Beauty in Monotony — Teach for India Retreat
Teach for India teachers were recently in ESI Sughad campus for a 2-day service retreat. Whether it was sitting in silence, picking rags, serving food, prayer rounds or interactions with local heroes and children; every activity led to exploring, reinforcing and even challenging their values and beliefs. Lovingly served by volunteers and staff at ESI, these gardeners (as teachers truly are!) left with a renewed sense of purpose, commitment and inspiration. Below are some pictures and a bouquet of reflections shared by many participants.
You often hear that poetry comes out of inspiration and love but it was the first time that I have felt so inspired, moved and loved that silence was the only way to express that feeling. I just hope what my words did not say, was conveyed somehow to all my colleagues sitting there who I know have my back at all times, to Jayesh bhai whose every word and action is like Gita personified, to Kishan, Krishna, Nimo, Madhu, the staff of Madhav Sadhna, Seva Cafe and all others who selflessly served me and allowed me to experience the love they had to share and to Ankana who truly made it all possible. This was undoubtedly the best retreat that I have been to in my many years at TFI and nothing short of a life changing experience. — Dimple
Finding novelty and beauty in monotony - Venil
I'm thinking about the power of loving what you do, finding joy everyday in everything, making the time to be. Be with myself and be with those I love - Romana
The thought that really resonated with me was the role of stamina in defining our success and why it is more critical than just talent. It made me reflect on how important it is for each of us to simply keep moving every day and keep doing all the small things consistently and excellently. The other thing which stood out to me was Jayesh bhai's love — for everything and everyone! — Dipti
Those two days were such an overwhelming reminder of the immense power embedded in gratitude, joy, love, and simplicity. I'm returning not only feeling refueled, but also more aligned with my larger perspective on purpose. - Sandeep
Thank you Ankana and the entire Manav Sadhna team for a rejuvenating couple of days focused on cleansing my lenses towards being more rooted in purpose and simplicity. Of the various things I watched, listened to, touched and experienced, the analogy of a seed (of course, thanks to Nimo's Planting Seeds as well!) is most striking: The importance of being in touch with our dual responsibility as the seed and the gardener. To operate with stamina and continuous learning in a way that helps me be the best gardener self everyday, knowing that each seed will turn out differently in the end while also making choices that express gratitude towards roots and ecosystem that helped the seed in me grow. A critical component of this learning is all the people who facilitated the learning journey so openly and so passionately, a big Thank you to all! - Archana
These two days have allowed me to connect with myself and pushed me to think about the relationships I have cultivated and value, so much today. I was deeply inspired by the relationships I saw play out at ESI and I am thinking a lot about what it means to fully give, without any expectation of receiving. Most of all, I was reminded that you cannot expect results to drive relationships but honest relationships will always yield results. — Tanya
To call an experience life changing takes a lot of thinking and I have been doing precisely that since I left Ahmedabad. There were so many moments in my time at Ahmedabad where my deep beliefs and values were both reinforced and challenged. Be it serving dinner at Seva Cafe or picking rags with Chandrika and Lalita didi, or taking a walk with Lilapur village kids, I experienced a strange yet liberating stillness. And finally, the highest point came for me in the evening prayer walk on our last day. As I was walking and bowing, I had Romana walking in front of me with her hands raised in prayer, I knew she was performing namaaz. I, a Hindu, was performing a zen ritual, followed by a catholic (Arhan) doing the same thing. And all of us, praying with Gurbaani playing in the background. Never in my life I'd seen such beautiful confluence of different religions. I know I walked out of ESI campus a changed person but this is just the beginning of a long journey. I can only feel a deep sense of gratitude for Ankana, the entire Manav Sadhna Team, the TFI family and everyone who made those 2 days a truly life changing experience for me - Anand
Where do I begin for the kind of experiences that ESI/Manav Sadhana team and Ankana have provided for all of us mid-last week? The space, the people and the culture, everything was so peaceful and full of love that it was a great retreat overall! Whether it was distilled wisdom from Jayesh bhai or just a silent walk around ESI campus or the sumptuous food at the canteen or the soulful conversations with Madhu bhai or the hospitality and generosity of the students at Riverside School/Kiran Sethi or the lives of many servant leaders (including many volunteers at Seva Cafe or people like Chandrika didi from rag picking experience) across the community...each of them resonate a commitment to continuously practice service and perfect their game towards excellence.
Huge gratitude to Ankana for painstakingly putting together a memorable, inspiring and a timely retreat for many of us. - Karthik
For Ankana - Thank you for taking care of so many little things that are not seen but make such a big difference. so proud of you for pushing yourself out of the comfort zone. For Manav Sadhna - Thank you for making me experience the true meaning of selfless seva and reminding me of my value system. - Anuja
“There is beauty in monotony. We need urgency in depth, not breadth. You need stamina for evolution, not completion.” – Kiran Sethi. Senge called it ‘personal mastery’. Kiran called it ‘beauty in monotony’. She spoke about how talent or great ideas are over-rated. Unless you have the will and the stamina to act, your talent or ideas are worthless. Doing the same thing, day after day, but a little better every day is what leads to mastery. Most people in today’s world don’t persist long enough to make a lasting impact on the world. Similarly, sitting on accolades gives you a sense of accomplishment, but never a sense of fulfilment. You end up becoming complacent to your own detriment. Excellence is a response to calling, not a deadline, goal, project or competition. You can’t be excellent if you can’t tell yourself “I learnt something new about my work today than I knew yesterday”— Kapil
A heart-felt thank you — for so many years of inspiration, for so much that you make me believe and feel, for opening your heart to Akanksha and then Teach For India - and in doing so, for shaping us irrevocably. We could not have had a better way to explore our core values of reflection, integrity, sense of possibility, excellence — and love.
And for you, Ankana, thank you for believing in these days, for demonstrating every one of our values in the organizing of them, for pushing yourself to be and do and organize all at the same time. We would not have had these countless incredible moments without you. With my love, — Shaheen