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Volunteering to cultivate spiritual friendship

As an immigrant, I was burdened by a sentiment of loss. I felt uprooted and lethargic. I don’t think I realized it at the time but soon after my first sitting, I began examining my internal landscape with tenderness and attention. My gut started to untangle and the cloud lifted. As I practiced Insight meditation, I experienced the arise of acceptance and peace.

I became interested and curious about this practice and decided to travel deeper in its path. In this, I have felt supported by TNI in many ways. The sittings and retreats allow the space, the conferences and study programs guide the understanding and the people provide the heart.

Since the beginning, I was drawn to the community. I knew about the activities and events and I knew they promoted a system based on generosity. For me, it felt simply natural to want and participate. I do it in several ways.

Sometimes it’s about lending a hand with logistics or generals tasks at TNI’s events and activities. Other times, be it through socially or environmentally engaged initiatives, the members of the Sangha get organized to positively contribute to the public well-being.

Giving is precious and rewarding by itself. However, for me, it is also another way to spend time with kindred people. To share with others who are also committed to spiritual growth is both nourishing and reassuring. When I witness their courage and vulnerability, my heart grows spacious. I see proof of the commonality of suffering and the spirit’s great wisdom and strength. I feel comforted in my own grief and grateful for being part of this circle of wonderful unique beings.

Later on, I got accepted into the Living the Heart of Wisdom program, which allowed me to continue to cultivate my practice with the support of a mentor. I appreciated the “Kalyanna Mitta” aspect of the program, which connected me to fellow seekers, with whom I could share about our experiences and processes.

I found myself among others who were too, consciously navigating their own suffering and travelling transcendent paths. It is soothing to know that I’m not alone. That you are not alone.

The dharma became a pillar of my own life experience and I was inspired to explore it and be active in ways that would also correspond to my own singularity. I wanted to integrate my personal skills, motivations and passions with my spiritual quest. I wanted to design objects that would correlate with my values regarding ethics and aesthetics. From this research a collection of meditation cushions came to exist. I also started writing in a blog occasionally and I co-animate a Facebook group. 

For me, all of these are ways to share the practice and to participate in the community. By taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. We give and receive in a cycle of kindness and generosity.

By nurturing and weaving ties within the community, I have felt my roots finding fertile ground to flourish and my inner light finding the courage to shine.

My relationship with True North Insight is one of affinity and companionship in a journey of personal transformation. I’m grateful and enthusiastic to be a part of this movement.

My friend Muriel asked me to write a testimony for her organization True North Insight / Voie boréale. This is how it went.

Bibiana Vera

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