Wake Up Sangha

Over the last few years Wake Up Sanghas have been popping up all over the world. The following is a sharing about how the Dutch Wake Up Sanghas were started.

In Holland, we now have a young Sangha in almost every big city. This is great, but how did it happen?

It almost always begins with just one or two practitioners who have a deep aspiration to continue to practice together with others. For us it started with 5 young people from Rotterdam going to a Wake Up retreat in Holland (that young people organized and asked monks and nuns to come and support). We all really wanted to come together again, so we made an appointment the week after to do so.

This first sangha meeting was at my home. With some improvised cushions and tea, we started. We shared the ideal that no one person is the leader of the group and that everybody is responsible. Although in the long run some people felt comfortable sitting at the bell and others did not, the spirit of doing it together always remained. I remember that we first did some sitting and then spoke about what we would like to do at a sangha meeting. We made a list and everybody voted, if and how many times we wanted to do things.

The list went something like this:

Every time:
– Sitting meditation
– Dharma sharing
– Drinking tea

Often:
– Guided meditation
– Reciting 5 Mindfulness Trainings
– Deep Relaxation practice
– Outside walking meditation
– Dharma talk
– Singing
– Games

Sometimes:
– Touching the Earth practice
– Sharing a meal
– Yoga/exercises
– Other teachings
– Other meditations

We started our sangha meeting once a week and we always tried to have a meet¬ing. It seems that having a regular meeting at a fixed time makes a sangha stron¬ger. Sometimes there were not so many people, but as we were all first practicing for ourselves, that did not matter. A sangha meeting can be very deep with only 3 people.

For me the young sangha really nourished me. We grew strong connections and felt more and more as brothers and sisters. It helped that during the sharings we could very easily open up and share our difficulties, as we had a safe place and atmosphere.
I would like to encourage everybody to form a sangha – you can do it too.

Wake Up Sangha cookbook
Ingredients:

* Consensus on activities to do together
* Safe place to meet each time
* Regular meetings
* A bell
* Sitting cushions or improvised rolled-up blankets
* Song lyrics
* Printed copies of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings
* Some inspired people

Optional:
* Planting Seeds: Mindfulness for Children book by
Thích Nhất Hạnh
* Attending/organizing retreats for young people