Ananda Valley taught me the concept of community in all its upsides and downsides. Living our shared values and vision for the future through working on the land, doing our spiritual practices and hosting small workshops or creative sessions, inspired me to such an extent that now I want to try out many things I previously did not even dare trying. I now am excited to learn construction skills, delve deeper into spirituality, learn about permaculture garden design etc. All because the people in the community live by example and invite others to join in on whatever it is they are doing.

Living in a community can be intense, as there is not always that much time or space to yourself. However, there was a big lesson to be learnt there for me; to live intentionally and mindfully. That means asking yourself often how you are feeling and what you might need, and act in accordance with that. It is easy to get dragged along in the communal flow, which is full of exciting and interesting things, but it is therefore especially important to not forget about your own boundaries.

I have never felt connection to people as deeply as I felt it at Ananda Valley. When we sing kiirtan in the early morning and after working hours, and everyone joins in, shy of their insecurity towards their voice, something magical happens. It is this pure expression that allows me to feel the connectedness to everyone in the room and wider community. Meditations after such kiirtans were always very powerful, as I was completely mindful and appreciative of the beauty around me. It is this connectedness and love that I hope to be able to carry with me.