It’s a mobile “studio” with the words “Ananta Mobile Wellness Solutions” inscribed on the side, next to a logo combining the heart and the brain. Inside is a surprising oasis of peace: bamboo floors and benches, green paint on the walls, plants, soft lighting and comfortable rugs.
If it pulls up to your place of work, you know your attitude to the world is about to be transformed.
Deva Madhava Das, director of the Harmony Collective in Ypsilanti, Michigan was inspired to create Ananta Mobile Wellness after attending Bhakti Rasayana Sagar Swami’s course on innovative leadership in Mayapur, which looks at out-of-the box ways to make Krishna consciousness relevant.
Deva Madhava launched Ananta in mid-April, and is taking it to schools, hospitals, and mid-level companies. He says the program “brings the experience of Krishna consciousness into a secular environment, where worries about religious dogma won’t be triggered.”
Introductory sessions last about twenty minutes. Fifteen employees at a time climb into the Ananta “Mobile Wellness Studio,” which comes conveniently to their workplace.
Dressed in street clothes but with tilak, Deva Madhava explains up front that he is a monk. “I tell them that this is my spiritual practice, and that part of my community’s ethic is serving the public,” he says. “So we’ve taken the practices of our faith, and are sharing their tangible scientific benefits with people.”
In his introduction, Deva also explains that many groups are now offering mindfulness and meditation techniques to cope with stress in the modern work environment. But Ananta is going a step further and telling people how to shift their whole attitudes towards their workplace, family, and friends, which in turn will change their experience.
Inside the ‘mobile wellness studio,’ particpants practice MAPS – Mantra, Asana, Pranayama and Sanga
“We explain that this world is operating around two fundamental assumptions,” Deva Madhava says. “The selfish idea that everything is about what I can get; and that the mind is leading that charge. This leads to a general level of dissatisfaction in the world. Whereas when the heart leads the way, and the mind is seen as a tool of the heart; and when I think not about what I can get, but what I can give – then automatically I experience fulfillment and satisfaction.”
To achieve this, Deva Madhava presents a protocal called “MAPS” – Mantra, Asana, Pranayama, and Sanga. Or, in English – Meditation, Attentive breathing, Postures for focus, and Service-based communication. The first three support the fourth and reharmonize the relationship between the heart and the mind.
Deva Madhava first leads a simple breathing and posture exercise, to help participants feel more centered, peaceful, and calm.
He then explains that it’s not enough to clear the mind – the mind must be focused on something. “Now we’re going to use mantra to connect to our natural selves through sound vibration,” he tells his audience.
Leading participants in chanting the mantra “Nitai Gaur Namo Namah” – because it is not affiliated with any particular religious group – he translates it as “I offer myself to that source of constant upliftment.”
He then guides a sanga of service-based communication. This includes sharing a principle from the Bhagavad-gita, and having everyone talk about how the principle would help if applied in their own lives.
“For instance, we’ll read a verse about restraining the senses, and discuss the idea that restriction creates freedom,” Deva Madhava says. “Then we’ll go around and everyone will share an area in their own life where restricting themselves would create more freedom to do the things they really value. Many will say things like ‘spending less time on screens, not eating whatever I want whenever I want, and waking up and going to bed on time.’
In the long-term, the service-based communication section will be tailored to the specific workplace.
“So if we’re working with nurses at a hospital, we’ll talk about the challenges of really coming from a place of service on this unit, at this hospital, with this group of people,” Deva Madhava says.
The session concludes with participants receiving maha Nrsimha oil as “aroma therapy.”
“So they’re getting prasad, they’re discussing Bhagavad-gita, they’re chanting the Holy Name, and they’re doing it all in likeminded association,” says Deva Madhava. “It’s a complete experience of Krishna consciousness, without the overt sambandha.”
He explains the word. “There are two elements of what’s called sambandha jnana in our philosophy – that Krishna is the Supreme Person, and that we are His servant. Generally, in our outreach we focus on telling people that Krishna is the Supreme Person, and you have to accept that. But what if we shifted that, and started talking about how you’re a servant first?”
He continues, “And that’s what this Ananta Mobile Wellness Solutions is about. We’re first focusing on ‘You’re a servant, and you should operate from a place of service.’And then once people have already experienced the fulfillment of being a servant, they’ll automatically find it easier to accept Krishna as the Supreme Person.”
After the one-off introductory session, Deva Madhava encourages people to practice the MAPS protocol at their office or home – like sadhana.
In the future, they hope to build long-term relationships with specific organizations, and offer regular longer sessions. These would retain the fifteen minutes of Mantra, Asana and Pranayama, but stretch the sanga, or service-based communication, to a full hour.
“We would have longer conversations about the specifics of their environment, and how to use these values and practices to make it more supportive of their natural, authentic selves,” says Deva Madhava.
So far, the response has been very positive.
“We have also held sessions in art fairs and veg fests, and people loved it,” Deva Madhava says. “At the last veg fest, two sales execs and one doctor came and asked, ‘How do we bring this to our organization?’ People say it’s even more transformative than they expected.”
And Deva Madhava is not keeping the magic to himself. Within the next year, he hopes to franchise Ananta Mobile Wellness Solutions out to other devotee communities, providing them with a source of income and influence.
“If somebody’s comfortable speaking in front of others and leading small groups, and they have a down-to-earth perspective in their Krishna consciousness, then this is a business model that can easily be franchised in cities across the globe,” he says.
The intention behind Ananta Mobile Wellness is not to proselytize – Deva Madhava has something broader and bigger in mind. “It’s not about making devotees on an individual basis,” he explains. “It’s about substantiating the value of Krishna consciousness in the secular world on a social, systemic level.”
For more information, visit: https://anantawellness.org/
Dec 03, 2022
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