Moved By Love Retreat - December 2014
" After 3 steps and a bow, we invited everyone to write a word on a moved by love tree drawing. A word or a value /practice which would remind them of their own divinity. As each one of them would write it, as a group we sent maitri to him/her and said the following prayer - "Dear (name)...May you be an instrument of love peace and oneness. May Peace prevail on earth." We all deeply felt the group synergy as everyone prayed for everyone."
And like all previous retreats, this too was held and co-created with deep love and maitri, with only one intention, may all beings be happy, kind and one. Several moments of transformation filled our hearts and it all summed up when one of the participant shared in the end- "Before coming here I couldn't hug anyone but now I cannot live without hugging everyone." This retreat was fruit of all the retreats we have all done before and it is a seed of something very beautiful to come. Below are few learnings and insights from the volunteers :
We were holding the question of what these “retreats” are to us. The answer came from magical moments we had and from all participants who showed us that retreat is a space where Maitri, bhakti and love comes alive in everyone. To sum up how everyone felt I would love to share a few reflections that came from the group.
Ishwar- I cannot live without hugs anymore and I have decided to see Good and God in everyone rather than focusing on negative
Diken- I was not filling buckets of water for the kids at the Ashram but I was getting connected with myself and my childhood and felt as if I got healed in the process
Ambarish-Initially I had no idea what to do with a bunch of kids at the Anganwadi school but in no time we gelled with them and as we danced I became comfortable thinking there’s no judgment here and that all of us are the same.
Natalie-Sings a peace prayer in Hebrew and teaches all of us too.
Adela-Shares that she’s a practicing psychologist and has done many sessions with her patients for building love and trust and here she felt she was at the receiving end.
For me from each one’s sharing came out a lesson of oneness and understanding noble friendship in a deeper way. Gratitude for Madhu who held the space at all times with awareness and understanding whenever I would become unmindful. Listening and being with this amazing group made me realize we are just humble instruments who hold the space for emergence to unfold. There’s no single take away of what we co-create…there cannot be. Being present and offering to be in the flow of holding the space is what enriches our journeys and strengthens our practices individually and collectively.
I always think, what does it take to build a connection between two hearts? And our retreats always come with the answers of love, compassion and the noble friendship, surrendering yourself for the service of other.
How wonderful it is to see a "Family" getting emerged in just three days, where sometimes we take ages to build a pure relationship between two hearts. I guess, the small acts like hugging or a smile or singing and dancing or playing the dholak was enough for me to build that relationship of noble friendship. What I rediscovered during this retreat is my gifts of singing and the connections with music and the laughter, which I almost like abandoned it while working for the serious job of "changing the world." what I learnt is, if I be serious, things around me be serious and dead. And If I am laughing and singing and dancing, the entire atmosphere joins in and be the part of the celebration. So now its the matter of choice. Serious dead conversations being operated from the fear or celebrations with the songs and laughter emerging from joy. And I choose to be with celebration by being the song or the laughter to bring the joy. By being the celebration that I wish to see in the world over the misery of the dead world. May we all be the instruments of happiness and celebration. May peace with tears of joy prevail on earth.
After so long time I have this kind of awesome weekend and I am really grateful to all of people who organize retreat like this in such wonderful place like ESI , with pure vibrations and beautiful infrastructure. One question made me hazy before was 'why do I volunteer ? and at the same time I got my answer from my own question, why not..? It was such a wonderful experience to spend some time with other volunteers and participants , one thing personally I observed that the people who are doing volunteer work are really happy with their self and life, and thats why they are able to serve others. I am really grateful for all volunteers and participants who gave me this opportunity to serve with them and also thankful to the people who did volunteering in past retreats. The smallest things helped me to break my fears and help me to get out from my comfort zone. Through the game of secret angel I could understand values of smallest gift, a simple note or a hug which made my day bright. It is always difficult to change everything but I can always change myself and I am grateful for what I have in my life. After attending a retreat now I have a different perspective in life. Before I didn't like the beggars on the streets or outside a temple but now when I look at them I realize they are the only people who have more faith in humanity than in god. I became a good listener, before I listened to give answers but now I am listening to understand. The group spirit what I felt was amazing. In just 72 hours we got deeply connected and became one family. I am really greatful for the moments I shared, the friends I made, the gifts I received, the love I got and the wonderful people I met. In deep gratitude for all the visible and invisible hands.
