On a balmy Saturday afternoon they gathered. Some drawn by the promise of warm spicy chai, others out of curiosity, all by the opportunity to share and express their hearts and minds with like minded souls, to feel the pulse of young adults in Sydney. Though their numbers were few—six in total—the conversation was rich and meaningful, and all left feeling deeply bonded and understanding that they had contributed to something larger than themselves.
It started with a meditation—connecting with their vision of a perfect world. Then through meaningful conversation and sharing the group decided that 5 core values encompassed their shared vision: SOLIDARITY, RESPECT, ENTHUSIASM, HONESTY and APPRECIATION. It was noted with some interest that ‘peace’ wasn’t chosen as a specific value, and that that perhaps was due to the already existent (relative) peace in the country they were in.
Finally, through poetry and art, each soul created a representation of their vision for the world and these were then shared with the group; each soul being warmly applauded for their contribution and trust in having shared their heart with the others. This was followed by a few minutes of silence in which each filled the circle in which they sat with all the deepest good wishes of their heart that each ones vision manifest.
The group left feeling inspired and motivated to create their vision. The magic and joy of the afternoon, of coming together with other young adults to share and discuss “the deepest things”(Rilke), set the stage for future similar Om Cafés as an ongoing service plan for young adults in Sydney.
DATE: 17th Nov. 2011 TIME: 3:30 TO 5.30 PM
VENUE: CIT College.
PARTICIPANTS: 35 Engineering Students
Age group: 18 to 20
FORMAT OF THE PROGRAM
We began the program with 1min Silence
Introduction: The students were given introduction about Radio Madhuban and Spotlight Values through PPT and then brief introduction on the value ‘Courage’.
Ice Breaking Phase: Students were given 5min to introduce each other within the group and give a name to their group. They came out with very interesting names, viz. Life and Adventure, Harmony, Courage spreaders, Passion etc. Before they jump into explore phase we read Dadi Janki’s message on Courage.
In this phase the Students were given sets of two questions per table which they explored for about 10 minutes, and then each group shared the essence of their discussions with other groups. It was quite interesting to listening them because each group came up with some unique experience, although few groups’ experiences were very funny but they were adventurous. The harmony group has come out with nice poem on Courage.
Two of the groups chose to express the essence of their discussion using random objects and creating a story. And others loved to bring the child out in them by playing with colours and crayons. They were so involved in showing the courageous acts in the painting and making dramas.
Each of the groups came up and presented their individual stories before the whole group. Though this concept of creating story with random objects on particular value was new to them but still they showed courage to do that and they came out with nice stories. The paintings of other groups were very inspiring, showing different dimensions of the value courage and the relation of other values with it.
At the end of the program all the students including the lecturers made promise, to practice this value in their life in a write manner by making hand impressions on a white cloth with colors. To remember this promise they were given handmade book marks with the message on it.
Students Feedback: ‘It was something new and different kind of experience.
All their paintings and commitments have been displayed on the walls of college canteen as it was their favorite place. All their discussions will be aired on Sunday in Spotlight Values Radio Show.
The café was set and so was the music, as the participants entered they were really excited for us to get
the ball rolling!
What happens when you enter a Café???
A. We order drinks and perhaps food) that’s exactly how we began our menu included:
1) The Chocolate Shake (Choco Latte) – To our amazement 80% ordered this!
2) Cold Coffee – A few did order
3) Indian Masala Tea – Surprise of the day was that none of our young adult participants ordered this
We then began introducing Spotlight Values, people were really excited to begin the explore phase in
their groups. Lots of wonderful points emerged about Respect; some felt that respect has to be earned
through our actions whereas there were some who felt to get Respect one has to give Respect.
After having a very deep discussion, we moved into the next phase of Express. This time due to the
large no. of participants we decided to allot each group a certain activity. The activities given were
challenging for the participants but it brought out the best of them creatively. The activities were;
Singing, storytelling, art, drama, story bag exercise, make a recipe on Respect, Dancing. The groups
really had a lot of fun and wanted more time to showcase more of their inner beauty.
We had a small introduction of the SV’s blog, and a 5 minute meditation commentary on the value of
Respect followed (done by Sis. Sharmila).
The evening ended with the participants taking a pledging to the value of Respect (check out the photos).
