The Forest Studio

Jul 11, 2022

by Sherry Chow

Live each moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each moment.”  –Paramhansa Yogananda

As we emerge from 2 years of self-isolation, the joy of coming together again was palpable last week during Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village, with many others tuning in online to share in the collective upliftment.

Simultaneously at Ananda Assisi, another type of connection was being forged, one almost too fantastic to believe if I myself were not a witness. It was week 3 in the Transformative Arts Program created and led by visionary artist Dana Lynne Andersen, and our studio was to be in a nearby forest called Devaloka, or Realm of Divine Beings. Little did we know how accurate this name would prove to be.

In the Hindu tradition, devas are known to be Divine Spirits, and there are nature devas that help bless and uplift natural spaces. When we entered Devaloka, there was a sacred stillness, a feeling of magic around us, and we relished communing and creating here for the entire week (not to mention much needed shade from the summer heat!).

Our assignment was to find and create our own sacred space in the forest. Dana had already primed us from the previous weeks to open our hearts and let our inner process lead the creative process, so we were all poised and ready. My spot just felt right when I walked in, like a cool breeze welcoming me. And so it was the rest of the week for us, co-creating with the forest.

Dana reminded us to let ideas alight like butterflies, waiting to see which one lands in the moment, instead of capturing one by our will. We were also encouraged to communicate with the natural materials we wished to co-create with, including rocks and fallen branches. It was surprising to get a “No” from a rock, but we went with the magic of the process, and the veil of separation became ever more transparent.

Friday arrived all too quickly, and it was time for us to share and bless each other’s spaces. Every one was so different yet possessed the same sacred quality, as we listened and shared, honored and blessed.

After we finished and gathered back at the forest studio, a spontaneous soft rain began to fall right as we sat for our closing circle, while a kaleidoscope of butterflies flew around us. There had been no indication of rain in the forecast that day. The moment did not escape any of us, but just in case it did, the cleansing rain left as quickly as it came and gave way to the shining sun spotlighting the forest studio, still aflutter with butterflies.

Witnessing our offering to nature, the devas were now blessing us with their response. We were granted the grace to interface with something magical and inexplicable by our receptivity, humility, and most of all, love. With continued effort together, we can indeed uplift ourselves and the world around us.

Know that this universe is a dream bluff of nature to test your consciousness of immortality.” –Paramhansa Yogananda