ANANDA – Assisi
Ananda is a spiritual retreat located on the beautiful Umbrian hills, near Assisi, the city of Saint Francis. The Ananda Centre offers hospitality and many programs based on the principles of Kriya Yoga and Self-realization, which were brought to the Western world by Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. His direct disciple Swami Kriyananda (1926 – 2013), the founder of Ananda communities in the United States, Europe and India, has continued to develop and spread these universal and practical teachings around the world.
As we usually do when we visit this kind of places, we try to get the most of what they offer: their philosophy, their food, the environment, the buildings where daily activities are carried out and the spirit of the people that make these places so special!
To us Ananda was really enlightening.
The moment you arrive at Ananda, you’ll feel the soothing sense of “being at home”. It’s easy to relax and be yourself in this inspiring place.
Ananda welcomes people from all around the world—people of all ages, religions and cultures. We follow the spiritual teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, which express a genuine spirituality which is non-dogmatic, practical and universal. People come here to experience spirituality in daily life, as the many members of the community teach and experience.
You will meet other people like yourself, people striving to improve themselves and to express their highest potential. “Environment,” Yogananda said, “is stronger than will.” By “environment” he meant, above all, good company.
The heart of Ananda is the magnificent Temple of Light.
This is not visible from the main entrance, but as you walk down the path lined by pine trees, gradually the large blue dome comes into view, reminiscent, in its beauty, of a lotus flower. In this spacious, round hall, surrounded by windows, classes are offered in philosophy, meditation, yoga, and healing—all based on the practical and scientific teachings of Yogananda. Each course includes instruction in the basic techniques of Kriya Yoga, with meditation sessions and yoga every morning and evening, for both beginners and more experienced practitioners.
A Blend of East and West
The teaching at Ananda is a harmonious blend of Western and Eastern spiritual disciplines. Special emphasis is given both to the mystical, original teachings of Christ and to India’s scientific and ancient gift of yoga and meditation. The basis of this teaching is universal. It was brought to the Western world in a pure and practical form by the great Indian master, Paramhansa Yogananda.
An international spiritual community
Ananda was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. It is a network of seven spiritual communities, with hundreds of centers and meditation groups in the United States and in Europe. Ananda Europa was founded in Italy in 1983 and has been flourishing at its present location near Assisi since 1986. There are about eighty residents at Ananda, some living within the community and others, including families and children, in homes nearby. During your stay here you will have the opportunity to meet many of them and to share with them many moments of the day.
Yoga as a Way of Life
Ananda specializes in community living and in applying spiritual principles to every aspect of life: work, family, relationships, educating children, religion, how to solve problems and overcome crises, healing, creativity, and much more. The core of Ananda’s life-style and teaching is attunement to a Reality higher than ourselves—which is the secret of happiness, peace, and well-being.
The food at Ananda is excellent: vegetarian, yogic and natural. Meals are taken, together with the community, in the large dining room, and there is a period of silence during breakfast and dinner. The kitchen staff prepares the food with love, infusing it with peace and harmonious vibrations.
Living in higher vibrations allows us to develop a different perspective, to be more peaceful and more “inspired”, and at the same time enables us to better appreciate the little joys that life offers us.
Ananda in Sanskrit means “joy, infinite bliss”, and it is this joy that sincere truth-seekers aspire to achieve: Self-realization, that is, the union with the Infinite. In short, this is the heart of Ananda’s “philosophy”: learning to bring ever-new joy into daily life—not a religion, but a principle that embraces all religions and, above all, all those who, regardless of their beliefs, choose to live in a way that encourages personal growth.
Ananda also has its own publishing company, trhough which it keeps on spreading the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Obviously the main topics are: spirituality, positive thinking, meditation, yoga, relationships, leaderships, education and natural food.
Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda said,
“The challenge is to embrace a new way of life, one that is not easy in many respects, but is infinitely worth the effort made to achieve it.”