W

hat a weekend! There was a buzz of excitement in the air in London which had nothing to do with the upcoming 2012 Olympics. 200 volunteers from the UK and beyond eagerly gathered at the Excel Centre in London on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 June as Sadhguru initiated almost 700 participants from across the UK, Europe, Brazil, Afghanistan, Mexico, Lebanon and the US into Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya.

Over the past months Isha teachers and volunteers around the UK have been excitedly living and breathing Isha to make last weekend’s programme a roaring success. It has been eye-opening to see the detailed project planning that goes into making an event like last weekend happen. Though I have helped to organize events on this scale in a corporate environment, with Isha, when everything is done by volunteers, everything takes on a whole new meaning and level of detail, as there is an overwhelming will to make the end result perfect, just as it was for us.

Two weeks ago whilst the rest of the country was watching the fireworks in the rain, marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, many volunteers gathered in a house in Wembley to prepare for fireworks of a whole different kind! Preparation highlights over the past few months include:

  • The quest to solve the mystery of what to do with 700 pairs of participants’ shoes in a confined space (everyone had their own brainwave of a solution!)
  • Making name tags (and then searching for the missing ones)
  • Singing and meditating in London parks to raise awareness, come rain or shine
  • Calling participants to remind them to complete the online course and to check they know where they have to go and when (a house in London turned into a call-centre scene on several occasions)
  • Arranging introductory talks in corporates, clubs, town halls and seeing people truly touched for the first time by Sadhguru
  • Receiving training on how to correct participants’ practices (and trying to keep a straight face as we learned how NOT to correct!)
  • Being provided a welcome space for us to gather in at volunteers’ homes whilst preparations were underway.
    Eating the delicious food prepared by those that time and time again feed the volunteers

The atmosphere at the Excel whilst waiting for participants to arrive was electric. Everyone had a task to perform; everyone was willing, keen, ‘on’. Everyone remembered all too well how the Shambhavi Mahamudra weekend was for them when they were participants. The ushers, registration team, help desk team, hall preparation team, stage team, camera crew, flower team – all ready. And every now and then you would see volunteers embrace each other or just exchange a look of excitement, acknowledging the enormity of what was to happen to nearly 700 people. I yesterday asked a fellow volunteer what was his most special memory of the weekend. His reply: ‘Seeing every single volunteer around me performing each simple task out of love.”

A particularly lasting memory I have is seeing hundreds of participants literally RUN into the class when the hall doors were opened after one of the breaks, all eager to bag a front row seat in front of Sadhguru. What a far cry from the daily scenes of frantic, stressed commuters running over London Bridge to catch the train home from work. These Londoners were in a rush for something far more beneficial that the next train home!

Sadhguru wrapped up the programme by reminding us all:

“I am with you in more ways than you will ever understand”.
– Sadhguru

A hall of 900 people were clearly moved, many were moved to tears.

This is the largest programme in the UK to date and it has definitely fuelled an appetite for more. It was announced on Sunday that Sadhguru will be back for a further Shambhavi weekend programme on 9 &10 February 2013. We hear that Sadhguru wants the numbers to be in the thousands. “No problem”, reply the volunteers. Isha UK has turned up the volume and the planning has already begun!

– Isha Volunteer, UK