A small gathering took shape on an unusually warm South San Francisco evening. A gathering of eight, on this first night of what we called Awakin Lite – modeled after the more full bodied Awakin gatherings in Santa Clara, but with some adjustments. We lopped off a half hour of meditation here, tinkered with the start time there, stirred in a monthly time-table and adjusted down the caloric intake, to end up with what we hoped would be a winning formula – a monthly gathering for an hour and half of stillness, sharing and connection.
While the evening does not set expectations or ask for outcomes, what spilled forth was what one may expect to happen when we are allowed to be still, when we are invited to think deeply and feel unselfconsciously. We become emboldened. To share our vulnerabilities. Emboldened to look into another pair of eyes and hold our gaze there for a while. To grasp at the fallen threads of what once connected us and gingerly tie that knot again.
And so in this circle of eight where no one knew everyone, and not even everyone knew someone, still we were emboldened. A gift of incense was offered by someone to help inaugurate the evening. Intimate details spilt forth: the loss of a parent, struggles with depression, loss of a sense of self; also the triumphs - of returning to the piano without old judgments, of loosening the grip of gender-boxed roles.
One of the attendees said later she could taste the food more acutely because we were eating in silence. And another chimed in – “Despite the silence, you could feel each person’s presence”. One attendee confessed “the distance between being present and knowing that you should be present is incredibly vast”. The vigorous nods were the most movement I saw in the room this evening.
But that’s why we were all here. Because we were vigorous-noddingly aware that what was difficult could also be maybe incredibly important. And so here we all were, sitting with our swirls of thoughts, years of imprints and decades of defenses, taking a first ginger step at breaking through. Emboldened indeed.