About Shantamrita

In Mata Amritanandamayi Center Chicago since August 2012

Seed Saving Workshop on September 30

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are very excited for the opportunity to again host the internationally respected herbalist, Richo Cech, for another workshop on Saturday, September 30. He is the founder of Horizon Herbs, now known as Strictly Medicinal Seeds, and the author of many popular books about herbs and herbal medicines.

Please see the Chicago ashram website for more information. Click here

seed-saving_workshop_sep_30_2017 crop

Dallas Silent Meditation Retreat — a beautiful beginning ダラスの沈黙瞑想リトリート すばらしい始まり

On Monday, I returned to Chicago after the Dallas AmritaSRI (Silent Retreat Immersion). After such a profound experience, the mind has no words to express what transpired, but perhaps some photos may convey what all of us felt. Hopefully, this will encourage people to come to Chicago in early April for the next one.

月曜日、ダラスのAmrita SRI(沈黙に浸るリトリート)を終えてシカゴに戻りました。とても深い体験だったので、どうお伝えしたらよいか言葉が見つかりませんが、写真をお見せすることでわたしたちが感じたものを何等かお伝えできるのではないかと思います。4月初めにシカゴで参加したいという気持ちになっていただけるかもしれません。

Please click here for a full photo album of the retreat.


After orientation and a short tour of the ashram, the 7-day retreat began with a Mahasudarshana Homa on Sunday night, February 19.


Thereafter, each day began with the pre-dawn glow, then archana, followed by a seated meditation.


Then, the sun greeted us with many a breathtaking sunrise…


Still, before breakfast there was time for gentle Amrita Yoga and a session of IAM-35.


Between breakfast and lunch, there were nature walks, seated meditation sessions (40 minutes), and walking meditation sessions.


Lunch was followed by one hour of silent seva, since karma yoga helps prepare the mind for meditation.


Fortunately, the weather was nice enough that we could conduct the afternoon meditation session behind the main house, overlooking the lake.


Classes were conducted most days from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, on a variety of subjects, like Upasana, Karma Yoga, Sound/Bhajan as Meditation, Obstacles to Meditation, and Food & Meditation.


The concluding hours of each day were full of awe-inspiring sunsets, a bhajan session, and more meditation.


Before the retreat concluded, we got to celebrate Mahashivaratri during the regular Dallas Satsang time, which included a talk, abhishekam of the Shivalingam, bhajans and meditation.


Just before the concluding meditation session on Sunday, February 26, we all truly felt Amma’s divine presence when a beautiful, bright white swan flew directly over the meditation hall, over my head, and landed gracefully in the lake.


In the concluding sessions after breakfast on Sunday, the retreatants came out of their vow of silence consciously, after praying for Grace to the god and goddess of speech. There was also an opportunity to share experiences for those who wished.


Then Dayamrita swami arrived to give a talk on “What Next?”, and conduct a Q&A session.


After we expressed our thanks to all who attended and helped put together the retreat, we closed with a prayer, then invited each attendee to receive a token of our appreciation.


Most people stayed for lunch, some even overnight. The Dallas ashram is such a peaceful place, many find it hard to leave…


Deepest gratitude to everyone who came, and especially to the devotees who worked tirelessly for weeks and months to make this event a reality. Most of all, thanks to Amma for her divine guidance and grace, without which none of this would have been possible.


Hope to see lots more of you in Chicago next month!


2016 Herb Farm in Chicago — Part 1

Another project that has been keeping me very busy over the past year has been the new medicinal herb farm in Chicago.

After months of planning that began in December 2015, the 2016 growing season in Chicago began on March 27, with a seed starting bonanza in the GreenWorks building. The task ahead was quite a daunting one — creating a 2-acre medicinal herb farm with 35 different varieties of plants. As nearly 10,000 medicinal herb seedlings needed to be sprouted and planted in the field within 2 months, there was no time to waste.

With the urgency of purpose and high stakes, I knew we needed some heavy firepower, so I called in for reinforcements… AYUDH! 🙂

After watching a short instructional video on seed starting, prepared by dedicated Japanese devotees, I became the de facto subject matter expert (?!), showing everyone what to do. This day was for sowing the seeds of the less cold-hardy plants that would need more time to mature before being transplanted in the field.

The youth quickly took over and immersed themselves in the process.

Each one of the dozens of 72 cell-trays prepared was labeled with the name of the plant and the date the seeds had been sown.

In a short time, we had finished enough trays for almost 1400 plants. Not bad for a group of beginners…

In the days to follow, many more such trays were prepared, until we had all of the herbs below ready to sprout.

