Service as a Way of Life: Mid-Central Regional Retreat
The annual Mid-Central Region Sai retreat that takes place on Memorial Day weekend was held this year in a virtual format on the theme, Service as a Way of Life. Sai Center members, young adults and Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students came together to listen to inspiring presentations and enthusiastically participate in discussions centered on service. The goal was to not merely discuss service initiatives and reflect on Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s message on service, but to develop an action plan to concretely implement service initiatives and make service an integral aspect of our lives.
The retreat opened with an inspiring presentation by a guest speaker, Sai Santosh, a young adult (YA) known for his profound commitment to serving the homeless and finding practical ways to make service a way of life. Sai Santosh shared a few key points for making service central to our lives - (i) start early and follow your inner promptings, (ii) identify a service project you resonate with, (iii) offer your service idea to the Lord, and finally, (iv) take small steps to achieve your goal. However, to follow one’s inner promptings to serve others, he stressed that we must first be connected to our own feelings and intuition through practicing mindful exercises. Sai Santosh gave a few examples of mindfulness exercises he practiced himself - affirming with confidence ‘I am God’ and putting into practice Be Aware Be Alert (B.A.B.A).
These mindfulness exercises not only foster self-love, but they also attune us to our thoughts, feelings, and intuition and keep us alert to any opportunities to serve.
Retreat attendees also had the opportunity to hear Sai Santosh speak about his transformative service experiences and lessons gleaned from them during the YA-led question and answer panel. Many of the questions centered on increasing Sai Center members’ involvement in service activities, stepping outside one’s comfort zone to serve, ensuring service projects are sustainable, and ways to address the community’s needs through service.
Following the Q and A panel, YAs led an action-oriented workshop to engage participants in identifying one service project that could be implemented in the region. YAs began with a role-play to introduce the CAPE service planning tool. C.A.P.E stands for (I) Come together as a team, (2) Ask the right questions, (3) Plan efficiently, and (4) Execute the project. After being introduced to the CAPE tool, participants were split into five breakout rooms depending on the service area of their interest: Education and Mentoring, Humanitarian Relief, Devotional Service, Technology Support, and Envirocare. In each breakout group, YA facilitators utilized the CAPE model to guide participants in identifying one service project in their service category. Following the breakout rooms, participants from each group shared their service idea and a poll was conducted to determine which service project retreat attendees would like to see the region implement.
Finally, the Midcentral Go Green E-book Team presented a beautiful collection of Go Green Tips.
Participants left the retreat feeling inspired and deeply grateful for the opportunity to revisit and strengthen their commitment to service. One participant mentioned “We have been immensely inspired and blessed by today’s retreat. It is our duty to strengthen our inner promptings and spread love through service.”