Friday Night's Meditators Anonymous

Posted by Anne-Marie Bauer on Feb 19, 2012
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"Hello, my name is---and this is my first time meditating." There was an eruption of applause and laughter across the room as this sentence was so openly and authentically shared by first time meditators Aparna, Issac, Karthik and Derek. Soon thereafter the event comically titled itself as "Meditators Anonymous."

As promised, the gathering was certainly both cozy and packed in. The ambiance was equally both light hearted and uplifting as it was soul stirring, with moments of open and honest sharing. It was indeed expressive to see the main living room filled with 30+ people overflowing into the entrance, some coming from as far as D.C and Boston to come together in Silence at Phillip's in midtown Manhattan this past Friday. It spoke great volume to the intentions of everyone there. For some it was the intention of coming back to silence after a year long break, for other's it was the gift of presence itself, whether they themselves knew that at the time-it's effect was most definitely felt amidst everyone.

Amit in his inviting manner started us off with a few personal reflections after being at a touching musical performance the night before-encouraging us to consider how it is often easy in our lives to idolize and put someone on a pedestal for their grand achievements and talents, such as a Star performer in a 20 band orchestra-but how often times we forget the forces behind the great Stars/Leaders that often go unnoticed but collectively add so much value in the services they provide. 

There were a super abundance of stories, personal reflections and questions after Nipun lead us all to think about the different ways in which we give and receive and the value in each. He shared a very touching personal story of a reflection he had later in life, when he was in his early 20's while in India with his parents and his brother Viral.

With this story came a call for us all to reflect in the ways we give-for giving itself to another person in need is a great deed, but that can elevate us to a different hierarchy if we posit ourselves (whether consciously or unconsciously) to be more significant than the person we are giving to and may make that person feel like they are obliged to us. Giving with the intention of trying to fix someone or something casts its very own hue as well. The example used was of industrial nations and many NGO's giving in this way but their intentions may not necessarily be in the greatest interest of the receiver. Serving-where both giver and receiver are of equal in value, create the ripples of where this type of giving has the potential to bloom and manifest in unlimited ways. And Offering- Where there is a deep sense of gratitude for having an opportunity to serve, for its gift is also limitless.  We further heard of how this offering is seen each Wednesday in the Bay area as Nipun's mother so graciously accepts the offerings of each and everyone who attend Wednesday meditation gatherings for she is given the gift of serving each of the 70+ people there a warm meal at the end of the night!

These stories and more inspired and lead us to turn further more inwardly in the ways we all serve. Perhaps no one will ever think of leftovers the same way again, after hearing a personal reflection byParth, who shared how after walking by a homeless man he offered him his food but the man refused! Puzzled as to why this was Parth thought more deeply about it and realized that perhaps if he was in this man's shoes he wouldn't want to be treated to leftovers either. Why wouldn't we give a whole meal to someone as whole as that person is himself or herself. Parth later learned that this man was also blind and could not accept just any food that came his way, for he did not know what was in the food or where the food came from. The blind man then handed Parth a FIVE dollar bill and asked him if he wouldn't mind getting him some food from the food stand near by. Happily Parth accepted this opportunity and left with a great lesson at heart!

We also heard of how at times in life we may even find ourselves struggling to whom to give to. Vandana had thought about this in particular and communicated this with her mother, to which she replied- there is no need to ask to whom you give to, or if you feel giving in that moment is the right thing to do. It is right If it is coming from a place from love and compassion.

For Sarika, she found a lesson that giving and receiving is a two way street-literally, when giving directions and guiding a mother and daughter to their destination. While walking downtown near wall street, Sarika noticed these two were lost and were asking for directions, but could only speak spanish. Sarika shared that she had the time and felt it was best to take them to where they were going. In doing this she realized while giving directions for these two in need, she was in essence paying forward the gratitude of all who have helped guide her on her own spiritual journey. 

Will shared a powerful message that sometimes we may turn down a gift in life because we might not accept the way it is "packaged,' but however that gift may be presented it is still one we may need to receive. Will further shared how this was evident with a friend who was tired and was in need of a red-bull. The store from where we wanted to buy it from was closed. Will directed him to a restaurant where he knew they served it but his friend declined for it wasn't offered in the way he wanted it. We also heard how acknowledging each other for the kindred spirits that we are, in this case when Will lovingly looked directly into the eyes of a homeless man, we are prompted not to forget of this "natural high'  we get from coming from a space of love and compassion-because it is far superior to any recreational drink or drug out there!

Philip too encouraging us to call to mind how much unconditional love we receive from our furry friends. Lando exemplifying this so earnestly, sitting there tail wagging and eyes smiling amongst us all! 

By the end of the hour's sharing we were reminded again how much of a gift it is to hold that space for all of us, to come together in silence and in presence where one can peel away at the layers of fear and doubt, and know that ultimately we are all connected in love. And to know we can always call upon our own stillness by remembering the quote shared at the end of the night-

If you have come to help me,
you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine,
then let us work together

Posted by Anne-Marie Bauer | Tags: | permalink

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Comments (9)

  • Amit wrote ...

    Incredible write-up!!!! You captured the essence of the evening so well. I am also reminded of the Lila Watson quote someone mentioned during the circle of sharing that fits so well with the evenings shares: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

  • Birju wrote ...

    beautiful share, thank you! I'm also reminded of the poignant comment of you - that we tend to limit ourselves with the labels that are put on us (a nurse in this case), but reality is that we are all limitless :)

  • Neil wrote ...

    What a powerful gathering conveyed through wonderful words. Thank you :)

  • Bela wrote ...

    Beautiful Anne-Marie...thank you for sharing in such an insightful way:)

  • Audrey wrote ...

    Anne-Marie, thank you for this beautiful reflection! So many lessons and stories woven together so seamlessly. :)

  • Guri Mehta wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing this ... makes me feel like I was there. :-)

  • Aparna wrote ...

    Thank you so much for the write-up. I feel so fortunate to have experienced my first meditation with all of you. I am still thinking about all of the incredible insights and thoughts shared during the reflection. The one that I am thinking about the most is "We have what we are meant to have" (Apologies for not remembering the name of the person who said it).

    But perhaps my strongest reflection is the conviction to meditate more and go deeper. I'm going to try 15 minutes tonight :-)

  • Krishan wrote ...

    Thank you so much for this. Despite not being there, I feel all the love from the beautiful sit.

  • Sheetal wrote ...

    wow.. what an extensive write up.. though i did not attend, it feels as if i was right there.. thank you for the sharing