Creating Space is a monthly event in the IofC Australia community. Delia Paul spoke to co-facilitators Sudarshan Suresh and David Clisby to learn why the group exists—and what participants can expect, when they go.
Sudarshan: I personally see this as a collective journey that we’re all part of, whoever attends. Life gets so busy and hectic. We all have challenges and struggles, but we also have hope and inspiration that we can gain from each other. We have this space to pause together, reflect, explore themes that are important to all of us and journey together with a renewed sense of self-understanding as part of a larger community. Ultimately, it comes to journeying consciously, rather than just going from one day to the next.
David: We all want to ‘be the change’ that we want to see in the world. Creating Space is designed to support and nurture the inner aspects of being the change by literally creating space in our incessant stream of thinking. We are able in this space to listen to our hearts, to receive inner guidance, which makes us more intuitive and more effective in our work. We become better listeners, less likely to make an enemy of the other. We begin to speak consciously, from our hearts, and not from unconscious conditioning.
What happens in a group
Sudarshan: Initially, there would be about 10 people attending the sessions at Armagh, and we’d all sit in a circle together. I loved the elegance and simplicity of the format. David would lead a guided meditation in his deep, resounding voice. There would be a few questions aimed at eliciting the wisdom that’s present within the room. Past sessions have focused on topics such as growth, spirituality and religion, hope, awareness, and vulnerability.
Unlike seminars and programs where you go and ‘take’ the input, this is about unearthing what is already present. After the guided meditation, we take time to pause in a time of personal reflection. We split into breakout groups as a more intimate space where we can say what has emerged for us. Then we come back into the larger group, where any insights can be shared. Sometimes, someone might share something that is just what someone else needed to hear, without knowing it. At the end, we have a circle of gratitude, saying what we’re grateful for in life. We close with a non-religious prayer. It could just be something like, ‘We thank you for the sense of connection that we share here, and we pray that we have the strength to move forward.’
David: Quiet time, as a group, underpins the sharing that we do. Each session is a safe space that seeks to foster acceptance, honesty purity, unselfishness, respect authenticity, healing, and joy. It’s also a supportive space in which we recognize, experience, and celebrate our oneness.
To me, it’s the fundamental thing that exists in every human being behind the conditioned person that we’ve become. It’s the eternal life that Jesus speaks of, it’s the complete detachment that Buddhists speak of, it’s what the Sufis speak of…it’s that which is in all of us, which is veiled by the thinking, conditioned mind. I’m not a religious person at all, but I understand that we are an evolving consciousness. All of us together are awakening to something very special, and this is part of that.
Impacts of COVID-19
Sudarshan: We’ve had to rapidly adapt to the digital platform. At first, there were challenges. We’re trying to share deeply here: doing it digitally felt like there was an invisible barrier to how deeply we could communicate. But, once we’d acclimatised, it felt comfortable.
Initially, Creating Space was a Melbourne event. The COVID lockdown has opened the boundaries of this program as it has continued on a virtual platform and people take part from around Australia and beyond. I think COVID has also created this increased need to connect with one another, as we face isolation and disconnection.
David: I can hardly remember what it was like when we were all together in one room. It may be that, after the lockdown, the two kinds of spaces, virtual and physical, could continue. I think the people in the world who have opportunity to ‘go inwards’ have found the whole COVID thing—and life, really—much more manageable.
Highlights of past sessions
Sudarshan: Recently, one of my housemates and closest friends was moving out. I was feeling scared of the disconnection and isolation that may come during this time of COVID. When I shared this in the group, the sense of support was overwhelming. People reflected back to me, ‘This is what you’re meant to go through, to be the person you are meant to be.’
Ultimately what connects us all together is the value of honesty. We’re just being honest people who are reflecting honestly on our own lives. There is an unspoken sense of camaraderie and trust that leads to profound conversations, knowing that you can be vulnerable with each other.
I find that facilitating these conversations and holding this space enables us to recalibrate and move forward in life with the right perspective. People can gain a sense of space, of belonging, of being listened to in a deep way.