When Being The Change, Changes The Being

Posted by Swara Pandya on Nov 28, 2013

It all started with a circle of sharing at Vandanadidi’s home. Afterwards, a couple women were inspired to deepen in service and generosity in a one-day retreat.
As these things go, if the intention is genuine, the rest will follow.
This past Wednesday, about 20 women and a few Moved By Love volunteers came together for the day-long retreat. It was a diverse group of women— from writers, entrepreneurs, businesswomen, many who double as mothers and grandmothers. We held the intention of exploring how “Being the Change, Changes the Being,” and divided the day into the “Head, Hands, and Heart”.
Vandanadidi commented that although we don’t know what will happen or where we are going, we hold good intentions and trust that something will emerge from the space.

The day began with breakfast and a silent walk around the ESI campus. At 10 am we all gathered for a circle of sharing around the question, “How have you experienced generosity in a moment of conflict? How has receiving generosity been a key learning for you?”
Beautiful stories emerged in the circle.

One woman shared how seed of generosity planted in culture has tremendous ripples. When her son was young a schoolmate became paralyzed and all his classmates shaved their heads in solidarity and raised money to support the costs for his care. Later on, as an adult, when a colleague got diagnosed with cancer, her son asked for her blessing in donating his entire bank account to support his colleague. She wholeheartedly agreed.
Another woman shared how in the midst of a full schedule, she felt stressed and considered skipping the retreat, but then felt grateful for her husband’s support. “Just go,” he told her. She also was touched by his kindness in making breakfast and even taking the extra thought to sprinkle less pepper on her side of the omelet. It’s the little things.
After the circle, we were smiling ear to ear upon watching Nimo and Sachi’s infectious “Being Kind” music video. From there, we explored the meaning of inner transformation and shifting our view of service from charity-like transactions to transformation-driven generosity. After a few powerful stories from Nipun, Meghna shared powerful stories of her personal practice of hosting Awakin Wednesdays and Nimo shared his experience of taking vows to question his habits. After visiting a blind school, he spent a day blindfolded to grow in empathy with the blind. He also spent three months not looking at a mirror, gave up sweets for a year, and stopped driving and taking rickshaws to push the bounds of his comfort zones.
Reflections and ripples flowed into conversations at lunch.
In the afternoon, after watching 22 Acts of Kindness, we transitioned into the “Hands” part of our day with four groups:
Soil to Soul – Gardening on the ESI campus
Sanitation: A Way of Life
Cut with Compassion – Hand-washing, nail-cutting, and connecting with children at a nearby village
Food + Love = Prasad – Cooking a snack for the 35 anganwadi (preschool) currently training on the campus.

In the cooking group, one woman, who incidentally heads a large restaurant chain, spontaneously suggested that the group cook the food in the spirit of lungar (an offering in gurdwaras). In that spirit, the cooked two dishes—a savory oopma and sweet halva—as an offering for the anganwadi teachers.
Regrouping together after the "Hands" activity, we moved to the last part of the day, where we invited our hearts to open up as we bowed down silently through the campus.

The day finished with a circle of gratitude, surprise premier of Grateful: A Love Song to the World, a group hug, and many smiles.

More photos from the day can be viewed below:

Posted by Swara Pandya on Nov 28, 2013 | permalink

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  • Ashima wrote ...

    wonderful! And totally blown by the gratitude video :)
    lots of smiles and hugs!