| Change Yourself, Change the World ServiceSpace is a global platform for generosity-driven projects. We leverage technology to inspire and empower peole to do small acts of service. By honoring both internal change and external impact, we aim to support a shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, isolation and community, and scarcity to abundance. generosity, gift economy, volunteer, nonprofit, inspiration, good news, service eng (Service Space) Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:30:30 -0800 Tagore, a young man and a schoolgirl Aban shares ... Yesterday I gave myself a treat. I had not been in a bus for a long time so I decided to take the 37 Bus to Nehru Centre where I thought a lecture on <a href="">Tagore</a> was to be held. I left early and hopped onto a relatively empty bus. It was fun to be with people in an airy vehicle, instead of a stuffy taxi, even if air-conditioned.&nbsp; I soaked in all the sights and sounds around me. I waved to the Haji Ali Dargah shimmering in the afternoon sunlight. The sea was calm and the waves hardly crumpled the surface of the water.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I got off at the Lotus bus stop facing the gardens and lawns of the Centre. The traffic was heavy and no car had the courtesy to slow down at the zebra crossing. I joined an impatient group of pedestrians waiting to cross the road. A ten year old schoolgirl in her olive green uniform, her hair plaited and looped, stood anxiously with us; nervously staring at the cars whizzing past. A young man in a green shirt noticed her plight and asked her if she wanted his help in crossing the road. The child nodded solemnly. He gently took her by the hand and when the traffic thinned he walked her to the other side, saw her onto the pavement and then crossed back to the bus stop I had<br /> alighted at.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<img alt="" src="" style="height:295px; margin:10px; width:448px" /><br /> It was all done so unobtrusively, in a silent, matter of fact manner; no desire to be thanked or recognised for his good deed. Perhaps, no one but me had noticed his actions. But it made my day. A quiet happiness spread through my being. A little girl and a young man had briefly met on life&rsquo;s path, held hands, crossed in safety and then let go of their fleeting encounter, perhaps never to meet again in this lifetime.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> I cheerfully entered the cool gardens flanked by tall trees shading the emerald-green lawns. It was as if the hustle and bustle of the crowded city had vanished. I was in another world, though only for a minute.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> At Nehru Centre I was met with blank stares. There was no programme on Tagore that day. I had made a mistake. It was to take place on Friday.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> A little disappointed I began to walk back to Haji Ali. A cool breeze mitigated the heat of the afternoon sun. Birds floated lazily in the sky. Fishing boats bobbed up and down in the dark waters and the palm trees waved their friendly fronds at me. I sat at the Haji Ali bus stop soaking in the scene. Turning towards the invisible presence beside me I wondered what song would emanate from his lips, what short story would be penned by his hand from this momentary encounter: when a school girl&rsquo;s frightened gaze was met by a young man&rsquo;s reassuring look?... Aban Mukherji Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Surrendering to Grace: A Pilgrim's Journey Anonymous shares ... On 7th November, 14 yatris (pilgrims) started on a sacred pilgrimage, walking the same path that Gandhi ji and many Satyagrahis had walked from Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal town of Dandi during Dandi Yatra in 1930.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:488px; margin:10px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> The pilgrimage started with many of us coming together in the prayer space at Gandhi Ashram, walled on 4 sides and open to the sky. While not everyone was walking, everyone felt deeply connected with the journey that was about to start.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:488px; margin:10px; width:650px" />&nbsp;<br /> Pratyush, one of the 14 yatris, very beautifully expressed this feeling: <blockquote>&ldquo;it&#39;s not just the pilgrim who walks, it&#39;s the whole lineage and community that walks together.&rdquo;</blockquote> <br /> As the pilgrims walk on the pilgrimage, the journey continues with us too in subtle ways.&nbsp;Ever since the pilgrimage started, Kavita Aunty, Pratyush&rsquo;s mother and a mother to many of us, has been cooking and feeding 14 known and unknown brothers and sister, every day. Everyday as she cooks and serves the food, she has experienced beautiful moments of grace and serendipity.<br /> <br /> Here are just two of those many encounters:<br /> <br /> <b><em>What you are seeking, is seeking you</em></b><br /> <br /> &ldquo;Since this morning, I am witnessing God&#39;s special mercy on me. There have many practical problems in the preparation of food &mdash; especially the early cleaning of the kitchen as bulk cooking takes time; winter setting in; late sunrise, and etc. The lunch has to be ready by 12 to be carried down within the best time to serve on the road.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> YET with God&#39;s grace someone or the other steps in when I really need help.<br /> <br /> Just today, a lady cook in the campus who used to chop vegetables at our place many years ago, walked in as I was packing food to carry downstairs. One of the family she cooks for is away and she wants to serve with me . She wants to make chapatis everyday till the family returns. &nbsp;&zwj;&zwj;&zwj;<br /> She insists that she will not take any money for this.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> This was her way of being part of the pilgrimage and serve.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:488px; margin:10px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> <b><em>A Simple man with a vision</em></b><br /> <br /> &ldquo;Surendra, the gardener (40years old) ,who came to lunch today was a bright student as a youngster in a village, with big dreams. His family wasn&rsquo;t rich, but they had enough.<br /> He got married while he was still studying. His mother had an accident and her foot was crushed. They had to sell their buffalo and many other things for her treatment.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> After some time he decided to come to city, alone,&nbsp;to find work as a labourer and enrolled his wife for private B.A. in the village. He says this was the only way to fulfil some of his dreams and have a better future. He loved reading and borrowed books from the houses he worked for. Books on different topics that would increase his knowledge. After a couple of years when things were better at home, he too enrolled for private graduation.<br /> <br /> His wife completed her B.Ed. and started teaching in the village school earning above 20K per month. His mother gradually regained the use of her foot and helped around the house. Father took care of the two buffaloes, milk and other things in the village.<br /> <br /> His elder son aspired to be an engineer and went to Kota to prepare for entrance exams. But after hearing of the frequent student suicides in the city, he brought him back after a few months (not caring for the fee he had already paid).<br /> <br /> Now, the bright, industrious boy is doing B.Sc at a college in Kanpur and also preparing for UPSC exam scheduled after 2years.<br /> <br /> During his work, Surendra came in contact with many good hearted educated families and imbibed a lot because of his keen mind and insistent questioning. He may not have degrees but is well read. Today while talking of adolescent age, he gave me the practical gist of adolescent psychology.<br /> <br /> He is forever trying to find ways to do things in a better way.<br /> Two take aways in his words----<br /> 1. I could have found a clerical job in an office after graduating but then I would not have constant guides around me. My job as a private gardener to good families gave a good peep in how to bring up children + investment guidance<br /> &nbsp;2. Since I was not always with my 2 boys as they were growing up, I made it a point to supply good books to them. I read them before sending and then we would discuss them and life lessons over the phone &mdash; public booths at first and when the technology came, cell phones. He refers to the extra expense as investment to his children&rsquo;s future.<br /> <br /> He is a family man and gives full credit to his parents, wife and the happy relationship they all have.&quot;<br /> <br /> As the pilgrims on the Dandi Yatra continue walking on their path, Kavita aunty, knowingly and unknowingly, embarks on a journey with each of the 14 beautiful souls she touches with her compassion.&nbsp;And inspires us to keep walking this path of serving and forever surrendering to grace.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Bowing down to all the fellow pilgrims.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:400px; width:300px" /><br /> &nbsp;... Anonymous Fri, 24 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 The Warmth of Coming Together - HHH Nov'17 Vidhi shares ... <blockquote>&ldquo;A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. I enjoy it when the world smiles, the more smiles there are, the warmer I am.&rdquo;</blockquote> <br /> <img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\DSC_7405.JPG" src="" style="border:none; height:416px; margin:10px; transform:rotate(0rad); width:624px" /><br /> As 25 of us gathered together on a pleasant Friday morning around the Peace Pole at ESI, we felt held by the beautiful vibes of peace and love that enveloped all of us. After sharing a collective and individual intention for world peace, we walked towards the welcoming Maitri Space to be warmly greeted with a tika and hand-made name tags.<br /> <br /> Once we settled down inside, Sheetal opened the circle by sharing about the essence of Ishwar dada&rsquo;s work on external and internal sanitation that was at the foundation of ESI. Bhumika then introduced <em>Hunfh</em> (Warmth, in Gujarati) as the theme of the retreat and invited everyone to share a story about when they had experienced warmth by being held, loved and cared for. She started off by sharing her own story about Elsa, her friend&rsquo;s dog, who expressed so much love and care in its own special way after inadvertently hurting Bhumika, and how that experience really moved her. We were all fascinated with how beautifully Elsa could express her regret and care towards Bhumika without any language, and how offering a sense of warmth is something anyone can do.<br /> <br /> And then one by one, everyone shared their own heartwarming story about <em>Hunfh</em>, and we could feel the magic unfolding. We started off as a diverse group of college students, professionals, business persons, teachers, home makers, travelers and even a feisty 75 year old grandmother, Taru ben. We could relate to each and every story, and it brought back more memories of moments filled with warmth and love. We listened to stories of kindness from strangers and friends, and even babies and realized how the smallest of actions done with genuine intent can offer so much warmth to another. And with every new story, we could feel the walls of separation melting away, as we realized how each of us yearns for the same things &ndash; acknowledgement, warmth and care. Jayeshbhai summed up the collective feeling with a beautiful observation &ndash; <em>Parinaam ki apeksha ho, toh parivaar nahi hota hai.</em> He shared that we can easily resolve the tug between the mind and the heart by emptying our minds and opening our hearts. Because there can be no selfishness when you listen to your heart. Indeed. :)<br /> <br /> The first day, the Head day, followed with an <a href="">inspiring</a> presentation by Meghna and Vidhi on what Moved By Love is about, inspiring a shift from transaction to trust, from consumption to contribution and from scarcity to abundance. We got to learn of<a href=""> many</a> experiments in <a href="">generosity</a>, how they were taking root from <a href="">each other</a>, and inspiring many <a href="">offshoots</a>, just like how a banyan tree<a href=""> spreads</a> its roots all around.<br /> <br /> After this we all moved to <a href="">Safai Vidyalaya</a>, where we were welcomed by soulful bhajans and tika by the Ashramshala girls. Diken shared about the history of Safai Vidyalaya and <a href="">Ishwarbhai Patel&rsquo;s</a> inspiring life work. We saw many different models of toilets, and were amazed at the thinking and research that must have gone into all of that.<br /> We also had a chance to visit <a href="">Gandhi Ashram</a> before heading to the much awaited evening at <a href="">Seva Caf&eacute;</a>.<br /> <br /> <img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\DSC_7427.JPG" src="" style="-webkit-transform:rotate(0.00rad); border:none; height:416px; transform:rotate(0.00rad); width:624px" /><br /> The evening saw us all experience the magic and warmth of Seva Caf&eacute;, a restaurant where the food was cooked and served by volunteers with a lot of love, making it as special as <em>prasad</em>. Another highlight of this restaurant is the fact that it has no prices on its menu, because how can you really put a value to the love that goes into preparing the food? And also, because your meal has already been paid for by someone who visited before you, and you can choose to keep the chain of generosity going, by paying it forward for someone else. Our time at Seva Caf&eacute; was magical, as a few among us shared deeply intimate stories about our journey and learnings that everyone could relate to. We were strangers no more, as each person beautifully held space for another to share, and just be.<br /> <br /> Bhaskar introduced the rockstar <a href="">volunteer team</a> who served us with so much love and care to each one of us. Then we invited Sayani to share about her learnings through life and her sharing about the confusions and each moment being able to explore the world, totally moved everyone. Siddharth who has been a regular volunteer at Seva Caf&eacute; shared a heartfelt poem from his treasure chest of poetry. Everyone was totally moved by his love for seva. Dadi sang a bhajan and everyone joined in the humming, creating a peaceful environment. Arpit shared about how he and his wife Sakshi decided to quit their jobs and listen to their callings, which have moved them to Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, and engage with organic farming. And he felt immense courage to have been able to take this decision. Emma shared her very moving journey with how her mother brought up her brother and herself. She went on to share about her mother&rsquo;s last days, and how they all felt so bounded and connected. She beautifully shared about her most important learnings that we are the strongest if we believe in ourselves. Everyone responded with a deep prayer and silence for Emma&rsquo;s mother. We ended the circle with some beautiful bhajans and chants that we collectively felt moved to sing together. After this we returned back to ESI, hearts filled with gratitude and joy.<br /> <br /> Day 2, or the Hands day, started off with Meghna &nbsp;introducing &nbsp;Devendra bhai and his immense love for sanitation. She shared stories about how he would go to literally every village and clean every toilet himself and enlighten everyone around with his labor of love. In this happy session, Devendra bhai shared about his experiences working with Ishwarbhai, peppered with funny anecdotes and moving moments, along with his rich experiences of hand building toilets around villages nearby and how he would receive abundant love from local people.<br /> <br /> Moving ahead we all left for Kabir Ashram where we divided ourselves into three groups &ndash; to cook, clean, and decorate the space for all. It was a beautiful experience to have so many hands, and hearts, come together with a common intention &ndash; to serve through action.<br /> <img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\DSC_7537.JPG" src="" style="border:none; height:416px; margin:10px; transform:rotate(0rad); width:624px" /><br /> After we got back to ESI, every participant was invited to offer their <em>Hunfh</em> (Warmth) to their fellow participants by writing an anonymous note and leaving it in an envelope for another person. This was an experiment that we felt moved to try, and it was really heartwarming to see all envelopes filled with notes and messages of love, appreciation and warmth, and more importantly, brimming over with smiles and friendships to last a life time. :)<br /> <br /> We also got a chance to listen to Anar didi, as she shared about her journey and challenges of coming to peace with the person she was, and how she was inspired to find out her own ways to express and offer from her Heart, while accepting the Head space that came naturally to her. Her authenticity and candor made us feel an instant connect with her, as we looked deeper within to accept ourselves as we were.