‘My Ram Lila‘ is a cluster of five sister events happening concurrently in an online virtual world for eleven days — from 26 September to 05 October 2022.
Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana was inscribed in 2008 (3.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2005).
The programme has two sections: the first is ‘Rama Meditation’ that comprises of Pranayama techniques of ‘Ritual of Breathwork‘ and Aum chanting.
‘My Life, My Lila’ is the other section. It is oriented around writing a spiritual memoir inspired with visuals of a set of 11 postage stamps on Ramayana released by India Post. These verses are curated from ‘Ramcharitmanas’. The set of eleven postage stamps (shown below) depicts the story of Ramayana progressively. Details on each stamp can be read here.
General information on e-retreats for spiritual writing is available here. Specific information on this particular programme is given below.
Do you want to tell a story of –
- Someone you love / loved?
- An unforgettable experience (s)?
- Opinions on inanimates like stones, rivers, air, etc.?
- About plants, trees, grass, nature etc.?
- An animal – pet or in wild?
- A journey or travel?
- Lasting memories?
- Series of incidents / occurrences?
- Any object?
- Any idea?
- Someone’s life?
- Your life?
Well, we will help you organise your thoughts and write them as a coherent story that can be told.
At times, participants have several vague topics or none at all in their minds. During this retreat we make a systematic map of heart — feelings and emotions — and help discover topics for each participant to write.
NON SPIRITUAL / NOT MEMOIR
If you want to write something other than a memoir, then also approaching that through the route of a memoir is helpful. We help you discover and develop your own ideas of what is being spiritual.
Spiritual: The primary focus is on providing spiritual heft to writing. A secondary focus is on writing creatively. Emphasis is not placed on grammar, spellings, and such efforts which can be easily handled after the retreat is over.
Dates: The programme is conducted on a rolling basis. One can apply to join for any continuous block of 11 days in the period 17 October to 17 November 2020. Preferred days to start are 17th October, 28th October, and 15th, and 7th November 2020.
500 words/day for 10 days: The programme creates a focus for each participant to write an average of 500 words a day. By the end of the programme, each participant completes writing of 5000 words.
Although it is a writing residency, most of the participants come from a diverse background and have seldom published before.
- Any other creative person
- Those interested in spoken words
9 participants only: There are no more than nine primary participants at any given point in time who are supported in each session. Each participant receives individual attention and care.
(Image above: Ganesha writing Mahabharata (containing Bhagvat-Gita) narrated by Ved Vyasa. Credits – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.)
- Each 11-days is a complete module in itself.
- Each session has no more than 9 participants.
- Each day there are 2 sessions, each of 1 hour duration.
- One hour for learning and practicing a specific guided meditation technique.
- One hour is for tutorial on spiritual writing.
- The 5th and the 11th days are for sharing and discussing individual writings with invited guests.
- Avail of unique opportunity to boost creativity powered by meditation
- Avail of unique opportunity to boost meditation supported with writing
- Participation with online publication at AZIMVTH website at the end of the term
If there is sufficient intertest and writings available, then we may go for privately publishing a book containing memoirs of several persons.
WRITE A NOVEL / BOOK
A goal of the first week is to complete writing a ‘flash-fiction’ — something that is as long as up to 1000 words. For the 11th day, a goal is to complete writing a short story of 5000 words. We will help you, even after the residency is over, in progressing further with expanding your writing to the scale of a novella, novelette, and finally a novel or book of 60,000 words.
A participant can invite up to 2 guests, entirely complimentary, to the Sunday Sharing sessions of abridged meditation and sharing of writings.
Examples of a Sunday Sharing session of participants of the virtual spiritual memoir writing retreat can be seen below.
More examples can be seen here.
Painter Carol Zukosky, a participant at one of our recent virtual residencies, wrote a poem ‘The Call of Gaia 2020’ during the programme.
Participants of our previous virtual residencies who are visual artists or performing artists have written poems and songs respectively.
Pennsylvania based symbolic modernist figure painter Rachel Romano was a guest at one of AZIMVTH’s recently concluded month-long virtual artist residencies. She says, “My painting wall is covered in paper. White paper. Mostly so that I do not have to repaint the wall every time. As I am working I write on that paper. And I have had people wanting to buy my wall, paper because its almost like graffiti like experience. People come in and think — can I take that and frame that. And I say, no I need my wall. Words are a big part of me. I am a story teller.”
NOTE ON SCHEDULE
It would appear that the retreat being a virtual one requires only 2 hours of online live contact each day. This is true but the programme is quite intense and the participants get voluntarily engrossed in writing and creating for significant number of offline hours every day.
Spiritual name: A participant is provided a set of spiritual (pen) names based upon Indian astrology system of Jyotish. And she may choose her own from the set. Astrology services are provided with a contribution of USD 100 but a participant of this retreat doesn’t have to pay anything for receiving a selection of astrology based names.
Encouragement & Support: A plan is made in advance and cues provided. Writing work of each participant is reviewed each day and encouragement and support provided regularly on a pro-active basis for 11 days.
Post retreat support: A participant can seek feedback and one-off support on this body of writing even after the proramme ends.
Privacy / copyright: A unique area on AZIMVTH website is specially created for each participant access to which is granted only to 2 persons – the participant and AZIMVTH coach. Edited versions are shareable with other participants. The copyright of the writing work vests solely with the participant.
Path to a book: Each of the 10 pages of 500 words can be cues or seeds for 10 chapters with each chapter of 5000 words each. A participant may write these chapters on her own after the end of the programme or participate with other writing programmes for this. A prologue and an epilogue of similar length are also written. These writings accumulate to sixty thousand words — good enough to make a book/novel. Or, shorter version could lead to a novella or novelette.
Publishing: Each participant has opportunity to get this writing published at AZIMVTH website.
Spiritual print publishing: AZIMVTH may print the collected works on hand-made paper, made in Haridwar using Ganga water. This printing may be manual-screen printing that requires considerable artisan-work. A participant will have opportunity to join that project with additional fee. This will be a limited edition print for private circulation and collection.
Memento: Each participant gets a certificate of participation which is more like a souvenir and memento.
Resources for participants of this retreat are available here.
- WI-FI connection
- What’s App
- Zoom App
- Writing pen
- Pencil, eraser, sharpener
- Letter (A4) sized ruled note-book
- Pocket diary (2 x 3 inch)
- PC/laptop computer/iPad or a similar device