An urge to make this life more worthwhile started 4 years back with my first Vipassana meditation experience. Since then it has been growing stronger but I didn’t and couldn’t do anything different from regular day to day work. Professional work has been good but could not give me enough satisfaction and I was always looking to do something more, thinking that its with lot of difficulty we get this life and I have to make the best out of it.
In December 2011, I met my mentor in California whom I had never met before but had been talking to for last 4-5 years on phone and emails regarding personal development and the online venture I started 5 years back and he introduced me to this wonderful non-profit organization Service Space and told me a lot about it and its members. I had never been keen on being part of any non-profit organization. They used to scare me away but for some reason, Service Space truly inspired me for all the selfless work they do and the simple principals they believe in. The thing that motivated me the most about them was doing only small things instead of trying to change or save the world. I started talking to them and got the idea of starting weekly meditation group at my place . I was so touched by these people who started the concept of Wednesday meditation 15 years back and are still doing it every single Wednesday with around 50 people in each session. A typical format of this Wednesday weekly meditation is something like this . These Wednesday sessions are all over the world now - . There might be one in your area if you are interested.
I live in Outer Banks, North Carolina and at the time I started , I didn’t know anyone who would be interested in weekly meditation so I went to the yoga studio near my place and asked the owner about people’s interest in meditation and if I could use her studio to hold these sessions because of their location. Since they were busy on Wednesday evenings and we had to serve food after the meditation so it didn’t work out. I talked to another yoga studio which was coincidentally already doing Wednesday meditation in the studio but no discussion session or food. The guy there told me that they get around 6-7 people so he doubts that many people would be willing to come to my home which is kinda 6-7 minutes off the main road but I can still try.
I kept on going to and from with the whole thing all by myself for couple of months. Then Service space people whom I had never met helped me to figure out the logistics, inspired me to start it and told me ” You can think of us as a bunch of cheerleaders on the sideline chanting “Shweta Shweta YEAH!” with our arms raised in the air! “. It changed my perspective on lot of things after getting involved with Service Space Community. I got to learn a lot from them and it reminded me of the quote – “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
Finally 4-5 people showed great interest and we decided to start the sessions from July 18, 2012. I created this website- http://www.obxwednesdays.com for information. Just by word of mouth we had 12 people for our first meditation session including my family members i.e husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law. When things have to work, everything starts falling in place. My family showed great support. None of them had meditated before but they helped me do a rehearsal session on the Sunday before to increase my confidence. They are always there in each and every session. Since July 18, 2012 we have been doing these sessions first and third Wednesday of every month. Every time we have 20-25 people coming to our place. I just love to cook so it gives me immense joy cooking for these people. We usually serve 6-7 items. I have learned sooo many new dishes so I can serve different food items.There is not even a single Indian in our group other than my family members but they all love the Indian dishes we serve. I have tried so many food items like papdi chaat, pav bhaji, bhel puri, Idli snack, triffle pudding, rum cake, Tres leches cake, Tiramasu, different pastas, soups, salads etc etc. There have been certain Wednesdays when I wasn’t feeling well but there was something about these sessions that it would give me energy to prepare food and manage other logistics for these 20-25 people.
There are always challenges like people not rsvping till the last day, people rsvping but not coming, finalizing the food menu, too much leftover food, deciding and leading the weekly discussion etc etc but still its been such a joyous journey holding these sessions. I have met such wonderful people as a result of this. There is so much love, learning and inspiring moments during our circle of sharing. Its so amazing to see how everyone has a gift and has something to offer.There are so many people who had never meditated before but are so good at it now. We eat in silence for first 15 minutes which gives everyone a chance to eat mindfully and really appreciate the food. The gratitude people express and the energy they bring is beyond words. The happiness and peace people have when they leave our home keeps me going. As a result of this, I have been involved in lot of other volunteer work in our area and got my company involved in lot of community work. Though it might look like that I am giving here but I am the one who has been receiving the most. We have celebrate birthdays, Christmas, new year in this group like a family. I feel so grateful for being given this chance to serve. Its a small step towards the destination but I am so glad to have found the path I was looking for. Though there were lot of hurdles initially but when you really want something with good intentions, all the invisible and visible forces help to make it come true. It might take time but it does happen.
I will write more about couple of initiatives we took in this group like experimenting with Smile cards , celebrating Christmas with gratitude journals, doing a 21 day challenge which has been going great.