Dear Sangha friends, I’m really pleased to be sending out this monthly newsletter to you all, it’s going to a regular monthly thing from me!
The Awakened Heart Sangha is a community of people who are all following the path to awakening, a sangha of people who support one another, learn together and in turn create and sustain the community which we are building and growing together.
My role within the AHS has changed recently. Before, I was meeting new students to help orientate them, organising the DHB courses and supporting students. I’m now more focused on helping the sangha to create teams of working groups, with a mix of volunteers and paid staff to ensure that there is enough regular capacity, along with the invaluable work of member volunteers, to help us meet the needs of our growing sangha.
My focus is on how we build a real living community that supports one another in our dharma practice. I also care deeply about how we work together, collaborating in an open and sensitive way, meeting with a sense of commitment to listen and allowing space for others and ourselves to express our thoughts. So, the teams we are creating hold this ethos very strongly in their hearts. How we meet and show up for meetings within our teams matters.
So, this newsletter is an opportunity to share information about what the teams behind the scenes are doing, where we are heading and where we’d like to be. But I’d also like you to know who we are, this mysterious bunch who you might email or receive an email from.
This month I’d like to focus on the Student Support ( [email protected]ku.gro.sha@troppus ) and the DHB (Discovering the Heart of Buddhism) teams.
Student Support consists of myself, Dawa, Damzig, Rangdrol, Kathy Cosgrove and Jamyang Judes. Some of us have a paid role, but we all volunteer time to support students and their wellbeing. Student Support exists to, well ... support students in all aspects of the AHS.
Dawa is the person who replies to your emails and takes special care of student’s problems or general enquiries. Dawa is there for any of us who might need advice and supports stundets in all aspects of sangha life.
Then we have Damzig, who not only volunteers to help us with setting up all the DHB and THB courses but also has been a resident volunteer at the Hermitage for the past 6 months. I would like to bottle some of Damzig’s energy and spread it around, vajra energy in action!
Rangdrol is involved in many aspects of the AHS, but within Student Support she meets and greets all new students, ensuring they have the information they need to engage with the DHB training and become a part of our community.
And then we have Kathy (sorry, no photo!) and Jamyang Judes, who are responsible for posting out all the DHB books. This job requires them to keep a close eye on the system for any book requests, then to physically post them out - quite a time-consuming task!
We meet up once a month to discuss and share what’s been going on, but we also use this time to support one another, by listening for the wisdom we all carry within us. We all have contact with students and so will report any issues or feedback we have received and take appropriate action.
The DHB team consist of Damzig, Dawa, Rangdrol and myself. We meet up once a week to brainstorm ideas around how we can further meet students’ needs. We use this time to discuss areas we can develop and try out different ideas. Part of our role is also to have regular contact with students, our discussions are very much driven by these conversations with students. This then informs us as to what areas we need to focus on and any changes we can make. Recently we’ve been looking at ways in which we can facilitate more connections for students. We’re starting to experiment with facilitating online meeting places and book clubs run by students for students. We are actively trying to find ways in which students can connect with each other to share their practice and explore the dharma together.
When we first began these meetings, we worked on creating a clear central principle of ‘supporting people to connect to the heart of Buddhism’. When we hold this principle close to our hearts it helps to guide our decisions and actions. It’s a very creative time where we give each other support and space to explore. We all hold the shared responsibility for creating a lively mandala of experimentation and exploration.
I see us as explorers navigating the high seas, with our central principle as our compass. We have many different routes we can take but we know the destination point. Both teams are so vital to supporting the community and are working hard to further increase ways in which we can thrive and connect in more meaningful ways.
So… that’s the Student Support and the DHB teams. We are an evolving group and always open to suggestions, so if you have any ideas or questions then please do get in touch.
This is OUR sangha, and we can all share in the responsibility to create a supportive community of dharma practitioners. There are also opportunities for volunteers, so if you’re interested in helping to co-create our precious sangha then please contact me.