Sri Karunamayi, known as Amma, or Mother, to her followers, returns to Woodstock on Tuesday, June 28 to bestow blessings and deliver her message of peace, love and compassion for all beings. A one-day meditation retreat will follow on Wednesday, June 29, with both events held at the Bearsville Theater.
For over 10 years, Amma meditated in silence in the remote and sacred Penusila Forest of India. Today, at her nearby ashram, ceremonies are performed regularly for the sake of world peace and universal welfare. She has also established many charities, recognized by the United Nations, to help support disadvantaged people around the world.
Woodstocker Joy Lofstrand was drawn to meet Amma when she read an article about her by Cassia Berman, who used to organize the spiritual teacher’s visits to Woodstock. “I loved how Cassia spoke of her,” remembered Lofstrand. “It opened my heart. I’ve had a lot of magical moments with Amma. So I started helping Cassia out. Every year, I’d say, ‘This is all I can do,’ and Cassia would get me to do a little more. When Cassia was dying, she said, ‘Amma’s program must go on.’ I got someone to take her position for a few years, and now it’s me — so Cassia got me doing a lot more work. But it’s a labor of love.”
Each person who comes to the blessing day spends a few moments with Amma and receives a blessing. “You write down what you need a blessing for,” said Lofstrand, “and she gives you energy. She gives you what you need.” On one visit, Lofstrand remembers being exhausted when she arrived and felt just a little trickle of energy coming in to her from the audience with Amma. A short time later, the trickle turned into wellspring surging through her body. “It was the most powerful energy exchange I had ever felt,” she said.
Amma also encourages selfless service, connecting people to a deep place of peace within and bringing this peace and unconditional love out into the world. She has organized the SMVA Trust, which assists others in the most practical way, helping marginalized communities in South India. The non-profit organization sponsors programs that seek to empower women and girls, educate children living below the poverty level, eradicate hunger, provide access to clean drinking water, offer free medical care, and support communities in times of crisis.
The blessing day, Tuesday, June 28, begins at 10 a.m. with music by bansuri flutist Steve Gorn and chanting by SrutiRam and Avinash. Amma will be welcomed in around 11 a.m. Anyone desiring blessings must sign in by 2 p.m., and she will continue to meet with each person until everyone has been seen. The event, held at the Bearsville Theater, is free, and Amma requests that attendees wear white if possible. Donations and volunteers are invited.
On Wednesday, June 29, the silent meditation retreat will go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A nominal fee is charged for either a full or a half day. A light breakfast and a vegetarian lunch will be served. Please pre-register online at www.karunamayi.org and remember to wear white.
“It’s like when the Dalai Lama came,” said Lofstrand. “Amma brings sweet, peaceful energy.”