Impressions ~ Urban Devi Nature Retreat, Huguenot, New York

~by Rukmini Walker

Last weekend we held an Urban Devi Nature Retreat in upstate New York. It was held at a thousand-acre retreat center on the bank of a lake. We gathered and sang kirtan by a bonfire at the lake each night, and we met inside by the fire in the lodge each morning. I led a workshop and guided meditations on Cultivating the Garden of the Heart.

Afternoons were spent boating on the lake, journaling, dreaming, sharing and doing restorative yoga, led by Lucero. Delicious prasadam meals were lovingly cooked and offered by the mother-daughter team of Elaine and Champaka-lata.

It was a deepening, rejuvenating gathering of heart-opened women on the path of Bhakti. Some were new to the path, some more seasoned, but, I think, all of us left with a refreshed perspective on our lives in the cities where we live.

Komala Kumari gave us a Bharata Natyam dance class where she taught us how these dancers offer respect to the earth before they dance. She also taught us the facial expressions (abhinaya) and hand gestures (mudras) that express the story and moods of the dance.

Kumari also shared with us this beautiful recording of the Sanskrit verse (shlokam) she performed and taught us. Scroll down to the end of this blog to find the link to the recording and the English translation. Please listen to it and be transported to the divine realm of loving Krsna!

Also below is a recording of a song uplifting the gifts of women that Lucero shared with us and we all sang together, along with many photos of our time there together.

Thanks to all of you who came and opened your hearts so wide.

If you weren’t able to make it this time, please plan to join us next September!

All the best,

Rukmini Walker

Here is a recording of the Sanskrit shlokam that Kumari shared with us:

Here is the shlokam in Sanskrit followed by the meaning:

Kastuurii-Tilakam Lalaatta-Pattale Vakssah-Sthale Kaustubham
Naasa-Agre Nava-Mauktikam Karatale Vennum Kare Kangkannam |
Sarva-Angge Haricandanam Sulalitam Kanntthe Ca Muktaavalim
Gopa-Strii Parivessttito Vijayate Gopaala Cuuddaamannih ||

1: Salutations to Gopala Who is adorned with the Sacred Marks of Kasturi (Musk) on His Forehead and Kaustubha Jewel on His Chest,
2: His Nose is decorated with a Shining Pearl, the Palms of His Hands are gently holding a Flute, the Hands themselves are beautifully decorated with Bracelets,
3: His Whole Body is Smeared with Sandal Paste, as if Playfully anointed, and His Neck is decorated with a Necklace of Pearls,
4: Surrounded by the Cowherd Woman, Gopala is Shining in their middle in Celebration like a Jewel on the Head.

Here is the Women’s song:

And some photos of our time together: