April 5th: Day 4

A day at Ueno Park

We moved into the Youth Hostel, leaving our luggage behind so we can all go to a park famous for its Cherry Blossoms.

It was overly crowded and we couldn’t help but loose each other. Luckily we had pocket wifi provided by the Japan collective to help us communicate via our phones. We walked up the steps of a temple we found and took in the view all around us.

A few of us distributed flyers and talked to foreigners about our upcoming programs. Suman was with us to translate in Japanese. She had been in Japan for 8 months, but it was her first time getting to explore Tokyo.

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Just on the border of the park we found a lake surrounded by streets packed with food stalls. We got takoyaki (Fried Squid Dumplings with Mayo, Peanut Butter and Soy Sauce on top). We also got Dango (sweet sticky rice).

We sat down under a tree to eat and the pigeons on the branches pooped on Sophie and Lukas. The problem with Tokyo is that you can never find a garbage bin or a toilet. It seems to be part of the culture here to take your garbage home with you. So poor Lukas had to run around looking for a bathroom.

We also found a cat trapped in a tree and Emma and Qasim tried to get it out. Eventually, the cat jumped off the branch and landed on its owner’s back.

We headed off in another direction toward another popular temple with lots of outdoor markets. At the entrance Devdut and I found a Sandal hanging from the wall. Devdut wanted to raise his foot to make it look like he was wearing the sandal, but we figured it might be disrespectful to the temple, so we proceeded to walk down the busy street.

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A long day of travelling ended with packing for the trip to Chiba for Shri Rama Puja!

April 10th: Day 9

Arriving back at the OYC after the Puja weekend, floating Sakura petals greeted us in the air. The trees had finally reached their full bloom. It was just like the song Sakura that the Japan Collective sang at the evening program: “there is a breeze that blows the Sakura petals and they fall at Mother’s lotus feet.”

Our ninth day started differently for some of us. A group of eighteen left the OYC at 7am to be at the Tokyo International School for 8am. We were scheduled to teach several classes about meditation and give a concert. We had separated into groups and each was assigned three classes. We had K1 and 2, Grade 1 and 2 before the concert, and Grades 3 and 4 afterwards. Here are a few personal experiences from some of the groups.

Katherine from Canada:

We entered K1A filled with 4 year-old children. We sat down in a circle on the carpet and did a name game.

“Does anyone know what meditation is?” I asked.

A few children put their hands up. “Have you done meditation before?” They put their hands down. “Do you know what meditation means?”

“You sit like this,” one boy explained, imitating Kung Fu panda. “and… and… it makes you relaxed.”

We talked about how we are a group called Inner Peace Meditation, and had the kids explain what inner peace means. We also talked about the energy within us and how it takes care of us like a mother. One girl began to cry: “I miss my mommy.” Her name was Sydney. Sanjivani from Italy scooped her up and made her feel all better.

We used the uppy uppy dance to raise their kundalini, clapping as we do the rainbow and singing “uppy uppy uppy, mother energy go up, one…. two… three …” we sang for the three channels. “Go up one, go up two etc.” we sang for the rainbow (bandhan), our right hand clapping against our left after each bandhan was done.

With our hand on our forehead, we sang: “I forgive, I forgive, my brother today. I forgive, I forgive, my sister today. I forgive, I forgive, everyone, and I also forgive myself.”
With our hands open on our lap we sang: “Open up your hands … and feel the cool vibrations …”

We did the affirmations for each chakra starting with the mooladhara and up: “I am innocence … I am creativity…” it was very similar to the inner peace meditation done on the Eiffel tower in Paris 2015.

We finished the class with making a lotus flower from paper and balancing it on our heads while Amar played the Bansuri. We also finished the meditation with the uppy uppy dance again but this time with the lotus flower on our heads.

We followed the same structure in our next two classes: 1A and 3A.

In 1A, the teachers also meditated with us and felt very good. The children checked the vibes over our heads including their friends’ and their teachers’. The students were asked to give a special thank you to us.

“Thank you for taking the time to come and teach us how to meditate.”
“Thank you for teaching us to do new things,” another said.

3A was a bit tough because the children were very hyperactive and chatty. They were finishing our sentences and interrupting us with phrases like: “and then it exploded into a million pieces …” We noticed they used words like explosion, or broken a lot when we tried to talk about the mother earth, or mother energy. Amar worked on a very naughty and chatty boy in the class. He used him as an example to show the class how to balance the channels. The boy settled down, and we felt cool vibrations from him.

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Group photo in front of the school entrance!
Lakshmi from Switzerland:

Group two started with K1b and then Grade 1b. The children in Grade 1b were already in a circle on the carpet so we joined them immediately, introduced ourselves and started with asking them if they knew anything about meditation. Quite a few of them did, we had answers explaining that it brings us peace, calmness and silence, one said it helps us connect to God, to which one asked if it mattered that he didn’t believe in God. This really surprised me as he was only 7 years old and already knew that he didn’t believe in God.

We had them all draw a face of how they were feeling on a piece of paper before Emma led the meditation. I was sitting next to the child who asked:

“Is it necessary to believe in God?”

I could see he was struggling with something within so I put my attention on him to hopefully help soothe his mind a little. After the meditation, we asked them to draw a face of how they felt and talk about it with their neighbour. We then asked if anyone wanted to share how they felt with the group and ended up having everyone share. The boy who didn’t believe in God said:

“Before the meditation I felt extremely angry and very sad, and after the meditation, I only feel sad.”

We were very touched to see this change in him as the anger was visible on his face before the mediation. He also struggled during the meditation.

We ended the class using the imitation game to raise their Kundalini and give themselves a bandhan.

Concert at the School during the Assembly

We started with a bhangra dance on stage to hype up the children from k1 to Grade 3. We wore our shining punjabis and jumped on stage.

Rohan, from Malaysia, was the MC, and he took the mic and talked about meditation as well as the qualities of the three channels.

Amar played his flute next while the children and teachers sat in meditation. We saw the faces of children from all around the world, some mixed between Japanese and another country. There was even a student whose parents were American but she was born in Hong Kong and was living in Tokyo now.

Madhavai took the mic next and sang:

“We feel the joy, joy, joy, joy in our hearts, joy in our hearts …. I feel so happy, so very happy …”

She then asked the students to stand up and get ready for the Hyda Dance. We started slow and gradually increased the speed. Madhavi made it challenging by singing the song slow and then fast every few seconds. So everyone would dance really fast, then slow, then fast again, then medium-slow/medium fast.

The laughing faces of children and teachers warmed our hearts. We ended the concert by singing and doing the uppy uppy dance: raising our kundalini and doing a bandhan.

The principle came and informed us that we were very professional, and he thanked us for making everyone happy today. After lunch, he said he will write us a recommendation letter to go to more schools in Japan and teach meditation to children.

OYC Evening Concert

Over twenty Yogis from the Shri Rama Puja joined the audience. Some pretended to be beginners. We had three new Japanese seekers receive their realization. They all stuck around at the end talking with Hitoshi and his wife Vandana about the Japan collective.

Anandamay from Italy lead the meditation. She gave a very nice introduction and shared some quotes from Dante related to what we feel when we meditate. The seekers were very interested in learning about the instruments and their eyes glimmered when the musicians gave an introduction. Devdut, also a flute player, explained how in India, Shri Krishna is portrayed as playing the flute, and how the flute is an old instrument. The seekers nodded with curiosity.

We finished with qawwalis and everyone got up and danced.

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Yuan (China), Rohan (Malaysia), Isadora (Italy), Madhavi (UK)
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Hitoshi (Japan)
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Emma (Holland), Ram (Austria), Agnese (Italy), Madhavi (US), Qasim (England), Ganesh (Germany)
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Rohan (Malaysia)
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Nalini (Italy), Agnese (Italy), Madhavi (US).
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Ram
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Qasim
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Niraja and Hitoshi
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Bhangra

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April 4th: Day 3

April 4th Day 3

Twelve of us had gone off for a concert in Nasushiobara, and at around 10 in the morning, Sheng Chai (China) organized a candle havan at the OYC. We took the names of Shri Ganesha, Ekadasha Rudra, and negativity destroying mantras.

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Leafleting at the OYC

Later, we went to hold a workshop at the OYC from 2-4pm in the Central building. In preparation, we carried flyers to distribute in the area prior to the program. When we arrived at the venue we set up and eagerly waited for seekers to arrive. However, after 20 minutes, no seeker had come.