<br /> <br /> The evening ended with a soulful shared <a href="">Awakin meditation</a>, followed by the silent dinner. The silent dinner, which was held in an open space lit up only with candles, saw our plates, and our hearts brimming over with gratitude and love. To experience the warmth and love that went into the whole experience, from the preparation of the meal to the beautifully done up space, to the warmth of volunteers serving the food was an experience that moved everyone present, to share the same.<br /> <img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\DSC_7590.JPG" src="" style="border:none; height:291px; margin:10px; transform:rotate(0rad); width:437px" /><br /> <b>Day 3 was the Heart Day, where Jayesh bhai</b> shared about his journey and what moved him to start doing the work he did, despite some initial feelings of resistance. He lovingly shared that Bhav (Intention) is very important when we do anything, and the rest is always taken care of. He mentioned how he has witnessed that we all learn from each other, and the thread of kindness, compassion and love can bind us all together in a joyful flock. All of us gathered were moved with his insights and profound perspectives on life and serving.<br /> <img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\DSC_7655.JPG" src="" style="border:none; height:416px; margin:10px; transform:rotate(0rad); width:624px" /><br /> <br /> Sheetal and Bhumika then introduced <a href="">Three Steps and a Bow</a> - a pilgrimage of more than 800 miles, that Rev Heng Sure and Rev Heng Ch&rsquo;au undertook for 2 years and 9 months, with an intention for world peace, and complete trust and faith about being taken care of. We all started on our own journeys of three steps and a bow, led by Vidhi with the intention of connecting with the peace within, and peace without.<br /> <b><img alt="D:\DO NOT DELETE\USER VD\Desktop\f r.JPG" src="" style="border:none; height:291px; margin:10px; transform:rotate(0rad); width:437px" /></b><br /> After two and a half days, we were no more strangers, but a close knit family bonded by warmth and love. We realized what it really means to be humane and how it often takes the smallest act of kindness and consideration to share our love with the world around. <blockquote><em>&ldquo;If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.&rdquo; &ndash; Lucy Larcom</em><br /> <br /> Jai Jagat!</blockquote> You can view more pictures from the retreat <a href="">here</a>.... Vidhi Desai and Ruchi Parikh Mon, 20 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Aligning with Nature - MBL Laddership Circle Trupti shares ... <blockquote> <p>There is no better teacher than Nature.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <br /> We just wrapped up our second round of <a href="">Mbl Laddership circle</a> where 13 of us came together for creating a space of deep inquiry, <a href="">holding space</a> for each other and aligning ourselves to <a href=";id=14446">Emergence</a> 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. <em>What does it mean to lead with <a href="">Inner Transformation</a>? 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?&nbsp;</em><br /> <br /> What are our learnings and <a href="">insights</a>? It seems to me that we have ended up creating a field, which can hold <a href="">paradoxes</a>, is open to nuances, amalgamating <a href="">edges</a> and is a&nbsp;breeding ground for insights. We ended up sharing a deep resonance to values of Inner Transformation and collective conviction in Compassionate design-building on <a href="">gift ecology</a>. A very resilient field of such kindred souls ended up <a href="">serving</a> each others&rsquo; journeys in unseen ways, and everyone felt profoundly grateful to visible and invisible forces behind this circle.<br /> <br /> It &#39;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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:330px; margin:10px 20px; width:434px" /><br /> <br /> <br /> <b>1) &nbsp;How did many to many learning manifested in the circle?</b><br /> <br /> 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 <a href="">wisdom</a> to the circle, which is a breeding ground for collective intelligence.&nbsp;<br /> 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 <a href="">assuming value</a> 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Deven</b> from <a href="">Auroville</a> started calling his mother every day after <b>Anjali</b> 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. <b>Poulami</b> was so inspired by <b>Rupali&rsquo;s</b> <a href="">art circles</a> with the cancer patients that at the end of 6 weeks she started conducting similar circles which were her dream project since 2014. <b>Vidhi</b> 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&rsquo;s story and ease their anger with a gentle smile or a simple hug.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> <b>Rahul</b> 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 &#39;Hands&#39; 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, &ldquo;I hope that this experience helps me in opening up to acts without thinking too much about how others would <a href="">receive</a> it.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Preeti</b> shared a very insightful story of Amelia, &nbsp;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, &nbsp;the power of the human connects, empathy and our ability to give. We all learned to see the <a href="">goodness</a> that surrounds us as we go along our everyday lives!<br /> <br /> <b>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?&nbsp;</b><br /> <br /> What does&nbsp;it means to hold space? Is it a passive response to a situation? We all realized that the space from which&nbsp;we are motivated to act or to not act decides the depth of holding space and the laddership&nbsp;calls were an experiential learning on&nbsp;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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Atul</b> shared an incredible <a href="">experience</a> from his school where a group of <a href="">Teach for India</a> volunteers passionately took up a cleanliness drive which wasn&#39;t part of their training or curriculum which turned out to be an example of how 1+1&gt;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.<br /> <br /> <b>Lavanya</b> shared about her experience of holding space for a very agitated participant who kept judging her, but she kept her intention of &quot;may the highest good emerge&quot; intact and gave her full <a href=";id=15525">presence</a>. 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.<br /> <br /> <b>Vidhi</b> 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 <a href="">Karma Meals</a> event. They said that they couldn&#39;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.<br /> <br /> <b>3) How small act of kindness creates its ripple?</b><br /> <br /> The design principles of laddership are deeply rooted in <a href="">small</a> 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Ruchika</b> 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 <a href=";id=18964">volunteering</a> with her full presence brought a lot of smiles to children and to her.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Atul</b>, 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Anjali</b> surprised us all as she shared her small acts of kindness, her friend&#39;s mother in Nashville who is slogging through a difficult round of chemotherapy got a copy of a book she&#39;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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Poulomi</b> 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Lavanya</b> 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Vidhi</b> shared her experience of just offering her presence to patients at cancer homes without knowing how it&rsquo;s going to help them but it ended up making her more compassionate and loving.<br /> <br /> Children from a local school in Auroville wanted to sell something, and <b>Deven</b> 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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>Atul</b>, just for a change thought of celebrating his daughter&rsquo;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.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <b>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?&nbsp;</b><br /> <br /> <b>Vidhi</b> explored the importance of listening and how it can be a transformative exercise for both the listener and the speaker. She held the question- <em>Have we learned to be in the present moment?</em><br /> <br /> <b>Ruchika</b> shared she wonders <em>how true it is that the&nbsp;outer reflects the inner? Does her messy room imply that she has a messy mind?</em> <b>Parag</b> continued the line of thought by asking <em>what would happen if we&rsquo;re with a group of meditators or a group of violent people?</em><br /> <br /> <b>Trupti</b> shared few question she is holding on theme Stories-- &nbsp;<em>What are the stories that connect us? What are the stories that we buy into that isolate us?&nbsp;</em><br /> <br /> <b>Atul</b> shared the big question he was holding that is <em>&ldquo;How do I transform myself such that the project sustains itself even when I&rsquo;m not around?&rdquo;</em><br /> <br /> <em>Ruchika</em> is left holding few question on different forms of wealth-- w<em>hat 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&#39;t label it in good or bad? And the importance of receiving gifts!! Can I receive that joyfully?</em><br /> <br /> <b>Rahul</b> questioned out loud whether he is choosing to put the blinkers of a story on, so he doesn&rsquo;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&rsquo;s good to go by, for one story is enough to last a lifetime. But <em>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?&nbsp;</em><br /> <br /> <b>Preeti</b> 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 <em>whether crisis could lead to transformation?</em><br /> <br /> <b>Deven</b> is holding questions on Inner transformation &mdash; <em>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?</em><br /> <br /> <b>Anjali</b>, being the only person in her corporate friend circle to have taken up service as a full-time occupation, <em>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?</em><br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> The seven-week circle left a very pertinent question for all of us, <em><b>what do I have to become to create such community in my local ecosystem?</b></em>... Trupti Pandya Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 When I met Radha didi Sunidhi shares ... I met Radha didi on one of my field visits. She must have been in her late sixties and she was very beautiful. She was in one of those brothels where you find young girls only and when we first entered that brothel we were not welcomed so I tried to initiate talks from my side but nothing was working, I tried all my conversational tricks but the didis were running away from us like we were the ones who would bring the wrath of God on them if they talked to us, but we did not go away, I held my bag close to my chest, folded my legs and sat there, observing them, trying to make eye contact with them and smiling whenever I was successful in doing so. After sitting for around fifteen to twenty minuets I decided to go in the other room of that brothel which was a little inside. So I gathered all my courage and went in, that&rsquo;s when I met Radha didi, a cheerful lady with an infectious smile. She scolded me, <em>&ldquo;why have you come?&rdquo;, &ldquo;we don&rsquo;t want to talk to you.&rdquo;, &ldquo;You NGO people cheat us.&rdquo; </em>But even in her scolding I did not feel any hatred so I went back and sat down again and after sometime she came to me with a bottle of cold water and offered me by saying <em>&ldquo;bahut daant dia na&rdquo; (I scolded you a lot)</em>. To which I said <em>&ldquo;apka daant bhi pyaar lagta hai&rdquo;</em>&nbsp;(your scolding feels like love)&nbsp;and you should have seen her laugh at that. I teased her further and when she understood that we won&rsquo;t go away that easily, she brought a chair and sat down with us saying <em>&ldquo;you can ask me anything but no personal questions, not even my name.&rdquo;</em> to which we agreed happily.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:375px; margin:10px 40px; width:500px" /><br /> <br /> My team mates asked if she has seen&nbsp;any change in the society&rsquo;s view towards G B Road, to which she said that nothing has changed, people did not accept them then and people don&rsquo;t accept them now. But when we said we are also from the same society and&nbsp;we want to know you better, be your friends; &nbsp;she replied, <em>&ldquo;when you come again, I&rsquo;ll make biryani for you and we&rsquo;ll sit and talk&rdquo;</em>. Our conversation went on and on after that, at times she would tease us and sometimes we would tease her. I just sat there and watched her smile, it was one of the most beautiful smile that I had seen. One thing led to another and at one point she asked me <em>&ldquo;will you get married?&rdquo;</em> To which I said <em>&ldquo;only if you find a suitable boy for me&rdquo;.&nbsp;</em>Se replied, <em>&ldquo;there is no need to get married, stay single, you&rsquo;ll be happier&rdquo;</em>. Then she asked one of the male member of my team if he had any girl friend? When he said no, she said <em>&ldquo;whenever you find that girl, just love her with all your heart&rdquo;</em> and her eyes got wet.&nbsp;&nbsp;When one of my team member tried to make her smile by saying <em>&ldquo;kya didi! abi toh humare kehle kudne ke din hai&rdquo;(What didi! we are too young right now)</em> she smiled at her and said <em>&ldquo;Mai bhi tumhari jesi thi&rdquo;(I was just like you)</em>&nbsp;and started crying. I could feel her pain even without knowing the reason behind it. She said that women on G B Road need love more than any one and in that moment I wanted to hug her and tell her that &quot;didi, I know people have hurt you, took advantage and been ruthless with you and I want to share your pain and give you all the love that&rsquo;s in my capacity.&quot;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:375px; margin:10px 40px; width:500px" /><br /> <br /> Then one of the didis came from inside and asked us to leave the brothel and scolded Radha didi for entertaining us for so long. When we stood up to leave, Radha didi folded her hand in apology for the other didi&rsquo;s behaviour. I held her hand and hugged hand and she hugged me back with the same love and slowly whispered her name to us <blockquote>&ldquo;Radha&rdquo;</blockquote> <img alt="" src="" style="height:375px; margin:10px 40px; width:500px" /><br /> <br /> (All images lovingly captured by Magical Lens)... Sunidhi Tue, 10 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Connected Deeply - within & without Trupti shares ... On a misty Friday morning, when the Sun was playing hide and seek, 43 of us came together for a three-day Head, Hand and Heart retreat at &nbsp;Sughad.&nbsp;<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:314px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> Both the participants and volunteers came from all corners of India and abroad. Amongst the participants were Anganwadi teachers from rural Gujarat, organic farmers from Saurashtra, a CEO of a prestigious football club, an educator from London, founders of a yoga studio in Ahmedabad and an NGO working towards women empowerment.<br /> <br /> The amazing volunteers who came to serve at the retreat lead lives deeply rooted in the service of society &mdash; entrepreneurs, film makers and change makers, psychologists, founders and community servers from all over the country. Each volunteer at the retreat had an incredible story behind them.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> When such a group comes together to hold difficult and different questions of life, what unfolds is highly unpredictable. With this humility towards the unknown, Sheetal and Jignasha welcomed all of us with an open heart by expressing their gratitude for each one&rsquo;s presence. Each one mattered because each one was unique in their own ways which made the circle so invaluable and rich. They also brought in the presence of everyone&rsquo;s lineage and elements which were serving all of us in a very subtle way. The floor was opened with a seed question of sharing one moment of deep joy (aanand) that one has experienced.<br /> <br /> As we had a big group of teachers with us they shared how the unconditional love they receive from children overflows their cup of joy each day. Stephane shared a very touching moment that she had experienced few years back &mdash; a father of a 7-year-old constantly complained about his daughter who did not write despite going to the school. Suddenly this father called up one day and asked, &ldquo;What did you do to my daughter, she has suddenly started writing and that too in her vacation time!.