Giftivism in February
‘Leaders in human history have been good speakers, but the leaders of the modern world will be good listeners!’
It was a quote shared in the opening circle of the Giftivism retreat this February, but one which summarized the three day gathering. 35 souls from across the countries gathered in Ahmedabad to hold space, to listen and to honour the very small and ordinary acts that can transform our lives and our world.
On that day, Prateek from Delhi goes back to his room to find a simple offering of smileys in a heart shape decorating his bed. Small, and ordinary, but it has him thinking that it’s ‘these acts that make all the difference. Just keep honouring the small, and it will just turn into something big’.
And that’s exactly what everyone in the room decided to do. From small offerings to each other, to silent dinners in stillness - you could find generosity in every pocket. At the SpiriTed circles at night, everyone huddled together to honour the small, ordinary goodness in our speakers who were participants from the retreat itself. After a film on the same theme, Arathi shared moments of kindness from unknown strangers on her bike ride across America, Gitanjali shared shocking stories of little children standing up for her in a community of sex-workers. Prateek shared how moments of gratitude at the most unexpected times had him trusting in his motto of ‘Whatever happens, happens for the Good’ while Malik shared experiences of finding ‘Roots’ in Hyderabad.
The spirit of Generosity and Giftivism shifted to opening ourselves to ‘Receive’ the next day, as Jayeshbhai shared experiences of ‘learning from communities’ along giving. In the very next hour, you could see it manifesting through the ‘Hunger Banquet’ when a few participants had to accept offerings of food with grace from the others. Later at the Loving Centre, Chris Lowman who works with the community shared his journey in service through his inner transformation. As we got down to cooking, painting and cleaning with the people, Prateek reflected – ‘How could I think I had something to give? I had so much to learn about these people in loving one another’. Ashish, a Social Entrepreneur shared how he saw a shift within himself – from trying to ‘fix’ things that he felt were wrong, to serving from a space that is deeper - to understanding a community while serving them.
It was an understanding that came only through a practice in stillness and inner transformation. Madhur, an IT professional from Bangalore decides to serve in her own way to bring this in her life. She decided to skip the next 20 meals and offer the money saved to Raghu’s Tyaag Nu Tiffin. To conserve resources – she’s decided to bathe with cold water for the next 6 months! What’s the impact of all this? No one would be able to tell, but the three days left us all with a faith in the powerful ripples of the ‘inner work’. After all, she decided to take up these practices after listening to Nimo and Meghna share their own practices over the last 3 years. One the flight back home, Madhur keeps going, and starts a ‘Chain of Gratitude’ by leaving behind Gratitude Cards for people to write what they’re grateful for.
At the end of the gathering, through tears and silence, most people share how these were ‘The best three days of their lives’, while Jitu reflected on how he felt a connectedness with humanity. On how he’s decided to see the divinity in every human and object around him. Perhaps, best summarised by Gopal Dada’s song on the closing day. The 87 year old servant to humanity leaves most of us in awe through his rendition of – ‘Har Desh Mein Tu, Har Vesh Mein Tu; Tere Naam Anek, Tu Ek hi Hai.’
‘We are in every land, and in all the forms; We may have different names, But we all are One.’ It feels like we might already begun to trust in this truth :)
To see more photos from the gathering click here and read more about such retreats click here.