Audrey - Welcome to this weeks Global Kindspring Call, the purpose of these calls is to share stories and to tell stories. They are stories that help plant seeds for a more compassionate society while fostering our inner transformation. We typically do this by holding conversations with guest speakers from all walks of life who inspire us with their actions to live in a more service orientated way. This week you are all our guest speakers because we have a special participative call inspired by Kind Springs 21 day reverence challenge. On April 25th over 4700 people in 101 countries around the globe to joined in to commit to practising reverence in their daily lives. SO today is day 20 of the challenge and we are really excited to hear all of your stories. The theme is the ripples and reflections of reverence as part of the 21 challenge.
Audrey - I am pleased to have Birju ?? chair the call and he will invite reflections and stories. The 21 day challenge came about from a family in Japan who arranged a gathering every year at the foot of mount Fuiji to celebrate a practice of just wishing people well through prayer and meditation to all countries around the world. They gather thousands of people at the foot of the mountain, as part of this they wanted to invite people to spend 21 days leading up to the gathering engaging in practices of reverence. It has been very powerful to see the 4700 people that signed up for the challenge to share and engage in reflections.
On the subject of reverence in a era where soundights of information can be got with the tap of a finger or where conversations with loved ones around the globe can enfold a the drop of a hat, how do we connect with the simple gifts in each moment? And in a time where people in cities see 5000 adds a day are we are inundated with so much stimulus what prompts us to witness the profound beauty and mystery of life, where do we find reverence? There of course these grand landscapes that helps us engage with reverence, millions of people visit Niagra, Great Wall of China, Yosemite etc yet with in the 21 day challenge we see connection with the small simple moments that we have been prompted to witness int he last 20 days, so I am looking forward to hearing your stories. As an introduction to Birju who will now kick of the sharing, Birju is a volunteer with the Awakening calls and also one the visionaries behind the 21 day challenge portal, in other realms he works in finance where he started hosting 21 day challenges in business on topics such as kindness and gratitude and mindfulness.
Birju - Welcome to all and my gratitude for everyone being on the call, I am calling in from Berkley today and it is interesting to me to pay attention to my own mind as I read the posts on the questions around reverence. As Audrey mentioned I come from a background of finance so I could not help but view somewhat through that lens and one of the topics I have been fascinated more recently is the idea that there are many forms of wealth out there. Financial wealth is one of them but there are others and my exerience of revenue on a moment to moment basis has been about seeing that I have a tremendous amount of wealth at any given moment regardless of my circumstance and to tap into that. I find that this is a practice and if I am not staying connected to the subtle and allowing myself to really feel the amazingness that is around all the time then I can miss it and so I have really appreciate this practice for that reason. I would love to transition over to inviting others into this space, as a little bit more context we do these kinds of challenges on the kind spring portal about every quarter and I would encourage you to consider this call as part of the challenge.
The idea is that these challenge do not take more than around 5 minutes to do and then of course we have the opportunity to write and share what is coming up for us on a daily basis, the research contiinues to show that there is tremendous importance in sharing in group, talking about what our lessons learned are, the word that researches use is practice, the importance of mixing together action and reflection. This space is about sharing regardless of your daily participation or not and what you have been learning from the process. The hope I have is that we end this call with a stronger sense of community and a deeper commitment to keep a practice going in our own lives. So I would like to invite everyone to share a little about yourself on this call. A simple question to start why was it that you signed up for this challenge?
Audrey - One thought that arrived for me when I was thinking about the reverence challenge was a recent study I was reading about where participants were asked to spend 1 minute looking up at a grove of very tall eucalyptus trees. Following the minute spent looking there was a staged encounter where someone dropped a handful of pens and it was found that the people that were asked to look at the trees (ver a control group) were much more likely to help the person pick up more pens. So I thought this was interesting in how this shows how reverence can bring us to a deeper connection with others.
Somic - I am calling from Sunnyvale and I was in NYC recently in this beautiful awakening circle hosted by Steve Chan and he told us all about the reverence challenge. There was something about this space where he had cooked for all these people without any expectations and it was his generosity that touched me so when he shared about the challenge I figured I should sign up. I feel the last 20 days have been so magical because reverence is something that helps me unlock the mystery of all the wisdom that exists on this planet. I may read lots of good stuff happening in the world but until I practice reverence I do not know that it is actually real, this has largely been my experience the last 20 days. I have been in some difficult and challenging situations in the last 20 days but somehow everything has been very smooth because it turns out everyone is here to help I believe because I have been approaching it with more reverence than previously.
In addition I have been seeing much more consistently is that in order to have reverence for anyone there is nothing the other person needs to do to earn that reverence, this was a big ahah for me. That I can actually choose to love someone or to revere them just for the reason that they are alive and it has nothing to do with if you agree or disagree with them. This was driven home powerfully to me in a work experience some years ago where we once had a manager who's sole message was he wanted to outsource the jobs of to India and it was weird because though I come from India, I was in my first consulting job in the US, and my message was do not outsource you can do it much more productively by keeping the jobs here. So we were in this intense tussle and it was fascinating when were in the middle of all this there was a lot of negative energy building in the team against this manager and one day he called me to his room - I had the feeling that he was not going to like the work that we had been doing but we had been showing that our work was very productive so I decided to enter his room with the intent to honour him and revere him and respect him from the bottom of my heart without speaking a word.
