Aligning with Nature - MBL Laddership Circle
Posted by Trupti Pandya on Oct 13, 2017
There is no better teacher than Nature.
We just wrapped up our second round of Mbl Laddership circle where 13 of us came together for creating a space of deep inquiry, holding space for each other and aligning ourselves to Emergence without any preconceived idea or achievement in mind. The space of deep inquiry is the space of not knowing, which is a space of creativity and innovations. The process was many-to-many learning, and people did connect deeply to support each other in visible and invisible ways. Cumulatively we were holding a lot of questions and exploring them with all the edges and nuances. What does it mean to lead with Inner Transformation? How can I lead with love in my work and my life? What are the design principles and structures for my labor of love projects? How many to many learning manifests?
What are our learnings and insights? It seems to me that we have ended up creating a field, which can hold paradoxes, is open to nuances, amalgamating edges and is a breeding ground for insights. We ended up sharing a deep resonance to values of Inner Transformation and collective conviction in Compassionate design-building on gift ecology. A very resilient field of such kindred souls ended up serving each others’ journeys in unseen ways, and everyone felt profoundly grateful to visible and invisible forces behind this circle.
It 's hard, to sum up, everything that transpired in last six weeks but I would like to pen down how the spirit of this circles manifested in different ways.
1) How did many to many learning manifested in the circle?
Circle by its very structure is very resilient as everyone connects to everyone else and it creates a very deeply connected web of relationships. Everyone brings wisdom to the circle, which is a breeding ground for collective intelligence.
In a field where there is no hierarchy, and everyone ends up holding space for each other, many to many learning manifests in subtle but yet in profound ways. The moment we start assuming value in each and everyone we tune into the wisdom of everyone, and without much effort, we let seeds of truth planted within us in invisible ways.
Deven from Auroville started calling his mother every day after Anjali shared that one her daily practices were to call her grandma and just listen to her without offering any solution or advice which she usually ended up doing in the past. Poulami was so inspired by Rupali’s art circles with the cancer patients that at the end of 6 weeks she started conducting similar circles which were her dream project since 2014. Vidhi who felt heard and was held by her fellows started doing the same with strangers while traveling in the local trains where she would unconditionally just listen to a fellow passenger’s story and ease their anger with a gentle smile or a simple hug.
Rahul shared that for the longest time, he nursed a desire to offer a lift to people when he was driving back from work to home, but he never did that regularly as he realized that there was some hesitation. Nudged by the 'Hands' assignment, he hesitantly stopped at a traffic signal and rolled his window to offer a lift. As he made small conversation with them, he realized that the hesitation was just in his mind. It seemed so routine for them to have accepted his gift of a lift. He shared, “I hope that this experience helps me in opening up to acts without thinking too much about how others would receive it.”
Preeti shared a very insightful story of Amelia, a young intern from the US who landed in my Mumbai office, bewildered and wide-eyed by the traffic, population and pace of the city. As her first day drew to a close, On reaching the taxi stand she found auto-rickshaws and decided to sit in only to be told it was a sharing auto to the station. On reaching the station, a continuing to be bewildered Amelia asked for the ticket counter, tried to make sense of her departing platform and destination - does the train from East Andheri head to Mahalaxmi? One of her co-travelers came to her aid - bought her ticket, walked her to the platform, boarded the train with her, dropped her to the hotel and as he bid her goodbye - she thanked him for the help and presuming that he lived around the area, asked where he lived. He informed Amelia that his home was right next to the station and he had decided to help because he sensed her discomfort. The next thing she knew - he was gone - possibly back to the station to board the train back home! As we all slipped into the sweetness of this story, the power of the human connects, empathy and our ability to give. We all learned to see the goodness that surrounds us as we go along our everyday lives!
2) The spirit of laddership is manifested in Nudges and holding space for all in an inclusive way. What does it mean to hold space with authenticity? What is the process of Emergence? How did it manifest in the circle?
What does it means to hold space? Is it a passive response to a situation? We all realized that the space from which we are motivated to act or to not act decides the depth of holding space and the laddership calls were an experiential learning on holding space. The process makes us vulnerable at the same time opens up enough to plant the seeds of truth within us, and every time we all felt that how fast 90 minutes fly and we all ended up with lot more questions than answers after the call.
Atul shared an incredible experience from his school where a group of Teach for India volunteers passionately took up a cleanliness drive which wasn't part of their training or curriculum which turned out to be an example of how 1+1>2. Atul silently laddered the whole process to make this process a sustainable one while going deeper into finding the cause and resolving it at the same time.
Lavanya shared about her experience of holding space for a very agitated participant who kept judging her, but she kept her intention of "may the highest good emerge" intact and gave her full presence. Soon the wall melted, and there was a beautiful shift that she witnessed. She was trying to hold space in the midst of chaos by not fighting with the situation, but by silently observing what was emerging and in that process she could identify with what it means to hold space and how valuable it is in all aspects of her life.
