Story Curated by Takyrah Anderson
My name is Ioana Popa and my initiative is 100SeedsofJoy.com.
Early this year we were inspired to make our love for meditation somewhat more mobile, creative and accessible for our communities. At the same time, this year we have a 100-year birthday milestone to celebrate. (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Day, on March 21st, 2023, when it is the Spring Equinox and Nawroz, the Iranian New Year)
What is your connection to the project/initiative, and why is it so important to you?
The 100SeedsofJoy initiative was born in Burlington in the same year as its 150th anniversary. My family and I moved to the Halton region 18 years ago. In the same year, I opened the first free weekly meditation class here at the Brant Hills Community Center. I wanted to share in my free time what I applied as a solution and support for my mental health since I was a young student in Romania who was married and working full time. After a year or so I opened a similar weekly free meditation class in Oakville, then I was asked to open in Milton, and so on. It was a beautiful and personal journey!
Now, after 18 busy years, we have a beautiful and dynamic group of volunteers, the Sahaja Yoga Meditation Network. We offer free classes in both Burlington and Oakville at Glen Abbey Recreation Center, and we continue offering many free events for the Halton Community. We’re always open to everyone and sometimes we even share artistic and cultural performances. We launched this initiative in March with our Festival of New Beginnings which was attended by 200+ people at the Art Gallery of Burlington, and we had the honour of having the Mayor of Burlington as the guest speaker. In December we want to offer another great event in our community: The Festival of Inner Lights to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Burlington and the 100th anniversary of the founder of Sahaja yoga meditation, as well as to honour those in our community that we call “Cultivators of Joy.”
What is happening through the project/initiative that you would like to see more of?
So far has been an amazing journey, it is so fulfilling as this initiative took us to many places. We met so many people and it was satisfying to see how our free mental health workshops made a change. We received moving feedback from everyone!
We would like to see more small businesses, employers, and organizations in the Halton community becoming aware of this initiative and join us in becoming “Cultivators of Joy” in our shared community. For us there is no personal interest, we are not asking for financial support. If a location is offered we can collaborate and provide workshops adapted to the respective location and the hosting party’s needs. We have no staff and we never will, as we want to be 100% based on pure intentions and each volunteer should be 100% genuinely committed to cultivating joy and helping only when they can and if they can. No pressure or material gains are involved.
Unfortunately, we do not have the time nor the means to engage a lot within the community, so here is where the “good news” would help. I am working full time as that’s the case for all the other volunteers, so we hope to have the media in the Halton community help us establish some connections.
This year we focused this initiative mostly in Burlington and we are close to attaining the goal of offering 100 mental health workshops in 2023. Next year we would love to continue in Burlington but definitely with a focus on Oakville and Milton too.
What would you want or need from the community to make your next steps successful?
We would love to have more opportunities to offer workshops in places where we are not asked to pay the rent for the location. For instance, if we can “tour” the libraries in Oakville or Milton or offer an event here and there, then we can make provisions for the theme and the special guests (musicians, etc.), but ideally in collaboration with the hosting party. We already had such beautiful collaborations with the Burlington Public Library, and we hope that will happen more! This is our first year, so we had a lot to learn from our experiences. I think the employers should really be interested in what we have to offer; again, at no cost to them but at a great benefit for their employees.
We all live a very busy life, and we sometimes ask those in need of mental health to “reach out” or go “there” for support. What we offer is that we make the step toward their needs, and we are not waiting for the mental health crisis to become even more dire than it is. We think that what we bring is unique. We already focus on our goals and results in a gentle manner, and we’re very adaptive and flexible which is not yet present anywhere. We truly have seen that the genuine and unintrusive help that comes from “Cultivators of Joy” is well received. We even had this summer’s backyard meditations which was a great success and we got wonderful photos and feedback too!
“What’s the Problem of this World?! There is No Joy. Simple as that – there is no joy. ’If they had joy, they would not have done all these nonsensical things. When you have joy, you don’t want to fight, you don’t want to do anything that is harmful. You don’t want to have something that will spoil this Mother Earth or which will bring ecological problem. No, you just don’t want it, don’t want to do anything because it harms others. ‘Joy-Giving is the character, nature of Spirit. So you have to first understand that Life is for Giving Joy to others.” – Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi – the founder of Sahaja Yoga Meditation
For more from 100 Seeds of Joy, check out their website and blog with these links:
If you would like to see some of the feedback 100SeedsofJoy received from their workshops in a Burlington’s Starbucks, click these links below.
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What would happen if we celebrated what is strong in Halton?
Community Development Halton is interested in sharing the news of individuals, groups and organizations that are strength-based, working at the edges and the middle of issues of community well-being, social justice and community building in Halton. We are pleased to share the first story.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please head to the following LINK. We are excited to hear from you!