Part of the reason I think I did this was I was reading The Power of Now at this time and when I did this he started asking me positive questions around out work and at one point he just soothed up and I thought the meeting was over so stood up as well, but all he was doing was reaching for a pen so he could start to take notes - I was stunned as I really had not expected him to listen so deeply and at the end of the meeting I felt so much connecting with this man and he was describing to me his big challenges in management and he left me with a question that ultimately became a big reason for me to go back to school and study further. So you never know if you go in with reverence especially with people that you may not agree with some magic things can happen.
Birju - We are all answering this question of what reverence means to us so another question is what does reverence mean to you. It can seem like quite a complex topic but I found the way Somic has answered it to be quite elegant. I am curious Somic if you think about this as a practice and around the topic of pushing our own boundaries of reverence.
Somic - Let me answer that with another story that comes to mind, this is perhaps even more relevant to the challenge because it happened in the last 20 days. In the Bay area where we live the price of rent is raising like crazy and we finally realised it was unaffordable for us to live unless we could buy a home. The only problem was we did not have any savings to put in a big down payment. So we finally found a real estate agent that specialised in just helping little people get in to little homes and this was her moto. We got into a process with her and just within 3 days managed to find something and make a bid. We then received a call from the real estate agent saying you have to go and see the home right now this was day 2 of the reverence challenge - unfortunately that day I was very sick and I was picking up my daughter from day care, so we rushed over to the house and as I driving I was thinking what does it mean to buy a home.
The information we had about this house was a family had lived there for 40 years and the husband had passed away and the wife was very sick so her daughter was selling the house on behalf of her mother. Typically you would normally have such a depth of story behind a home because it is normally the process of buying a house is just a whole bunch of numbers, and lots of people are giving advice and you you are trying to get a good deal and people are saying you need to negotiate hard and get the best you can. This is very confusing because it takes you in the opposite direction of where I would normally be with friends. To Burjus question when I start to get these alarms, when I start hearing these words like negate hard, get a good deal, that is a real time when I start thinking about reverence. So I was driving with my daughter thinking here is a space where this lady has lost her husband, she herself is battling with cancer in the hospital and they are going to trust us to honour their home. They had planted deep routes and are pulling up their routes and allowing us to plant ours there. And if you look at this way you can see that this is 40 years of love and life, how do you honour that?
So we arrive and the ladies daughter is there and I wanted to say something to her about the challenge she is facing with her mother but the only way I could really honour that space was through my daughter so I felt moved to share something that showed her we respected what she was doing. So I told her that my daughter has already fallen in love with your home it is so beautifully designed and she has already chosen her room. So this lady gets into a conversation with my 4 year old daughter who is normally shy in front of strangers but for some reason she was answering all the questions this lady was putting to her. I realised that in this interaction that the room my daughter had picked was quite likely the same room this lady had grown up in. So after this interaction she asked for our name and wrote it down and later that night they accepted our bid, there were 18 other bids including people who wanted to offer all cash. So it really moved me that they could have picked other people but somehow they picked us.
They liked the interaction with my daughter. I wanted to honour this in someway so the next time we visited we had to do a whole bunch of checking over the house, just to see things were OK, we did not have much time and I was thinking well how can I bring reverence to this process. So I was thinking well should we take some flowers but I did not have time to go buy any but then I notice this beautiful drawing my daughter had done of the home and it was lovely colours and craftwork showing a little girl a mother and father. So I thought well this is amazing and this is something money can not buy so we took the art work and gave it to her and said this for you and your mother. You could see that this meant a lot, in between all of the numbers and all of the practical stuff that to me was the best experience I had in the entire process. I feel like looking back that any home buying process or any complex process we get into that we can really make it about aliveness on both ends of the spectrum, here was a buyer and a seller and both are human beings. The agent that is helping us is a human being the bank processing our loan has human beings that are happy to get into a home. Looking at this way really helped me generate gratitude instead of thinking that I have sort of right over this process.
Birju - Congratulations on finding a home and thanks for sharing the story.
Mission Broklyn - I sign up for the kind spring challenges because I love the increased contact that it offers with the kindness community. I always find great insights and feel growth from every challenge, so every time a challenge appears I am there. For me reverence is deep respect and appreciation. I recently had a serious surgery from which I am now recovering and it made me more appreciative of my life and being here, reverence really resonated with me because everything is more beautiful to right now then it has even been.