Mamta, Sharmila, Rahul and Naveen
Special thanks to our organizers- Sis. Meena, Sis. Sangita, Sis. Anu and most importantly Br. Mukul
On a nice and pleasant morning we were invited to host the Om café in Satara for the students of Raje Academy. These students are not ordinary ones but are ones who go on to become policemen and army men after graduating from this school; hence they serve and protect our society.
In total there were 300 students, 50 girls and the rest were boys. We started the session in the large classroom introducing to them about spotlight values and about the Om café there was a lot of curiosity surrounding this since this was something very new for them. We were given 3 classrooms in total so we allotted the girls to one room and we split the boys into 3 large groups, 2 groups moved to different rooms allotted to them.
After splitting the groups we began forming smaller groups, after which we gave them a task ie they had to name their own group and also find 3 common values which they have learnt from their parents, teachers and friends so far in life. So they really had a nice time going deeper and seeing their life in a flashback.
Each group had also been distributed their questions for non-violence which they began exploring, they found it relevant to explore non-violence since they would be doing a job in which violence plays a major role but how could they distinguish between when to use violence and when to not use it is what they learnt.
In the express phase each group was given a task due to the large size and time constraints rather than an open mic segment, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Some groups were asked to sing, dance, tell a story, and draw. This phase happened to be the one where everyone had a good time and more importantly these students got to showcase their inner creativity, since they come from a field which is more physical and completely different.
In the last phase in our own subgroups the participants exchanged their creativity and answers to the questions they had explored with everyone.
Sis. Nalini from Mira Society, Pune was our spiritual resource and she then spoke about the importance of non-violence. She spoke about how violence causes harm and distress in society and she gave special focus on its consequences. She then gave a commentary on non-violence for five minutes.
As a part of the International Year of Youth the general assembly held a high level meeting on youth from July 25th to 26th 2011. The theme of the meeting was Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.
During the opening session the UN Secretary –General, Ban Ki-moon, captured the attention of the youth with his question “Are we doing enough for you?” To which the youth responded with a resounding no. His follow up question of “Can we do more for you?” opened the platform for discussion on how to achieve more for our youth population.
Among all the many extra ordinary panelists, there were a few who stood out such as (their names and titles). These panelists put the spotlight on youth potential by moving beyond the stereotypical issues that government officials frequently focus on.
As the discussion flowed between government dignitaries, Youth Representatives, and humanitarians, it was clear that key issues were emerging. One of the main issues brought to the forefront was the need to recognize that Youth is not only the foundation of tomorrow, but an active force in today’s world. Youth need to be a part of the current leadership process; not relegated to the sidelines while an ambiguous future is formed. As Mr. Romulo Dantas said “There is nothing about us without us.”
The recognition that youth need to be involved now spurned numerous government officials to propose the formation of a UN youth committee. One of the proposed purposes of the youth committee will be to document the outcome of the High Level Youth Meeting; thus creating dialogue and accountability between youth and world leaders. It is our teams’ belief that such a committee will be highly beneficial in elevating youth to leadership roles.
The UN Meeting offered a promising start to make our leadership structure relevant in the world today – a world where the population of many countries is 60-80% youth. We youth are a vital, vibrant resource to our planet, and it’s time for us to step forward and shine. For as His Excellency (his name) the President of the Republic of Benin stated “youth idealism and their great willingness to take risks…creates an immense force for change.”
During the meeting, it was encouraging to see that many of the speakers addressed the necessity to cultivate the values of dignity, cooperation, tolerance, equality, courage and many others. Hearing them speak of these values reinforced the significance of the Spotlight Values program, through which dialogue and mutual understanding is achieved among youth.
*Spotlight Values team representatives: Kinnari, Kristina, Dominique, Lekha, and Aarti
Date: 24 July 2011
Venue: Tapasya Dham, (BK Center), Next to Gurudwara, Saraswati Nagar, Navghar Road, Bhayandar East. Mumbai- 401105 | INDIA
Participants: Teenagers (13 to 17), 9th and 10th grade (high school), junior college.
35 in number.
Co-ordinator and host: Shivani Sharma & Siddharth.