Tarini stood at the front of the room trying to cheer up our disappointed faces and motivating us to go outside and get people. We all felt tired and strangely less energetic. Finally, a few of us decided to go outside and distribute flyers and bring people in, despite the fact that we didn’t speak Japanese.

When Lukas, Devdut and I stepped out, I looked out the window and asked: “is that the Athletic Building?” Immediately I felt such cool vibrations. We had been looking for it, since people who went there might be going to do yoga, aerobics etc. I asked Lukas and Devdut to head over there and find out if anyone might be interested in coming.

The moment we walked through the front doors, two girls with yoga mats greeted us. We told them about meditation and two more yuvas showed up to guide them to the class. After visiting a few empty floors, we went to the basement level and I had a sudden instinctive urge to open a door we found. Behind the door I found 20 young girls doing gymnastics inside.

“Let’s ask the teacher if we can teach a 5 min meditation at the end of class!” I told Lukas and Devdut. But, we didn’t speak Japanese. Just then, a yogini, Vandana, from the Japan collective arrived outside the building at the perfect time. We pulled her into the gymnastics classroom.

Vandana explained about Sahaja Yoga meditation. The teacher agreed for us to come back at 5:30pm to teach meditation at the end of the class.

We came back again with a larger group and with Makoto (Vandana’s son) to help translate. We did the uppy uppy dance, singing mother energy, instead of mother kundalini, and go up one … two … three … instead of saying the names of the chakras.

We took the affirmations out loud for the guided meditation, and the teacher made sure everyone repeated the affirmations loudly. “Again,” she would instruct.

We asked the children to raise their hands if they felt something. They were very shy, but a few raised their hands. Then the teacher instructed the kids in Japanese and they all put their hands up. “Good job,” she would compliment after, or “pay attention” she would interrupt here and there.

The teacher was very interested and said we could teach the class. She also claimed to have done Peace First meditation under UNESCO, and was very eager to learn about Inner Peace Meditation and Sahaja Yoga. She took our contact information and a beginner’s booklet. She also gave us her contact for follow ups. The girls enjoyed the meditation and followed along beautifully. Everyone felt the vibrations, including the teacher who said she felt all her chakras rotating, especially the agnya.

Sheng Chai organized a puja after dinner. We took the names of Shri Raja Rajeshwari. The names were beautiful and the description was about powers and qualities that weren’t quite familiar to us. For some of us, it was the first time we had taken those names.

— Nasushiobara —

About twelve of us Yuvas travelled to a place three hours outside Tokyo called Nasushiobara where we were met by two smiling politicians from the local area.

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Ganesh on the train ride to Nasushiobara

The politicians not only picked us up, they had even rented a van to take us around for the day!

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Altogether we went to lunch and the two men very kindly took us out for a special lamb barbecue lunch and insisted on treating us. They were so kind and warm, attempting to speak and practice any bit of English they knew as to get to know us better.

After lunch we were off to the mountains to visit a boiling hot spring. In the hot spring, one of the men asked us to sing a song so we sang “Down to the River to Pray” and then in return we asked if he would sing us a traditional Japanese song. In a strong husky voice, he sang a song about the ocean and ended laughing that he had forgotten the words. We enjoyed our time with them immensely and even though there was a language barrier we shared many joyful moments together.

After our scenic tour in the mountains, we went to set up the venue to perform a concert for the locals. Following the rehearsal, the two politicians and their campaign volunteers surprised us with a home cooked meal! We were completely taken aback by their thoughtfulness. They had thought of everything: drinks, different courses, and other snacks.

By the time we returned to the hall, there were sixteen people quietly sitting and eagerly waiting for us to begin. During the concert, the musicians explained their instruments and the audience responded with enthusiastic ohh’s and ahh’s at all the new information they were receiving. It was so heartwarming how interactive and responsive they were to every part of the program.

They listened devoutly and took part in the realization process with complete focus and became very peaceful as we showed them how to balance themselves.The whole evening was extremely joyous and the people were genuinely interested in learning more about continuing meditation. But, the most beautiful part was when some ladies and gentlemen got up from their seats and started dancing to Mere Piya Gari Aya and Ranga de Jhini.

We couldn’t believe our eyes, as we had been told that people in Japan do not express themselves in this way usually.

Our energy level went up ten fold as we witnessed their newfound joy. At the very end they insisted we take a group photo together and that marked the end of a beautiful evening.

“I smile at everything … I smile to trees.” -Anandamai