This challenge helped me be less distracted and more presence to the world around me and inside me and I was more mindful rather than mind full. I spent a lot of a time in the park as the weather was so beautiful, and this is where I was spending time thinking about the challenge, everything there just looked more colourful and I just appreciated everything more. I met the most wonderful puppy who found me and came and sat on its hind legs when I reached down to pet it, it was planting kisses all over my face. And I had profound respect and admiration for our four legged friends. I think the kind spring challenges are wonderful and I thank everyone who is helping make them possible for us.
Birju - Thanks so much for sharing as a follow up question, so this is not your first challenge so I am curious to learn what you have been finding out about yourself in this challenge as opposed to previous challenges. Some people may think well gratitude, I am already grateful I do not need to do this challenge, yet you keep coming back for each challenge so what is the lesson learned.
MB - The lesson learned for me the world keeps becoming more and more beautiful because we are seeing things differently as I learn and grow. I am seeing what has always been there but I am seeing it in its full brilliance. Each challenge has enabled me to grow and be apart of the kind spring community which totally transforms people. Everything is magnified and I am just able to see more clearly.
Audrey - Thanks for sharing your story reminded me of another one I read on the feed during the last 20 days about another persons experience with song birds so i will read what they said. "This morning I had to get an epidural in my neck, I am not a stranger to epidurals in my lower back but this was my first in my neck and to say that my anxiety level was through the roof would be an understatement.
My anxiety levels increased when once I was peeped and ready to go I found the doctor was running a little behind and I would have to wait a little longer. I sent a whisper out to the cosmos asking if I should be doing this procedure and asking for courage and support to go ahead with the procedure. What I got back was an annoying bird chirping on branch directly outside my window, my first thought was well great this is not calming down at all. Then I heard multiple birds and of course my thoughts then became oh goody more birds NOT !
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and then it hit me like a train the birds were singing to me, for the duration of my procedure I listened to the those birds, for around 45 minutes. And found I was completely relaxed. Upon exiting the clinic I asked the porter to hell my by the tree where my 4 little birds were singing there hearts out, I am not an overly emotional person but I found I had tears running down my face. I looked up at the birds and said thank you for your songs today, as if they heard me they all took to the air as if to go help someone else. In savouring my surroundings today I savoured with my ears instead of my eyes and again I put out to the cosmos thank you for sending my 4 beautiful songbirds.
Birju - Extending my question to all around what are you learning about yourself - my assumption would be that anyone dialling into a call on a Saturday on reverence is not new to to the topic of reverence and yet here we are practicing.
Aryae - Hi I am in Half Moon Bay. I would like to go back to your like question, I joined this 21 day challenge. For me it goes back to the research about the connection between doing and reflecting in community and that has been a fascinating pice to me. I have been involved in spiritual community, I have been involved as you said in the practice of reverence but there is something about this process where we all get the same challenge on same day and we share some experience and then we get to interact with each other. This is very special and very powerful and for me it is an ongoing learning experience and to see how the dynamics of this spiritual community work, an immediate thing that I have just learned in the last few minutes was Somic, listening to your reflection on buying a home.
So I had never thought before that home buying could be something to with reverence, of course its a commercial transaction in a tough market and you try to the best you can, but then it reminded me of a few years ago buying this home that my wife Wendy and I are living in now. We actually had not been sure what we wanted to do so we had been renting and we would just see what would come next, and at a certain point we thought well we would like to buy the place we are renting. So we contacted the owner, he was the head of maintenance of a big hospital, he was born in China and had been here for a long time and that was about all we knew. When we first contacted him he said no way prices are rising we want to hold on to the home and sell it at a good time in the market.
We said well if we can not buy we may be moving out as we wish to purchase our own home, but we would really like to talk some to see if there is a way it could really work for everyone. So we got together with him and his family, there was him his wife, brother, mother, brothers wife. As we talked we learned the story of the home, that they had come over, that they had come over from China with very little and one of things they decided to do was to get the whole family together and actually build a home. So they camped out on this lot and built this home, by hand themselves. They were living on the lot in tents and they told us this story and this was really the first step for them for getting a foothold in the US. It was just such a moving story, the dedication of this family and what this home represented and we had no idea.
So I had not used the word reverence at the time but looking back on it this was exactly the mood we we felt, we felt a great deal of reverence for the family and for what the home represented and we felt that we loved the home so much that we would be great stewards of it and we treat it with the appropraite respect. So bottom line we figured out how to do the transaction in a way that worked for all of us. So Somic thanks for your story because it reminded me of ours, which gets be back to why I joined the challenge in the first place in that I learn more about my own story when I hear everyones story.
Birju - thanks for the context, its amazing a 15 year old story connected to a 3 week old story connected with reverence all about home buying what are the odds! I am curious on reflections on our broader culture and how it relates to this idea of reverence, is it something you feel awkward to engage in or what are your thoughts on how the culture reacts too it?
Aryae - How the culture reacts to revence, well for me personally I have been doing my best to look at spiritual enquiry for most of my life, so it feels pretty comfortable for me. But your question on the broader culture, I think is very interesting. I'm sure we each have our take where we each experience living in this culture.
