In December 2019, I was a part of an event called ‘Walk-Within’ organised by Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), an NGO based in Karnataka. SVYM works towards building a resurgent India through humanitarian projects chiefly in the areas of Healthcare and Education. We walked for over a hundred and fifty kilometres across several villages near Mysore, Karnataka in seven days. The theme of the walk was to connect with a tiny part of India’s rural landscape, explore various aspects of living such as healthcare, education, agriculture, livelihood etc through mindful interactions with the communities and end the day by reflecting together on our daily experiences. Overall, it was an immersive experience of sorts and was clearly out of many of our comfort zones.
In this article, I would like to share a few simple things that I learnt by experience as a part of this enriching journey:
- We are startlingly resilient. We don’t seem to need as much food or sleep as we think we do nor do we actually fatigue as easily. Our minds and bodies can be excellent companions. The walkers comprised of people ranging from the age of fifteen to early sixties.
- It is easier to accomplish challenging tasks, overcome difficult circumstances and grow when we work together united by virtuous ideals that I think invariably results from good reasoning and through faith that is inspired by people who walk the talk and to whom ideals are living forces. This is the power of the Sangha.
- Through presence and an open mind, it is possible to connect with one another regardless of our apparent differences.
- There are many kind people doing excellent work towards the betterment of society across so many domains in their own way. We ought to share their stories more. It is unfortunate that most of the contemporary media sets a very poor example in helping us get an honest assessment of the world and human nature.
Additionally, we also gained insights into the art of reflection, shared stories and even meditated together.
My gratitude to SVYM for working hard in organising this deeply meaningful event and last but not the least, to Dr R Balasubramaniam, founder of SVYM and our chief inspiration for this walk who continues to be deeply committed to service guided by the life and works of the irreplaceable Swami Vivekananda.