16G Gathering: Sharing, exploring, and renewing connections.
Report on the 16G Retreat Gathering in France, 24-28 August 2018
Fifty four people from 5 continents came together to share their experiences of the 16 G and to deepen, renew, and explore the wisdom of these teachings. The retreat was organized to offer chances to deepen knowledge and practice of the 16G through the morning workshops which developed a particular theme for 4 days and short afternoon workshops of 90 minutes, in which participant/facilitators shared their personal knowledge and experience around a specific topic.
Each morning began with Yoga and meditation and outside the workshops there were a chances to connect and chat with participants and make new friends.
The Retreat Gathering also created times for silence and reflection so that people could digest and integrate their daily experiences. All the workshops were translated in to Spanish, English and French, giving participants the chance to gain insights from people from different cultural backgrounds. It was joyful and inspiring to hear the conversations in different languages at mealtimes and around the grounds of IVY. The technical challenges of headsets, microphones, radios, wires, translators demanded patience, in the end we could rejoice as it all worked out well. Certainly there are lessons to be learned for the future.
The unique organization of the workshops meant that facilitators became participants and vice versa. This really brought to life the grassroots nature of the program and nurtured humility and equanimity as we all learned from each other. The guidelines were omnipresent not only as subjects of workshops but palpably in the exchanges among people and the caring and respectful atmosphere.
This Gathering was a rare opportunity to become aware of how versatile the 16G are. Meeting and sharing, how each individual has integrated the 16G into their particular field or special interest that inspires them. Ask yourself what do you know best, and would like to express and bring to others ? Art, yoga, teaching children, hospice work…? All of these areas and many more were the starting point for being creative with the wisdom themes and the guidelines during the short workshops and presentations. Montserrat and Andreu have formed a group in Barcelona and bring the 16G to prisons, for the inmates and the staff, adapting the tools to an audience whose codes are different. Shelley Urlando brings a solid experience of extended family life (from grandchildren to mother in laws) to audiences who are ready to learn about mindful parenting. Béatrice Testet is an artist who has brought together colour and guidelines in a reflective card game. These are just a small sample of the multiple activities during the Gathering and how the 16G are adaptable and can be made in to many authentic programs that pass on the foundations of the Guidelines to wide publics.
Ceci Buzon’s morning workshop on teaching children was very popular and any fun photos you see online came from there. She invited the participants to try out the tools and games she uses with children. We were very happy to have Pema Tsering, the principal of the Maitreya School in India with us (thanks to the collaboration of the EUA and EUF and IVY). He has been working with Ceci since February to train the teachers in the guidelines in order to then integrate them into school life. Ceci and the group from Argentina generously donated a huge suitcase full of teaching materials to Pema for the Maitreya school.
As the Gathering unfolded, the softening effects of going inward were perceptible, the morning silence was more silent, people took their seats with a sense of dignity and solidity, smiles were radiant, the bonding at heart level was deepening.
The Gathering was also playful with an evening of singing and teaching each other silly songs and games and another day applauding the staff and cooks of the Institute.
Even before the end of the Gathering, a murmur could be heard asking about when the next one might be? Maybe it will become a biannual event?
“I feel very fortunate to have attended this event and I am very grateful to all of you for having the generosity and the courage to do it. Thanks from my heart. It was a great opportunity to meet and share those days with so many people from other places,” - Diana B.C from Spain
“To bathe several days in the practises of the 16G is so helpful for deepening and understanding this way of being. I left feeling inhabited by the 16G, by the mind of compassion and wisdom. To see it implemented like in Argentina by Cessi and Gabriella, by Pema (in India) and many others is more than a lesson, it is inspiring, uplifting and meaningful,” - Isabelle C from France