time is a relative factor and in time management we have also to consider the other two variables, place and person. It means that an activity cannot be considered as standalone. It should be included in an agenda. Each activity becomes a composition of four factors: time, place, person and purpose.

The importance and the urgency of an activity are relative to the agenda. The importance qualifies the purpose and the urgency qualifies the other three factors, time place and person.

At this point we can safely conclude that Dharma is the guiding principle that determines whether our agenda is going to lead us to success or not.

Time Management changes radically when we work in a team instead of working alone. The whole agenda needs to be flexible enough in other to accommodate any kind of change or inconvenience. In family life as well as in community time management is the art being available and makes attention in any circumstances. We are bound to do mistakes and we need time to make adjustments and sacrifices.

In collective life sentiments play a big role and they can upset the most carefully prepared agenda. The idea that we can separate family life from work assigning a respective time frame may prove a recipe for catastrophe in the delicate balance of human relationships. Sometime time management and planning reduces safely to one simple condition: complete surrender.

Once I was in company with a dear friend a spiritual practitioner of meditation. He had already two children and the wife was waiting for more. The finances of the family were quite tight and it happened that in this most critical time he lost the job as a nurse of a retirement home. He remained without job for some time and finally he got job in a hospital. The time was up for the new babies! The wife had to be brought to the hospital for a premature delivery. There were twins of seven months and they required intensive care. Only after that everything got normalized he found out that the new job had all the medical expenses for the wife covered while the previous job had no benefits in regard.

Family and collective are part of Dharma. They allow expressing fully the four characteristics of human life. Nurturing relationships is both important and urgent. In this context time management is not a dry science. It is the very subtle art of making the best of everything at any given time. Everything is important as everybody is important and great. Including our time.

Ayurveda – Vata Pacifying Foods

(source: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/diet/vata-pacifying-foods/)

Vata is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked, whole foods that are soft or mushy in texture, rich in protein and fat, seasoned with a variety of warming spices, and served warm or hot. These foods calm vata by lubricating and nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture, and maintaining warmth, all while supporting proper digestion and elimination. What follows are some specific principles that we hope will empower you in discovering a vata pacifying diet that works for you.

Qualities to Favor and Avoid

Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities – foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and nourishing – can help to balance excess vata. This section offers a closer look at the qualities of various foods. An improved understanding of these qualities can guide you in making specific dietary choices that will better support vata.

Favor Warm Over Cold

The warm quality can be emphasized by eating foods that are warm in temperature, foods that have a warming energetic, and by using warming spices generously (most vata pacifying spices are warming… see our list below). On the other hand, it is best to avoid foods with a cooling energetic, cold and frozen foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables, and even leftovers that have been kept in the refrigerator or freezer. The cold quality is inherently increased in these foods, even if they are served hot.

Favor Moist and Oily Over Dry

Vata’s dryness is offset by eating cooked rather than raw foods, by cooking and garnishing foods with generous amounts of high-quality oils or ghee, and by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, ideally warm or hot – but no cooler than room-temperature. In addition, moist foods like berries, melons, summer squash, zucchini, and yogurt help offset vata’s dry quality, as can hydrating preparations such as soups or stews. Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, whole milk (preferably non-homogenized), wheat, nuts and seeds are generally supportive as well. Avoid exceptionally drying foods like popcorn, crackers, white potatoes, beans, and dried fruits.

Favor Grounding, Nourishing, and Stabilizing Over Light

While the heavy quality is the true antithesis to vata’s lightness, very heavy foods like deep-fried choices can easily overtax vata’s delicate digestion. Eating too much in one sitting can also be overly heavy, so it’s important not to overeat. It’s better to think in terms of grounding vata’s lightness with sustenance – eating foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources of energy and deep nourishment to the physical body. Generally, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Cooked grains, spiced milk, root vegetables, stewed fruits, nuts, and seeds are good examples. Highly processed foods such as canned foods, ready-made meals, and pastries are often quite heavy, lack prana (vital life force) and are generally quite detrimental to vata. Similarly, stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and hard alcohol should be avoided, as they are generally not supportive of vata’s need to stay grounded and stable.

Favor Smooth Over Rough

There’s a reason that raw fruits and vegetables are sometimes called roughage; their fibrous structure gives them a very rough quality. This is why vata does well to resist large quantities of raw vegetables and fruits. Even cooked, some foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans are exceptionally rough and should be avoided. Conversely, eating foods and preparations that are smooth in texture – things like bananas, rice pudding, hot cereal, hot spiced milk, puréed soups, and the like – can really help to soothe vata’s roughness.

