The Listening in Awakin circles @ Santa Clara

I rediscovered the power of listening in the Awakin circles at Santa Clara, CA (pretty much in the same way that Buddha rediscovered the way out of suffering :) ). And also a very strong sense of community, togetherness, belonging. People gathered (still do) every Wednesday evening to sit in silence for an hour followed by reading of a passage and then passing around of the mike for deep sharing and listening. I went there every Wednesday for many months when I was in the bay area. So profound was the impact that it became like a pilgrimage, a weekly dip in the holy river. It lifted my spirits greatly at a much needed time. And it dint matter what the passage was about. People always found something beautiful to share. Even the silence was healing. 

I wondered what went on there. Was it the practice of sitting before the sharing? Was it the feeling of connection with others? Was it the sharing when so many were listening, reassuring, resonating with you? Was it the theme of the passage? Was it the knowledge that we were all the same and we were all either joyful or suffering? Was it the deep acceptance of our vulnerabilities as we spoke our honest truths? (Deepest form of listening?) May be all.

Sitting there again and again what I saw emerge was the power of listening. It dint even matter what we talked about. We dint even need to speak our turns. There were so many stories. Real ones. All we had to do was connect with something in the passage. Or connect with what others shared. Mostly there was always something and the mirror neurons did the rest of the magic. When someone else spoke of something that I resonated with, I felt heard. When I said something someone else resonated with, they felt heard too. In an instant the I became the we. The joy just multiplied. And then the nods, smiles and wonderful food in noble silence was always the icing on the top. 

To me this was the highest service. I feel greatly inspired by the experience, the great bunch of people and especially the leadership of Nipun. I recently posted the TED talk by Nipun Mehta on "Designing for generosity" and am sharing here again to spread the joy and inspiration. Nipun is a true leader in the way that he epitomizes the spirit of service. He brings out the best in you, accepts you for whoever you are, deeply respects you, listens intently and genuinely cares about you. If he has seen you once he recognizes you if you pass by him again or come to another circle. I have found this kind of deep respect most rare. There are very few people who are capable of doing that. I admire this the most about him.