Retreat to Glastonbury

October 2019
Buddha’s 4 Brahma Viharas

“The hills are alive…”

A thick blanket of fog surrounds the hill we walked up in Dorset, so that despite being at the top of the highest point for miles around, all we can see is grey mist.
It is not depressing though, as I am with beautiful friends Martin and Tatjana and my my mother. We know the way round the hill and my mum chirped reassuringly that on a clear day you can see for miles around.

“…With the sound of music…”

This trip up the hill happened after the recent visit of Sri Anish and Anandi to us here in the UK. We spent 3 weeks sharing kirtan, food and dialogue sessions with friends in the South of England.
Sri Anish, after giving up a high flying corporate position began a quest to discover the truth within, spending many years in solitude in the Himalayas. I have a feeling that he found the spot on the highest hill and saw for many miles around. Only the hill that he ascended was within, giving him deep insights into the secrets of existence. Since then, he has dedicated his life to sharing his perspective and guiding others on their journey of inner seeking.

Anandi, who was a top interior designer in India, was drawn to the Himalayas with Anish and other friends in order to live the life of the heart.
After planting hundreds of trees and nestling herself into a (designer) mud cottage in Dharmshala, she has found an utterly beautiful expression through music and sound. The effects of this are both outer and inner in my experience. Anandi has been conveying her understanding of sound and feeling to many by means of kirtans (songs to the divine which also involve the collective participation).

So for three weeks, we three…Neil, Sonya, Daisy and friends) journeyed together with Sri Anish and Anandi under the collective vision of “Saadho” which is a joyous recognition and greeting to all the seekers on the path.


By opening up our homes to each other we learned to truly let one another in. Feeding each other, without fear of lack and without expectations in return bought abundance in our hearts. Through Sri Anish and Anandi’s lived example, we found that these simple gestures can do so much on a deeper level and warm the hearth of the heart.

The dialogues or Satsangs led by Sri Anish were incredibly profound, yet utterly applicable to our everyday, western lives. When someone speaks with such clarity, authenticity and love, you can’t help but take a pause and listen with all your being, which knows that there is no agenda. It can be truly transformative and help clear the fog that sometimes clouds our minds. For myself it has been a truly incomparable catalyst to inner growth.

The trip culminated with our trip to Glastonbury. A space that was already dedicated to the teachings of Buddha, was the cozy setting for 30 friends to gather and absorb 4 fundamental teachings of Buddha. Don’t be deterred by the fancy name “Brahma Viharas… the 4 pillars of awakening” These were 4 of the most down to earth teachings one could imagine.

Focussing intensely on the first pillar which is “friendliness” or “unconditional love” (without attachment), we deeply understood that any spiritual practice that does not first cultivate this attitude of friendliness towards fellow humans and nature is likely to be limited. We are inter-connected beings, and relating with each other can unlock the doors to our heart.

The next two unfolded from the first; Compassion (but not pity) and empathetic joyfulness (but not indulgence). Again, nothing fancy if you really think about it! But with far reaching consequences of deep relating and uplifting those around us.

Finally, the 4th pillar of equanimity, balance (but not… Indifference.) This is the capacity to feel deeply yet not lose ones own rooting in any given situation.

And sharing sound & kirtans in the collective space gave us the felt experience that togetherness can truly empower and enrich our journey within.

Anandi Ma taught us the mantra Buddham Sharanam Gaccami, Sangham Sharanam Gaccami, Dhammam sharanam Gaccami….” Which means take refuge in the buddha and all the buddhas, the sangha (collective) and the Dhamma (laws of nature)…

“The hills fill my heart with the sound of music”

So finally, the trip actually culminated again. If that is possible or allowed? A full November moon seemed to shine for 3 nights! And the final gathering at Yoga Junkie in Fareham was a meeting of many friends, old and new. It was a celebration. Even my mum came away stating that she really really enjoyed the togetherness of it all. And I reflected on how truly beautiful it was for me that my journey of spirituality could include and not exclude my parents.

“My heart wants to sing every song it hears”

Ok the final line from the sound of music. But this is genuinely what you start to feel after three weeks of inspiring company. Its not really talking about the songs on the radio. Or even about songs. But when you start listening to the heart… in all manners of ways, start keeping company with those who are speaking from the heart. It is like this…

The song is the very vibration of life… we become conduits for connection and authentic expression, and so beautifully opening up leads to more opening up and for those all around.

It is not always easy, but it is simple and the song of the heart is this… to rediscover ourselves and one another’s capacity to love and care for each other and the whole of existence.

Love Daisy, Saadho Kirtan