&rdquo; She reflected on how we can only provide a conducive environment for the children to grow, rest we just have to trust.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Renuka shared that joy is not in knowing that the child has learned all that is written in the textbook, the real joy is to see when the child reflects the values in his daily life. Sachi shared how she feels immense joy to see people who are bringing change by being the change themselves. She shared about her experience of the scabies drive that was undertaken by the children with whom she has been working for the last five years along with few other volunteers and how just to see everyone joining hands for the noble cause brought so much joy to her that she still cherishes. Aditya also shared how his work with children and different forms of art brings so much joy to him each day. Kishan who is a teacher at ashram- shala shared how when you do anything from the space of your heart, it brings joy. While resonating with Kishan, Saraswati, Mina and Prahalad also shared how observing children play, a warm hug from them, a simple Namaste or just a simple gesture of concern that the children show towards them makes their day.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> We were blessed to have many mothers with us who shared their experiences of deep joy while experiencing motherhood. Vidhya shared her moment which was 22 years ago when her newborn daughter was put in her arms and when both of them looked into each other&#39;s eyes for the first time. Rucha also shared of how she feels immense joy to see that spark of trust for herself &nbsp;in her child&rsquo;s eyes along with observing nature bloom. Sanju, a mother of two beautiful children shared how she feels immense satisfaction when she is able to fulfil the needs of her children while being the only provider in her family. Manisha while remembering her mother shared how she misses her physical form but is able to connect to her essence in various other forms. &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Neil shared how he and his whole family managed to dance to the fullest in utter chaos when his brother was getting married few years ago and even today when he remembers that day he can feel his cells dancing. Madhavi who is a speech therapist shared her moment of deep connection at soul level with each of us while standing near the peace pole. Praveen who is working at grass root level in environment conservation shared how regenerating greenery, connecting with the farmer&rsquo;s community and sustaining nature brings joy to him. &nbsp;Rajesh&rsquo;s sharing of finding joy in cleaning toilets made all us think of so many stories of Ishwar dada.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Krutika beautifully shared how when she is able to decode the games that her mind plays, brings joy and peace to her. Pooja who is a yoga teacher finds joy in the process of giving to others. Her intention is to walk from Swaarth to Ni-swaarth in all aspects of her life in the process of giving. &nbsp;Sunita very briefly but very deeply shared that being present to life brings joy to her whereas Manisha finds joy instantly as she connects with others. Bhumi felt the journey of self-exploration and knowing self is bringing joy to her while Supriya feels accepting life as it is and choosing happiness in every situation brings her lot of joy. At the end Pranit shared how he could connect to each one&#39;s authentic self while listening to pearls of wisdom and deep connection with self, nature and others. &nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Post lunch we had masti time with Trupti and Gitanjali who connected all of us with the child within with few energizers. Followed by a presentation which Jayesh bhai lovingly says Love-station by Khusmita and Meghna shared about the mother ship- <a href="">Service space</a>, &nbsp;<a href="">MBL projects</a>, online spaces such as <a href="">Laddership circles</a>, Awakin dialogues and few offline spaces such as <a href="">Karma kitchen</a>, <a href="">HeART circles</a>, <a href="">Karma Meals</a>, <a href="">Awakin circles</a> across cities where the intention is to lead with Inner transformation.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Post-tea break we headed for an outdoor trip to <a href="">Safai Vidyalaya</a> where Sanchi and few children from Ashram-shala welcomed us with few prayers and briefly introduced us to the institution and the legacy of <a href="">Ishwarbhai Patel</a>. We all had a glimpse of the life of Ishwar dada and his dedication towards inside-out sanitation. We also had a chance to see <a href="">Sabarmati Ashram</a>, before heading to the much awaited evening at &nbsp;Seva Cafe, a restaurant that defies normal economics.&nbsp;<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> The evening was weaved in with prayers and spirited talks. Ashish shared his journey from a successful investment banker to now his exploration as an <a href="">inner-net</a> banker. Gitanjali shared her work with the didi&rsquo;s and children at Delhi, sharing stories of kindness, authenticity, love and compassion in the dark and dense alleys of<a href=""> G.B road </a>. Umang a teacher from Asharam-shala shared how she had to imbibe practices herself while teaching tribal children right from taking bath, to combing hair, brushing teeth to seeding values through daily practices such as praying, greeting other with respect, sharing and caring for others and how.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Our day ended with our hearts full of gratitude for the Seva Cafe team for hosting us so warmly and for serving us <a href="">Love + Food= Prasad</a>.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The second day morning started with frisbee, yoga, meditation and chopping veggies in the kitchen followed by conversations with Devendra bhai who shared his journey of internal cleansing via outer sanitation. He shared few personal stories with Ishwar Kaka who always focused on amplifying and appreciating the good. He never preached or advised but just did the work because it was the right work. Devendra Bhai urged us to shed all our doubts on self and the universe and just take the first step towards the right work. <a href="">Arun dada</a> shared his experience of his journey to <a href=";fid=22624">Cyprus</a> and beautifully ended the circle with a <a href="">bhajan</a> which filled every one&rsquo;s heart with love.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The second day typically signifies hands activities and how outward act of service can transform our inner being. The group was divided into various activities where everyone wholeheartedly cleaned toilets, made Jhadus (brooms) for the first time, washed floors and cooked food for the entire team. &nbsp;Vivek very candidly shared, as part of the kitchen team at Kabir ashram he enjoyed serving everyone. &ldquo;In giving, I receive&rdquo;, he reflected. Kiran ji remarked likes attracts likes and act of service create soul affinities. The action-packed day ignited his understanding about service. Avdesh found joy in making brooms and realised that the lessons of life are in doing such simple acts. He was deeply inspired by the life of Arun dada, and whenever he thinks of him, it brings a smile on his face. Varsha, who choose to clean toilet while doing 28 acts of kindness on campus, felt little unusual in the beginning, and she shared, &quot;as resistance to the work collapsed the job became effortless,&quot; which brought a lot of smiles to everyone sitting in the circle. Priyam, observed while doing the cleaning work everyone was working in harmony and they all brought their resourcefulness without anybody telling them what or how to do it.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:393px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> At the end when we came together in a reflection circle, in silence we all felt how service created deep <a href="">affinities</a> with people we hardly knew before 24 hours.:)<br /> <br /> After a small break, we hosted an <a href="">Awakin circle</a> and Parag explain the spirit of the circle and how it is rooted in <a href="">giving</a>. Devesh lead all of us for dinner where silence and prayers merged into a pious evening filling each one&#39;s plate with deep sense of gratitude. &nbsp;<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> The day of the heart opened with Jayesh Bhai speaking about his own journey with sanitation, service, and love. His deep learnings from his father who even in his last breath thought of others and constantly served thousands of beings throughout his lifetime.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> Three steps and a bow, a pilgrimage that Rev. Heng Sure and Rev Heng Chow did for 2 years and 9 months with the faith and a wish for world peace by cultivating peace within was led by Trupti with the intention:&nbsp; <blockquote>&ldquo;Forget the harvest,<br /> As much as you seek,<br /> thats how much you will be obstructed.<br /> Don&#39;t seek enlightenment,<br /> just Bow.&rdquo;</blockquote> <br /> The three days of retreat left everyone with this question, what do I have to become to create this eco-system of joy, love and interconnectedness inside-out ?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; margin:5px 10px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> <br /> Jai Jagat!<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> &nbsp;... Trupti Pandya & Parag Shah Wed, 27 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Small acts with great love Pranita shares ... <br /> <em>Atul currently works in a school, as part of Teach For India and has been sharing some amazing school stories during our Laddership Circle. While we pondered upon how the collective can be greater than the sum of its parts, while holding space, we had a chance to hear this amazing and heart-warming story by him.</em><br /> <br /> It was an everyday affair that the housekeeping staff of the school complained to Atul saying- <em>&ldquo;Bhaiyya, see what your kids are doing in the toilets!&rdquo;</em> Atul was aware of these state of affairs where all the 6-7 toilets of the school were always dirty and smelly. He started pondering upon what could be done in this situation, such that there is a sustainable solution to this problem.<br /> <br /> While at it, Atul was joined by a group of volunteers from Chennai TFI Team, who were just out of their colleges and universities, eager to serve! The first thing Atul heard from them after they settled down was the same complaint that the housekeepers had shared earlier. Taking this opportunity to use the collective power, Atul asked out loud whether there was something they could do to solve this problem!<br /> The volunteers took up the problem statement very seriously and were back to him with an idea.<br /> Volunteers &ndash; We have an idea. How about all of us clean the bathrooms ourselves?<br /> Atul &ndash; That&rsquo;s a great offering. But what after you clean it, how can the cleanliness be maintained? Who will continue cleaning it?<br /> <br /> The volunteers went back to brainstorm further and came over the next day with a new idea.<br /> Volunteers &ndash; How about involving other stakeholders here, like the parents and kids?<br /> Atul &ndash; Getting kids onboard at this point might not work, but we can definitely involve parents. But how can we convince them to take part in this toilet cleaning venture?<br /> <br /> The volunteers continued racking their brains for more ideas and were back again the next day.<br /> Volunteers &ndash; We could do a street-play in the communities, spread awareness about the situation among the parents, and encourage them to join hands.<br /> &nbsp;Atul &ndash; That&rsquo;s an awesome idea. Let&rsquo;s do this!<br /> <br /> The volunteers prepared an informational and educational street-play around toilet hygiene and cleanliness. After Atul acquired the required permission from the village authorities, the volunteers went around three communities while beating drums on the road and asking people to come outside and watch. Lots of people gathered and listened to them very attentively!<br /> <br /> The volunteers also figured that though there were taps in these toilets, there were no mugs or buckets that the kids could use. The next day, the volunteers contributed and collected enough funds to buy the necessary equipment to clean the toilets. <b>They also started cleaning the washrooms themselves, and were soon joined by many parents.</b> Watching all this changed the perspective and behavior of students towards the toilets drastically. Further, a large scale community change was also witnessed in this regard, which went on to show how <b>small acts done with great intentions can go such a long way</b>!<br /> <br /> Right from the seed to the blossom of this event, nothing was planned or pre-meditated. All it took was the presence of highly motivated and passionate individuals getting together as a group to solve a problem. None of this was a part of their curriculum or training. What Atul bore witness to was a beautiful example of the wonders that simply holding space for each other can do. The sacred space created by Atul and the young fellows became fertile ground for valuable emergence. Their collective efforts portrayed beautifully that <b>1+1 &gt; 2</b>.<br /> <br /> After this incident, the housekeeping staff has never come back with the complaint &ndash; <em>&ldquo;Bhaiyya, see what the kids are doing in the toilet!&rdquo; ;)</em>... Pranita Wed, 23 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Art and its infinite possibilities Vidhi shares ... Every moment is a possibility from the tangent of life, and each moment turns up like a dew drop to the present situation. Yet another evening at <a href="">heArt circle</a> helps me bring back my areas of possibilities through my life&rsquo;s jigsaw puzzle.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:466px; margin:4px 30px; width:589px" /><br /> The inter-tangle pieces of mind land up in confusions and I can feel resonated as every time I come across a situation and its momentary joy. The colors help me portray the significance and connected-ness as life predicts different shades in so many ways which just flows and carries the journey with the soul.<br /> <br /> I have been contemplating on the thought of what is art? And does it refer to just a piece which is drawn with perfect lines and shapes. And spaces like heArt Circle gives me a possibility of hope that Art can be anything that pleases my own eyes. It can be spontaneous flow of ideas and creativity of any individual. I can resonate to this -&ldquo; I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart. &ldquo;<br /> <br /> I feel it takes acceptance &nbsp;to let go off the hurdles created by our very own being, and feel free not just in actions but also allowing one self to explore the possibilities in each segment.<br /> <br /> When I put my thoughts across I resonate that for every possibility there is some source I can feel the connect with, which stays underlined for me - as where do we see the better side of life. And shades when put to colors bring the tiniest of my insights to paper, canvas and I define them as &quot;ART&quot;.<br /> <br /> At times&nbsp; due to some thoughts which stand as hindrance in day to day to life- Possibilities help to earn a bonus point on the canvas and flows along with happiness to push yourself hard to be okay with whatever is just happening.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> heArt circles are a blessing..!!<br /> &nbsp;... Vidhi Desai Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Surrendering to the emergence Neerad shares ... This weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Shri. Babulal Gandhi, a living legend. Babulalji, now 90 years old ,has had the good fortune to be a part of the <a href="">Bhoodan movement </a>and walk with Vinoba throughout the journey. Babulal ji was sitting at the gate waiting for us when we walked into his beautiful lush green organic 100 acre farm that he has developed over the last 50 years in a small town and rain shadow region called Phaltan, in the interiors of Maharashtra.<br /> <br /> The conversation we had with him has left a deep impact on me. Because here is someone like me who strives to explore his so called &lsquo;Individuality&rsquo;,&nbsp;sitting opposite a man who has lived his life for the society. Once Vinoba ji and others were in a camp where people were coming to join the Bhoodan movement. One of the senior members asked Babulal ji, do you think you can dedicate the rest of the life for the society? Without a second thought, he took out a piece of paper, wrote on it that he is surrendering for life and gave it to him. That&rsquo;s it. Since then he has never looked back; serving the society continuously ever since.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img alt="babulal Gandhi" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:2px; height:443px; margin:4px 50px; width:513px" /><br /> <br /> I asked him <em>&ldquo;Babulal ji, How can you surrender so effortlessly?