Rehab for the Mind: Ekaanta - Mindversity on the Ganges
An exclusive spiritual retreat on the Ganges offers customised courses to successfully address anxiety overload, overt stress, burnout and other contemporary lifestyle issues
Earlier this year, Tim Ladd took the tough decision of quitting his job as the Vice-President of Coats USA, the world’s largest thread-manufacturing company, for better opportunities. He needed
a break to recharge his batteries.
It was India Ladd chose as the place to rejuvenate himself. In between visiting palaces in Rajasthan and hiking in the Himalayas, a quick pit stop at Haridwar became a life-changing experience. He found the solution for his weariness at Ekaanta: Mindversity on the Ganges, a unique institution that claims to be a mix of a well-being resort and academic retreat.
After two days of in-depth sessions related to mindfulness and well-being, eating wholesome vegetarian food, sleeping better than he had in years, enjoying nature walks and therapeutic tree-hugging, Ladd
was hooked. Ekaanta is not a resort, spa, detox centre or meditation centre.
It’s not the typical university or workshop either, where one can become a certified life coach or well-being practitioner. It has developed its own spin on revival as a retreat for lifestyle refugees tired of the constant demands of modern life.
Rejuvenation is not the only agenda on offer. People like Ladd are encouraged to elevate their life by learning and absorbing knowledge about their inner functioning. Ekaanta’s founders and guiding spirits are mother-daughter duo Shradha Lohia and Saumya Lohia Aggarwal, who wanted their pet project
to be associated with a traditional seat of learning.
They settled on a property located in the heart of Haridwar, by the ghats, and in the foothills of the Shivalik mountains.
“I live a full life by practising mindfulness. Therefore, I see its power to transform people. Ekaanta: Mindversity on the Ganges is a way to share this knowledge and help people transform themselves. It teaches us to accept the boundless energy in each person and our ability to control our lives, no matter what chaos is thrown at us. Ekaanta signifies solitude, not loneliness. In my moments of ekaanta, I can pause, introspect, and find joy,” explains Shradha.
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Instructors here teach visitors to control their emotions and thoughts effectively in any given situation. Ekaanta is rehab for the mind. The Masters, as the teachers here are called, include mindfulness coaches Ankur Rupani, Dharmacharya Shantum Seth, Harvard Professor Dr Christopher Willard, neuroscientist Dr Reena Kotecha, Clinical Professor at ISB Dr Ram Nidumolu and others.
The courses address contemporary problems. They are not for knowledge-seekers, but for tired individuals struggling with their fast pace of life, yet unwilling to drop it and looking for a quick fix.
Rupani, an IIT Graduate who turned to spirituality, combines the latest sciences, the four foundations of mindfulness, and the five koshas from the Upanishads in his modules. Dr Antonio Sanz is an expert on inner consciousness and employs unique yet easy practices to improve concentration.
Seth teaches the philosophy of Thich Nhat Hahn a versatile Vietnamese Buddhist monk who is called the ‘father of mindfulness’. Each course at Ekaanta is for a minimum of two nights and three days, divided into classes, activities and downtime. Packages are customised for people who prefer to stay longer.
The groups are kept small so that the instructors can truly focus their attention on each participant.
Saumya says the curriculum is designed to be fluid, offering “holistic education that combines the ancient wisdom of the East with Western mindfulness”. There are yoga sessions, nature walks and a specially curated vegetarian diet. Ekaanta’s courses are designed for holistic well-being and range from explaining the neuroscience behind moods to incorporating elements of nature in daily life to battle lifestyle disorders.
“Most well-being centres in India have passive engagement with self-discovery. It is up to you how to use the knowledge we teach here even after you leave,” she asserts. Yet, as with any new concept (Ekaanta opened its doors in September), it takes time for any unique enterprise to establish awareness of its distinctive philosophy.