To Inspire and Get Inspired

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Wake Up Groningen

Last Fall, we travelled from the Sangha in Groningen, the Netherlands, to an old monastery for the Wake Up Sangha-Building weekend retreat. The monastery in Biezenmortel is surrounded by beautiful, calming and soothing nature. The ‘weather buddhas’ were with us that weekend; the air was soft and lots of sun rays were falling on the leaves and the trees, which really gave a vibrant Indian summer feel with the autumn color palette.

The subject of this weekend was ‘To Inspire and Get Inspired.’ Together with twenty beautiful Wake Up members from all over the Netherlands, there were twenty-five members from all-ages Sanghas in the Netherlands and Belgium. Although building a Sangha wasn’t actually our primary motivation to join this retreat, it felt like pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. One of the main facilitators of our Sangha in Groningen recently moved to Plum Village so together with the leaving absence of the founder of our Sangha, we also had to search for a new location for our weekly meditations. There were lots of movement and vibration there.

Although building a Sangha wasn’t actually our primary motivation to join this retreat, it felt like pieces of the puzzle were falling into place.

In this retreat, we were inspired by Sanghas from other cities in the Netherlands and we were very motivated to keep our Sangha going in a new form. During the retreat in our Wake Up family, we shared much joy and pain together, which led the need of giving hugs from the very first Dharma-sharing. When we talked about inspiration, we noticed that apart from the common practice (like the inner weather report, listening to the bell, Dharma talks and Dharma–sharing), connection in a Sangha was provided by playful activities like eating mindful together, walking meditation through the forest or on the beach, and laughing together. Practicing eye contact with other practitioners or subtle touching contributed to connection within the Sangha.

Also, alternating to facilitate a meditation program can make the Sangha more feel whole. When the facilitators were comfortable with this idea, a last-minute decision about doing a more active or relaxing meditation can be made according to the need of the Sangha. We were inspired to attract more new people who are searching for like-minded meditation practitioners. In order to give them a warm welcome, an introduction of the different aspects of the practice (listening to the bell, bowing in front of the Buddha, Dharma-sharing) can be a good idea. In any way, an unforced and laid back atmosphere is needed to make completely feel yourself at ease. Making mistakes and laughing out loud, singing out of tune, it’s all fine and part of the uniqueness in you!

Time flew by and at the end of the retreat, we returned to Groningen with a heart and head full of inspiration. Now we practice our weekly Sangha meditations in a beautiful old home in the city center, and new people come to our Sangha. It is awesome seeing the Sangha so alive and flourishing, and we continue to sing:

Ooh fill my heart

Ooh fill my heart and let it overflow

Ooh fill my heart

Ooh fill my heart and let it overflow

Ooh fill my heart..

Let it overflow with love

Ooh fill my heart and let it overflow

Let it overflow with love”

With love and gratitude,
Matthijs and Danique
Wake Up Groningen, the Netherlands

To get in touch with Wake Up Groningen, you can email them at groningen@wkup.nl or visit their Facebook group

This article was originally published in Dutch on wkup.nl

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