&rdquo;</em> He replied saying, <em>&ldquo;where there is effort, there is resistance so it has to be spontaneous when your heart is ready.&rdquo;</em> I was immediately reminded of Sahajta that <a href="">Jaideep</a> brought out on the call. The question I am holding since then is, what are the foundational pillars of Sahajta? How do we cultivate this spontaneity with complete surrender to the emergence? What must be our heart quality and our connection for us to be able to make choices that we never regret?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As we were holding these questions and a few of us sharing our journeys, one of the youngest participants asked him, <em>&quot;Dada, if you were to do something for the society, where does it begin?&quot;&nbsp;</em><br /> Babulal ji, thinking very intently, took out his spectacles, wiped it and said gently;&nbsp; <blockquote>&ldquo;Keep the vision of the world and your feet firmly on the ground you are standing. All the decisions you take have to hold the quality of service to the people. So what are the steps:&nbsp;<br /> <b>Vichar parivartan</b> &nbsp;- Change in your thoughts, perspectives, etc&nbsp;<br /> <b>Aachar parivartan</b> &ndash; Change in your habits, actions, responses etc&nbsp;<br /> <b>Hriday Parivartan</b> &ndash; Significant change in the quality of your heart and&nbsp;<br /> <b>Samaj Parivartan</b> &ndash; Changes around you, society, world at large.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> So <b>every change begins with you</b>. Focus on the longest and widest vision with your feet firmly in tune with your reality.&rdquo;</blockquote> There was complete silence as he finished saying this. Everyone was literally in a state of a deeper inquiry, some teary eyed and some analytical folks still wondering, what just hit us.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Leading onto the inquiry, we asked him another question. &quot;<em>Dada, there are many times one has to make a decision with multiple choice points, how do you discern which action is the most appropriate?&quot;&nbsp;</em><br /> <br /> Dada, paused for a long time before he started. He said,&nbsp; <blockquote>&ldquo;I have never thought about myself alone. However, since you have posed the question there are 3 things that come to my mind now.<br /> First, <b><a href="">Anekantavad</a>,</b> the art of holding multiple perspectives. Just like the story of<a href=""> 7 blind men</a> describing their experience of touching an elephant. Each one is true in their perspective, however the sum total of all the experience is also true. So one has to take everyone&rsquo;s views into consideration and then take a decision.<br /> Second,<b> Jagruti </b>(Awareness) of the environment, world around you and the world inside you.<br /> Thirdly, <b>understanding from your own truth</b>, which is a culmination of all the experiences you&rsquo;ve had till date and surrendering to the emergence. Then whatever decision you take will always be appropriate.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s not so much about right or wrong but being true to the moment of choice.&rdquo;</blockquote> <br /> The impending question to me was, how much do we know about ourselves and be in tune with the emergence?&nbsp;<br /> Jai Jagat !!... Neerad Trivedi Mon, 07 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Life is indeed a song to sing… Rahul shares ... <em><img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:left; height:225px; width:300px" />[Rahul Hasija volunteered for the first time at a recent Moved By Love retreat and shares his heart-warming reflections and insights post three days of serving with love.]</em><br /> <br /> As little Reva would often say, &quot;I am half volunteer and I am half participant&quot; - I feel volunteering indeed got me more participating than I was when I actually attended the retreat as a participant. All the days of retreat and preparation taught me many beautiful insights that I feel were my takeaways for my life as well as for my work and living space at Swaraj University.<br /> <br /> The acknowledgement from Moved by Love hosting team in one of the first interactions of volunteer briefing that &#39;this coming together is not meant to answer something or some issue or it is not an act of saving the world&#39; was beautifully put across as it lay the foundation of creating the humble space for gratitude, love and compassion to grow and blossom. In today&#39;s world, where all efforts are pushed towards &#39;changing the world&#39;, this acknowledgement was a gentle yet powerful reminder to look within, pause and accept ourselves and the world as it is.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:533px; width:400px" /><br /> <br /> One of the biggest gifts I&#39;m taking back from the retreat is the sense of being alive to life and to the small acts of love. I am deeply moved by the power of small acts of love that I was witness to at the retreat. &quot;She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment, and to call each thing by its right name. By its right name&quot; This line from one of my inspiring movies &#39;Into The wild&#39; sums up this experience for me. Having names for brooms, tables, chairs, rooms, and every possible element around made me feel that I&#39;m around my relatives, whom I can relate to, love and nurture and get nurtured by.<br /> <br /> I cherish and am deeply in love with how some stories were flipped, that subtly nudged the status quo, coming from the heart rather than from just the head. By inviting the Heart into all the processes - Presentation to Prem-station, Disability to Dil-ability, TEd to SpiriTed, Newton&#39;s reverse apple story - I felt it created a much richer ground for our participation and co-creation. The three companions of Vinobha - Jhadu (Hands), Musical instrument (Heart), Book (Head) - were a good reminder of bringing together these elements of life in any act we get into.<br /> <br /> I am also taking back lots of energy and love to hold the space and team at Swaraj, a space that already is inviting and caring, yet has scope for beauty, care and spaciousness to emerge. &#39;Labour of Love&#39; is something that resonates deeply and would love to go deeper into what it means and see how it manifests.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:525px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Today morning when I was actually planting seeds in my garden, I remembered the planting seeds song and the amazing musical night we had at Seva Cafe and I fondly remembered my time at one of our heart circles, sitting in one the small meditation huts, listening to the sharing of participants and listening to the beautiful wind chimes slowly whispering into my ears saying &quot;Life is indeed a song to sing, hum and cherish.&quot;emembered my time at one of our heart circles, sitting in one the small meditation huts, listening to the sharing of participants and listening to the beautiful wind chimes slowly whispering into my ears saying &quot;Life is indeed a song to sing, hum and cherish.&quot;... Rahul Hasija Sun, 23 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Here Comes the Rain: Two Laddership Circles! Meghna, shares ... <em>&quot;Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better&quot;</em> - Albert Einstein<br /> <br /> There is no better teacher than nature. When we align ourselves with its myriad ways, we witness the silent offerings of abundance, patience, surrender and harmony it brings with itself. As we entered the month of June, the whole of India welcomed its first rainfall. With a cooler beginning, a fresh dose of inspiration from the rains and after an incredible<a href=""> pilot</a> circle, we are back with a stronger commitment and a deeper engagement for a second round of the <a href="">MBL Laddership Circle</a> this July.<br /> <br /> Over the last few years, many such <a href="">Laddership Circles</a> have explored various themes, stories and edges around inner transformation, that have held a lot of value for changemakers and community organizers. It is very humbling to witness the overwhelming interest and collective pull to <a href="">engage</a> in this nuanced way. Inspired by the volume of applicants, we decided to host 2 concurrent circles (instead of just 1), for a total crew of 16 fellows, alongside 9 anchors and few more invisible advisors who helped shape the curriculum &amp; continue to provide oversight.<br /> <br /> Here&#39;s more on the inspired posse that will be diving deep into <a href="">gift-ecology</a> ideals over the next six weeks -- and creating ripples (which are likely to be waves :)) of goodness into their local communities around the globe.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Saturday Circle:</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:225px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Vijayam Kartha:</b><br /> <a href="">Vijayam-</a><a href="">ji</a><b> </b>is the Vice Chairperson at <a href="">Kerala Public School Trust</a>, Jamshedpur and the Director at Kerala Samajam Hindi School. In a career spanning 30+ years in education and development, she has led the <a href="">transformation</a> and turnaround of multiple schools. Having played the role of a Librarian, Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Director of several schools, she has consistently been able to bring out the best in everyone (teachers, administration, students) involved in her institutions. She also has anchored several workshops and programs for schools, academicians, institutions, industry, and NGOs. Education is in her DNA, and She has dedicated her life to serving the Education fraternity in various capacities. She has won quite a few awards, and President of India has honored her with National <a href="">Award</a> for teachers in 2007.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" height:100px="" src="" style="float:left; height:100px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Abid Ali:</b><br /> From Hyderabad, Abid Ali, in spite of rising fast up the global IT ladder (or he might say because of it), has lived a parallel life: one in which he has been relentlessly questioning the nature and validity of an acquisition and consumption based life. Deeply moved by <a href="">J.Krishnamurti&#39;s</a> work, he with his brother and their families have been slowly but steadily building up the internal and external resources needed to shift to a more radical lifestyle. He is in the <a href="">process of creating</a> an agricultural community rooted in sustainable living in harmony with nature called - ANHAD, which means &#39;living without any boundaries&#39;. He volunteers for the local community project for sustainable living and also part of the team that hosts national and international <a href="">permaculture</a> conferences.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:151px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Yashodhara Robin:</b><br /> Yashodhara carries a big heart of service like an ocean. She has been hosting <a href="">dariya dil dukaan</a> at <a href="">her home</a> as well as other spaces. Dariya dil literally means big hearted which is exemplified through her labour of love projects be it <a href="">mystic</a> mandali where she invites musicians to her home for satsangs or supporting <a href="">transformative spaces</a>. Not only does she anchor many community projects, but also anchors herself in cultivating her inner stillness. She finds deep inspiration in <a href="">Meher Baba</a>.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:150px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Priyanka Agarwal:</b><br /> <a href="">Priyanka&rsquo;s zest</a> is contagious. A <a href=";fid=20572">question </a>she asked manifested into a 3-day <a href="">inclusion retreat</a>. While leading a team at IBM she wears many hats - recently she took up a modeling assignment - &lsquo;Face of IBM&rsquo;, incredible <a href="">cook</a>, motivational speaker, hobby dancer and an independent traveler. While facing a disability herself she helps break the myths about disability and gender. She has a heart of <a href="">service</a> and wants to be good at giving irrespective of her constraints. She teaches computer with a screen reader and life skills to few blind students.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:150px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Madhu Maddipatla</b>:<br /> Working in Banglore in the field of technology, and 16 years into the corporate world, she felt &quot;something is missing&quot; in her life. This lead her to the doors of service. She has a deep yearning for pushing the eject button to serve in the field of education. A good day to her is when she does something good for others. Gandhi and Vinoba are her heroes of life, she is an avid reader of <a href="">Krishnamurti</a>, uses all opportunity at work to serve, is a regular practitioner of vipassana and follows Buddhism from Japanese tradition called <a href="">Shinto</a>.<br /> <br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:150px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Priyanka Peeramsetty:</b><br /> &ldquo;I was sold at the word Laddership&rdquo; exclaims Priyanka as she finds a deep connect between her work at a startup called <a href="">&ldquo;L2O&rdquo; </a>and the opportunity to be a part of Laddership Circles. Building a tech platform to &lsquo;recognize&rsquo; people in a community and engaging with them without the barriers of their skill sets takes up most of her time at work. Her experience at the <a href="">Young India Fellowship</a>, left a deep impact within her that transpired her onward journey to create a multidisciplinary approach towards real time Business and Social problems. In the middle of her wedding preps, she looks forward to having Laddership circles as an anchor to ground her and keep her connected to her dreams while she embarks on her new journey!<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:150px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Salil Ganeriwal:</b><br /> His experience as a Yoga Teacher for many years and an <a href="">NVC facilitator</a> for the past few years has birthed the idea of <a href="">Inner Bell</a> an online offering of nurturing personal, interpersonal and spiritual development through Non-Violent Communications. As a Life Coach, he facilitates workshops and encourages to live an &ldquo;authentic life&rdquo; at the heart level. His heart doesn&rsquo;t flutter a second before he shares that all of this is offered as a Gift!! With many deep questions, conviction towards inner reflection and an authentic approach to life, he remains open to discover all that is to emerge in his Laddership journey.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:113px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Ritesh Gohil:</b><br /> Ritesh is a journalist with a leading newspaper in India. He is also a graphic designer, <a href="">out of the box</a> thinker and a natural volunteer. His childhood was a practical laboratory of living Gandhian values during his primary education in an Ashramshala. He likes to spend a lot of his time exploring rural villages of Gujarat and tries to understand the possibilities of individual and systemic shifts within those dynamics. An idea that he is holding is to bring forth the inclusion of <a href="">&lsquo;trusteeship&rsquo;</a> within mainstream media. Ritesh has always lived a very simple life. While in college he would ride 10 kms on his bicycle writing anonymous kind notes to all those who rode a bicycle. This and many such everyday little stories of kindness are woven into Ritesh&rsquo;s life.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>And our volunteers for the circle are:</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:179px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Jaideep Rao:</b><br /> He is a techie by education, based in Bangalore, India. In his initial days after Graduation, during the day he worked in software development and by nights, weekends, and all other hours he serves around the clock&mdash;orchestrating a volunteer-run <a href="">Saturday school</a> for underprivileged rural youth, developing an open-source values-based educational curriculum, amplifying <a href="">stories</a> of unknown change makers and supporting an annual inclusion <a href="">summit</a> for individuals with <a href="">disabilities</a>. Since last year or so he has given up his job and embraced service as the<a href=""> way of life </a>and living and provides great inspiration to his students by being the change.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:100px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Swara Pandya:</b><br /> Swara didi - as she is fondly called by a bunch of young service warriors within her community is an infinite source of inspiration wherever she goes. Her smiling spirit and a <a href="">heart</a> of service is endearing in all she does, whether it&rsquo;s <a href="">sharing presence</a> with a rural village woman&rsquo;s soft soul, or deepening engagements in the field of <a href="">education</a>, or visiting Gandhian elders and capturing their <a href="">stories</a> of <a href="">simplicity</a>, or even anchoring a <a href="">pay-it-forward</a> restaurant in her hometown of Baroda, India. Most recently, she <a href="">engaged</a> in a 6-week internship with 35 college students which became a huge catalyst in building a strong local volunteer community in Baroda.