Vidhi ended up holding space for volunteers from another ecosystem who were not keen on holding a circle of reflection or customary silence when they all came together one of the Sundays for a Karma Meals event. They said that they couldn't sit in silence and this circles concept does not go with them and that they were just keen to cook food and share. It was challenging for her to communicate the spirit of the event but she ended up holding space for them and with simple nudges and leading with change, organically things fell in place and with a deep presence she was able to hold a circle and the reflection went well. The insight to the story was instead of binding others by her thought she brought her presence to all and embraced the emergence.
3) How small act of kindness creates its ripple?
The design principles of laddership are deeply rooted in small acts, and it did touch everyone in a very meaningful way. When a group of people comes together, and everyone contributes their gift in skillful ways, it creates its momentum and ripples out beyond imagination, and we all experienced that in a very nuanced way.
Ruchika volunteered for a milk project in her neighborhood. The milk is served to children every day whether she goes there or not, what was nourishing for her was to have sweet conversations with them and play. She was deeply touched by how the presence of the volunteers is as important to these children as the milk that is served. One nourishes the body other the heart. Her act of volunteering with her full presence brought a lot of smiles to children and to her.
Atul, a volunteer teacher for Teach for India, started Vipassana Anapana session for all kids in class V to VIII in a school, where he teaches. Around 300 students in these classes have started to go deep or at least close their eyes for 10 minutes during assembly and 10 minutes before the end of the school. He can see a different level of awareness within students and teacher community at large.
Anjali surprised us all as she shared her small acts of kindness, her friend's mother in Nashville who is slogging through a difficult round of chemotherapy got a copy of a book she's been longing to read; her aunt in Sydney who has been having a bad month at work got a bouquet to liven up her dreary day; her dear friend who just got fired in Washington got a big box of chocolate. The reaction did trickle in over directly or indirectly to her and brought a smile on her face but she did realize how this acts will ripple out in totality is beyond her imagination.
Poulomi listened to the story of young girl who was going through a rough patch and was suffering. She felt fortunate to listen to her life story and understand her. The whole act of listening without giving any advice relieved the stranger and with a small act of a giving heart pin to her brought smile and peace to the stranger.
Lavanya love for birds pushed her to find right seeds and a feeder at her home balcony but as it stands today the whole family enjoy the process of feeding and serving water to the birds, and her home is also a home for dozen parrots who are regular at her home.
Vidhi shared her experience of just offering her presence to patients at cancer homes without knowing how it’s going to help them but it ended up making her more compassionate and loving.
Children from a local school in Auroville wanted to sell something, and Deven shifted their conversation from selling to gifting and then hosted them at his home to bake cakes and then going to the street to gift it to strangers. The whole process created so many ripples in the local Auroville community.
Atul, just for a change thought of celebrating his daughter’s first birthday at the school where he works as teacher, out of love for his school children and it beautifully rippled out beyond his imagination with kids doing performance in class, decorating with ribbons and balloons writing handmade birthday wishes and other teachers arranged for cakes and gifts. The whole celebration ended up deeply connecting the school community at large.
4) Life demands and rewards us as we enlarge our perspective and worldview. Instead of accepting status quo or assuming we have all the answer the circle ended up holding very different and difficult questions. Following are few question we were left holding, and in some sense, the circle will continue to perpetuate in our real life, what question we ended up holding?
Vidhi explored the importance of listening and how it can be a transformative exercise for both the listener and the speaker. She held the question- Have we learned to be in the present moment?
Ruchika shared she wonders how true it is that the outer reflects the inner? Does her messy room imply that she has a messy mind? Parag continued the line of thought by asking what would happen if we’re with a group of meditators or a group of violent people?
Trupti shared few question she is holding on theme Stories-- What are the stories that connect us? What are the stories that we buy into that isolate us?
Atul shared the big question he was holding that is “How do I transform myself such that the project sustains itself even when I’m not around?”
Ruchika is left holding few question on different forms of wealth-- what is the opportunity to give in the present moment? It could be material or non-material wealth. What would money look like if I don't label it in good or bad? And the importance of receiving gifts!! Can I receive that joyfully?
Rahul questioned out loud whether he is choosing to put the blinkers of a story on, so he doesn’t have to see the whole picture? He opined that the choice of a story born out of our perception of reality is ultimately the product of our mind, and so in a way reinforces the ego while giving a focus for a little bit. It’s good to go by, for one story is enough to last a lifetime. But if we get too involved with a story born out of the mind, is it the right choice to make in comparison to living life by whatever unfolds moment by moment, which is closer to reality?
Preeti is holding a pertinent question on life and death wondering how content she would be if death came calling? Her insight into Inner transformation was that most of the triggers in her transformational journey had been brought by episodes of hurt and pain. She questioned whether crisis could lead to transformation?
Deven is holding questions on Inner transformation — Am I really on a journey of inner transformation or is it just an illusion? How are the outer and inner connected? How are they affecting each other?
Anjali, being the only person in her corporate friend circle to have taken up service as a full-time occupation, questions about the story of success that has been taught to us since childhood; the formula that everyone follows in their path. She is left holding the question, What is a successful life?
With such rich insights we all parted our ways after the seventh circle on service, and though we all felt that the circle has ended in some sense with the quality of the connection, we felt we have just connected to a much deeper and richer dialogue in life going forward.
The seven-week circle left a very pertinent question for all of us, what do I have to become to create such community in my local ecosystem?
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