I have been thinking about The Art of Living Center a lot lately and contemplating going to volunteer for a week or so. Let me tell you about my previous experiences there.
I’ve been there three times thus far. The first time I went was for a meditation course. The second time was to see Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as a lovely addition of my 200 hr yoga training at Om West. Lastly, I did the Happiness Program there. The courses were great, but for me, they were not even the best part.
The best part of this place is the physical location. It is absolutely beautiful. The air is fresh, the water is amazing to boat and swim in, and each season brings something special. In fall, it’s the colors of the leaves of course, and in winter, I hear it’s the silence. I haven’t been brave enough yet to go in winter. In summer, it’s the best! That, of course, is subjective, but I love being on a lake in summer. It’s super great for meditation as well.
This place is the closest I’ve been able to get to the feeling I used to have while working at Camp Jackson Dodds on Lac Cloutier. It’s a feeling that is hard to put into words. It’s almost like being part of the land or feeling like you belong to it and that it is a part of you. I love nature, always have, so I’m not sure if everyone experiences that feeling. I know this place is special because I get that feeling when I am there.
I have also eaten the best food ever here. I’m not exaggerating or kidding. This place literally has the best food I’ve ever had. It is all vegetarian, organic, and mouth-wateringly delicious. They grow their own food in the garden on the land. You can go and visit the garden and orchard and even volunteer to work in them. The chefs/cooks work some kind of magic because everything they make just tastes so unbelievably good. I went to The Art of Living Center in India and I have to say that the food didn’t compare. Not that you go to an ashram for the food, but this place in Saint-Mathieu-du Parc really has it going on.
Another great thing about the Center is that you can get Ayurvedic treatments. I feel almost like I’m writing a promo for the place, but I promise no one is paying me to do this. I got a hot oil massage while there, called Abhyanga, and it felt great. It was raining outside while I got it and the sound of the rain and the sensation of the warm oil were perfect together. I have my eye on getting the Marma treatment next time I go.
I’ll end with one last thing that is great about the place; it’s the people. The vast majority of the people I’ve met there, either working/volunteering or on courses, have been wonderful. They are calm, wise, and friendly. In the evenings there are Satsangs. If you have never been to a Satsang, you should get on it because they are awesome, whether you are musically talented or not.
The price of staying there and getting treatments or going on courses is not cheap, but there is always the option of volunteering. I highly recommend this beautiful place either as part of an adventure or part of a spiritual quest.