What is it like to volunteer at Ananda Valley?

I thought about this question for a couple of days now, and I feel like it‘s almost impossible to answer that question in a satisfying way. Of course I could now tell who I am (Emma, 25, from Germany), how I found this place (workaway), how I got here (hitchhiking) and list up the things I‘ve been doing here (mulching, weeding, mulching, weeding – that‘s organic farming, baby!), but I don‘t feel like this would do justice to the time I‘ve been spending here and to the experience I‘m having here. So where to start? Maybe with the fact that my original plan was to stay for only a month – or less – and now 3 month have passed and I have no idea where the time went. Maybe with the fact that I‘m getting up every morning at 6:30 to do mantra singing (kiirtan) and meditation, even though I‘m still completely convinced that spirituality is not my thing. Maybe with the ongoing inner conflict I have, between wanting to stay forever and the need to get away as fast as possible. Maybe with my huge gratitude and respect for the people running this place. Maybe with my skepticism towards a spiritual practice that is based on the words of a spiritual master (Guru) from India that died 30 years ago. Maybe with the joy and bliss I feel everyday while observing little human interactions and noticing that everybody is doing their best. Maybe with the general feeling of being unfree because I can not eat, what I want (sentient (satvic) diet – no eggs, garlic, onions, mushrooms etc. allowed in the house), because I can not run around without clothes when I want to (some people live in celibacy) and because I rarely find time and space for myself (here are many people and there‘s always something going on!!). Or maybe with me being totally amazed and inspired everyday about how, helpful and caring people can be.

You see, this is not an easy place for me 

During the last three month I was facing many personal and interpersonal struggles and challenges. Living so close together with other people is challenging me in many ways every day. I get angry and confused and upset, I lose my patience and my temper, I get into conflicts and hot discussions and – most important – I grow. I get shaken up in my habits and patterns, I learn new perspectives on life, I try new things, I fail and succeed and I grow, grow, grow from working and living with all these beautiful people here, from having the opportunity to learn to meditate, from receiving all the amazing things this place has to offer and from getting inspired by this special way of living, that includes spiritual, social and environmental perspectives. And that‘s what‘s keeping me here, besides all the struggles and skepticism inside of me. If you‘re looking for a hippie community with no rules and free love, this is probably not your place. Also if you want to learn a lot about permaculture, you might get disappointed. But if you‘re looking for personal growth and development, if you‘re willing to be open and try new things, if you want to practice living in a community and share a vision of how a better world could look like, Ananda Valley is an amazing opportunity. There are so many things to discover and explore and the people here will support you in every way they can. They will take the time to answer all the stupid questions you may have, they will not hesitate to share everything they have to heal you, when you‘re not well. They will provide you with all the things you need and more to be happy and healthy, never forgetting their vision (and mission!) to create a better planet and a better future. Thank you so much, everybody! Even though I‘m still here, I already know that this place will shape and influence my way of thinking, living and feeling.

Emma Augustin

21 May 2020