Journey Of Opening My Home -- And Heart
Posted by Madhur Khanna on Mar 29, 2016
Just because of my focus on service, in a span of about a year, here's a few projects that organically emerged ...
‘Valuable Childhood’: To teach good values to kids, and thus nourishing the roots of future generation, was my dream for many years. In Dec 2014, it came true when I started giving 2 hour classes on ethics every alternate Sunday. Typically, 4-5 kids from my neighbourhood would come and I offered it freely for a year. The discussions and practice of kindness by kids utilized various content and ideas from the Servicespace community (karmatube, kindspring, Cubs community etc.)
'Children's Day': As a natural extension of the classes, on "Children's Day" we could deepen the values education. It was celebrated at a bridge school of under-privileged kids. The preparation required one sitting followed by half day event with 4 volunteers at the school campus. Another experience of deep joy!
'Beautiful World': The idea behind this effort was to beautify a space with care and love. At a hospice for a terminally ill, volunteers hand crafted wall decor. That was our first event in January 2015. Volunteers used to meet at my home to prepare the decorations, guided by a wonderful local artist named Smriti Daharia.
I also planned another event in kids’ hospital with my alumni association on ‘Valentines’ day’ of 2015-- where we added clowning, gifts (e.g. hand-made masks) as a way to make 600 kid patients and their family members smile.
Half-day retreats: In line with various ServiceSpace projects like Awakin Circles and MBL retreats, I hosted for half-day retreat, couple of times in 2015. These typically included sitting in silence followed by an activity of head, hand or heart.
Volunteer home: After a local retreat and Awakin circle at Rajesh and Vallari's home, the conversation went till late night and 3 young women found it difficult to go home at that hour. This was a full-circle moment for me, because this was my original intent from a year ago and finally, it happened. I was a little concerned about my preparedness, but the girls managed very cool-ly and in a supportive way. That night-stay gave me immense satisfaction. Service becomes possible, not when you offer but when it is accepted with delight.
I also got a chance to help one of the incoming NGO's with a website launch at nachiappanfoundation.org.
I didn’t realize it right away, but this whole journey -- particularly in the last year -- has been immensely profound for me. As I reflect on what I have learned, I came up with five learnings ...
Simplicity: After offering space, it seemed right to occupy only 1 room, and use common area as required, for my personal use. This enabled the house to be easily available for any service / stay, without any re-organization requirement. I used to be careful about not making these areas, a part of my daily living.
Commitment: I found it convenient to commit to projects and felt humbled about the volunteering received for service. I made a decision not to rent out any room for money or think in transactional mode in this regard, as that would violate the offering for service. It helped to stay focused and contribute to something worthwhile.
Service: I liked to do the preparation required for each activity and cook some snacks for volunteers who came by to help. These efforts kept me going that extra-mile on holidays and learn organizing, cooking. I found it a privilege to spend some time in service mode and gain few Karma bucks from the universe! A super great deal :)
Friendships: Parents who came by to drop their kids for lessons of ‘Valuable Childhood’ still wish and offer a smile at me. Members who participated in the service projects are cool buddies to catch-up with in a simple, trustworthy relation. Asavari who stayed at my place, took me to her parents’ home the next day. They run a school on alternative education amidst nature. I loved the place, and my experience was a blessing. The family became my friends. My college alumni who participated in the Hospital kindness activity offered appreciation and showed willingness for further support.
Inner Transformation: This is the most important, I feel. The kindness projects described above were source of immense joy. The preparation shifted the thought process from any worries or complaints to a positive, creative direction. This mental orientation is difficult to achieve in normal circumstances when just living my own life. Each gathering and delivery gave moments of positivity, inspiration, deep content and simple joy to the soul. I love having been a part of this work.
When the house was used for all this work, so much happened within me and outside of me. I met many good people, made a few deep connections, and could practice working with heart and equanimity to deal with any challenges. I received support from volunteers, which gave a deep satisfaction and increased my self-confidence.
I offer my gratitude and respect to all who contributed to my journey in the last year. Offering a small space as an act of service, in 2014-15, was the best possible decision I could've made. I feel indebted to the universe for this wisdom and all priceless gifts that I received in return.