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:145px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Neerad Trivedi:</b><br /> A student of <a href="">life</a> and a soulful singer, he is deeply passionate in supporting the organic farming community and raising awareness for organic products in Gujarat. Having spent over 13 years managing teams of 200+ people in the corporate sector, he now fills his time with <a href="">experiments</a> that embody deep-rooted values, simplicity, and compassion. A volunteer with the <a href="">Moved By Love</a> ecosystem in India, he finds joy in <a href="">supporting</a> others&rsquo; journeys, doing <a href="">small acts</a>, and recently embarked on an <a href="">Organic Cycling Journey</a> to connect with and learn from organic <a href="">farmers</a> across Gujarat, India.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:152px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Meghna Banker:</b><br /> She is a dedicated servant &ldquo;ladder&rdquo; based at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India. A talented filmmaker, graphic designer, and artist, to many of us, she&rsquo;s perfected the art of invisible service&mdash;whether in supporting &ldquo;<a href="">heARTists in action</a>&rdquo; with <a href="">Wisdom Crafts</a>, hosting weekly <a href="">meditation gatherings</a> in her home (with some remarkable <a href="">stories</a>!), or as a down-to-earth mother, where she continually inspires with many <a href="">profound lessons</a> from her 6-year-old daughter<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Sunday Circle:</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:194px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Preeti D&rsquo;mello:</b><br /> She had a thriving career as an Executive &amp; Leadership<br /> Coach, <a href="">Developmental Speaker</a>, Integral Facilitator. But now has reached a stage of life where service and spirituality are non-negotiable. Turning the corner from business to service brings her to Laddership Circle. Looking to create a space for Business with service and conscious business approaches, she is in the process of initiating her next stage of work in Leadership for Social Impact and Personal Development for Peace and Productivity. Her idea is to create learning and developmental interventions that are one to one, one to many and eventually many to many.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:200px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Rahul Mehta:</b><br /> Rahul is an IIM Ahmedabad alumni and a resident of Mumbai. He works for 12 days a month and spends the rest of his time in serving the local community and the<a href=""> ancestral </a><a href="">old age home</a> which was started with an intention to serve the community. Rahul wears many hats, to name few, he is a devoted student of<a href=""> Vedanta</a>, a very passionate singer, an encyclopedia of Gujarati songs, a committed volunteer of MBL, loving father of 2 kids, Co-anchor of <a href="">Maitri tunes </a>and has a great sense of Spiritual humor. He has<a href=""> laddered</a> the local community in a<a href=""> very</a> invisible ways.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Ruchika Shukla:</b><br /> Inspired by her own family&rsquo;s commitment to serving the <a href="">Siddhayoga</a> Ashram for generations, she has been serving unconditionally for the past 4.5 years with her primary role in organizing events and workshops on the premises. When she attended an<a href=""> MBL retreat</a> two years ago, she was pleasantly surprised to find the deep resonance of values between the Ashram and the MBL spirit. She is close to her five-year mark dream and is now transitioning back into the world with more energy and a heart full of service to deepen the work she started in observance at the Ashram.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Vidhi Desai:</b><br /> Trained in Psychology, Vidhi works with specially-abled children. Her energy, smile, and <a href="">quiet acts</a> of love light up any place around her. She offers this energy as a <a href="">gift </a>through her voluntary projects. She anchors <a href="">Karma Meals</a> in Mumbai where volunteers come together to connect with friends on street in a meaningful way and share a meal. Recently co-anchored a one-day <a href="">retreat </a>that brought around 40 service-hearted friends in Mumbai. Every Tuesday you will find Vidhi spreading smiles at a <a href="">cancer institute </a>while spending time with terminally ill children. The commute each way takes couple autos and train change but the mundane doesn&#39;t deter her spirit.<br /> <br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Poulomi Pal:</b><br /> Her heart got momentum when she participated in a <a href="">Startup Service </a>Retreat in the winters of 2014. With an opportunity to witness the growth of a participant&#39;s value-based children&rsquo;s game called <a href="">&lsquo;Kinditude&rsquo;</a>, she knew instantly that children, games, and stories are her way to inner journey. Born in Assam, now in Kolkatta and an ardent Buddhism follower, she lives a very simple family life witnessing her parents and their relationship as a role model. Having worked with kids for over ten years, she knew that this was a <a href="">gift</a> she wanted to offer in the world. This birthed her own little dream called <a href="">Better Stories</a> - a portal for children and adults alike to share their Better Stories through the medium of art and games.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Anjali Alpappat:</b><br /> From Bangalore with an undergraduate degree in English literature and a master&rsquo;s degree in Journalism, she is a full-time volunteer to <a href="">Knowyourstars</a> and is living a life of service. She is head of content and is committed to making all content of Know Your Star website accessible for people on the disability spectrum. With deep humility she describes herself as total South Indian when she shares that her father is from Kerala; mother is from Andhra Pradesh, is brought up in Tamilnadu and lives in Karnataka. She attempts to nurture <a href="">deep connections</a> with everyone around her and create affinities to hold each other. She&rsquo;s an ardent feminist who believes in karma, equality, social activism, and a passionate supporter of gender equality &amp; responsible journalism.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Lavanya Singh:</b><br /> An ICFA Certified Transformational Coach she works with people towards their holistic development and well-being.<a href=""> She</a> has actively participated and supported projects that deal with the realization &amp; enhancement of human potential, leadership skills &amp; qualities, inner power, emotional intelligence, and communication. She has traveled widely across the globe and learnt a lot from different traditions and cultures. An avid Yoga and Pranayam practitioner, she believes that inner wisdom leads to outer abundance. She is exploring the wisdom of vulnerability in her profession and wants to explore from the heart of what it means to connect with that aspect of a community.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Atul Sahu:</b><br /> After being in the corporate world over a decade at a lucrative job in South-East Asia, Atul moved to India to teach at a government school in Pune through the <a href="">TFI fellowship</a>. Very passionate about teaching and inculcating values in children, parents, and community, he says one of the turning points in his class was when he did <a href="">21 days kindness challenge</a> with his grade 2 kids. His life of service is dedicated to bringing Education to the underprivileged communities. One of his long-term visions is to bring programs like TFI to 2-Tier cities and villages.<br /> <br /> <b>And our volunteers for the circle are;</b><br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Pranita Bhat:</b><br /> She is the CEO &ndash; Chief Everything Officer :) &ndash; of <a href="">KnowYourStar</a> and is based in Bangalore, India. After quitting her job at IBM she found a calling at <a href="">K</a><a href="">YS</a> which she started as a hobby weekend project with three friends in September 2012. In addition to ensuring the original inspirational content on almost daily basis, she anchors an educational outreach program called <a href="">Mentor India</a> with the help of volunteers, where spoken English classes using value based stories are taught in rural schools. She wants to make this world a better place and master the spirit of service, gratitude, and generosity. She also co-anchors <a href="">Volunesia</a> circles and is <a href="">flipping</a> the conventional paradigm of volunteering.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Deven Shah:</b><br /> After experiencing the corporate ladder and reaching it&rsquo;s peak, Deven went through a transformative<a href=""> stage</a> of his life where he quit his high-profile corporate job and embraced a life dedicated to service.<a href=""> He</a> is one of the volunteers in the MBL ecosystem, living a life dedicated to <a href="">service</a> and inner transformation. He is the visionary behind the StartUp Service <a href="">retreats</a> that encourages <a href="">entrepreneurs </a>to lead their social change work with love and inner transformation. A deep meditator and a passionate father, he resides in <a href="">Auroville</a> with his wife and daughter. Currently he is actively involved with <a href=""> Integral yoga</a> online course as full time volunteer.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:169px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Trupti Pandya:</b><br /> The youngest of the <a href="">Pandya sisters</a>, she is holding questions on Laddership and how its <a href="">self inquiry</a> process brought her to volunteer for this circle. At a very young age, she has had many soulful <a href="">experiences</a> of <a href=";fid=14749">volunteering</a> and has co-created a very vibrant local community of youngsters who are dedicated to service. She is working with a government home, which is composed of a diverse crowd, including <a href="">women</a> and children with various mental, physical and emotional issues. She is keen to cultivate <a href="">values</a> in the most vulnerable class of society in such homes.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:186px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Rupali Bhuva:</b><br /> A passionate mother of 2 teenagers; and an <a href="">Artist</a> by heart, she wears a loving smile all the time when you see her. She is a very popular drawing teacher as she engages with around 100 children on a day-to-day basis. Over the years her cups of gratitude overflowed which sparked a thought of integrating Art with spirituality. This birthed the idea of hosting <a href="">heARTCircle</a> on gift basis. A passionate learner, she enjoy&rsquo;s life through the lens of a beginner.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:154px; margin:0 8px 4px 0; width:150px" /><b>Parag Shah:</b><br /> He gets lit up by infusing the spirit of giftivism in all elements of his life-- whether in launching a <a href="">WisdomBook Store</a>, galvanizing his <a href="">IB school</a> to pilot <a href="">Karma Kitchen</a>, bringing a Gandhian <a href="">ethos</a> into his diamond business, and <a href="">holding space</a> that ignites powerful ripples in his community. He&#39;s also an avid reader <a href="">of Krishnamurti</a> and lives in Surat, India with his wife and sons.<br /> <br /> We are all looking forward to the emergence!... Meghna, Swara & Parag Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Feeling the Flow of Grace: One-day MBL Retreat in Mumbai Anonymous shares ... <em>I do not at all understand the mystery of grace &ndash; only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.<br /> &ndash; Anne Lamott</em><br /> <br /> All of us have felt the power of that mysterious &ldquo;invisible hand&rdquo; of grace in our lives, weaving together incidents and people in remarkably touching and inspiring ways. On a sunny Sunday in April in Bombay (30th), at the Narmada Niketan home for seniors in Belapur, forty people from all across the city felt connected through grace as they shared stories, opening space, Darpan noted, as family would (how could we not, with all of the thoughtful touches that the volunteers sprinkled in the air).There were many stories about families and yet, far more about the multiple ways in which we find family all around us through unexpected acts of kindness and memorable moments of connection.<br /> <br /> Those moments of connection and finding family began the day prior to the retreat. Many of us arrived at this lush, leafy residential home for senior citizens in Belapur the evening prior, to interact with the beautiful sapient observers of the world who welcomed us into their home - Narmada Niketan, which houses close to 180 silver-haired lovelies. Darpan, Vidhi and Vinit greeted all of us with warm hugs and bright smiles, whipped out organized charts that showed us our room assignments and let us know which dining room we would help decorate. Vidhi lovingly offered each of us a thoughtfully created map of the space to orient us (such thoughtful attention to detail; she handed over each map with so much bhav - by establishing eye contact, bowing slightly with her head and smiling). Mona aunty (Vidhi&rsquo;s mom) toted incredibly delicious theplas which she lovingly made at home for all of us to enjoy over tea (her fortunate and thankful roomies had the privilege of indulging in a delicious sneak snack preview). As we made our way to our rooms, we noticed the thoughtful green touches, broad benches and the mindful placement of beautiful heart thoughts all along the walls. Each quote was so inspiring and added to the serene energy of the space. Even the quotes were born out of an act of love and symbolized the theme of the retreat &ldquo;unexpected kindness and grace&quot;. It was as though the artist who presented the quotes released love into the universe, trusting it would find its space in the world.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:left; height:466px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Lifts were airy and capacious, designed to accommodate wheelchairs. As we entered our rooms (each one thoughtfully named after earth elements or states of being), we were delighted to find colourful bed sheets, customized bookmarks, a beautiful hand-written name tag and of course, chocolate awaiting us on each bed. The volunteers&rsquo; thoughtful touches made our experience special and we felt a sense of deep gratitude running through us. We made our way to Vishram Dham for tea, and there, near the temple, we found ourselves drawn to a melodious medley of voices. One of the women shared that she comes to spend time with the ladies there and they sing together in the evenings on the steps of the beautiful open temple. They asked us where we were from and after we exchanged notes, we delightfully cheered them on by clapping and thumping to the beat, smiles all around. After that, we stood in silence for Aarti and as the bell rang over and over again, it felt as though blessings were cascading upon all of us.<br /> <br /> Excited chatter filled the air as we headed toward our respective dining halls to prepare for the surprise candlelight dinner - it was decoration time! Armed with a big basket of flowers, tea lights and more, we headed to our respective dining halls. We placed tealights at the centre of each table and adorned them with flowers, a different flower rangoli design at each table. Buoyed by excitement and enthusiasm, we then put a few tea lights and flowers at the base of the pillars. As the residents entered the space, the glow of the candles and sweetness of the flowers awaited. We welcomed them with chants, teekas, flowers, hugs and smiles. Once they were seated, it was project heart-pin time. As we pinned hearts on their shirts and blouses, conversations, smiles, hugs and even music flowed.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:466px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> After dinner, we gathered in a circle outdoors, under the stars and the watchful eye of the moon as Sheetal invited us to share songs that captured the essence of who we were. A few of us broke into bhajans, Gujarati and Sufi - songs close to our hearts. All present connected deeply with the spirit of the songs and the intent with which they were sung. After Rahul sang a <a href="">Gujarati song</a>, he shared a very touching story about <a href="">Arun Dada</a> that ended with &ldquo;There&rsquo;s always room for ice cream&rdquo;. Suddenly, volunteers armed with boxes of Suchmuch Aam (Cream Bell) began distributing deliciousness, one bar at a time. What a memorable entry the ice cream made and what a &ldquo;cool&rdquo; surprise it was to bite down into what tasted like pure aam raas. Rahul &ndash; we are grateful for this find, and highly recommend that everyone reading this blog entry try it. Many who tasted this ice cream for the first time wondered where it had been all of their lives. The ripples of Suchmuch Aam also continued well after the retreat and everyone who tried it for the first time loved it. Sach-much &ndash; it was a blissful evening.