1 Alkanet Alkanna orientalis
2 Ashwagandha Withania somnifera
3 Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus
4 Baical Skullcap Scutellaria baicalensis
5 Calendula Calendula officinalis
6 Catnip Nepeta cataria
7 Chamomile, German Matricaria recutita
8 Chinese red sage (Dan Shen) Salvia miltiorrhiza
9 Comfrey, true Symphytum officinale var patens
10 Coriander Coriandrum sativum
11 Cornflower (Batchelor’s Buttons) Centaurea cyanus
12 Dang Shen Codonopsis pilosula
13 Echinacea Echinacea purpurea
14 Ginger Zingiber offcinale
15 Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
16 Lavender, English Lavandula angustifolia vera
17 Lemon balm Melissa offcinalis
18 Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus
19 Licorice, chinese Glycyrrhiza uralensis
20 Madder Root Rubia tinctorum
21 Marigold, French tagetes patula
22 Marshmallow Althea officinalis
23 Nettles Urtica dioica
24 Peppermint Mentha piperita
25 Red Clover Trifolium pratense
26 Rhubarb, Victoria Rheum rhabarbarum
27 Rose, Damask Rosa damascena
28 Rose, Rugosa Rosa rugosa
29 Sage Salvia officinalis
30 Spearmint Mentha Spicata
31 St.John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum
32 Stevia Stevia rebaudiana
33 Thyme Thymus vulgaris
34 Tulasi, Holy Basil Ocimum tenuiflorum
35 Wood Betony Stachis Officianalis

First ever week-long Silent Meditation Retreat in MA Center Dallas  1週間の沈黙瞑想リトリート MAセンターダラスにて初めて開催

After yesterday’s post about Amma’s new Dallas ashram, some people may be wondering what kind of regular activities are happening and when the next larger program will be taking place. First of all, since September, weekly satsangs have been taking place on Saturdays from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you would like to attend, just type “MA Center Dallas” in Google Maps on your computer or mobile device, and it should pick up the location right away, for easy navigation. Or, you can just click here.

昨日の記事をご覧になった方の中には、新しく開設されたアンマのダラスアシュラムで普段どのような活動が行われているのか、また次にいつ大規模なプログラムが開催されるのかなど、知りたいと思っていらっしゃる方もおいでになると思います。まずサットサンガですが、昨年9月から毎週土曜日、午後4時から午後6時まで行われています。参加してみようという方は、パソコンかモバイル機器のグーグルマップに〝MA Center Dallas″と入力してみてください。すぐに地図上で場所が特定できますし、行き方も簡単にわかります。あるいは、ここをクリックしてください。

Regarding larger programs, the title of this post already gives away the next one. During the Fall Europe/USA Tour last year, Amma mentioned several times that we should start week-long silent meditation retreats in the USA. Though I wanted to get started right away, the need for preparation and providing advance notice to prospective attendees meant that the earliest date we could feasibly accomplish such a program would be mid-February.


Now, mid-February didn’t sound like an ideal time to start something new in Chicago, with its daunting and unpredictable winter weather. So, we decided to conduct the retreat in Dallas, which would also give people from other regions to visit the new ashram and enjoy its tranquil beauty.



To view some details of the retreat, click here. It is a stroke of Divine Grace that Maha Shivaratri falls right in the middle of the retreat, too!


Actually, within about 48 hours of this retreat going live online, we already reached our capacity and were forced to suspend registrations. 😦

But, there’s still hope. Another week-long silent retreat is scheduled to be conducted in the Chicago ashram soon. We have tentatively scheduled it for April 2-9, so please save the dates!



Amma’s New Ashram in Dallas ダラスにアンマの新アシュラム

One reason for changing the blog name has been the recent formation of a new ashram in Dallas, Texas — MA Center Dallas. Formerly a horse ranch, it is located in North Dallas, outside of Denton, in an area known as “Horse Country USA”.


Situated on a picturesque 50 acre plot, complete with a beautiful ranch house, scenic pond, and outbuildings, MA Center Dallas provides the ideal environment for a calming and uplifting personal retreat.


For a full photo album of the center, click here.


To view a playlist of aerial videos of the center, click here.


The center was formally inaugurated on September 5th 2016 by Amma’s senior disciples in a ceremony conducted on the center’s large summer porch.


MA Center Dallas will be the
focal point in the region for regular spiritual activities such as bhajans, guided meditation & yoga, retreats, discourses and the celebration of all major festivals and holidays. The ashram will also serve as a medium through which many of Amma’s projects and initiatives will help to uplift society in the South Central region.


The newly page on Amma.org for the center is here: http://amma.org/groups/north-america/macenter-dallas


Location and contact information are here: http://amma.org/groups/north-america/macenter-dallas/contact


Due to the addition of this ashram to the Central Region, I have been spending much more
time in Dallas recently, and expect to continue to do so in the days to come. Hope to see many of you there sometime soon…



New activities, new blog name… 新しい活動、新しいブログ名

I know, I know…  It has been over 9 months since I have posted anything here. New developments in Amma’s activities have been keeping me so busy, I was unable to spend any time blogging.


Now that I am here for a sojourn in Amritapuri, India, I am finally finding time to catch up.


The first order of business has been to rename this blog. It used to be “Life in Chicago Ashram”, but due to new developments I have changed it to “Spiritual Life in Central USA”. The reasons for this will become clearer in future posts.

まずは、このブログを改名することから始めたいと思います。このブログはこれまで「Life in Chicago Ashram」だったのですが、新たな展開があり、このブログの名前を「Spiritual Life in Central USA、(アメリカ中部のスピリチュアルライフ)」と改名致します。理由につきましては、これから投稿していきます。

Now, on to preparing the next post…


Dandelion delight  タンポポに迎えられた喜び

Just got back from Kenya a few days ago and was welcomed by an ocean of bright yellow dandelions. Couldn’t resist taking a video of the sight, to share with all.


More posts to come…