My take is that the outer form of this culture is that reverence and a spiritual view of life has been...When I was growing up it was something you don't talk about in polite company. You talk about other things. What I have been seeing in the past, I'd say 15 years, is there is a real shift. It is not only OK, but more and more common to talk about spiritual practice in the workplace. You have been one of the pioneers in that, Birju, and pushing that forward.
So I'm seeing a real shift in that from the culture. From the public space is only about material stuff, and if you want to talk about spiritual stuff you go to your church or your private space. I'm seeing now that there is a growing shift of talking about spirituality in the public space.
Birju: Thank you.
Audrey: Yes, Thank you, Aryae. It is great to hear your voice. I think this question about culture and talking about reverence in a public space, made me remember a few inspirations when people joined the challenge.
One person wrote, "The fact that I survived a very serious car accident 6 months ago, I have developed a true reverence for life, for nature, and for all around me. And I'm excited to share and hear what other people experience and witness."
Kathryn just wrote in, "I've been spending the last year or so of my life spending much time with my father as he goes through the time when his life here on earth is coming to an end. This time has been wonderful. I have come to a new amazing reverence for life. My reverence for his life has really grown, as well as the appreciation of my own and life in general.
Our time together have become, even though sometimes very challenging, very precious times. We have shared so much and learned so much from each other. This amazing time is really why I joined this challenge."
It is interesting in thinking about how does reverence connect us with that bigger picture of life. It seems there is kind of a theme of in those moments when we are facing death or unexpected circumstances or certain things like that, it kind of comes up, that awe, that wonder, kind of comes up.
Linda wrote, "I remember sitting with my mom one day weeks before the end of her life. I asked if she would like to go for a wheelchair ride outside.
"No," she said.
Then I asked if she would like to go to the café for ice cream.
"No," she said.
Then I asked, "What would you like to do?"
She replied, "I just want to be with you."
So we sat quietly with each other. There wasn't much to say. I guess it was what wasn't said that was so profound and sacred."
Just interesting the reflections in between those spaces and how reverence can tune us into that.
Any thoughts, Birju, or questions?
Birju: I'd love to invite this question that Aryae just shared on more broadly as well. This idea of reverence as a tool in culture and how you have seen that or haven't seen that.
I'd also like to read one of the notes that struck me on the comment feed for the reverence challenge.
This is posted by mmc91 a couple of weeks ago. It was just a thank you to kindspring. "I have been barely a week in this site, but I guess my being part of this group is making a good impact in my kindness journey. There were moments when I was all ready to do unkind acts or say unkind words, but just the mere thought of being a part of this community, made me rethink my options. With all of us together, the world becomes kinder and people become more gentle."
I read that, and it felt apropos because I felt a bit of that on this call.
Audrey: We'll go to our next caller.
Mindy: Hello, this is Mindy from Kindspring--Mindyjourney. And I'm calling from Central Illinois where it is unseasonably cool, but it is very beautiful.
I'd have to say that I have joined this latest challenge because I have always enjoy the Kindspring challenges. I think maybe this is my 4th, 5th, or 6th--I'm not sure. But this is my first reverence one.
I have to say that it has encouraged me to take a deeper look. To delve deeper within the meanings of the everyday grace in my life. Very grateful to see new members join during challenges. And to see also their evolving transformation. It just lights up my heart to see people take these everyday practice into our lives. It is an amazing thing, and I'm very grateful for the people at Kindspring and ServiceSpace who sponsor these challenges.
I'd also like to take a moment to thank, Somik. I remember your posts, and I remember the drawing that your daughter did. And that memory will also stay with me when it comes time to sell our home as well--or buy another one.
It was also great to hear Mish. We joke that we are twins because we have a lot of similar reaction and comments and people confuse us all the time. It was good to hear Aryae and his reflections as well.
A particular deepening of my practice in reverence with this challenge has been opening up not only a deeper look into myself, but into my arbor. My arbor is a very special place for me in my backyard, and it has been a very peaceful and quiet, full of nature and birds. I joke that I'm Snow White because there are birds and groundhogs and squirrels and everybody out there. But the neighbor children have been coming over--4 and 6 year olds. And there goes my peaceful arbor, but to see from their eyes. To see the clouds. They look at the sky and say, "Look at that beautiful sky."
And we look and remark that it looks like a rainbow in the sunset. It is just wonderful to encourage other people's reverence as well. I had another neighbor come over who is recently widowed and invited her to my arbor. And we just spent a lovely afternoon just watching the birds and connecting. She would cry a little. And we'd talk a little more. To cause a deeper look into our surroundings is also to cause a deeper look into us.
This also was a challenge that inspired me in many ways. I like to write poetry, and of course, I've written a few during the challenge. Here is one I'd like to share:
I've swam in dark nights
where only stars lit my way
and satellites did distract,
but then a scooch and twist and I was indirectly led
to slip and slide on the Milky Way
causing dreams to shimmy and sway.
