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Portals to Peace: Cultivating a Path

December 16, 2023


“Everyone is seeking peace. Some think physical comfort is peace. Some think fulfillment of desires is peace. Some think a healthy body is peace. All these things are part of peace and not peace. Peace is a state of mind where there is complete contentment. This contentment comes when the mind stops dwelling in the past and worrying for the future. Only in the present does the mind stay calm and peaceful.” – Baba Hari Dass

Finding lasting moments of serenity and inner peace can seem like an elusive quest in the hustle and bustle of our modern everyday lives. There are many paths to cultivating tranquility and we each have our own unique journey toward transcendent contentment. At Mount Madonna’s 45th annual New Year’s Yoga Retreat, through the central theme of Portals to Peace, we will cultivate and celebrate together the diversity of our individual journeys toward serenity and peace.

At the core of each offering at this retreat is an exploration of the interconnected realms of body, mind, and heart. Drawing inspiration from Yoga philosophy’s threefold path to liberation, KarmaJnana, and Bhakti Yoga, we will be invited to embark on a holistic journey that delves into multi-system regulation through breath, sound, movement and stillness. These paths may aid us in our search for peace and serve as conduits to deepen our relationship with our body, mind, and heart.

The practice of Karma Yoga brings about a sense of mindful awareness, energy, and peace through engaging in intentional acts of selfless service. Jnana Yoga invites us to delve into the path of self-inquiry; both within ourselves and through dialogue with like-minded seekers. The devotional practice of Bhakti Yoga encourages us to connect to our hearts through the power of music, song, and prayer, bringing ourselves ever closer to what we hold sacred.

During the New Year’s Retreat, we will be invited to begin and end each day with an exploration of Bhakti Yoga through arati, the traditional ritual of light held twice daily at the Hanuman Temple, and through the heart-opening effects of song and mantra during kirtan and a mantra yajna (traditional Vedic ceremony and sacred message chanting). Opportunities for asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), and meditation serve as paths to harmonize our physical body with our heart and life-giving energy. The theory of Jnana Yoga invites us to participate in structured, contemplative discussions on the theme to deepen an intellectual understanding of the many paths to cultivating peace through reflection and study.

Sadhana is like a river, flowing to God or peace. If you are swimming with the flow, you are naturally moving towards the goal. Your desiring or not desiring doesn’t change the flow, but it affects your swimming. – Baba Hari Dass

We hope you will join us for a thoughtful exploration of portals to peace, weaving together the principles of body, mind and heart. Through contemplative practice and gathering in community to usher in the New Year, we will cultivate the individual paths to peace within us. In coming together to learn from one another, and returning to a sense of centered stillness, we may each radiate the peace we have cultivated outward and into the world.

The Author

  • Allie Wells

    Allie is a writer, artist, and former resident of Mount Madonna Center. She lives in San Francisco and spends her time reading, walking in Fort Mason, and drinking lots of coffee.

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