Time given for entire workshop: (evening) around 2.5 hours
We began the evening by welcoming all to Tapasya Dham, as some were first timers and few of the kids had taken the 7 days course, and knew ShivBaba very well, and also meditated regularly. They were very co-operative and already were practicing respect and unity which was visible in their attitude, as they didn’t make much noise when they entered, which is quite rare in teens here. They had respect for the program, for the center too.
They all sat comfortably in the ambiance that was created with candles, and light music and red lights as they anticipated the event. As they approached, they already formed groups.
With patience they listened to all that I spoke about spotlight values and saw the video with great interest and had interesting expressions on their faces and were excited that they could create something like that. In fact they asked for a replay of the video!
Well, after the intro, I took them to the process of exploring for a few minutes, just to break the ice and get them into interaction! They introduced each other and discussed what is common in the group. I gave them two Qs – do young people get respect today? And do young people give respect today? I got involved with them and guided their conversations and it was fun actually to hear them. After a while, they shared from their groups what they discussed and they realized they actually are not giving respect to others and hence not receiving respect from others! Parents, friends, peers, teachers, elders, maid, watchman, driver, poor people, underprivileged ones, etc etc. they actually felt that life can be much better if respect is exchanged especially with those whom we take for granted! They even shared that respect should be given to nature, environment, education, even little things that we use daily, appreciate your mom for her efforts, love and respect your siblings and accept them as they are. After about 20 minutes of exploring the value of respect I took them to the next phase of express where they spent about 45 minutes creating paintings and stories based on respect, and it was fun to get involved with them as they were sipping cold coffee along with their creativity. There noses were buried into their jobs as if they are in for a competition and each one wants to put in their best and claim the first award! One of the groups was a bit confused as they really weren’t coordinating initially but after guidance from one mataji, their story also got sorted out and was in fact very sensible when they actually presented.
Many groups shared that only when we give respect do we get respect, which is quite in tune with the two Qs they explored initially! One group played a skit where one set of parents, who are although uneducated but are educating their daughter, are embarrassed when the child fares poorly in school and she insults the parents; and then she receives the same disrespect from her own child when she becomes a parent! The message was more than clear!
Another group was of the opinion that we msut respect the different colours which represent the different types of people in our lives. Yet another group also shared that what I do, reflects back at me, and I can expect respect only if I give it, not otherwise! I cant demand respect.
Respect should be given to mother nature. To education and books whom we take for granted. Respect to every little thing we possess ‘cause it helps us put our lives in order. Respect in relations. Some even felt that giving or exchanging respect actually can turn devils into Gods or into good people! Such strong was their feeling for the value.
In fact I encouraged them to share respect within the group by encouraging everyone to talk and others listen with care. Also give respect to other groups when they are sharing, thus boosting their morale. Its surprising to see such young teenagers are so sensible and well behaved! I could feel love and harmony with them. After the exchange, we took the pledge by giving our hand impressions by diping them into a spread of colours, which everyone enjoyed a lot. And we exchanged our group ledges with everyone. The impressions are even better, because it is longer lasting than a candle light pledge. And its exciting to see teens having fun like three year olds. It was put up for everyone to see next day in murli class at the center!!
We did a few minutes guided meditation in which they all sat in patience and in fact even focused on Baba’s light. We shared a few encouraging words with them thereafter and toli (home made chocolates) and blessings with drishti. They promised to stay in touch and come back soon as they really enjoyed the entire workshop.
Los Angeles center hosted the Om Café at the center on July 30th. The location was the new constructed backyard at the center with spacious and vibrating atmosphere. The young guests started gradually and were welcomed with some vibrant music and energetic Indian chai. The guests were some contacts of BKs who brought several of their friends.
Since the month of August is the month of Friendship , the topic of the Om café was exploring, experiencing and sharing the aspects of friendship. The evening started with Bro Vivek welcoming all the guests with his mix of love and humor. After the quick introductions, Bro Vivek took the guests into the appreciative inquiry based session on discussing the aspects of friendship. The first discussion was recognizing the friendship among other people and sharing the observation on what inspired one from others friendship …The values and beauty around it. The next discussion was exploring the aspects of the friendship with ones own friends and what makes the friendship tick. The guests were very enthusiastic and shared among each other their experiences of friendship. After the sessions some of the guests shared some of the stories which touched them . The Bro Vivek introduced some of the deeper concepts about the friendship and how the relationship of one with themselves effects the relationship with others.
