Seclusion—time to be in silence, going more deeply into your spiritual practices—is something most Ananda members try to practice annually. About a week ago, I enjoyed a five-day seclusion here at Ananda Village, where I practiced the traditional longer periods of meditation, chanting, introspection, and time alone with God. Somewhat un-traditionally however, I came home to my family each night to help attend to the needs of our two young children: Tulsi, 2 years, and Jay, 3 months old. Many days I even came home briefly mid-day to help with nap time.
One might think these two modes, one of seclusion and one of busy family life, would be awkwardly joined together, or even conflicting. But I found in this experience a rich and harmonious blend of spiritual and worldly fulfillment. I believe this is a model necessary and appropriate for our present time. The earnest spiritual seeker, in all experiences, must embrace the responsibilities and activities of life as part and parcel of the spiritual path.
During my seclusion, when I performed my household and family duties, I tried especially to think that it was God in my children that I was loving and tending to. In small chores and activities, I found God’s presence waiting for me in the action itself, and flowing through me willingly, like a breeze of joy through an open window. These inspirations and attitudes I cultivated and prayed for during many hours of chanting and deep meditation each morning and afternoon. In these ways I did not feel a fragmented schedule of spirituality and then worldly life. instead, I embraced the whole day as a continuous flow of God’s presence in my heart. In return, I found a great sense of joy when I sat to meditate once more each night, and offered everything back to God. This is how I successfully took my seclusion of the heart.
If you get an opportunity to take seclusion, please do it. If you want to try this practice, make time for it. There are many resources available to you (start here!). Above all, in your own way, and in your own heart, always make time for God. In whatever expression the divine light manifests in your life, honor it, and offer your devotion to God there. Take more time to meditate, pray, and be with Him, and He will watch over you and bless you always.