Saturday, October 31, 2009

2009 10 31. Saturday.

Had the 3rd meeting today of our little Communication Skills Group with Rachel, Nicolas and I. Went really well. At the first part I presented a draft meeting outline we could use. We try to use the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) structure of OFNR: Observe (what is actually happening), Feelings (what is our emotional response), Needs (what unmet needs are creating the emotional response) and Requests (what can be done to meet that need).

Then each of us had time for an extended check-in. As always, felt good to share with people who strive to listen with full attention and compassion.

The meeting structure we're experimenting with goes something like this:

* Start with an Amma prayer
* Everyone does a quick check-in to make sure we're all feeling safe and settled enough to participate.
* Roundtable discussion about any thoughts from the last meeting and any ideas for the group to consider.
* See how much time we have for the extended check-ins and select someone to be the timekeeper.
* Extended check-in: Each person can share as they desire and make requests. Requests can include a request for feedback and reflective feedback, request for suggestions. If the person who's sharing makes no request then the rest of us just listen silently and attentively, only asking questions as needed.
* Quick feelings check. Any feelings need processing?
* Closing roundtable discussion: Share any thoughts about this meeting and ideas for next meeting.
* Closing Amma prayer.

I didn't share too much during my turn. Things have recently been pretty quiet for me inside and out. Turns out Nicolas is leaving for 10 days right after the meeting. He speaks fluent Russian and he met some Russian friends who offered him a free ride to go see Sai Baba. Rachel and I decided for her and I to meet in a few days. I'll miss having Nicolas at the next meeting. He's a wonderful guy and really shares from a deep place.

For those who don't know, Sai Baba is probably the most popular guru in India with even more followers than Amma. Many, many Indians and westerners consider Sai Baba to be their guru and a perfect incarnation of God. Same way most of us feel about Amma. In fact, there are many who consider both Amma and Sai Baba to be their gurus. They often say its like having a mother and a father. For me, Amma is Mom and Dad all rolled into one short plump dimple cheeked ball of Supreme Huggable Love.

Like Amma, Sai Baba has a very large charitable network of schools, ashrams, hospitals, housing, etc. Back in the states I visited about 3 or 4 different Sai Baba groups and enjoyed all of them. I always felt they were humble, sincere and filled with love for their Guru and all people. The main activity at the Sai Baba meetings I went to were bhajans or songs in praise of the various Hindu gods, followed by a delicious vegetarian potluck. Sometimes they included a Jesus bhajan. Many Hindus feel that Jesus is an incarnation of God (Avatar) just like Krishna, Lord Rama, Buddha, etc. The idea that there can be only one incarnation of God on earth is a foreign concept to almost all Hindus. At different times there's been so many incarnations of God in India that you couldn't swing a cat without hitting one.

(smile, just teasing)

Card-carrying dyed-in-the-wool Advaitans just laugh at the whole notion of avatars. "Everything already *is* God, you silly people." they say. The Bhakti people just roll their eyes and reply "Yes, yes, we've told you a million times we already know that, but the leela of devotion is so divinely sweet and wonderful! You heady, intellectual advaitans are missing all the fun." And the debate goes on... With the name of "Advait", you can probably guess which side I'm on. Now excuse me while I lose myself in some blissful bhajans, shedding sweet tears of devotion. Or are those tears just because I missed morning chai?

I'm now trying to get in the habit of doing a podcast fast every Tues and Sat. I'm definitely addicted to my podcasts so its good for me to practice doing without at least for two days a week. So many good podcasts out there! The PC security podcast I really need to listen to. There's a lot of serious computer viruses out there and I need to keep my data safe.

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