There was excitement and eagerness in the youth of UAE when they were told about the concept of ‘Om Cafe’. The much heard of and much awaited day finally did arrive. ‘Om Cafe’ took place for
the very first time in UAE. We had participants from various emirates of UAE – Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.
As soon as we entered, we were invited to a very beautiful ambience, the very spacious seating area beautifully designed in white, the waterfall on the side and the sun shining through the glass of the roof – the ‘Sky Lounge’ in the mall had a view that was welcoming.
Each of us were offered beverages to sip on while we kick-started the session with an ice-breaker exercise where we were asked to associate each day of the week to a color, which was then shared with a partner. The result was that none of the answers matched another’s. It was to make us realize how none of us are right or wrong to choose Black for a Friday but each one of us are unique and special in our own way.
We were then introduced to the topic being Courage and how each of us were to Explore –
Express – Exchange under the activities that were to follow.
The first where we were to explore the meaning of courage, we were divided into groups of four, each having 6-8 members. It was a very interesting activity where we were to brainstorm our views and share personal experiences.
1. What is the relation between pure feelings and courage?
2. Relate an incident in your life where you had to exercise courage. Where did you get the
This not only helped us share insights with one another but also made us introspect that which we hold within us, the strength that lies within, that we may not necessarily know of – Courage!
The next activity was a complete surprise, a bag was taken around to each participant who were to pick any one object that came at hand. Once again we were dvivded into groups, this time giving us a chance to mingle with different members. The activity required us to come up with a story that had a beginning, core story and an ending to it depicting a scenario where courage has been shown. But the most interesting aspect was that the story should include each object picked by the members of the group.
No doubt, it was the creative skills of the participants that came into play, where one group enacted the story, another narrated using the props with humor. Here not only did we get to learn from each other but it also made us free to express ourselves in the way we wanted. This turned out to be the most hilarious exercise ever!
Soon after when we were asked whether we would like to return the next month for another ‘Om Cafe’ gathering, all hands went up in enthusiam.
The session concluded with meditation commentary, toli and blessing card from the sisters. Later we were prized with a Commitment card that needed to be filled by us on our committment to exercise Courage in a situation that we feared. This was when we knew we did not only come here to learn but also take back something with us that would strengthen us from within.
We started the evening introducing the participants to the UN IYY and also telling them about Spotlight Values and Brahma Kumaris.
The first thing we did was take orders!! We put up a menu on the projector and ask them for their choice of drink. After the orders were placed we moved into the explore phase where each group (there were 2 large groups) had questions placed on their tables and were asked to explore on the Value of Acceptance. Lots of amazing in depth points emerged some of them were:
- Acceptance is not the same as compromise
- Acceptance has to be from the inner self, it’s not an external thing
- Examples of acceptance such as poverty in India, disability of people surrounding us.
After the explore phase we moved into the express phase of the program. The participants were given different objects and were asked to create a single story linking it with the value of Acceptance plus they had to use the varied aspects of the objects which were given to them. They were just given 10 minutes to think. We also kept a condition in front of them that had to be original which would ensure they were creative.
In the next phase which is the ‘Exchange’ phase they had to exchange their creativity with the other group and showcase their work. We ended the evening with a 5 minute meditation commentary on the value of Acceptance and our sweet BK sister had prepared ‘toli’ for the participants which they received before they left.
Om Café on Courage in the BK center in Vadgaon Sheri, Pune on 12th June, 2011.
We started the evening by showing the intro video of SV, after which we split the participants into 4 groups as there were 24+ participants.
We then began with explore phase with each group and we took a different approach to our previous Om Cafes ie they would explore each question and then share a few collective points with the larger group. We got to hear some great courageous experiences and I must say they were really inspiring and to state a few would be unfair as they all were unique and inspiring in their own way. The exploration phase was made more wonderful with some nice ‘Indian Masala Chai’ prepared with love from our wonderful BK sisters.
The next phase was the most creative phase of the event which was the ‘Express’ phase. We asked the groups to depict a story by using art. We gave them 15 minutes to prepare their art and then to narrate their stories, it became a really creative and innovative evening.
Lastly we summed up the event and we gave them an actual presentation of the SV website and encouraged them to log on and share their creativity.
The cafe was organized in a traditional country house in the area (called trulli). Perfect weather allowed us to be out in the open, under the shade of olive trees. The evening began with instrumental music played by some of the participants. A brief introduction to the project and the Brahma Kumaris followed. The value in the spot light was Acceptance. During the explore step, all 15 participants shared very profound and personal experiences with acceptance. A good chuck of time (45 minutes) was spent exploring in groups of 3. Two different expression pieces were then created. First, all of us worked individually to identify areas and situations in life where using acceptance could bring us greater peace of mind. Also identifying new awareness and supporting values that would help make this possible. Then working again in groups of 3, creating a recipe for a dish of acceptance, using the newly identified awareness by the group members. One group decided to build a house with acceptance, describing each space of the house with the supporting values.
An example of a recipe-
Tirami Su per l’anima
(Tirami Su for the soul)
500 grams- Mascarpone of Love
2 spoons- Self-awareness
1 cup- Flour of Compassion
1 cup- Garnish of the Power of the Supreme being
Mix the ingredients together, adding self awareness to love first, followed by compassion. Bake in the oven of bliss and garnish with powers from the supreme. And enjoy!!
