A brief history of Spiritual Renewal Week:
For the past 50 years, Spiritual Renewal Week has always been an in-person event. It has been planned, managed, and hosted by The Expanding Light Retreat staff along with the help of many Ananda Village volunteers. Some SRW guests have stayed at the Expanding Light Retreat and some have been registered day guests. Beginning around 2008 live online streaming of the morning talks and a few evening events was added through Online with Ananda
The plan in early 2020 was for this model to continue, but in early March we began to realized that this probably wouldn’t be possible. As the Coronavirus began affecting more and more people in the US and worldwide, it was decided that we would need to offer Spiritual Renewal Week in an “online-only” version. The Expanding Light staff began working closely with the Online with Ananda team as well as with the Ananda Communications staff to create this new and different Spiritual Renewal Week.
Using part of the Ananda Janaka Grant, The Expanding Light was able to quickly reserve a display booth at the only in-person Yogananda 100 Event that took place in early March 2020 in Los Angeles. By doing so, they were able to let people a large group of people know right away about this new Spiritual Renewal Week format.
It is estimated that between 1000 – 1200 individual people connected with Spiritual Renewal Week in 2020 attending the live talks, the pre-taped supplemental talks, guided experiences, and the various evening events. As mentioned above, this meant that the total attendance of Spiritual Renewal Week guests in 2020 was increased by 151% when compared to those who attended in-person in 2018! This was an incredible gift from Divine Mother for an event that we weren’t even sure would be possible.
Here is Nayaswami Jyotish’s comments after the event:
“We have just finished one of the most remarkable weeks in the long history of Ananda. Last week we held a worldwide online Spiritual Renewal Week. This event is a tradition at Ananda, going back more than fifty years to the roots of our work. In the early days, Swami Kriyananda led everything: the sadhanas, the classes, and the evening entertainment. This last week, however, we had more than forty teachers sharing from Ananda centers and communities around the world. And we reached by far the largest audience ever. Many more will watch the recorded events in the months and years ahead. It was a great success, but a surprising one.” - Nayaswami Jyotish, July 10th blog post
Additional outcomes that Ananda will carry into the future:
Working together quickly and creatively
Several Ananda departments came quickly together to make this event possible: The Expanding Light, Ananda Sangha, Online with Ananda and Ananda Communications, as well as additional world-wide collaboration with both Ananda India and Ananda Europa.
There was a very uplifting and heart-felt collaboration with Ananda gurubais around the world who generously agreed to contribute pre-taped content for the week. We asked that they share their insights and stories based on one of the daily talk titles, and every single presenter provided a very nicely filmed video. We consider each video to now be like a flower in the garland of joy, which surrounds this very memorable Spiritual Renewal Week 2020.
Expanding our understanding of how to use the online platform to celebrate a week-long event such as Spiritual Renewal Week has required a much deeper, broader, and more efficiently coordinated effort than the usual SRW or typical online program. Together we found improved ways to create an enhanced web page environment that welcomed both the Ananda family worldwide as well as new comers to Ananda; and we co-managed a strong marketing campaign.
Again from Nayaswami Jyotish:
“…we will face whatever karmic tests we need in order to grow spiritually. The first step in the process is acceptance, not to waste time finding excuses or trying to run away. Accept your obstacle as an opportunity, and you will rise to new heights. For Ananda, last week was a proof of concept for this attitude. It will make Ananda stronger, deeper, and more serviceful than ever.” - Nayaswami Jyotish, July 10th blog post
For this 2020 Spiritual Renewal Week, we reached out to everyone who has come to The Expanding Light retreat and to all those connected to Ananda in many different ways and locations through emails, information on Ananda.org, and through social media.
Although this shared marketing approach has been used for Spiritual Renewal Week in years past, it had never been done to the depth and breadth we were able to do in 2020. The retreat marketing team also created the SRW visuals and used them in over 50 applications.
Through these efforts, many more people were able to attend this SRW 2020 than ever before, and from all over the world!
We are so grateful to those of you who have included the Ananda Janaka Foundation in your estate planning such as your will or trust.
It is these estate gifts that allow us to give annual Grants in support of Ananda’s work throughout the world.