Tastes to Favor and Avoid

Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Understanding these tastes allows us to better navigate a vata pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid.

Emphasize

Sweet

  • Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, nuts, seeds, most oils, and vata-pacifying meats (see our list of foods to favor and avoid).
  • The sweet taste is the foundation of a vata pacifying diet. It is the predominant taste in most of vata’s staple foods.
  • Sweet foods tend to be grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying.
  • Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT require us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods. In fact, doing so tends to exacerbate vata’s tendency to over-exert and then crash.

Sour

  • Favor sour additions like a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a splash of vinegar, a side of kimchi or sauerkraut, a bowl of miso, a slice of cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.
  • Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are also appropriate when eaten alone, and in moderation.
  • The sour taste is generally not the centerpiece of a meal; instead, it tends to compliment and enliven other flavors.
  • The sour taste awakens the mind and senses, improves digestion, promotes energy, moistens other foods, and eliminates excess wind.

Salty

  • The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself.
  • But favoring the salty taste does not mean that your food should taste as if it’s being cured.
  • In fact, salt is already over-emphasized in the typical western diet. Simply being mindful of including savory flavors and ensuring that your food has some salt in it will likely be sufficient.
  • Salt stimulates the appetite and digestion, helps retain moisture, supports proper elimination, and improves the flavor of many foods.

Minimize

Pungent

  • Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices. That said, in moderation, most spices are actually vata pacifying – see our list of foods to favor and avoid.
  • The pungent taste is hot, dry and light; too much of it is extremely drying to the system, exacerbates the rough quality, and therefore disturbs vata.

Bitter

  • The bitter taste predominates bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.), and is also found in foods like bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, and chocolate.
  • The bitter taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, and generally reducing – all qualities that tend to aggravate vata.

Astringent

  • The astringent taste is basically a flavor of dryness – a chalky taste that dries the mouth and may cause it to contract (picture biting into a very green banana).
  • Legumes are classically astringent in taste – adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, etc.
  • The astringent taste is also found in some fruits, vegetables, grains, and baked goods – things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, rye, rice cakes and crackers.
  • The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature and so understandably aggravates vata.

How to Eat

When it comes to pacifying vata, how we eat may be just as important as what we eat. Vata is deeply soothed when we choose to eat in peaceful environment – one where we can offer our full attention to the act of being nourished. And routine itself balances vata, so the practice of eating three square meals per day (at about the same time each day) further reduces vata and helps to strengthen delicate digestion. Sometimes, it is impossible to avoid all vata-aggravating foods. In a pinch, the detrimental potential of these foods can be minimized by making sure that they are well cooked, served warm, and garnished generously with oil or ghee. Lastly, because vata requires regular nourishment, it is best to avoid fasting. If you feel the need to do a cleanse of some sort, a mono diet of kitchari is much less vata-provoking than a fruit or juice cleanse, and is certainly better than an all-out fast.

Suggested Meals

Breakfast

Breakfast is a critical meal when vata is elevated. After an overnight fast, vata needs real nourishment and a hearty breakfast is generally very stabilizing.

  • Hot Cereals – things like oatmeal, rice pudding, cream of rice, and cream of wheat – are also excellent choices. For a richer, creamier breakfast, the grains can be cooked in milk (or a substitute), or you can add a bit of hot milk after cooking. To make this meal even more vata friendly, garnish it with ghee, sliced almonds, and flax seeds, sweeten it with honey or maple syrup, and add warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cardamom.
  • Another delectable breakfast is a date and almond shake, made from soaked dates, soaked and peeled almonds, and boiled milk (or a substitute) – blended together with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Lunch

Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing of the three. Hearty grains, steamed and sautéed vegetables, appropriate breads, soups and stews are excellent building blocks for lunch. This is also the best time to enjoy a small salad, if you must have one. Try something like:

  • Split mung dal with basmati rice, sautéed okra with shredded coconut, and naan. If you like, garnish this meal with cilantro, cucumbers, and a dash of yogurt.
  • Rice pasta or gnocchi with pesto, black olives, pine nuts, cheese, and a side of marinated beets. If you like, add a small green salad tossed with an oily but stimulating dressing – like lemon-ginger vinaigrette.

Dinner

Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch. But to soothe vata, it needs to offer adequate nourishment. Soups, stews, or a smaller serving of lunch often fit the bill. Try:

  • Carrot soup with quinoa, asparagus, and a buttered tortilla.