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:466px; width:700px" /><br /> The next morning began bright and early with Khushmita&rsquo;s laughter yoga session. Khushi flows through and out of Khushmita so effortlessly and soon, all of us, including the thirty residents who joined us, were engulfed in waves of roaring laughter. We connected to our child-like states through smiles and laughter.<br /> After a delicious breakfast, we entered the serene retreat space, a hall, built just off the side of the mandir. Volunteers welcomed us warmly with smiles, hugs, heart pins, beautiful hand-written name badges with big smiley faces adorning them, and tilas after which we sat down. Each of us was given a beautiful diary covered in white with a bright red heart popping out. At the centre of the space, a beautiful rangoli heart flanked with the glow of tea lights and scent of beautiful flowers took our breath away. All of these thoughtful acts of the volunteers allowed love and grace to flow through each of us freely. Over story sharing, our connection deepened. <b>Vidhi</b> opened up about the special connection she shared with her brother who always encourages her. With his support, she gathered the courage to ask her family for permission to go on a solo trip abroad and then dove headlong (and heartlong) into that three month adventure, discovering her own voice in the process. <b>Vinit</b> shared about how the legacy of kindness and grace that flows through him and connects him to everyone has its roots in how hard his father worked to feed their family years earlier. <b>Shaila</b> aunty spoke about making friends our family and how heart energy binds us all together powerfully; once, she made sarsoon saag bhaji out of methi grown by children in a garden at Matunga. They remembered the love they tasted that day and thanked her for it profusely when they had an opportunity to meet her weeks later, adopting her as their mother through the language of love. <b>Geeta</b> aunty tearfully reflected about how the children she volunteered with (and other volunteers who went out of their way to help arrange for whatever she needed at the site) offered her unconditional love that helped her heal when she lost a close family member, reminding us that ultimately, giving and receiving just melt away into love. <b>Mona</b> aunty spoke about how her family anchored her through her recovery from an accident so serious that she was not expected to walk; instead, surrounded by love, her inner motivation only strengthened and she was moved to give back to the community once she recovered. Toward the end, she shared she felt lovingly held as she shared, by forty family members.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:left; height:700px; width:467px" /><br /> <br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Through a deep moment of connection, sometimes, the first time we see certain people, they feel like soul family. <b>Neha</b> shared how the night before, at dinner, she connected with a NN resident who sang a beautiful, soothing song for all the volunteers and residents in the dining hall. <b>Vipul</b> expanded on the grace, wisdom and love that flows from those older and wiser as he shared how he was lovingly held by two lovely elderly women who offered him not only a room at Gandhi Ashram in Delhi at a time when he needed it, but also space in their hearts, which he needed far more. When <b>Ishu</b> travelled to Rajasthan as a Gandhi fellow, a family there adopted her as a daughter and that bond continues. <b>Prasanna</b>, who saw a naked man on the street, gathered up the courage to give him his pants and reflected on how that act connected both of them through love and dignity. <b>Gargi</b> shared how her nephew, an engineering student who shared a deep connection with animals, showed up late for his viva because he just had to save an injured bird. The professor allowed him to take the allotted time to complete his examination later. <b>Shivani</b> spoke about how a ride home on a fairly empty train created space for a transgender woman to have a connected conversation with her that left her amazed and shifted her view of the community even further.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Then there are divine acts of grace that strengthen our belief in the benevolence of the universe. <b>Ketan</b> bhai, little Aarya&rsquo;s father, shared how a boy appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared into thin air after guiding their car toward a mandir they wanted to visit. &ldquo;That child is God&rdquo; his mother and mami proclaimed. <b>Ashutosh</b>&rsquo;s uncle helped him get through a trying academic period through offering support, encouragement and wisdom. Though initially being worried about missing a train in bad weather, through divine coincidence, <b>Parth</b>&rsquo;s family met three other families one day twenty years ago and they have all been one happy family since then.<br /> <br /> &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Finally, many present offered beautiful reflections on grace. <b>Chetan</b> bhai wondered what it takes to find hidden grace in tough situations and shared that the true value of grace is in feeling and touching it in trying times. Unexpected grace, <b>Abhishek</b> reflected, is the fuel of life itself. Trying to find answers as to how and why grace enters our lives is not only futile, but also beside the point, <b>Rahul</b> noted. Yet, we feel its presence immediately. Through <b>Anantraman</b>&rsquo;s commitment to &ldquo;supporting doing&rdquo; as well as all of the stories we were privileged to feel and hear, it became clear that grace, which has no beginning or end, sends out endless ripples in the universe.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:466px; width:700px" />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> In the concluding circle, Rahul shared what it was like for him to grow up around Narmada Niketan as a space. Sheetal also shared how the Narmada Niketan team has held the intention of hosting a retreat for several years and small changes were mindfully being made in the space, tilling the soil for such a retreat to take place. The retreat was also supported by so many invisible hands - one volunteer worked till the end despite knowing that she would not be able to make it to the retreat. Another volunteer gifted clay bottles, each hand painted with love by two other volunteers who did not even attend the retreat, to all the participants. We offered thoughts of gratitude to the staff members of Narmada Niketan, especially <b>Ashok bhai Purohit</b> who were helping selflessly throughout the duration of the retreat. We saw how the lines between participants and volunteers blurred, as one of the participants tagged us with hand-crafted diaries to make notes during the retreat, another brought sweets that were distributed during meals, someone brought treasured Shewsburry biscuits from Kyani and Company in Pune, and finally, another one offered freshly plucked jamuns from the trees to everyone around. Overall, it was pure grace to be in presence of so many open hearts and exuding so much warmth.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;... Anonymous Wed, 24 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Unexpected kindness and grace - One day MBL retreat in Mumbai Vinit shares ... Can you believe that 40 people met as unknowns one morning and felt like a family the same evening? Believe it or not, that&rsquo;s what happened at a recent one-day retreat in Mumbai, on April 30, 2017. The venue was <a href="">Narmada Niketan</a>, a Senior Citizen Home to almost 180 elders, designed mindfully for the convenience of its residents, run in the spirit of trusteeship and funded by the generosity of noble souls for the past 3 decades.<br /> <br /> Few of the volunteers and participants chose to come a day before to deepen the experience. Soon after we entered the premises, we engaged ourselves in putting together a &lsquo;candle light dinner&rsquo; surprise for the elderly. As the elderly residents entered the dining hall to have their dinner, they were welcomed with chants with their tables decorated with colourful floral rangolis. As the retreat participants tagged each elderly with a heart pin, conversations flowed. So many of the elders were moved by this gesture. As they shared their wisdom over dinner table chats, it was pure grace to listen and learn from them.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:650px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:650px" /><br /> Post dinner, we gathered to share our stories, a few of us broke into songs close to our hearts. The yin-yang design at the venue of this satsang, reminded us that our interdependencies and that complementarities co-exist despite of our apparent differences. It was heart-warming to listen bhajans, sufi and Gujarati songs. The musical evening ended with a round of ice cream - indeed it was a combination of &#39;sach-much&#39; aam (an ice cream flavor) and &#39;sach-much&#39; bliss :)<br /> <br /> Later, one volunteer shared an elder&rsquo;s reflection after the surprise dinner - &rdquo;What you people are doing is really &#39;Talk by love&#39; and that&#39;s beautiful as you are building connections. Your generation does not know deep connections, your families are small with 1 or 2 siblings and so there is an acute need for a support system. When we were your age we had 7-8 siblings, we had a large support system and in many ways, it made our lives easy&quot;. I was still wondering on the above and he asked me another question that opened my mind a little more, &quot;In a day, how many times in a day does your doorbell ring? &quot; I said &quot;3 or 4 times.&quot; He laughed and said &quot;The day your doorbell rings at least 16 times in a day, you can be sure that you have built deep connections with people around.&quot; Then the volunteers surprised all of the participants by serving us over candlelight; more opportunities to bond and connect emerged over dinner (by the end of the retreat, the MBL doorbell had rung forty times over)<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:365px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> As we walked around the campus, we found lovely quotes put up on walls every few steps. Each quote was inspiring and added to the serene energy of the space. Later, we discovered that all the quotes were presented as gift by an artist who offered her art in the spirit of gift, without even knowing where it was going to be put up. I was touched to know that the quotes had been paid forward as an act of love and these quotes in many ways were an act &quot;unexpected kindness and grace&quot; which incidentally, was the theme of the retreat day.<br /> <br /> But we were not yet done with surprises. The group broke its overnight fast with laughter yoga, graciously served by laughter herself - Khusmita! (There was the real breakfast too, of course:)) Our dear Khushi masi made us rediscover the child within us, as we cruised on the laughter waves. Creative ways of finding laughter in everyday moments (imagine you are late for a train, do it - laughingly) - role play laughter (imagine you are a child getting up unwillingly from her bed, do the morning routine - laughingly), argue aggressively, then apologize, play holi, meet long lost friends - weaving in laughter in most ordinary and extraordinary ways. Almost 30 elders joined us for this hour and from what we hear from the corridors of Narmada Niketan, they are still talking about the experience :)<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:450px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:800px" /><br /> In the opening circle, everyone shared stories close to their hearts about times when they had experienced grace and unexpected kindness in their lives. It was moving to hear when <b>Rohit</b> shared an incident where he reflected that what he saw as an &#39;act of kindness&#39; came so naturally to his rickshaw driver or when another participant reflected on the grace flowing through her teachers, spiritual leaders and through all the invisible hands which brought her to where she is. It was touching to hear the youngest participant <b>Arya</b> reflecting on her father&rsquo;s act of unexpected kindness in a hospital when he offered a stranger, who was from Jharkhand, shelter for one night. <b>Ketan Vikamsey</b> shared that he was so deeply touched by grace post one of the retreats, that when an unwarranted <a href="">incident</a> of theft happened in his office, he was able to flip his thinking from head to heart. <b>Rajni Bakshi</b> shared when she had met a Gandhian elder and questioned him &quot;Why are prevailing times so bad?&quot; the person responded beautifully, saying &quot;Times are not good or bad, we are&quot; and how that statement had stayed with her. Everyone was also touched by <a href="">Somnath&#39;s story </a>that <b>Khushmita</b> shared. A deep insight was shared by <b>Smita ben</b> as she expressed &quot;I should be not so busy that I do not acknowledge the grace.&quot;<br /> <br /> Post the opening circle, we were treated with delicious lunch made by the kitchen staff and a few volunteers then decided to step it up by serving food to the kitchen staff after finishing their own meal.<br /> <br /> Collectively, after lunch we gathered back to experience self through movement which was facilitated by <a href="">Natasha</a>, who took us along a vivid ride. We rolled ourselves into imaginary water, to just &ldquo;be&rdquo; with the moments of self love - melting down like a lump of ice, switching back to life, feeling the flow of the collective energy through us.<br /> <br /> After dwelling in the experience of ourselves, we all divided ourselves voluntarily into various labor of love activities like <a href="">He-art circle</a>, <a href="">Failure club</a> and Nature Connect walk.<br /> <br /> <b>Heart Circle </b><br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:400px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:600px" /><br /> <em>&ldquo;One makes use of colours, but one paints with emotions,&rdquo;</em> said Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin. The invitation for the Heart circle was to go within, respond to subtle movements and express it on the canvas. Participants shared that most of them were picking the brush after many years. It seemed as if what the participants painted was the representation of their lives which looked like jigsaw puzzles. It felt that the paints didn&rsquo;t just touch the canvas, but it moved hearts.<br /> <br /> <b>Nature Connect</b><br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:687px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:600px" /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Are we seeing something as if we are seeing it for the first time?&rdquo;</em> pondered J Krishnamurti.<br /> <br /> The Nature Connect group met at a semi-landscaped garden near the Home. The circle began with an invitation to observe nature in its bountiful glory - the variety of patterns on each leaf, the texture of the trunks, the chirping of the birds around, or to see the beauty of an occasional passer-by butterfly. A few participants walked around, a few gave a bear hug to the trees, a few sat in silence and one even caught a few winks in the lap of nature :) Indeed, as Aarti shared that the trees too can sing, if only we care to listen to their songs. Rajni shared a lyrical Hindi poem. The group broke into pairs of two and planted 13 saplings, setting intentions, singing silent prayers as they established the saplings to their &lsquo;residence&rsquo;. This group was clearly the favored one as it got a bonus Lord Shiva story from an elder resident. On top of that, this group made lemonade for the rest of the participants.<br /> <br /> <b>Failure Club Circle</b><br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:400px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:600px" /><br /> Failure club&nbsp;was an experiment to honour the illogical, unthinkable and the impossible. The circle called upon the participants to see failure in the light of the wisdom it offers, and rethink the very definition of failure. In our haste to define what we articulate as failure, we miss out on what could be the stepping stone to an invention. Much like Richard Bach said,<em> &ldquo;What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.