Self-development and transformations

I had written and posted this two years back in the context of the first Integrity batch (2013-14). For the inauguration of this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to repost this.

The idea of this blog is for all of you to have an opportunity to post your reflections, learning and thoughts here. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be in English, it doesn’t have to be perfect – but it should be something that you feel about with respect to the life classes that you are attending!


Vardan Kabra


Dated: (circa) August 2013

While most of you would be familiar with the context of this article, but a small introduction will foster better understanding of the article. So the context is that of the Integrity workshop. The primary format of this workshop is different from the previously done life / love classes. Very little or no new theory is introduced in this workshop. In fact through the 3 days in the August session, we just had sharing sessions by each of the 28 individuals present. We did watch the movie Shaurya as well – but that was beyond 4 p.m. anyway.

The primary format of the workshop is sharing by each and every individual of their successes and challenges including sharing their biggest pain areas and problems. As the individuals share, all of us need to practice empathetic listening. Sharing by an individual has taken any time between 30 minutes to 100 minutes. As participants share their stories, the listeners ask questions including some tough ones whenever the house felt that the participant wasn’t really addressing her deepest problems. The participant are especially taken to task when they seem not to take up responsibility for their own lives. In the process of sharing, we revisit almost all the principles learnt in the life and the love classes. It is a challenging yet cathartic for all the participants, including the listening process.

At the end of the workshop sessions, I almost seem to be in a daze. There is a feeling of tremendous “love”, feel-good and well-being in the air, which I know that all of us have experienced. And most of you doing the other workshops would also have experienced these feelings perhaps in varying intensities. I have tried to put in to words those feelings and thoughts:

Sacred. That’s a term I am rarely associated with. But that’s how the environment of the Integrity workshop has felt to me. Sacred.

Healing or Catharsis. In sharing our pains and sorrows we heal. In the belief that our sorrows are personal we are fools. In seeing others heal, we heal, even without knowing. As we feel, we heal.

Humbled. Just listening & responding to the variety of stories that participants have shared makes me feel humbled. Some of the stories have been heart-wrenching with the depth of emotions and the pain of their suffering so apparent. But I am not sure if “Humbled” alone is the right word for what I am feeling. Perhaps the word that I could add is Poignant.

Poignant is how I feel after days of intense listening to the deepest pains of these individuals.

Being Human. As we listen to these stories, we understand what’s truly being human. We understand what’s courage, and what’s love. We find our pains and problems. Some which we knew. Some which we knew but we ignored. Some which we didn’t even know about. We understand the breadth and depth and the unique lives that each one of us leads. We are different in many ways, and yet we are similar in many ways. To paraphrase Mem Fox: “There may be many differences between people, but inside, our hearts very much like each other. Our smiles are the same, our laughter is the same, and our pain and tears are the same.”

Paradigms. Our paradigms & beliefs make us who we are. They lead to our actions, whether we know it or not. And our actions lead to our results, which is what life is, and which is who we are. How powerful a hold our paradigms have on our lives is something that you truly appreciate only when you hear how detrimental (or salutary) an effect even a seemingly harmless paradigm from childhood can have.

Vulnerable. Sharing our worst fears and anxieties in front of a group of people who work with you, your bosses, your team members can be such a daunting task. And our ego is telling us that this seems quite pointless and this is not right. No one has a right to hurt me. And yet that process of laying down in front of so many others, your deepest pains and problems can be so therapeutic that it’s difficult to believe how this happens.

Community. Community being Communion + Unity. And Communion being “the act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings” and Unity being “the state or quality of being one; singleness.” And Community is what has happened. We have shared and we are one!

Transformations. How can workshops transform? By sharing. By being listened to. By thinking. By crying. By listening. By being affirmed. Transformations. Really? And I am talking about deep fundamental transformations. How’s that even possible? Sometimes instant. Sometimes lengthy. All painful and effortful. Seemingly magical. It just seems out of this world and out of place with all that we know about life. Or all that we seem to know about life.

Feelings am I left with: Amazing. Enlightened. Enriched. Exhausted. Ecstatic. Incredulous. Incredible. Proud. Poignant.