A Reflective Sharing On The Practice Of Being More

Posted by Ani Devlia on Sep 7, 2015
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There were many insights and learnings from the beauriful and enriching ServiceSpace retraet last weekend. Being with a circle of people who are so deeply rooted in their values, principles and intentions in service, brought about much self enquiry with many questions to be asked. Amongst many, one of the biggest takeaway learnings for me personally, was about allowing myself to become more visible to others. I notice my resistance to be visible, to be seen. Whether it's by sharing stories in large circles, or by writing a blog post (like as I'm doing here). :) It is an edge I've been working on and one which still requires a humongous amounts of courage and effort at times. Quite often, I'm moved to share, yet by the time my mind has done all the mental exercises and thinking about whether I should share, how I should share etc etc, my heart starts to close and the pull to share with others subsides... the moment is lost and the opportunity to share passes away. I believe the root of this lies in being self conscious and the fear of being judged. I write a lot, mostly as a way to process and empty, yet I resist sharing these with others. One intention I set myself following the retreat, was to practice being visible and less self conscious ... with an intention to share more stories. This can serve both others, and myself. :)

So in the spirit of service in sharing, I share a little story from the weekend. :)

As I left my class at college on Saturday evening, for some reason I found myself walking towards the river - in the opposite direction of the tube station towards my journey home. I just felt like taking a long walk. In a way I felt surprised I felt that way because the weather was overcast and windy, plus I was feeling a little tired and knew I had visitors later that evening at home. I hesitated for a few seconds to think if I should go for a walk or head straight home. It didn't take long before I shrugged my shoulders and followed my hunch to walk the 20 minute walk along the river to Blackfriars Bridge where I could catch my train home. I tried to walk mindfully. It was hard not to think about the day's lectures which had been on the heavy subject of Pain, Crisis and failure. As I walked, I passed the spot where Audrey and I had stopped to take photos when she had visited London earlier this year. We had carried out the Random Acts of Kindness flashmob not too far from where I was. This thought led to another thought about taking a photo of the beautiful riverside and sending it to Audrey to say she was in my heart at that time. No, I decided. I'd remain mindful and present... this was my intention and I would not detract. :) I continued walking like this for about 10 minutes, with full awareness of each step; of the hardness of the pavement as it hit my sole of each foot; of the sounds of the water as it splashed against the banks; the heavy chugging of the passing boats. I noticed the wind on the wafer's surface, how it made the flow on the movement erratic. I saw a seagull swoop and take rest on the railing. This side of the river walkway is always busy with tourists and especially being the last Saturday evening of school holidays that day, it was humming with tourists, children and parents.

Then, as I looked ahead I noticed there was a congestion where people had slowed down or had stopped. Coming closer, what I saw made me BEAM from ear to ear and I think I almost ran up to what was clearly a flashmob of people giving FREE HUGS!! It felt like I had arrived home again. :) After exchanging many hearty hugs, over and over again until my arms ached and my jaws ached from smiling, I eventually got talking to a couple of the people and learned they were a part of a meet up group consisting of about 50 people who had joined in the activity that day. We exchanged stories... I shared about our "Audreyology" flashmob on the tube escalators and at the Southbank Centre in April. There was such a buzz when they learned how other people were spreading love in this way. One person went and called a few of the other huggers so they could hear the story. Of course, I reached deep in my bag for Smile cards, of which I had only 3. I explained what they were and they were received with so much wonder! One person, Holly, shared how she was paying forward love by offering a couch for couch surfers, something she had been very grateful to have received herself when traveling abroad last year, without which she said it would have been impossible to have travelled for one year. Holly and some of the others shared email addresses  as they were also keen to be involved with future Random Acts of Kindness flash mobs... which I'm now so inspired to hold again. :) As I left the crowd of huggers, not before receiving more goodbye hugs, I felt a new spring in my step and more joy in my heart from feeling  the connected-ness that had just been experienced. So glad I followed that hunch. :)


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Comments (9)

  • Deven P-Shah wrote ...

    Hi Ani, thank you for sharing this. How touching to see you following through on voice, calling from inside.

    Smiles, Deven

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Oh, wow, Ani! That's such an awesome story! I'm so glad you followed your hunch to take the longer walk to the tube, and so, so grateful that to you for sharing the inspiration with all of us. Thank you for being you and lighting so many hearts with your beautiful spirit. :)

  • Nicole Huguenin wrote ...

    I just got off a phone call with the inspiring Micky in which we discussed almost the exact same thing of allowing ourselves to be seen. You put the words on the paper exactly as it occurs for me in terms wanting to write and share but the moment passing. Thank you for sharing your story of hugs and connection, it's inspired me to go give out a few on my walk this evening. :)

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    I LOVE that you shared this story :) Looking forward to reading more inspiring nuggets from your journey here, as the self-consciousness fades into the background :) What an inspiring encounter!

  • Mindyjourney wrote ...

    Was no coincidence that you were led on that walk :) and to share with us! Thank you, my friend. Love seeing you in all of your authentic kind self <3!!

  • Nilam Chauhan wrote ...

    Dear Ani
    Thank you for taking us on the walk with you by the river and sharing the hugs with us:) sending a big free hug :)

  • Germán Herrera wrote ...

    Thank you Ani, the story is beautiful, but most importantly, for allowing yourself the possibility of being seen, by your share, and by the group at the retreat. Your quiet demeanor and inner qualities contritbuted deeply to the group experience.

  • Yoo-Mi Lee wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing your story, Ani! May you follow your gut and heart, always. We love "seeing" you!!! :)

  • Michaele Premet-Rosen wrote ...

    Beautiful, Ani.