I've danced in the clouds
from sunset to rise
and always knew the joy of surprise
of a larger glimpse of what is there
or what we are
no matter where we journey
here or far.
The eye of an iris winked at me
urging me delve within her folds
of a blossoming cheek
as azaleas burst pink
of so many shades
I thought, "Surely, I was still asleep."
Veins on a leaf are in my hand
we all reach to the heavens for a universal understand
Glory climb the vines
as we collectively collect immortal
reverence granted through each portal
Slather ourselves in stars, dust, petals and sun,
we have just minutely, barely begun.
And that poem was in response to the challenge to look at the cosmos and our place in it. So thank you for those who developed the challenge and it has been a wonderful experience. And anything else I can share let me know. Thank you.
Birju: Mindy, that was an amazing poem. Thank you so much for sharing with us again and also on the challenge feed.
Mindy: Thank you for listening and putting up with that. [laughs]
Birju: Not hard to put up with that; it is quite the opposite. I'm curious again given that you are no stranger to challenges. If I had to guess, I would say that you would be familiar with perhaps every single post that has been made during this challenge.
Is there any particular story that stood out to you that you would like to share here?
Mindy: There have been so many. I have been faced this question over and over again, when I have been asked to pull out a particular story, and I can't, Birju. It is such a wonderful melding of story.
It is amazing because one will inspire another and they will also inspire another. The connection goes so deep. I would have to say perhaps the bird one that Audrey read, that stood out to me. As well as some people undergoing some challenges. I know one of our members her mother is dying. She is 98 years old. I had sent her some peace doves. I make a lot of origami peace doves. My husband thinks I'm up to 15 thousand now that I've shared.
Birju: Oh, Wow!
Mindy: I sent her some. And she put one in her mother's room. And even if her mother isn't aware she knows and has faith that it is giving her peace and it is shining some light for here.
There are a lot of things behind the scenes as well that we just have faith and we know that it is rippling out to the world. I'm sorry I wasn't much help there.
Birju: You are. You are. And to be clear, so this poster whose mother is going through tough times, do you know her personally or is this just connecting in the spirit of reverence.
Mindy: Connecting through the kindspring. She had recently become a member of Kindspring and joined the challenge. As a matter a fact, I believe she is community member of the week now on the Kindspring feed, which we are very pleased about that. It is a wonderful thing to honor someone in that way.
So no, I didn't know her before Kindspring. In fact, most of the people that I do send my doves to, I have only met through Kindspring, although a few I have met in person since.
But it is a wonderful privilege to connect through this portal. And it has just encouraged my transformation and I'm very grateful.
Birju: And so are we. Thank you.
Audrey: Thank you, Mindy. It was a beautiful poem. I was also struck by what you said about how a deeper look into our surroundings also caused a deeper look into us. And I was reminded of one of the earlier days in the challenge there were a couple of stories around leaving a place cleaner than you found it.
And one in particular, I was so struck by. This person wrote about how they cleaned up the toilet of their daughter's school. And they wrote, "I think no one will notice that I cleaned the place. And I think it will get dirty again. But when did cleaning, it just felt so good. I do not know where this feeling comes from and why I am feeling this way, but I felt the power of one. It was simple and easy, but I received the gift of this big realization."
Another participant wrote about picking up litter at the bus stop in Canada. They wrote, "I had just missed one bus, so there were ten minutes to waste. There was a rubbish bin besides the bus stop, so I started picking up cigarettes, bits of paper, and anything else that was litter and out of place. This particular bus stop is at the edge of a park that I love. And I hate to see it uncared for. A while back, when I picked up litter there, a man also waiting for the bus said to me, 'If more people did what you are doing, we would have a cleaner city'. That was encouraging to me. I often take a plastic bag with me when I walk in the park, but it seems to me it is getting cleaner. Less cans chucked around. Maybe people are beginning to care more. Let's hope."
It is an interesting reflection on how looking around us and those small moments or actions that we do around us can also reflect back more deeply inside of us as well. So thank you, Mindy, for prompting those reflections.
We'll go to our next caller.
Madur: Hello, this is Madur calling from Bangalore. I think this call has been very beautiful. I was struck when the caller said that reverence can be done for anyone, and that person doesn't have to do anything.
And even the stories that have been shared so far have been very deep. I'm learning a lot. Thank you so much.
Regarding my own self by practicing with the reverence challenge for the time when everyone was asked to clean a space and also the fourth day, I was more looking into my own mind rather than a physical space. So that is where I found pushing a little bit of a boundary though it all happened mentally. In my heart, in my imagination, I was looking at what places I have considered unsacred and trying to imagine myself going there and worshipping there. And similarly, cleaning a space, I was looking at my own mind and seeing some ego there. Like how even those whom I love, family and friends, sometimes how the ego is coming in between. Unintentionally, but trying being judgmental or putting someone down. I imagine the situations and in my imagination trying to clean up the space.
