Some of you may be curious as to what volunteering at Govinda Valley is all about. Okay, so we host retreats and there's an emphasis on yoga, meditation and being close to nature. Without trying to build any specific expectations, I can safely say after being here for almost a month that there is a lot more to Govinda Valley than meets the eye.
Most volunteers come here on the assumption that they're working at a retreat... and by doing so it also means they get that "retreat experience" and treatment. Sure, we have a yoga class every day, there's the early morning meditation and chanting (if you can get yourself out of bed before the crack of dawn) and kirtan (singing mantras) every Monday.
Food here is wholesome vegetarian or vegan and you definitely wont be going hungry.
But what some people don't realise is that residents of Govinda Valley are mainly what I call 'dedicated self improvers' devoted to personal growth themselves and assisting others in theirs. Living here is not just like any work away or woofing place. Staying at Govinda Valley means you are living in an ashram; a sacred space which attracts people who are looking for a time and place to reflect, introspect and develop.
Staying here means certain ways of living are to be understood and respected such as silence during late hours, some dietary restrictions and team contribution to everyday household chores - cooking, cleaning, gardening and even building. Spiritual life takes also discipline and everyday practice, it's not just peace and endless serenity. Being here can require quite some work - physically, internally and spiritually... The live-in residents and devotees can vouch for this; but there is certainly something if they are dedicating their lives to this way of living. In short, it's an ideal space to heal, find inner peace, an expansion of consciousness and be surrounded with like-minded people with a similar intention.
During my time here, I've come across people from all walks of life, all with different stories to share and talents on offer...and I've definitely been inspired by others here. Our volunteers range from yogis being able to come here and teach classes, to permaculture teachers helping to improve and redesign the organic gardens in Govinda Valley to ex-carpenters helping out on on-going building projects and even creatives and artists helping the team with marketing strategies and marketing content.
Volunteers come here to find more time and space to study, to rehabilitate from city life or to get some perspective on major personal and career changes. But regardless, whatever your passion or gift you have to share, it will be welcomed with open arms at Govinda Valley. There's something for everyone to get involved with somehow - whether you are a videographer, an architect, an aspiring chef, holistic therapist or even a 'retiring' musician. If you're qualified as a yoga instructor and want to give a class, this can be a great place to contribute and build your teaching repertoire. Only your imagination is the limit to your creativity - from the organic gardens to the professional kitchen to the endless events that run here, your input can be used in so many ways, projects and day to day activities which keep Govinda Valley running.
Everyday, volunteers contribute up to five, six hours to Govinda Valley. The other two days a week are off. There's enough routine and structure to fill your day, but also enough time for yourself to relax, meditate, read or go into nature exploring. The Royal National Park is just right next to us, as well as countless trails, beaches and the famous Figure 8 pool within hiking distance.
Everyone sleeps well at Govinda Valley - with no noise pollution and being surrounded by beautiful nature its hard not to. Just a few freight trains to connect you to 'the real world'. A typical routine most days is an early morning breakfast, five hours of work in between meal times, an hour of yoga class and certain group activities. The recommended minimum stay is at least two weeks, but you can opt to stay longer if you wish. Some people stay at Govinda Valley for months and many come back to re-visit, which makes it clear that Govinda Valley goes from feeling like a retreat to becoming more a like home for many people.
You don't know until you try, as the saying goes, so if you're curious - whether to learn about yourself, Krishna, or just to experience living in an ashram and to practice a more wholesome routine for a couple of weeks - you know where we are and how to find us.
Written by: Mandy Pang