Responding to community
This year has been like no other. In the first months of 2020 a pandemic took ahold of the globe. Travel was drastically reduced, in-person gatherings ceased, and in some countries mandatory lockdowns were enforced. This invisible threat meant that as a network we had to adapt to different ways to connect with each other.
In early April, the International Council began facilitating daily iListen Zoom sessions which enabled teams and individuals in our global community to share, support, and inspire each other in this unfamiliar crisis. As former International Council member Mayur Shah, who helped organize the sessions, stated ‘Every crisis brings opportunities to rediscover, reinvent, and come out stronger. Let us make the best of this God-given chance to see ourselves in a different light. And trust that we will be guided further.’
A new form of 'Quiet Time'
iListen puts online the IofC practice of a 'quiet time', an open invitation for participants to reflect on their lives and seek inspiration. We find this personal and group experience is a tool for creating lasting change. Most of us are seeking direction of some type, for the day, the week, or even for one’s whole life, and iListen provides an opportunity to explore that direction. As a safe and inclusive space, where everyone can share what’s on their heart, this gives a chance to receive encouragement from others and help discern what changes may be needed in one’s life.
What is iListen like?
A typical 60-minute session will start with a brief welcome from one of our members, after which he/she will open the space with their choice of inspiring input. Sometimes this is a poem or passage from a spiritual text, a song or poem, or even a brief slideshow to help participants center themselves.
After a few minutes, the session moves to silent reflection for 7 – 10 minutes. Then there is time when, if they wish, participants can share their thoughts or feelings.
'iListen calls give an opportunity to share suffering, concerns and support to those who need it, as well as raise questions about human nature, future leadership and future vision and mission of IofC.'
One goal, many languages
Initially developed in English, iListen gradually expanded to offer sessions in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Hindi. In September iListen sessions were reduced to once a week as members established new routines for travel and in-person meetings. After feedback from iListen participants who expressed stress and anxiety during the pandemic, Initiatives of Change International also established a team of experienced mentors who can be reached through xChange.
Into the future
As the pandemic continues and countries continue to enforce measures for public health and safety, it is safe to say that iListen session will continue well into the future. Those who have signed up to participate are provided updates each Sunday to keep informed about changes in time, facilitators, and other iListen related information. Highlights and facilitator materials are shared on the intranet site, xChange, so that there is a continued sense of community, even if a session is missed
'To see people from all around the world sharing about their fears, hope and wishes makes me think that this hard time can be a good opportunity for a collective change. But this change starts in ourselves. The iListen calls help each one of us to take this time of silence and think about this change. Thank you, Initiatives of Change, for giving me the opportunity to join these precious calls which can be the first step of big change in the world.'
We look forward to welcoming you to one of the upcoming iListen sessions, which you can sign up for under our Events page. Volunteer facilitators are also welcome to contact us, especially those with previous facilitations experience. You can learn more about what is required for hosting a iListen session, what the facilitation process is like, and how to get started by visiting the xChange!