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Self-Realization Fellowship Youth Programs for Children and Teens—Held Fall 2015

January 21, 2016

“The ideal of right education for youth had always been very close to my heart,” stated Paramahansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi. In keeping with Paramahansaji’s ideal, Self-Realization Fellowship recently inaugurated several new programs designed to help children and teens connect their lives more deeply with spiritual principles.

East Coast Girls Youth Day for Children and Teens  

The first of these was a one-day program for children and teens aged 7–18, conducted for girls in September at the SRF Bethlehem Meditation Circle in Northampton, Pennsylvania. This marked the first SRF special day program for youth outside of California, and was attended by parents and youths from five eastern states and one Canadian province. A similar program for boys will be held at the same location on April 23, 2016. Plans are being developed for events such as this to be held annually in various locations around the U.S., and later in other countries.

Program leaders and participants at the East Coast Girls Youth Day Class on Friendship for young girls
Program leaders and participants at the East Coast
Girls Youth Day, September 19, 2015.
Class on “Friendship” for young girls.

Brahmacharini Angelina and Brahmacharini Deborah led the program, assisted by a qualified team of four SRF lay members. The program’s theme was “Friendship,” and activities included group meditations; a review of Paramahansaji’s Energization Exercises; satsangas (informal discussions), one for teens and one for younger girls; craft projects and games; and a walk along the nearby scenic Lehigh River. The parents enjoyed their own class and satsanga (both led by the nuns), and a video presentation.

Responses from the girls were enthusiastically positive, and included such comments as:

“I thought it was one of the most fun days that I have ever had, because I had a really good time.”

“I think it would be good for everyone to have these one day, twice a month. I think that they should have clubs doing this in high schools—spiritual ‘clubs’ where meditation is practiced.”

Satsanga with teens led by Brahmacharini Angelina. Brahmacharini Deborah leads girls in meditation.
Satsanga with teens led by Brahmacharini Angelina. Brahmacharini Deborah leads girls in meditation.

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One-Day Teen Retreats  

Annual one-day retreats for teens were also initiated by SRF this year. In October, a retreat for teen boys was held at the SRF Lake Shine, and in November a retreat for teen girls was held at the SRF Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens. Both retreats were led by SRF monastics and were attended by participants from all SRF temples in southern California.

Activities included group practice of Paramahansaji’s Energization Exercises, periods of group and individual meditation, a satsanga, and special guided pilgrimages to the sacred places hallowed by Paramahansaji’s presence (including the Hermitage in Encinitas and the Windmill Chapel and Paramahansaji’s houseboat at the Lake Shrine).

Plans are to alternate the locations each year, so in 2016 the boys’ retreat will be held at the SRF Encinitas Hermitage, while the girls’ retreat will shift to the SRF Lake Shrine.

Other youth events for children and teens are planned for 2016.

Boys Teen Retreat at SRF Lake Shrine, October 17  

Brother Sarvananda led the retreat, with participants in attendance Brother Sarvananda leads group practice of Paramahansaji’s Energization Exercises in the Lake Shrine Temple.
Brother Sarvananda led the retreat, with participants in attendance from Lake Shrine, Hollywood, Glendale, and Fullerton Temples and the Escondido Center. Brother Sarvananda leads group practice of Paramahansaji’s Energization Exercises in the Lake Shrine Temple.
Teens enjoy a visit to the SRF Lake Shrine museum Satsanga led by Brother Sarvananda on the second floor of Paramahansaji’s houseboat
Teens enjoy a visit to the SRF Lake Shrine museum, featuring many personal items that belonged to Paramahansa Yogananda. Satsanga led by Brother Sarvananda on the second floor of Paramahansaji’s houseboat. Br. Klaus (far right) also assisted in leading the retreat.

Some responses from boys about the event:

“One thing I liked best was visiting the houseboat for the first time. It really opened me to Master and Divine Mother’s presence.”

“My favorite part was when we visited the retreat center, because it was very quiet and peaceful—not to mention the amazing view of the ocean!”

“I liked being around other spiritually minded people and hearing stories of Master’s life.”

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Girls Teen Retreat at SRF Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens, November 21  

Group practice of the Energization Exercises at the SRF Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens Brahmacharini Janette leads teens on a guided tour of the Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens
Group practice of the Energization Exercises at the SRF Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens. The retreat was led by Brahmacharinis Angelina and Janette. Participants were in attendance from Lake Shrine, San Diego, Encinitas, and Fullerton Temples, and the Escondido Center of SRF. Here Brahmacharini Janette leads teens on a guided tour of the Encinitas Hermitage and Meditation Gardens.
Teens make bookmarks on the lawn by the lotus tower gateway. A group meditation in the St. Francis circle in the Encinitas Meditation Gardens before visiting the Hermitage.
Teens make bookmarks on the lawn by the lotus tower gateway. A group meditation in the St. Francis circle in the Encinitas Meditation Gardens before visiting the Hermitage.

Some responses from girls about the event:

“This is my first retreat and I loved it.”

“What inspired me most was that Master is with us and has a plan for us, which will lead us to a successful, happy life.”

“I loved going around the gardens and being with other girls with the same religious beliefs.”

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Youth Events for Children and Teens Planned for 2016  

Girls Teen Retreat April 9 Pacific Palisades, California
Boys Regional Day Program April 23 Northampton, Pennsylvania
Girls Summer Day Program June 27–July 1 Encinitas, California
Boys Summer Day Program July 4–8 Encinitas, California
Girls Regional Day Program Oct. 8 Lake Texoma, Texas
Boys Regional Day Program Oct. 15 Lake Texoma, Texas
Boys Teen Retreat Nov. 19 Encinitas, California

Note: Details regarding the 2016 events are still being finalized. Please check later for more information:

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