Saturday, May 29, 2010


Ten women and three men did a ten-day meditation retreat at Sumedha Centre for Psychology and Spirituality, from 20th to 29th May. The retreat was directed by Jose Parappully, SDB, PhD.

Each day began with a 90 minute Mind-Body-Spirit meditation which utilised centering, Qi gong, yoga, walking meditation, aerobics, music and dance to create a holistic sense of wellbeing. The beautiful surroundings of the Kumaon hills, with melodious bird song serving as soothing music all through the day, helped to create a prayerful, reflective and relaxing environment.

After some inputs from the retreat facilitator, retreatants had the day to themselves. They were supplied with readings and scripture passages to stimulate reflection and prayer. A creative liturgy in the evening helped to integrate and deepen the day’s experiences.

“I came here all confused and troubled. This retreat brought me profound healing and transformation. It is unlike any retreat I had all these years” Sr. Rani, a hostel warden, remarked at the conclusion of the retreat.

“I had lost my way, and I had lost sight of Jesus. Through this retreat I rediscovered both. I am so happy” said Sr. Bessy, a nurse and hospital administrator.

For Sr. Floret, a university professor and theologian, the Mind-Body-Spirit meditation in the morning was the best experience. “It was a new experience for me and had a profound impact on me,” she acknowledged. “It created an inner atmosphere of stillness which helped in deepening the day’s encounter with God.”

“The atmosphere here was excellent. The talks deeply reflective. The music and songs inspirational,” observed Fr. Xavier, director of a retreat centre.

Sr. Reena who had just retired after nearly thirty years in administration voiced the feelings of many when she said, “The various experiences of this retreat—inputs, reflections, the morning exercise, meditations, dance, liturgy, prayer, the nature—everything evoked in me a deepening, a greater centering each day. Every part of my mind, body and spirit was touched and somehow came alive—I feel a greater oneness within myself.” (All names have been changed.)

Monday, May 17, 2010


Eleven mid-lifers (including a Salesian from Kolkata) began explorations of their life experiences and their impact on their psycho-spiritual journey at Sumedha Centre for Psychology and Spirituality on May 7 and concluded them today.

Sumedha Centre is situated at Jeolikote in the Kumaon foothills of the Himalayas, 18km below the tourist town of Nainital in Uttarkahand.

These mid-lifers looked at what was happening in their lives at this current juncture of their life and tried to discern what God was inviting them to through all that was happening and had happened in their lives. They sought answers to the questions who they are, how rich and fulfilling their relationships are, how generative they are, and how much they are able to invest all their life experiences with meaning and coherence.

They were assisted in this process through rich input from the facilitator Dr. Jose Parappully, intensive journaling, expressive arts, meditation and sacred rituals they created. Films such as Siddhartha, About Schmidt, The Motorcycle Diaries and Tuesdays with Morrie helped to deepen their explorations.

“I have been extremely satisfied with the programme,” said Sr. Reema (all names changed), a just-retired Provincial of an international congregation. “It has helped me see the patterns in my life and grounded me more solidly on the path I have chosen. I return with new focus, new energy”

Sister Anita, from a neighbouring country, remarked: “When I saw the brochure describing the midlife programme, I felt a deep longing to attend it. I knew it will give me what I needed at this time in my life. And my longing has been one hundred percent satisfied.”

Sister Angela, just entering midlife, confessed: “I came here confused, and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. There was so much restlessness, fear, doubt. The programme has given me so much clarity. I go back happy and at peace.”

Fr James found the liturgies very meaningful. “I have attended various programmes at a number of centres,” he observed. “Nowhere did I find the liturgies so creatively and meaningfully integrate the day’s experiences as here.”

Participants were appreciative especially of the way the programme integrated psychology and spirituality in the exploration of the midlife journey. “I would have been bored if it was all spirituality. But there was such fine balance,” observed Ms Celine, a lay woman and psychotherapist. “The programme took me to the core of me, to discover the blocks that prevented me from living life meaningfully, and to chart new pathways.”

Sumedha Centre is offering this programme entitled “Midlife Dynamics and the Spiritual Journey” twice next year, July 17-31, and August 17-31.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Rains Came Finally!

The rains came at last to the Kumaon hills— three days ago.

It had been a dry winter-- no rain, no snow on the hills. Neither were there the normal early spring rains. This meant a bleak summer as far as water is concerned. Drinking water was already being rationed. The hills had turned brown, the greenery had disappeared. Occasional fires had gutted the hills.

So it was such relief to see the skies turn dark, and the winds begin to howl. And soon the skies opened up and down came the rain—not in torrents, but heavy enough to bring down the temperature and quench the thirsty, parched earth.

And the villages gave a sigh of relief. Summer will not be as bad as they had feared.

And soon the hills will turn green again.

We wait eagerly for next shower – hope it will be a torrent!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sumedha Sadhana Concludes

Another Sumedha Sadhana (Psycho-Spiritual Wholeness Journey) successfully concluded on April 29. The eighteen participants were extremely satisfied with the programme. They said they received much more than they had expected. Some participants, who had attended programmes at different places earlier, considered this a unique programme – “unlike the programmes elsewhere”— and much better than those they had attended.

Topics explored included Psychological dynamics on the spiritual journey; Process, holistic, feminist and women’s spiritualities; Midlife dynamics; Sexuality, celibacy and intimacy; Psychological types, persona and shadow; Trauma, healing and reconciliation. Tools and techniques used in the exploration included Intensive Journal meditations; Expressive drawing and writing; music, movies and dance; prayer and sacred scripture. Meaningful and creative liturgies helped to deepen and further integrate the experiences. The highlights of the programme were the ten-day group therapy and the five-day directed retreat which concluded the programme.

Participants were highly appreciative of the faculty and the way they conducted themselves and their sessions: Agnes Panikulam, MA; Ajoy Fernandes, PhD; Joe Mannath, PhD; Jose Parappully, PhD; Maria Goretti, MA; Peter Lourdes, PhD.

The next Sumedha Sadhana is from June 06 to August 04, 2010.