&rdquo;</em><br /> <br /> The failure club circle also explored the idea around <a href="">multiple forms of capital</a> and ways to harness them. The participants circled back to share about their intentions around labor of love projects : Manjula offered her skills, her time and her space at Juhu to conduct small sessions and Gargi has offered 2-3 hours of her time every week for social impact projects<br /> <br /> <br /> What is even more beautiful is to see the ripples after the retreat. Two of our participants shared that they wish to come back and do something at the old age home. Aarti gifted a wheelchair to the Home.<br /> <br /> The elders too did not want to remain untouched with this whirlpool of love that engulfed them. So, as the retreat participants came out of the closing circle, they were welcomed by folk dance performance by 8 elders well into their 70s. A few of them were barely able to stand with straight backs but they made sure not to miss even a step. It seemed that the magic of the candle light dinner and the laughter yoga was still ringing in their minds and they could not, not give back. Seeing the elders swing to the notes of a Koli (fisherfolk) song, brought tears to the eyes of the participants.<br /> <br /> Before we left, a Gratitude Table was set where lots of gifts were offered to the participants. Last but not least, everyone huddled together over chai and lemonade and hugged each other with promises of re-connecting. It just goes to reaffirm that every time we meet with love in our hearts, the universe responds to it with double gusto, things miraculously manifest into their innate perfections and events roll out much better than we could have ever planned. Each one of us was just grateful for the moments of infinite and uncalled kindness that were showered upon us, marveling at the minute unseen strands which connect us all.... Vinit Gujarathi and Vidhi Desai Tue, 23 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Morphine Patch Sheetal shares ... Recently Po was admitted to hospital for kidney stone pain. As there was no special room available and admission was required he was given a sharing room with one more patient. This was an old lady suffering from cancer. Around 3 am. She started talking loudly mostly questions like &ldquo;when will she go home&rdquo;? &ldquo; why is she made a prisoner here&rdquo;? &ldquo; who is behind all this happening in her life&rdquo;? &ldquo;why is she suffering, if she has been good person throughout&rdquo;? and so on...The nurses and attendants quickly came in tried to pacify her with answers and coaxing her to sleep and bringing her to awareness of there is another patient who may be getting disturbed. For a while she became quiet and again the drama continued. This went on till late morning. Then she fell silent and slept off.<br /> When she was resting we were chatting with her son on her condition. We thought she was schizophrenic but to our surprise she was not. This whole drama happened because of morphine patch she was administered for pain management. The side effect of morphine patch is one looses consciousness and gets into a drunk like situation with no control over thoughts, action or speech.<br /> Her state lead me into a space of realization, I felt the presence of this morphine patch condition in myself. When I loose connection with universal consciousness and get driven by forces of sense, fears and duality i am under the morphine patch influence. All thought, speech and action are guided by it. I also constantly feel the need of &ldquo;going home&rdquo; or &ldquo;prisoners of life&rdquo; or even in wondering &ldquo;who is behind all this happening&rdquo;...and so on. When the morphine patch looses its potency I connect, practice and become one .<br /> And then again comes one more strong experience and I am overwhelmingly washed away by its madness and morphine patch is renewed. There is no dearth of such patches it could be as simple as craving for my favourite banana chips, to being compassionate or loved or kind to as complex as the need of knowing &ldquo;who am I&rdquo; or &ldquo;why am I&rdquo;, spiritual high! Anything that sticks to the mind or the behaviour or also the feeling of &ldquo;it&rdquo; being &ldquo;right&rdquo; is beginning of the patch. The very moment of feeling or confirming to the &ldquo;right&rdquo; creates duality and the sure possibility of there being a &ldquo;wrong&rdquo; and oneness breaks. Mind takes over and thought, speech , action follow.<br /> The key question that occurred is finding a way to identify our morphine patches, acknowledging it and holding on to practice. I am reminded of Sufi path that has 7 steps:<br /> <br /> <em><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:267px; margin:4px 10px; width:200px" />Zikr</em>- Remembrance,<br /> <br /> <em>Shukr</em>- Gratitude,<br /> <br /> <em>Sabr</em>- Patience,<br /> <br /> <em>Tawakkal-</em> Trust,<br /> <br /> <em>Raza</em>- Joyous acceptance ,<br /> <br /> <em>Mukhlis</em>- Complete Surrender and finally<br /> <br /> <em>Ikhlas</em>- Merging with all and one.<br /> <br /> So, holding on to this and flowing through this will lead to Ikhlas.<br /> Felt a deep gratitude for that lady who became a source of awareness in her moments of delirium. Prayed that she and we all find our way back home!... Sheetal Vaidya Wed, 03 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 The Power of Perspective Neerad shares ... In this moving TEDx talk, Preethi Sreenivasan talks about the power of perspective, the unconditional love of her parents, her near death experiences leading to fearlessness and discovering purpose in her life with <a href="">Soulfree</a> after a spinal injury confined her to a wheelchair.<br /> <br /> &nbsp;<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe>... Neerad Trivedi Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Happiness Unlimited Poulomi shares ... Happiness is contagious and is one of the precious gifts that each one of us possesses. It is important to have unshakable faith to create happiness for ourselves and others. Moved By Love is a space that creates a ripple effect through various initiatives and spread smiles. I am grateful to the universe and people who have connected me to this beautiful space whose only religion is to spread happiness and work for people&rsquo;s welfare and wellbeing.<br /> <br /> Recently celebrated my younger brother&rsquo;s wedding, on 4 March 2017, wherein I was truly blessed to receive heart and smile pins from &lsquo;Moved By Love&rsquo;. Since childhood, I am blessed to learn the importance of gratitude from my parents. My parents were strictly against guests bringing any material gifts. Blessings from the heart are the true treasure, so they have personally and humbly requested all the 400 guests not to bring any present. Guests truly understand and showered respect to my parents by not bringing presents. I welcomed all the guests with heart and smile pins. A few of them were initially hesitant but I told them that this is a small thank you token with love and gratitude for the efforts that they have taken to attend the wedding. While pinning the hearts and smile pins, I felt a deeper joy within. Suddenly after some time, I found myself in between of a lot of guests who were choosing the heart and smile pins in accordance to the colour of their saree or kurta. I felt that smile and happiness were spilling over.<br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:487px; margin-bottom:4px; margin-top:4px; width:650px" /><br /> <br /> I was so touched and amazed when my little nephew Ishaan came to me and said: &ldquo;give me 5 smiles and hearts, will give to my friends in school&rdquo;. I was so happy to see that gratitude was flowing in the form of kindness and empathy. Ishaan and my another 5-year- old nephew Arya ensured that everyone including all the kids has received a smile and heart pin.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src=",_jpg.jpg" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:640px; width:640px" /><br /> <br /> Guests expressed their happiness of receiving these little heart and smile pins by thanking my parents and my parents also shared about moved by love space with them. One of the guests told me that she wants to teach gratitude through these heart and smile pins in her special school, named Beautiful Mind. A few guests told me that after a long time they received gifts that touched their hearts.<br /> <br /> There is no dearth of happiness, it&#39;s in abundance but it is up to us to recognize it and spread it. My joy knew no bounds when I saw guests giggling like little children after<br /> receiving the heart and smile pins. To spread happiness is a starting point to spread peace and friendship. This experience has helped to spin my better story and I shower my gratitude to all those who have <a href="">handcrafted these heart and smile pins</a> and to all the beautiful souls of Moved By Love. Thank you!... Poulomi Robin Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Conversations with Arundada (March 30, 2017) Bhumika shares ... This afternoon I had lunch at Arundada&rsquo;s place. Post lunch, after I finished washing the dishes, Arundada asked me if need a napkin to wipe my hands. I replied with a smile (wiping my hands on the skirt that I was wearing) it&rsquo;s ok, I&rsquo;m wearing a napkin. This reminded Arundada of a few incidents. These are simple stories with deep message hence I felt like sharing with you all.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Story #1</b><br /> Once Arundada was at an ashram in Budhol, Karnataka, India. The Swamiji at the ashram according to Arundada was a Swamiji in the true sense. He wasn&rsquo;t just well-versed in Vedas and Upanishads but also completely hands-on. He participated in most of the chores of the Ashram. Arundada wanted to sit with him and have a conversation, so Swamiji brought a mat for Arundada to sit on. Arundada said &ldquo;How can I sit on the mat when you will be sitting on the floor?&rsquo; Swamiji replied, &lsquo;This mat isn&rsquo;t for you, it is for your clothes. And me, I&rsquo;m wearing a mat, I don&rsquo;t need another one!&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <b>Story #2</b><br /> Once Umashankar Joshi (an eminent poet, scholar and writer) goes to a cobbler to mend his shoes. On seeing him, the cobbler joins his hands and welcomes him with a bow. Umashankar told the cobbler &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t need to bow and welcome me.&rdquo; The cobbler replied, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not bowing to this body of yours, I&rsquo;m bowing to the one that is residing within you.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Arundada reflected on how we get to learn life&rsquo;s great lessons from the so called humble people. This reminded him of an incident from his life.<br /> <br /> <b>Story # 3</b><br /> This was the time when he was young and was living with his parents. Arundada&rsquo;s mother used to go to work. So they had Puriben as their house help. One morning Puriben wanted to get something from the loft and since it was out of her reach, she asked Arundada&rsquo;s brother to get it for her. He said &ldquo;I just took a shower, I don&rsquo;t want to get dirty.&rdquo; Arundada saw her taking a chair, climbing over it and trying to get the vessel herself. She said something that he still remembers very clearly. She said <em>&ldquo;Nahela badha nakkama&rdquo;</em> (The ones who have showered are all useless).<br /> Arundada then added laughingly that even today he prefers to be the last one to take a shower. He said that way he gets to spend less time being in the &ldquo;useless&rdquo; category :)<br /> &nbsp;... Bhumika Patel Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 We are all 'inter-be' Ashima shares ... <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:243px; width:600px" /><br /> As 35 of us came together in the sacred premises of ESI, Sughad, we could all at once feel the connection with the space. Our hearts were connected as we gathered in front of peace pole, holding hands, offering our gratitude for the seeds sowed by our ancestors that led to this day and time in our journeys.<br /> <br /> As we entered the Maitri hall, we were greeted with this quote:<br /> <br /> <em>&ldquo;Sometimes our light goes out<br /> but is blown again into an instant flame<br /> by an encounter with another HUMAN BEING&rdquo;</em><br /> <br /> <br /> Khushmita opened the circle by sharing an encounter of a friend, Dr. Turya with one of her patients. In a hospital, a patient is mostly known by his number and the relationship between a doctor and patient is largely professional. But in the Loma Linda hospital, where she was interning, the relationship went beyond strictly medical through a special practice called <a href="">Love Rounds</a>. On one such rounds, Dr. Turya was talking to a patient who was particularly sad on this day. When asked what is the one thing he would really like in this very moment, he just said &ldquo;ice-cream&rdquo;. Knowing that the patient is diabetic and that they would be going against hospital protocols; a group of doctors sneaked in some ice-cream in his room. A gift that cheered him up and also helped the doctors experience that service does not always need to be perfect, but it must always be in the spirit of love.<br /> <br /> With that she opened the circle for everyone to share an encounter when we connected deeply with another being, be it human or non-human. A relationship that shifted from transaction to trust.<br /> <br /> <b>Jaideep</b> shared the story of two heroes he feels blessed to be friends with &mdash; <a href="">Ashwin and Bharat</a> and their heart warming tale of friendship that defeated disability. <b>Devyangi</b> shared that ever since she arrived on the ESI campus, she found herself deeply connected with Subhecha, the friendly campus dog while Aarti and Nalin connected with the peace the space emanated. <b>Nevil</b> shared about the special bond that his mother shares with the birds and dogs around their home and special language of love that they all converse in. <b>Abhiram</b> also spoke about how his grandmother always speaks from a space of honesty and authenticity. She may sometimes be harsh but it is important what space she is coming from. <b>Divya</b> shared about an incident when she helped an elderly lady connect with her daughter and granddaughter after 30 years. That one connection helped heal an open wound in her heart when she did not respond to a friend&rsquo;s call and later learned of his death.<br /> <br /> <b>Siddharth</b> shared about his shift from learning to earn top position in class to learning for the love of it. <b>Vidya</b> shared her connection with an old coconut tree in her family home and how every time she was there she would just &ldquo;shake hands&rdquo; with the leaves. <b>Sonali</b> shared about her connection with the little kids who sell balloons outside her home. On one Christmas eve she invited them all in for a party and was so overwhelmed by the love that she received from them that she felt her own ability to love had expanded. <b>Sheetal</b> remembered the children that she meets every time she goes into the children&rsquo;s ward as a clown and how one simple smile can transform a lifeless being into one full of joy and spread happiness in the whole place.<br /> <br /> <b>Swati</b> shared about one time when she and her friend travelled in a crowded bus from Ahmedabad to Anand. A simple act of them offering their seats to elderly passengers started a chain events of people standing and offering seats such that nobody was standing for more than 15 minutes in the entire 2 hours journey. <b>Purvi</b> shared how she is always skeptical about emotions like love, friendship, peace which until recently were just words for her. But a beautiful connection she felt with a stranger in one such gathering when they spent an entire evening that went on till 2:30 am walking and talking helped her see a new side.<br /> <br /> <b>Trupti</b> spoke about the special relationship she shares with Ratan Ben, who on the front might just be their house help but to the three of them she is a friend and an advisor bringing precious values to their home.<br /> <br /> <b>Ashima</b> shared about an encounter between her friend Swara and Priyanka, who is visually challenged. One day when Swara was helping Priyanka navigate her way through the campus, she told her to be careful of the steps ahead. For some time Priyanka didn&rsquo;t move and then slowly asked if the steps were going up or down. This story made her reflect on how we miss out on little gifts that we have that we always take for granted.<br /> <br /> <b>Bhavik</b> shared about a friend who would always carry a nail cutter in his pocket and sit with street children cutting their nails. It is a small act but he does it with lots of love for all the children. <b>Diken </b>shared about how his relationship with a cafe owner in Spain shifted from that of transaction to trust when he just came up to her and greeted her with a hug and a heart pin. While earlier he was a customer who would order half a coffee and use the space for 5 hours, he now was a friend who connected with the staff in love and friendship.