Impressions from Participants of the ASM 2016

The theme of Uncertainty at this last ASM was a symphony orchestrated by a community like no other. Love and fear, laughter and tears, strength and vulnerability were simultaneously present with wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Personally, it was the tipping point for my nine years journey with ASOS.

Samar Ajami, Dubai, graduate

For me, ASM 2016 was this incredible blend of enthusiasm, authenticity, strength, friendship, vulnerability, joys, and sorrows, that came together in community. From welcome night through Sunday lunch, the spirit of community was sacredly built and held. The mandala, one of my favorite community-building activities, was an alive evolving expression and an out-picturing of our time together; the feel and images are still with me and carry

me. ASM 2016 renewed my excitement and commitment to our ASOS community. Thank you CAC and teachers for your dedication, efforts, and time, and especially your hearts. Here's to our evolving alive community of souls!

PS: the talent show rocked!!!

Leah Block, New York, graduate

It was a sweet moment: on Saturday morning I wandered into the room with the Living Mandala. The creativity and beauty overwhelmed me. I felt the heart of our community holding each of us with such form preciousness. The fractures of past years dissolved - no more narratives of hurt, unfairness, judgment, separateness and longing.

The ones who came before no longing making their voices loud creating discord and supporting the continuation of the poisoning ground. Instead the sweetness of love and community entering my cells, and I answered the call.

Jackie Tatelman, North Carolina, graduate

I’m in! I was so energized and excited by the ASM and the amount of work the CAC did to make it happen.

I’m so grateful for that, and I want to be more a part of this. I want to be doing something in the larger community, and even though I don’t know what that is yet, I know I want to participate in doing the work, and not just receiving. It's a little scary to do this; still I could not think of a better group of people to do it with, because if you are in this community, there is a way you are in the world - and these are the people I want to be with, these are the people I want to play with, these are the people I want to work with. I'm sure it will be challenging, but there’s nothing about working in this community that won’t be lovingly supported, and it really doesn’t get any better than that.

Let’s not let people forget how great the ASM was and how much people said yes, they’re in and yes they want to be more a part of it and yes … So let’s keep the momentum going and figure out how to make the things happen that people want/suggested, and how to get folks more involved. It takes a village/community! Irma Ross, Connecticut, graduate

The ASM was by far one of the most transformative experiences of my life. The depth of the people and workshops are like none other and I won’t ever miss a future ASM. Kate Wolff, New Jersey, 2nd year student

It was a long trip but it was worth it. I feel blessed by getting to know you a little better, seeing your hearts and wisdom and love. I was enchanted by your performances at the talent show, your beauty, the way you are, just meeting you in the hall, sharing meals with you, having fun.There were moments when it was too difficult to take all that in, so I put it in my backpack: I am carrying it with me every day, every minute.

On the way home I had moments when I was crying inside because I knew that it will be long time before I will be able to see and feel and touch you again in person. And there were moments when I was laughing inside because, just because being with you these four days makes me happy, makes me feel alive, makes me feel loved.

Tadeja Tabitha Bradaš, Slovenia, graduate

There were so many people in attendance, many of whom I had never met, people from all over the world. We were gathered in the White Barn, and it was announced that it was Nava’s birthday. We all joined in to sing “Happy Birthday” – a perfectly normal occurrence. But after the congratulations and the applause died down, someone shyly sang the birthday song of their country. And then, another person offered the birthday song of their country and then it was another and another and another – different languages, different tunes, same wish. I joined in with the birthday song I knew from my time in Mexico, a song I hadn’t sung in almost sixty years, and the seamless movement of birthday songs continued around the room – a spontaneous sweetness that touched my heart. Lots of sweetness and love and good wishes to you all wherever you may be. Bobbie Burrell, Florida, graduate

For a first timer at the ASM, I am reminded that my willingness to ‘walk in the fields of uncertainty’ yielded endless discovery…vis-à-vis exposure to the wisdom of our teachers (Jason, Brenda, Jeff, Eileen) and the maturity of senior students (especially the extraordinary ‘Reports from the Field’), new friendships, humor (the talent show was witty, gleeful, side-splitting), poetry, song, dance, the connection with nature, great food and conversation, creating a mandala, participating in a socio-drama play…all in all, a beautiful non-dual experience. Steven Cohen, New York , 3rd year student

There are decisions you make, times when you remember exactly who said what that opened a door - that’s how I felt when I first heard about A Society of Souls. I’d been waiting a long time to find a teacher and a spiritual path I could trust, and a bigger community to be part of. The ASM was an amazing chance to get to know that community.

What stood out most for me was the quality of the people there. Every single person I talked to, I really liked and respected; it was a group of smart, generous, grounded, and incredibly open people, serious about the work but also very funny and creative. I didn’t expect to feel so close to so many people by the end of the weekend. A big part of it is that “small talk” isn’t typical “small talk,” and conversations generally get below the surface very quickly. ASOS feels like coming home in the best possible way.

Often during the ASM my eyes overflowed with grateful tears from a full heart.

Irene Greenberg, New Hampshire, 1st year student

Quite simply, it was the most impactful three days that I have spent in nigh on fifteen years. I was where I had often passed by without stopping or looking, as Kierkegaard puts it:

"The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived"

Lekhu Pagarini, Dubai, spouse of a graduate

The ASM 2016 was a beautiful experience of community. I experienced a rich balance of self-reflection, loving interaction with other community members, in

sightful teaching, singing, prayer, creativity and meditation. In addition, we all participated in evenings of dancing, awesome talent, and lots of laughs. I feel loved and embraced by our community, and the ASM is a space within which this love crystalizes. Nancy Goldstein, New York, graduate

It was really fantastic to meet our American colleagues and friends. People grounded in the same way in life together is beautiful. I really enjoyed the retreat on Thursday - I never seem to be able to make time for that on my own. The reports from the field were amazing. Awe inspiring. I loved the whole theme around uncertainty, so relevant and that, in combination with the Magi gives me hope & makes me again feel we can help. Also great to see my European colleagues again, and to be able to share a room with two of them - what a unique and lovely experience! Eddie Doolan, the Netherlands, graduate

As our mandala was destroyed, I was not saddened. As wonderful as each moment presented, I felt truly in awe of the possibilities which may be born. I will forever hold in my awareness the time that I was a seed in a pomegranate. It is a new place for me and I am eternally grateful. I am also aware that a stroke of change may totally wipe out my equanimity at any time. Kathy Abreu, New York, graduate