Sunday, February 16, 2020

Navda Bhakti

Next week in Bal/Balika one there is a presentation on The Importance of Bhakti. There are some great ideas in the presentation to get group 1 kids to work through how to define and categorize the nine different types of bhakti. There is an activity where the kids match the different satsang related activities they do throughout the week with a different type of bhakti. In order to preface that and to create a bit of excitement we are planning on doing the following.

Start with a concentrated focus on the number 9. We really want to drive home the point of navda bhakti - meaning that there are nine types of bhakti. Our Bal 1 currently has many shishu graduates who have not been introduced to this idea, so we really want to drive home this simple fact: There are nine types fo bhakti. To that end we are going to start by showing one of these videos related to the number 9 and then immediately tie that back to the our simple take away: There are nine types of bhakti. We are going to request the sanchalaks to choose an appropriate  video from the list. Here is one example.

List of videos

Now that everyone is focused on the number 9. We will write 1-9 on the whiteboard and to appeal to some of the older Bal 1 kids we will do a demo on the number nine finger multiplication trick. This we will do as an interactive demo but here is a video describing it.

As the balalks/baliaks would say the entire sabha should now be vibing on the number 9. We will then proceed to spell out each of the nine types of bhakti, using the repetition on the total being nine types, using the multiplication trick to enumerate each type, then defining each type.  If time permits we may also try and make a mnemonic to try and remember each type.

We will then go over the prasangs in the presentation and ask which type of bhakti was being illustrated. Finally we will end with the bhakti matching game described in the beginning.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Melissa Marshall: Talk Nerdy to Me

Several months ago, we had the privilege of attending a workshop ran by Melissa Marshall. She was previously involved in technical communication research at Penn State University but now works as a consultant to help scientists better deliver presentations.

While we may not be traditional scientists, her insights can readily be applied to the science of sabha. She mirrored many of the insights we have expressed since this blog's inception. Here's two concepts she addressed worth considering before the next karyakar meeting.

Problem: We start preparing presentations using Powerpoint.
She compared giving a presentation to guiding individuals up a mountain. As a trail guide, it's our job to identify the salient landmarks en route to the peak. Stopping at every grass, shrub, and rock drains our audience before they reach the peak. Similarly, we waste the audience's attention when we start with slides and lose sight of what's important by cramming details, slide after slide. 

Solution: Start with idea mapping.
  • Start with identifying the peak (main idea). (Unsurprisingly, Made to Stick was listed on her references list.)
  • Identify 2-4 points that can help you build up to the main idea. 
  • Determine the details that should fit underneath each point.
  • Review your outline with someone else to make sure your ideas flow. 
  • Now, proceed to Powerpoint.

Problem: Bulleted lists pervade slides.
She points out in her TED Talk, "Have you ever wondered why they're called bullet points? What do bullets do? Bullets kill, and they will kill your presentation."

In an average talk with text-heavy slides, most individuals filter information in one of three ways.
  • Read slides but ignore speaker 
  • Listen to speaker but ignore slides 
  • Tennis between speaker and slides 

Solution:  People learn much more deeply from words and relevant images than from words alone. 

  • Complement bullet points with graphics. (Here's an example).
  • The Noun Project offers many free icons to use for presentations.

Agree or disagree, please let us know how insightful you found these points.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Prasangs of Mahant Swami Maharaj

In this week's kishore-kishori sabha, we will be highlighting the life of our guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj, with prasangs. With 35 minutes allotted, it may appear difficult to connect his 85-year lifetime with ours, so we need to emphasize relevance. At NC18, delegates took the time to put together a life map highlighting milestones in their life.  

One way to kick off sabha is by asking the audience, "Imagine we had the seva of drafting Mahant Swami Maharaj's life map. From birth, what 9 events would he want to feature from his life through the age of 30?" 

Allow them time to brainstorm independently before putting together the events.

To explain why we picked this age, Chip and Dan Heath cite a study in their latest book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, which clarifies why we picked this age range. 

In a study by Dorthe Berntsen and David Rubin, respondents were prompted to think about the life of a baby who had just been born and to predict what would be “the most important events that are likely to take place in this infant’s life."
  1. Begin school 
  2. College 
  3. Marriage 
  4. Parents' death 
  5. Others' death 
  6. Retirement 
  7. Leave home
  8. First job
It’s striking that 4 out of the 8 most important events all happen during a relatively narrow window of time: roughly age 15 to 30. 
Similarly, if you ask older people about their most vivid memories, research shows, they tend to be drawn disproportionately from this same period, roughly ages 15 to 30. Psychologists call this phenomenon the “reminiscence bump.” Why does a 15-year period in our lives—which is not even 20% of a typical life span—dominate our memories? “The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty,” said Claudia Hammond in her book Time Warped. “The reason we remember our youth so well is that it is a . . . time for first... first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home, the first time we get much real choice over the way we spend our days.”
For Swamishri, let's look at his firsts. We highly recommend this book in preparation for this weekend, particularly the first section on his life as a balak, a kishore, and a yuvak. Here is our sample of 10 major events from birth to age 30.
  1. 9/13/1933: birthday
  2. 1934: first encountered Shastriji Maharaj who named him 'Keshav' [0.5] 
  3. 1946: placed first in the annual exam and received a book as a prize [12]
  4. 1951: encountered Yogiji Maharaj & Pramukh Swami Maharaj [17]
  5. 1951: received first kanthi at the hands of Yogiji Maharaj [17]
  6. 1952: spent time in Gondal with Yogiji Maharaj and acknowledged his guru's wish for him to become a sadhu after graduating college [18]
  7. 1952-1954: pursued Bachelor's in Agriculture as it allowed him availability to spend time with his guru [18-20]
  8. 1957: received parshadi diksha [24]
  9. 1960: received diksha again [27]
  10. 5/11/1961: received bhagwati diksha [27]

See what ideas the audience comes up with, and let's share with them the experiences our guru had in his life.