So it is so beautiful. It helps. And made me feel lighter in those moments. I plan to repeat, so it will be more useful. Much grateful for the whole challenge.
Birju: Thank you so much for the share, Madur.
Audrey: We'll go to our next caller.
Kozo: Hi, this is Makala Kozo from Cupertino, California. I am so grateful for the 21 day Reverence Challenge and for this space today. It is just so beautiful to hear people calling in from all over the world sharing about reverence.
Birju, I wanted to answer the question "what does reverence mean to you?" because what came up was that in the course of this challenge, reverence has changed for me. Because I was a surfer and I traveled all around, I was really into nature, so I often associated reverence with big perfect waves or huge mountain tops or awe. And what I found in this challenge is that what is happening is that I will get the challenges in the morning, then something will happen during the day that will trigger the reverence challenge.
It is almost like God is sending me those perfectly timed emails to remind me of something that is going to happen in my day.
It is amazing, and it is really putting me into a state of awe. The best example I can give you was yesterday. So yesterday, I got an email from Audrey, and it said, "Hey would you be willing to share about your experience with the 21 day reverence challenge?"
And I was like, "sure." Then I opened the 21 day reverence challenge and it said, "accept your circumstances." I've never thought about reverence as accepting your circumstances, first of all. But for me what that brought up is, as many of you know, I'm dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Accepting my circumstances made me have reverence for cancer. I have so much reverence for this diagnosis, for this disease. I was just flooded with how much beauty, connection, joy, love, change that cancer has brought into my life.
Just a few days before I went to Awakin Circle, and I got like 10 huge hugs from all different people in the Awakin Circle. I had to leave early, and I was driving away, and I thought, "Those are some of the deepest, tenderest, loving hugs I have received in my life." It is not like people are hugging me because I have cancer, but I think the cancer has brought us closer together and gave us this space where we can hug in that manner in public.
And it has just been beautiful. It has been this beautiful thing to take something that is your present circumstance and have reverence for it and find how much beauty there is behind it and how much connection. I feel connected with everyone on the challenge. I feel connected to all the people who are sharing today. I feel connected to people who developed the challenge. I feel connected to the people in Japan who have been doing this beautiful at Mt. Fuji.
It has been a whole new view of reverence and a whole new view of beauty and a whole new view of cancer and a whole new view of life that is just put me into awe, almost speechless, although by the number of words I just spoke it doesn't sound like it.
Birju: Thank you so much for sharing this perspective, Kozo. If I can dive a little deeper there, because I feel like you touched on something that for me is very alive as a listener. On some level, I find it more amenable to practice this idea of reverence as long as things happen to be hunky dory. If the sun is shining or I can pay attention to trees or birds chirping, that is one thing. But I hear you practicing it for cancer. I'm curious your thoughts on when reverence is "hard." How are you are able to reframe that? How do you invite that thought in? It just seems to me that it would be hard to even invite that thought in.
Kozo: You know, Birju. It is not a thought. It is a feeling, right? So it not hard to invite in. It is just being open to the feeling. And it is not just me. I'm listening to people who have shared on this call about dealing with a dying mother, dealing with medical issues and finding issues there. I think it is a common thread. It is not just me and cancer.
When you open to it, this feeling comes up, and this feeling of connection and energy and beauty that just comes up inside of you and makes you almost go "Ahhhh!" like, "Ahhhh, my God." This is beautiful. This is life. And it doesn't really matter what triggers that feeling. It could be a beautiful landscape or sunset, but it also could be holding your mother's hand when she doesn't want to go get ice cream. It could be our good friend, Mia spending time with her grandmother who has dyslexia. The trigger doesn't really matter. If you are open to that feeling, that feeling connects you with something that is larger than life. It is larger than life. And when you are connected to that feeling that is larger than life like cancer, death, all those things...you see a perspective where the connection is deeper than the loss.
Birju: Thank you for sharing that.
Kozo: Thank you for this space. It is another form of reverence, so thank you so much.
Audrey: Thank you, Kozo. We'll go to our next caller.
Minky: Hey, this is Minky from New York.
Birju: Hello, Mickey.
Minky: Hey. I don't think my experience is as profound as some of the other callers, but I'm sort of new to the whole being present and reverence and all this experiment. But I joined the experiment because I am starting a new start-up, and I realized with my head down in my lap top 14 hours a day. I felt I was being sucked dry. I came across the email of Kindspring, and it felt like something at the right time.
Most of the emails that came through felt like that. It was small practices, like you said didn't take a lot of time, but something that just grounded me again in something that I needed for that day. Although I did notice that feeling of being grounded and that respect that I would gain. I guess it is because I am such a beginner didn't hold out throughout the day.
It has been an eye-opening 21 days.
Birju: Thank you so much for sharing that, Minky. I feel like what you are describing speaks to the difficulty of practice. On one hand, there is a certain beauty to when we have that inner capacity to practice, but sometimes it is not so easy. So I'm curious as you share this, that even if it is a five minute process if we take it on, sometimes it doesn't happen throughout the day. So any thoughts or suggestions from your struggles in the practice? What would make it easier for you to stick to it?