Then Sr Priya took the next session and discussed the deeper aspects of the relationship with the self. It took them into deeper dimension of understanding their self and exploring the spiritual field where all the relationships take birth. She introduced the deeper meaning of the self and how to create friendship with everyone in the various forms of relationships one has externally and internally and how it creates the whole set of threads where one leads the life . The youth enjoyed the sessions they can relate to the various real life examples used during the discussion. She gave them interesting questions to explore the friendship with the self and others . Then the youth were led to a silent reflection on friendship and were asked to look at each other and hold their hands with that feeling of deep spiritual friendship, following it everyone tied friendship bands to each other. Even though the session went over time everyone was enjoying the wonderful vibes. Sr Hema ( who came specially for the Om Café) came and discussed about friendship and the importance of meditation in the friendship with the self. The session ended with some beautiful music full of wonderful voice and toil and blessings. After that the wonderful Indian dinner was served. Everyone enjoyed the dinner along with getting to know each other and making new friends in the true spirit of the occasion of Friendship!
This was our 2nd Om Café back to back and we were really excited hosting this one on a completely different value “Respect’’ which is so important in the corporate world. In this session we had members of the Board of Directors who took part as participants and the other employees who could not be part of the morning sessions were part of this one. Thanks to the HR team and Heena they organized the schedule of their colleagues so that they could benefit and have fun in one of the Om Cafes.
We began this session again the Board Room and introduced the participants to Spotlight Values & BKWSU and also briefed them about UN IYY. We split the participants into 5 large groups and 2 were seated in the board room and the other 3 groups were seated in the Pantry where decorations were done for them specially. Each group had been given questions printed and they were asked to ‘Explore’ those. One of the participants in her feedback said ‘’ the exploration of the values in depth reminded me of my childhood since my parents would teach me values and I would practice it, the explore phase allowed me to recall those days and actually make me practice these values also in the future’’
We provided the groups with different objects from a hair comb to toothpaste. The participants had to come up with a single story with the diff. objects they had received. They were only given 15 minutes to plan and come up with a story. Some groups also did art to explain their story and overall this phase of the program was the most fun as well as the most creative session.
Once the time was up all the groups were asked to showcase their creativity and told their story to the larger group, this was the ‘Express’ phase of the program. We then pledged to the value of ‘Respect’ by lighting a candle and decided to practice this value in our daily lives with our colleagues, friends, and family, and to the world at large. We ended the program with 5 minutes of Meditation on the value of Respect.
Rahul, Heena, Shivani & Hena
Special thanks to our spiritual resource – br.ramarao (dadar, Mumbai)
We had an Om Café in the premises of Perfect Relations that too in the Board of Directors room! We also hanged blessing cards from the roof in the board room and also lit tea lights across the room and also the pantry. We initially planned to organize this in an external place like the terrace but rains were the reason we couldn’t.
The first session was in the afternoon and we had 56 participants, we had this Om Café on the value of Acceptance. We initially introduced the participants to Spotlight Values project and briefed them about UN IYY and then split them into groups for the ‘Explore’ phase, some groups were asked to sit in the Pantry area where we had decorated it for them in a café style setting. Their menu for the café was Cold Coffee, Sandwiches and Chips which they loved munching!
After the explore phase, the participants were asked to showcase their creativity in the ‘Express’ phase. All the groups were given objects and had to come up with a story through art, or they could do a skit, or they could make a poem or song on it but they had to do something with the value of ‘Acceptance’ and had to be original is the challenge we posed to them. This was the most fun part of the program where participants really had a good time expressing themselves in their groups. They then had to come back in the larger group back in the Board Room where they had to present their creations this phase was the ‘Exchange’ phase. The creativity ranged from stories to poems…
We then previewed to them our SV website and encouraged them to use it. After which we all pledged to use the value of ‘Acceptance’ in our daily lives by using hand paints and applying them on chart paper in silence.
Lastly, we ended the Om Café with guided commentary on the value of Acceptance.
Rahul, Heena, Shivani & Hena
Special thanks to our spiritual resource - br.ramarao (dadar, Mumbai)