Seeker to Facilitator Programme in Niagara

Date : 02 Jun 2024

The Chinmaya Niagara Seeker-To-Facilitator programme arose out of a pressing need to have more individuals who are both firmly established as spiritual seekers in Sanatana Dharma and equipped with the necessary training to serve as facilitators to open and enhance the spiritual journeys of others in their communities.

Thus, from June 2023 to May 2024, an inaugural 14-seeker cohort of the Seeker-to-Facilitator programme engaged in rigorous weekly training. The seekers, all highly dedicated and insightful individuals from across the United States, play vital roles in their respective communities, whether as Chinmaya Mission Bala Vihar teachers, weekly course teachers, study group facilitators or Centre organizers.

The cohort was trained by Shri Vivek Gupta, who expertly guided the seekers to better understand and reflect on vital concepts for facilitation, such as:

The purpose of a spiritual facilitator.
Deepening personal sadhana.
The right attitude towards facilitation and seva.
The importance of relationships in spiritual facilitation.
Frameworks to properly incorporate scriptural teachings into facilitation.
Designing engaging facilitation sessions.
Ideating and implementing high-level seva initiatives.

These teachings from Shri Vivekji were supplemented by intensive workshops by professional educators on topics such as:

Confidence in public speaking.
Developing a robust toolkit of facilitation techniques.
The art of asking and answering questions as a facilitator.
Constructing safe and inclusive learning environments.
Designing dynamic activities for youth.

The 14 graduates are Ananya Chakravarti, Annapoorna Murthy, Jignasa Patel, Juie Deo, Lavanya Rao, Neha Mehta, Pankaj Kotwani, Prema Palaniappan, Rachana Sureka, Rupa Ranganath, Srikanth Vasudevan, Varsha Shah, Vasavi Tankala, and Vignesh Sadras.

The Seeker-To-Facilitator programme had an immense impact on the cohort. The graduates aspire to live by a code of ethics to follow and further the Science of Oneness with instrumentship (nimitta-bhāva), surrender (bhakti) and acceptance (sthāne). They practiced to connect with all in thoughts, words and action with authenticity (ārjava), inclusivity (suhṛd) and dedication (yajña) at retreats, camps, and weekly classes with their students. They all have attended at least one 50-hour Silence Retreat.

The programme culminated with the seekers working together to develop and execute several new initiatives for Chinmaya Niagara, such as the upcoming Essential Love (Gita Saara) book and the Enhanced Seva Training programme that begins on June 30, 2024. In this Enhanced Seva Training, Shri Vivek Gupta along with other trained spiritual guides and educators, will train seekers to effectively facilitate spiritual education for second and third generation youth, deepening self development of all in the process.

By Anvita Mishra, Annapoorna Murthy, Juie Deo, Vidya Ganti, Vignesh Saradas and Vinay Mallikaarjun