Minky: One thing that helped me...I think it was the one on mindful eating...that is something that I've been trying to do forever, and I've never been able to do it for whatever reason. But I read the email, and the next day early in the morning, reminded myself. And then, even when I found myself drinking my food rather than chewing it, I was reminded of mindful eating. Being reminded that it is not too late. And just taking the breath then and there and trying to practice it for the rest of my meal. Slowly growing from that. Not trying to be a perfectionist.
Birju: And that is something that is seemingly possible throughout the day in the meal it seems like?
Minky: Yeah, I guess that is the practice part. I haven't quite gotten there yet. Only when I do remember. It is like, "Oh, damn, I should be more mindful." But that sort of lightbulb, I do notice on more often and quicker as I try it more often.
Birju: Thank you so much for sharing that perspective. And I think it a broader questions for us all: not just being in the perspective of how wonderful the practice may be, but getting in touch with the struggle of maintaining a practice and what is it that would help us to be able to invite that in with a bit more frequency. So thank you, Minky.
Audrey: Yeah, thank you. It also reminded me of someone else who had written in earlier, David, who wrote, "To me reverence means respect and honor and we connect through the simple gift in each moment by paying attention."
And just the way that you described how you've been paying attention and what comes up from that, is really simple in a way and really ordinary in other ways. And also very extraordinary.
We will go to our next caller.
Guri: Hey guys, it's Guri from Berkeley. I was just thinking about the word reverence. I feel like growing up there was almost a little bit of a negative connotation to it because I experienced it in a religious context. There was this respect for authority, but also there was this fear of authority. It was a little bit of a different word, but growing up one of the things that changed it for me was running into a quote by Albert Schweitzer, the phrase "reverence for life," and he used it as a kind of ethical philosophy.
In his own words, "a fix is nothing other than reverence for life. Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principal of morality, mainly that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life. And to destroy, to hinder, or to harm life is evil."
I feel like with the way that he looked at it is really ethical, as in we have to care and respect for ourselves and all other living beings whether it be animals, people, environment. How can you harm anything that you look at as your own brother and sister. So I think he might have been responsible for even kind of globally shifting that definition a little bit. It certainly inspired me.
In terms of this challenge, I feel like the daily reminders, they really make you be much more present to life. I feel like it allows you to move through life a little bit more awake, a little bit more aware about everything around you which naturally invites in that feeling of gratitude and humility.
Yeah, I think that is sort of some of the things I take away from the 21 day challenge.
Birju: I would love to follow up with you on that because I feel like your practice of reverence has been continuing for some time and from your perspective,are you noticing as time goes on a sense of being able to tap into the reverence of others? How does it move from a personal practice to a more collective practice in your experience?
Guri: Well, things like this, right? When we do the 21 day challenges, where it brings it from this idea of reverence to how can we as a community, as a society, practice it. I think that is something that helps bring it out.
But I feel like its such a profound feeling to be in reverence for life all the time that it is going to be a work in progress throughout life because you forget. You get caught up in your small little world, and to constantly be in touch with this very, very broad view that you are a part of. That you are a part of the web. To go from your micro-self to the broad macro, that takes a lot of patience, presence, and practice.
Birju: Thank you for that.
Audrey: Thank you, Guri.
Birju: I want to invite one question as come to the close of this call for us all to reflect on and would welcome any shares, but also just on a personal level. We have heard some powerful stories today about how we have been engaging in these practices, and I'm curious how each of us will want to continue a practice while being true and honoring to how life speeds up and when the 21 day challenge is over there are many reasons to not practice reverence. So what can we be doing to keep this kind of a practice going?
Audrey: Great question. We'll go to our next caller.
Mindy: Hello, I'm sorry to call in again, but Mish and I, this is Mindy, we were chatting behind scenes and we wanted to say about our dear KindSpring friend Tear who recently transitioned. And we want to honor her memory in the reverence for appreciating our life to the fullest.
There are many ways she impacted all of our lives on KindSpring and we take that into our lives each day. Thank you.
Audrey: Thanks, Mindy. On the question that Birju brought up, Somik wrote in after he shared some earlier reflections, "It's beautiful to hear everyone's stories. I had another reflection. Pretty much every difficulty I found myself in was due to lack of reverence in the situation. And the only way out of it was to bring reverence back."
Great reflection from Somik in California. Thank you for writing in and sharing your reflections.
Sarah from Indiana also wrote, "Reverence means to me to revere the unknowable essence which created us all and which is always at hand if we open our hearts to receive assistance, no matter what state we are in--how poor, how ill, or how hopeless we feel. It takes our trust that we will receive help. And to keep reverence going, it is good to keep a daily journal."
What about you, Birju, what do you think when you keep the practice of reverence beyond day 21? What kind of things come up for you?
Birju: I'd love to share, but if I may, I'd also love to share a quote from another caller.
