When I made the decision to attend Agamishaala 2023, I knew I was embarking on a journey into the unknown, guided more by my trust in the Agami team who was organizing the event. The venue for the Shaala was nestled amidst the serene hills of Ranikhet, the location was just perfect for introspection and growth. Over the course of four days, I discovered new aspects of my personality and learned valuable lessons about collaboration, systems thinking, and self-reflection.
As I entered the gathering of close to 25 individuals, primarily from the law and justice space, I questioned how I, representing a technology-focused organization in the social sector, could contribute to this group. With minimal exposure to law and justice, I felt a sense of uncertainty. However, I decided to embrace the process wholeheartedly, recognising the potential for self development and contributing to the group to the best of my knowledge and capacity.
The journey began with introspection, shifting focus from the mind to the body through the 20-minute Body Dance session. During this exercise, I relinquished control to my body, allowing it to guide my movements instead of my mind. This simple act of surrender revealed a deeper truth – that the mind often governs the body, but when the roles reversed temporarily both my body and mind experienced a sense of liberation. This introspection offered valuable insights into collaboration, highlighting the significance of giving up control and allowing others to contribute in their own unique ways
Next, we transitioned from the individual self to the collective social body in a group exercise. In groups of four and then five, without speaking, we simply observed and acknowledged each other’s actions, roles and the dynamics that emerged. Through this exercise, I gained awareness of my personality traits, the power of empathy and understanding in building connections and fostering collaboration.
One particularly impactful session was the 3D modeling exercise done on the third day which encouraged me to think beyond my individual boundary. As change-makers, to achieve our collective vision for the sector, sustainable and scalable change must encompass the entire system. This realization marked a pivotal moment for me, I understood the importance of thinking and acting at a systems level.
Under the guidance of our facilitator, Manish, we delved into the power of listening and the significance of silence. The space between listening and reacting, where silence prevails, allows for the birth of new insights and deeper understanding. This realization highlighted the transformative potential of active listening and a receptive mindset when trying to understand.
A pivotal moment for me was the fresh perspective I gained on the age old saying, “To know where the shoe pinches, you need to get into those shoes.” The added insight from “taking off your own shoes before getting into other’s” emphasized the importance of removing our own biases and preconceptions before truly stepping into someone else’s shoes. This fresh start enables us to approach situations with a willingness to understand without judgement and empathy.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Agami team for ideating something like the Shaala and organising it with such perfection. The sessions provided such invaluable insights for me.
As I reflect on the four days I spent with my fellow Shaalaites’23, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to contribute to the sector meaningful.
Wishing the team at AgamiShaala – Sachin, Supriya, Artika, Aditi and Manish the very best for future Shaalas.
(Featured Image Painiting Credit: Madhuri Dhariwal, my buddy at the Shaala)