A member of each group then shared their recipe while all enjoyed some tasty fruit salad! We were lead into a guided meditation on acceptance which was much appreciated by all. The evening came to an end with all of us making personal commitments to practice acceptance for the next month. The enthusiasm and positive energy of all made the 3 hours seem like a breeze!
A Spotlight Values Om Cafe was organized in Tempio, Sardinia (Italy) on June 4, 2011. The value being spot-lighted was Love.
The evening began with a short presentation, introducing the participants to the initiative and the SV blog. Some initial thoughts were shared on Love by Bea and Ester, following which the band played music addressing the value. The exploration was encouraged at an individual and group level. The participants spent time reflecting on the question posed to them and then shared in their groups. Each group was asked to come up with a slogan capturing the essence of all the sharing. They were then to creatively express this slogan- by writing a song, drawing or creating a recipe for Love.
Ingredients for one of the recipes created were listed as follows-
500 g of purity
250 g of sensitivity
300 g of transparency
100 g of humility
200 g of desire
50 g of forgiviness.
After the beautiful sharing, the participants played a few games experimenting with expressing Love. The evening came to an end with a minute of meditation and toli and blessings being shared with all.
All left with smiling faces, and we hope to organize an Om Cafe each month!
We started the evening with an introduction about SV and the participants looked a bit nervous and curious about the Om café. Naveen had the instant idea of an ice-breaking session which worked wonders, we split the participants into 2 large groups, and we then asked them to introduce themselves but the condition we kept was they must introduce their partner or fellow group participant and also describe their group member as a particular bird or animal and give a reason as to why they chose that particular bird or animal. It turned out to be a very interesting exercise.
We then moved into the explore phase and discussed on the value of courage and remembered Gandhi and Martin Luther King and discussed their journeys both different but they shared common values of non-violence and courage, and both treated people with dignity and respect plus we also had a wonderful ‘Indian Chai’ made by our wonderful BK sisters filled with love.
Me and Naveen had split ourselves into each group to facilitate and enjoy the rich conversations.
After the explore phase which was really deep, we then moved into the express phase. We played the story bag exercise game and asked the participants of each group to create a scene of the story but there must be a particular flow to it. We gave objects such as a coin, a clock and most importantly we didn’t give them enough time to plan! We just gave them a minute! But the exercise for both the groups was fun and we all got to know how creative we can become!
We concluded the evening by taking a pledge to these values, we all lit a small candle and pledged that we shall all shine in our lives and worlds with these values which not only help us but also inspire our worlds.
The last bit and perhaps the best bit was the 5 minute meditation given by Sr. Urmila and we all then had toli.
A trio of young adults from Montreal recently met with MP Justin Trudeau, the son of former prime minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Their intention was to present to him the Om Cafe/ Spotlight Values project, and how we have been participating in the UN International Year of Youth. J. Trudeau listened to us with great interest especially when hearing the great benefits many young adults have been experiencing with the integration of various values in their lives. We invited him to our next 10th Om Cafe which will be a celebration of this amazing year for youth. He was really touched when he saw the Spotlight Values video and how the project has gone worldwide. Aged 39, he is the Official Opposition Critic for Youth, as well as a committed advocate for the environment. It was a very nice experience to connect with a politician who is concerned for the future of youth, and the future of their world.
On May 4th Suriname hosted their second OM CAFE on the subject Respect. The participants first had to explore what respect means and show schematic which road you have to follow to reach to respect. In their groups they also discussed the way they want to get treated and what giving respect to others means to them. After exploring for them self they had to do something creative in which they had to present respect. Collages en receipts for respects were some of the outcome. Then they had to make a promise to their self what they will do with (more) respect from that day on, something they never did with respect. They had to write this down and keep it for themselves. At the end they were free to share a blessing with each other by writing something good about their self and exchange the cards with the group. We ended the program with a short meditation practice on this subject and received sweets en blessing from Zr. Loes, Coordinator of the BK in Suriname.
The BK youth of Suriname recently hosted an OM CAFÉ on the virtue Courage. This was the first OM CAFÉ and because it was a trial we decided to first invite all BK youths in Suriname. It was really nice to see how creative and enthusiastic the participants were. We had an Café setting and shared our thoughts about this virtues. When it was time for Express some surprisingly acts were prepared: songs, drama, sketches. Because there were BK youths we had an inspiring presentation about the book Adidev in which a lot of good examples are written about this subject.
At the end we had blessings and toil from Zr. Loes, National Coordinator of the BK in Suriname. She also shared some words about the subject. We had lunch together and had a great time together. We are preparing for the next Om Café to reach more youth in Suriname.
This activity was done in the Youth Prison in Trinidad.The ages range from 12-20.To explore Respect,we first played a music video on Respect by DJ Bobo and shared a little on the value.We then presented two questions to the youth and collected their responses and allowed them to share their responses.
We then had them express through song,rap,poem,story,acronym or drawings what Respect meant to them.
Finally in the exchange part,they were allowed to come and explain what they did to the entire group.Some did give us their creations to explain to the larger group as they were a bit shy.
Finally,we ended with the meditation on Respect.
Going into the prison was an eye opener to all who were present.When the youth in the prison heard that what they were sharing and creating would go on to this website,they became even more enthusiastic and eager to share.The fact that they have a voice outside of those walls have really inspired them and the team here in Trinidad to showcase what they did so that people outside and all over the world can see the talents they possess.