Albert writes, "Thank you for this wonderful space. Perhaps reverence is a unifying always existing ground, a love energy. Not something that we create through a doing, but something that finds us when we let go of our selves and our stories. Letting this life energy in as it flows through us and appreciating the wonder and surprise. Thank you, Albert."
And he is writing from Fallen Leaf Lake in the Sierras.
Audrey: Wow, tuning in all the way from the Sierras.
Birju: For me, my way of parsing things is perhaps more on the practical side. So I enjoy reading and finding research on how to invite in habits into my life so that they stick. They are more like to stick. I remember reading this wonderful book by a Harvard researcher named Shawn Achor. He wrote this book and one of the chapters is on habit, and one of the habits he decided to take on was learning how to play guitar.
He said, "Ok, I know all the tools. I just have to create a calendar item for myself to play the guitar everyday."
Then he set it up for 21 days, because as everyone knows after 21 days it is a habit. He started going through the days, and it got to that time of the day where the guitar was there, and he just crossed it off.
He said, "NO I don't have time for this."
And the next time he went through this, he realized, "Oh, I have to do a lot more than just put it on my calendar for 21 days."
One thing he decided to do was he put the guitar in front of him. When he walked towards breakfast everyday it was staring him in the face all the time.
He sent out notes to other people that said, "I want to learn how to play the guitar. Please hold me accountable."
And he did three or four more things, and so I'm sitting with those kind of questions. If I want to deepen in a practice of reverence, how do I remind myself, so as I start building towards a habit, it doesn't just fall off post-21 days.
Audrey: That is great. It is always interesting. I think even this call I'm reflecting on. I think one of our volunteers wrote on the backend, "This is one of my favorite Awakin calls ever. Feel like an Awakin Circle that spans the world." And it is true. It is powerful to hear all these reflections from all these different places. And I think, in a way, doing all these things together for 21 days has strengthened my conviction in it.
That is a great reflection, Birju, on how we kind of continue on it individually on our own as we go on.
Radha from California wrote, "I first want to share gratitude for the KindSpring team for making this platform possible. 21 day challenges is a new concept for me. I am just beginning to understand how powerful they are in helping me stay grounded in my intentions. Reverence to me means being in the presence of sacred. Being in the presence of true essence of everything and everyone.
I want to share a notice that I read in an ashram that really brought clarity to this idea of reverence. There is a kitchen in this ashram that is used to prepare food to offer to God or the Divine on special occasions. There are certain rules that every follows, like not talking or being present and prayer during the process of cooking.
On one wall of the kitchen is a small quote by Swami Ashokananda. I'm paraphrasing this quote, "One should be very careful when attending to service or any action when it is offered. It is not because that somehow you will be punished or God or the Divine will feel slighted. It is because when we don't approach it with reverence, we lose our own sense of what is good, our own sense of values. And there is no greater loss than that."
I guess this challenge brought that sense back to me. As I worked in the garden being in that space brought reverence to earthworms who also with many small beings give nourishment to plants and in turn all beings. It helped me be more present when I am with my patients, as I acknowledge the presence of the sacred in them and in me.
I am also trying to practice saying a prayer or blessing to everyone I come across silently. After listening to one of the Awakin Calls, I think being in the state of reverence helps me remember that more often.
I struggle to be in this space every moment, but challenges like these are very helpful. Deep gratitude for everyone in this space who makes this a possibility. With much love, Radha."
What a beautiful note. On that note, we are just about at the end of our 90 minute call. It has gone by rather quickly hearing everyone's stories and reflections.
Birju, do you have any last words or thoughts?
Birju: Yes. Well, first of all, thank you, Radha, for sharing that wonderful note, and Audrey, for your gentle hand in guiding this conversation.
There was one more note that just came in from our dear friend, Yuka, in Japan, who is one of the architects of this challenge. She helped create what it is that we are all taking on.
She writes, "Hello, hello, hello. This is Yuka from Japan. I'm just moved. I'm so moved to hear each and every beautiful experience. I kept being shy, then I tried to call in. And then I couldn't. So I'm joining you from email.
I'm just so grateful for the noble friends. For this beautiful, rich community. Like Birju has said, the experience and reflection is really making so much learning. I love you all so much. More later, but for now I wanted to send you my gratitude and bowing to you all. Yuka."
Audrey: Hello, Yuka at 2:3) AM. Thank you so much.
For those of you who are interested, Yuka and her friends and family in Japan who are at the foot of Mount Fuji at this gathering sending well wishes out to the world. They will have a live stream of their event in about 7 1/2 hours when it is morning in Japan, so we can also send out those details in our follow up note.
Also, as Mindy and Mish mentioned about Tear, we'd love to honor her presence as an active member of the online Kindspring community and sent a lot of kindness ripples into the world and shared a lot of stories and supported others in their kindness journeys. So we would love to close with a minute of silence in gratitude to this space shared on the call and also in honor of Tear.
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