<br /> <br /> <b>Steve</b> shared about a selfless act of kindness he received in a small Balkan city. It was early in the morning and as he was sitting on a bench, two men approached him to ask if he needed help with anything. When they learned that he knew no one in the city, they took him to their home and while they were both fasting for Ramadan, they cooked a feast for him. He was embarrassed but also grateful for the connection we share with all the human beings. Beyond our cultures and languages how our hearts are one. <b>Saaya </b>shared about her relationship with an autowallah uncle that blossomed from a chance encounter of strangers to that of friendship as she found herself sitting in his home having lunch.<br /> <br /> <b>Kunal </b>remembered his teaching assistant from 15 years ago who would always go beyond his duties to help students. He also shared about his friend&rsquo;s parents who are a mixed race couple and how their home is an embodiment of values. <b>Sheetal </b>felt that he was a part of everyone&rsquo;s story and that we are all together in them. He shared an interaction of his friend Atul with a blanket seller on bus who warmed him not just by selling his blanket but his kindness.<br /> <br /> <b>Jayesh bhai </b>shared that we all have <em>narayan (values)</em> residing in our hearts. While our minds may be different, our culture, our language may be different; our hearts are one. As we all sat in the circle, even though we don&rsquo;t know each other, there was so much love and respect and patience as we listened to each other. He shared from a teacher-student relationship the world now needs a relationship of friendship, of maitri, which is what Moved by Love is. It is <em>dosti</em>, it is love.<br /> <br /> After lunch, we all gathered again in the Maitri hall. With a beautiful video of a simple act of caring that created endless ripples, we delved deeper into the lineage that sowed the seeds and nourished the soil for Moved by Love to emerge.<br /> <br /> Sheetal and Bhumika together shared about the beginning of ServiceSpace from a simple project of designing websites for non-profits to its present form and the three organising <a href=""><b>principles</b></a> that hold us. Sharing stories of simple acts from the ecosystem, they talked about how operating from these principles, there is an individual and collective shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, scarcity to abundance, and isolation to community. We all were then divided into 4 groups and in the smaller circle we reflected upon different shifts we have experienced or wish to experience.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /><br /> In the evening Kishan and Sanchi warmly welcomed us into Safai Vidyalaya and Gandhi Ashram sharing with all of us the values that the space was built on and how it is continuing to serve. After that we all went to Seva Cafe, a restaurant that defies normal economics. It is a restaurant where staff and volunteers cook and serve loving meals and in the end present the guest with a cheque that just reads Rs 0 and a little note <em>&ldquo;Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /></em><br /> While on her travels, Saaya had visited Seva Cafe and felt such a connection with the space that she stayed back and has been volunteering there every day, for the last one month. She introduced us to the space, she calls her home away from home and invited us to a meal that was akin to <em>prasad. </em>From there Ashima took us to an evening of stories and songs offered by participants and volunteers. Siddharth and Kunal both shared poems that have been close to their hearts. Devesh and Trupti sang soulful bhajans and Bhumika sang <em>what a wonderful world</em>.<br /> <br /> Nandini shared how kindness is like a boomerang. Remembering her college days, she shared how one day when one of her closest friends was going through a low phase, she had asked her to dig a pit in the ground, put all her worries in it and then cover it back with mud. <em>Mitti pao yaar! </em>That one message moved her friend so much that she let go of all her fears and insecurities<em>. </em>Many years after during one of her low phases, her friend reminded her of the same <em>mitti pao </em>act. She had completely forgotten about it and the simple act helped her clear all her doubts and confusions. In fact in the evening she had also initiated a few of us into the <em>mitti pao </em>practice and helped us shed some of our worries.<br /> <br /> Bindiya synchronised our heartbeats with little theatrical games and then shared her experiences of traveling to unknown places and always finding kindness from strangers at the least expected place. Her interactions with a drunk guy on the train and a sandwich seller on the streets of Paris led her to question our stereotypical mindset when it comes to certain communities and helped her break the barrier of fear she had.<br /> <br /> The next morning Devendra bhai welcomed us to hands activities by sharing stories from his time of working with Ishwar kaka. One of the most important lessons he learnt and shared with us was how Ishwar kaka always focused on amplifying and appreciating the good. He never preached or advised but just did the work because it was the right work. Devendra bhai urged us to shed all our doubts on self and the universe and just take the first step towards the right work.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:338px; width:600px" /><br /> With that we all divided ourselves into four teams and each group went to spend the next couple of hours diving their hands and hearts into different activities like gardening, painting dustbins, making brooms, cleaning and cooking.<br /> <br /> In Kabir ashram, the participants had prepared a wholesome meal of kadhi-khichdi while immersing themselves into the spiritual environment of the ashram. They greeted the rest of us with music, dance and hugs. As we all sat down for lunch, Jayesh bhai spoke about the importance of waiting till everyone is served and praying at the beginning of the meal. He also stressed on the importance of patience in those who are serving.<br /> <br /> In the evening Steve introduced the concept of triads and all of us divided into groups of three with each of us taking on the roles of a story-teller, listener and observer in rotation. We learnt a lot from each other&rsquo;s stories and journey&rsquo;s as we listened deeply, witnessed stories and shared from the heart.<br /> <br /> As the evening drew to a close, all of us sat for an <a href=""><b>Awakin</b></a> gathering followed by a reading and a round of reflections. And then in silence we all moved towards a silent dinner to the sounds of <em>&ldquo;guru om guru&hellip;&rdquo; </em>sang by volunteers.<br /> <br /> The day of the heart opened with Jayesh&nbsp;bhai speaking about his own journey with sanitation, service and love. His deep learnings from his father who even in his last breath thought of others and constantly served thousands of beings throughout his lifetime.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:449px; width:600px" /><br /> Sheetal then introduced the sacred practice of <a href="">3 steps and a bow</a>, a pilgrimage that Rev. Heng Sure and Heng Chow went on for 2 years and 9 months and a pilgrimage that we have been taking in every retreat. With a simple message from Rev. Heng Sure;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Forget the harvest,<br /> As much as you seek,<br /> thats how much you will be obstructed.<br /> Don&#39;t seek enlightenment,<br /> <b>just Bow</b>.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Steve led the way as we all bowed to the universe. As we returned, every heart was overflowing with what they had just experienced. 1&hellip;2&hellip; 3&hellip; steps and a bow; bowing to the universe, bowing to the good in me and the good in you. Sheetal concluded the three magical days with a simple message:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am because you are.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:460px; width:600px" />... Ashima Goyal Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Gaus, With a White Shirt Smita shares ... About 10 of us along with Gautam Dada went to <a href="">Maher Ashram</a> - Sister Lucy&rsquo;s organization on Saturday, 25th March 2017. We had a &lsquo;Moved by Love&#39; experience, just in the way they welcomed us. It was a great ripple of the NGO retreat. We were all further moved by <a href="">Sister Lucy&rsquo;s love</a> for all of us children, women, men and staff in the organization -- and all the visitors.<br /> <br /> While visiting, we heard Gaus&#39;s story, in his own words. It was so powerful, and stirred something in each one of us.<br /> <br /> When he was 5 years old, Gaus wanted to go to school. So he just dropped into a classroom and started to learn. Even the teacher allowed him to sit in the class without official admission.<br /> <br /> He enjoyed going to school till one day, there was a classroom inspection. His teacher told him to get a white shirt which is the color of the uniform of the school. Excited, he went home searched for it and on not finding one asked his mother to buy him one. His mother took him to the shop. She had Rs 25 and the shirt cost Rs 300, so it was not to be.<br /> <br /> Gaus&rsquo;s father was an alcoholic and also paralyzed. He had 2 sisters and a grandmother all staying in a 10 X 10 room. Gaus was told by people, &quot;You need to work and help your mother. There are so many mouths to feed.&quot; So, at the age of 5, he got his first job!! He worked in a garage washing cars and also worked at a food stall in the evenings. The food stall incentive was particularly appealing since he could carry all the left over food at home for the whole family!<br /> <br /> Gaus had reconciled to be happy, so he sang songs and went about his daily responsibilities.<br /> <br /> One day, Sister Lucy visited his house. There was no electricity in his house -- the only light which came was from a cemetery near by. After talking to his mother, she asked her to send him to her school. Mother used to do household chores and sisters helped with that; when Sister Lucy asked this question, Gaus look at this sister with big, bright eyes. She still remember that look in Gaus&#39;s eyes. They all agreed, and Sister Lucy took Gaus to Maher Ashram.<br /> <br /> Gaus describes the trip to Maher like this: &quot;So far, I had only cleaned cars from the outside. This was the first time I actually sat inside a car.&quot;<br /> <br /> When they reached Maher, at the age of 7, he saw that there was light -- not just for the cemetery! He was amazed to receive a blanket, a pillow, bedsheet exclusively for himself. At home, they shared one blanket between 4 or 5 of them. Sister Lucy gave him rice and lentils and that to him was a treat. &quot;Don&#39;t gulp it down so fast. You get will get more if you need it, eat slowly,&quot; Sister said. In the morning, he got a tooth brush and paste which he used for the first time! He remember, &quot;I brushed my teeth for 2 hours refusing to spit out the toothpaste!&rdquo; When Sister told him spit it out, he said, &ldquo;No, it is sweet!&quot;<br /> <br /> So on and on he went. He went to school, and finally got his white shirt! He did not remove it for 4 days, &quot;till the white shirt turned black.&quot; Sister got him another white shirt telling him that you could wash and wear it alternately and so began his journey.<br /> <br /> When Sister Lucy first asked him go up on stage to speak, he started crying. Now Sister jokes, &quot;First, when I told him to go on stage, he was crying. Today, if I pull him from the stage, he cries.&quot; Gaus has become a great speaker; he takes part in dramas and theatres and has gone to other countries to perform as well. Today, he has completed his MBA and on the verge of flying out from Maher. Naturally, he is very attached to Maher but Sister Lucy is tough in her love, &quot;You job now is to get your mother out of the slums and give her a better life.&quot;<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="border:1px solid #dcdcdc; height:570px; margin:0; padding:2px; width:700px" /><br /> <br /> Sister Lucy feels Gaus&rsquo;s mother is great, that she trusted her only son to a complete stranger. And much later, Gaus learnt that Sister Lucy had been compensating his family with food for the wages that Gaus was bringing each month.<br /> <br /> Bowing to all in this story we were speechless, humbled, grateful and filled with love and tears. Sheetalbhai said to Gaus, &quot;I see you giving a TED talk one day.&quot; So do we; in his white shirt which he still loves to wear.... Smita Navare Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Lessons From The Maid Pranita shares ... In our <a href="">Laddership Circle</a> last week, we were encouraged to interview someone to listen to and learn about their story. I interviewed my maid.<br /> <br /> <img alt="" src="" style="height:338px; width:600px" /><br /> <br /> My maid is a young and smart woman who is married with 2 kids. That is all I knew about her. She has been helping me out for more than 2 years. She comes in on time every morning, and very efficiently finishes all her assigned chores and rushes on to her next stop! I usually am a silent person in the morning, and prefer not chatting. She leaves me alone. We usually are in the kitchen together, me preparing breakfast, and she cleaning last day&#39;s utensils, but not talking. I sometimes put music on so the not-talking part becomes easier. But last week, while I contemplated on whom to interview, I realised I had someone right next to me, who I talk to once in a blue moon.<br /> <br /> So I started talking to her casually, which led to such a long conversation. I found out something I never would have known. The picture I had in my head about what her story is, was in reality very starkly different from what it really was. She stays with her husband, who is a major alcoholic. He hardly ever goes to work, and even if he does, it&#39;s only so that he can drink some more. He is out all night, and comes home very late, always drunk. She earns for their family of four, sends her kids to school and puts food on the table. Her in-laws stay in the village and her parents stay close by. She went on to tell me how when her kids were very young, she requested her parents to help her look after the baby, because she had to go work so she could afford to feed them. But they were of no help, and she had to carry her just-born baby to work. She got some help from the people she worked for, but she expressed great sorrow in the fact that her own parents did not step up.<br /> <br /> I learned that she is a very strong woman, with immense dedication, determination and loyalty. While we were talking, she got a call from another lady she works for, asking her whether her husband would be game for some 1-hour of work they needed some help with. They offered a decent pay for 1 hour. I was amazed when she told them- &quot;Madam, I&#39;ll be frank to you. My husband is not someone you can rely on for work. I cannot guarantee that he will come on time. And if he does, I cannot guarantee that he will complete the work, or that he will do it well. If you still wish for me to convey this offer to him, I will, but since I work for you, I want to be truthful about this situation to you and not spoil our rapport.&quot; I was really dumbfounded. So much integrity, honesty and loyalty displayed within one phone call!<br /> <br /> I asked her what keeps her going? She says she does all of this so her 2 sons are well-educated so that they don&#39;t end up like their father. Her sons see the behavior of their father and ask her why they should go to school. They tell her that they also want to go out and play the whole day and come back home and sleep the rest of the time. She works hard hoping her kids will get inspired by her actions and not get influenced by her husband&#39;s.<br /> <br /> I then asked her whether she was taking care of herself, and whether there was anything she needed help with. She just smiles and says nothing. She is a proud young lady, who will work double time, but will not ask for a favor. She is living her life for the people she loves, and hardly has any time for herself, which I don&#39;t think she ever complains about! She believes that by being truthful and doing good work, God will be with her every step of the way. Every year, she visits a temple in her hometown and donates her hair.<br /> <br /> Before she left for the day, she tells me another incident where her pressure cooker exploded while she was standing next to it, and her kids were sleeping a metre away from it. But miraculously, not a single drop of water or a single grain of rice fell anywhere on her or her kids, but in the little gap in between them. She said, that was proof that God was with her and all will be well. :)<br /> <br /> Do good, be good and good things will happen to you is what I learned from this conversation with my maid. Also, this conversation was proof to me that everyone wants to share their story, if there is a listening ear. Not necessarily helping, but just listening!... Pranita Bhat Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700