What a wonderful world! Where on the first day when people come they're strangers and by the third day they call themselves a family.. Such is the power of love. A love that emerges from this beautiful space created by 30 souls who have no expectations from each other. They're Just here surrendering themselves to whatever comes, and where there is surrender- MAGIC happens! These three days were full of magic. On the first day people are just getting to know each other and by the end of the second day people were playing secret angels with showers of letters, songs, flowers, hugs, and gifts.This magical space gives 180 degree shift in our perception to love, friendship and service and after Jayesh bhai's sharing even towards human waste. Here one experiences a sahaj connection of oneself with the surroundings. Every single element around inspires us to be a better person, to care, to love. On the day of hand our group visited Rudra community. On our way we visited a sister's place. She lived with her husband and 3 kids in a tiny little house but their hearts were large and she invited us in with welcoming arms. It made me wonder that if I were in the middle of cooking and had to reach my work place on time and I find surprise guests at my doorstep, how would I have reacted? At Rudra we had a powerful prayer session and some Q&A's with the Rudra sisters. Later we divided ourselves further into 3 groups of ones and twos and each group was escorted by a sister to her place for lunch. What amazes me is that the bhaav of Atithi Devo Bhava is really etched into our sanskaras and for me that food becomes more than just a prasad. For me it feels like i'm consuming Madhav himself. Sheetalben asked a thought provoking question the other day. What brings me here? why do I volunteer at the retreats? I feel this is more like a cleansing process. Everything that happens here creates a deep impact in ones heart and mind really loses its strength to play up. May we all be instrument of Love, Peace and Oneness. May peace prevail on Earth
It has taken me a week to write a blurb, and its been really hard to put into words feelings that I hadn't felt in a while. The captain of this Ship of Feelings was PEACE. And since feelings and dreams are your own perception of the reality, I have been attempting to rationalize what the LEFT BRAINERS call an irrational thing like feelings. How do you put feelings into words? They can be so many things. So many colors. And each color has many different variations. So I will start with a word: smiles. One of my students' mothers told her that "Its not just being the best, its about doing what your heart feels because you have to live your life for yourself." And I think the core chunk of us needed to be reminded. And to simply "hold space," as Brother Madhu calls it. And we did.
We cried from happiness. In a giggly flipflop wearing dance we stomped trash that had been cleaned off the streets of Ahmedabad on the heads of 30,000 women from the hours of 2.a.m. to 9 a.m to the tune of 1.7 million pounds. We climbed trees like monkeys. We colored our strengths while figuring out how to give our gift to the world. We remembered to smile. And breath. And surrender to forgiveness. For ourselves and for others. A few of us realize that we may have met some new soulmates for life in a brief few days. And the closest definition of the idea of "soulmates" I can find makes even more sense now. SOULMATES aren't necessarily people that are meant to be in your life 24/7, forever. BOY SCOUTS taught me that the fire that burns the brightest will eventually blow itself out. And seconds with these people feel like hours. Sure time is relative, but much like love, SOULMATES find you when you least expect it for even the duration of a blink of an eye while leaving a handprint on your heart that lasts into your next lifetime. They help launch you into the next phase of your life by reminding you where the door is to your heart and the 9 year old that never was allowed to laugh. And, they remind us that we aren't alone. We never are. I am full of thanktitude, if that is a word. And, I am full of smiles. We all are.
What a warm and beautiful welcome to home . As we entered home we were so blessed we found ourselves in a circle with jayesh bhai where he shared for 2 hours and then we did three step and a bow with an other group. What a beautiful way to start with volunteering. If i am grateful for so many things in my life then what do I expect more ? I was so much overflowing with gratitude and that allowed me to give in my full love in these three days. Thanks to Madhu bhai and Sheetal ba for co-creating with us . I think it really helped me to feel free to fill in wherever I can. This gathering was again a totally different one. I did so many times for the first time. Along with volunteering for the first time for a retreat , I have enjoyed so much in my life for the first time. Talked so much for the first time . Sang my favorite song , danced and talked on a stage for first time. And I feel so grateful to all the volunteers for supporting me and telling me dude you can do this and if not now then when? This time for the first time I have allowed myself to be and do whatever I felt like , without any second thought of what people will think or asking questions like can I do this . I have always heard and read this that giving is hidden receiving . But for the first time I could feel that. I gave nothing but only three days and I received so so much. I remember at night of bonfire Madhu bhai asked how often should we do these gatherings? And I spontaneously said everyday. I always thought why does this not happen everyday. And the realization that I came up with was this can happen everyday, if I spent my days with bhav of maitri, Bhakti, love and surrender to each and very moment. And so I would love to practice being a Sanghmitra . I know its easy to say but the feeling for that right now is very high .
On the hands day when we reached early to Safai Vidyalay we were thinking how should we greet everyone . And the best answer was by Gopal Dada's song Har Desh Me Tu. And as we gradually started singing it for all groups one by one we started feeling presence of Gopal Dada. As in we were telling this to gopal dada har desh me tu har vesh me tu tere naam aneka tu ek he hai. This really allowed me to engage in hands activity with ragpickers in Paryavaran Mitra very well. And when we went to gandhi ashram that day in silence I didn't felt like breaking silence forever. I was not able to speak a single word. And I felt so much connected to this place and myself for the first time. I had been to gandhi ashram before but I never felt so much peace within. When we were in Seva Cafe I saw one person sitting with his eyes closed and praying for all of us. This was the most touching moment for me. And those circle of sharings which went on even after the retreat made me feel more connected to everyone.
This is what mukesh bhai shared in heart circle. What does Maitri really means to him - Heart to heart connection, No attachment, Total freedom, Total giving and not receiving, Total openness