Happy Ho – Our Happiness Circles for elderly women

The Charter for Compassion India Is proud to share its success story of *Happy Ho! – Happiness Circle for Senior Women.*
We started in October 2018 at Mumbai- India, to mark the day of the elderly. Our circle has been meeting every week for an array of engaging activities aimed at sharing, learning and gaining new experiences. Members eagerly look forward to each session and in a short span of 3 months, have formed strong bonds amongst themselves. Through word of mouth, the circle has grown from 10 to 18 members and members have now started taking responsibilities like collecting a small kitty of funds on a monthly basis.
The format of our gatherings is driven by circle principles and consists of sharing in turn, using a talking stick and ending with a positive thought and a loving kindness prayer-Mangal Maitri, wishing well for all of God’s creations. Sessions are conducted in a way that they are fun, while external experts are invited from various fields. Past sessions included games, dance movement therapy, vision board using art, playback theatre, heartfulness meditation, yoga and naturopathy sessions interspersed with potlucks and a lot of laughter!
*Glimpses of some interesting activities conducted are shared below-*
* *Playback Theatre Show-* Impromptu acts based on feelings of the audience; acting out the emotions of participants. This was a unique and creative way to help women connect with themselves.
• *Naturopathy Session*
The focus was pain management for which some simple techniques that were shared were:
1) For sleeping difficulties, do naadi shuddhi (breathing exercise)
2) For pain in the foot area- soak feet upto below knee level in warm water with salt before bedtime for about 15 mins.
3) Walking in the pool is also beneficial for leg pain, varicose pain and for healing purposes.
4) Icing for any kind of body pain is best done with ice cubes in a cotton towel bag
5) For Knee Pain and avoidance of knee pain-Sitting on a chair, lift the leg up straight as high as comfortable and hold upto 5/10/15 counts. If you are holding it for 10 counts, repeat it 10 times; is 15 counts, repeat 15 times. This exercise should be done with the mind on the exercise so that it becomes a mind/body connect; not while watching TV or chit-chatting.
6) For back pain-Bhujangasana is the best or Sarvangasana for those with vertigo
7) For Hair- A home made mix of 3 different types of oil was suggested.
The takeaway was taking care of our self above everything else. Prioritize our health and remember the mantra- “Health is Wealth”.
• *Potluck Session*
This was a nice change of pace session which gave everyone a chance to interact with one another.
A big spread on the table was a delight and everyone enjoyed the home cooked food. A green smoothie demonstration was made and a sampling was served. To eat mindfully in silence for a few minutes after serving your plate was suggested for developing an attitude of gratitude. A pomegranate/apple juice was served with the food and the benefits of the drink were shared.
• *Tech Session*
The need to have someone show them how to use different features on their phones was a strong sentiment among some the members. From how to create whatsapp to sending messages to sending pictures and videos to booking a cab –it was all covered and much appreciated.
* *Yoga Session*
Pranayama was the focus for the session and she told us about different pranayama techniques Firstly, how to know your lung capacity and the way to measure it was shown. Then with regular pranayama techniques, building up the capacity was suggested. Two techniques were demonstrated-one sitting down and one lying down.Kapaalbhati and Bhastrika kriyas were also demonstrated and benefits explained. The session was closed with a beautiful prayer.
More sessions are planned in the coming months including kitchen gardening, writing of a will, etc. It is wonderful to work with a diverse group of senior yet enthusiastic women from various walks of life. The circle provides them with the perfect opportunity to share their experiences and learn many more! These sessions are motivating, promotes healing, wellness, and Improves self confidence. Some kids have shared that their mothers and mothers in law discuss for days the recipe for the item they need to take for potlucks 😊 A sub group of women have started meeting on an additional day to practice heartfulness meditation on an ongoing basis. We, the organisers, feel blessed to be able to introduce practices like daily gratitude which are helping our members lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
We look forward to our members realising their dreams be it learning how to swim or starting a bridge card game play group 😊
Would you like to start a Happiness Circle in your community? We are here to help! Feel free to reach out to us via our FB group for Charter for Compassion India or fill out the contact form on our website.

Past Events







In order to mark the International Day of the Elderly on 1-Oct and to address the growing epidemic of loneliness, the Charter for Compassion, Women and Girls, India,launched its first Happiness Circle for elderly women in our community in Mumbai on 4-Oct, 2018.

Seven delightful women were our first attendees with ages ranging from 62 to 79 years!

Contact was made with each participant prior to the session and their unique needs and conditions understood by out lead organiser Sharda Mangal.

Greetings were exchanged as participants entered before they all settled down at Nnaumrata’s home. We started off by sharing a brief introduction about the Charter for Compassion and the intention behind starting this group. The idea was seeded in March by one of the members and brought to life by Sharda Mangal, in the form of a Happiness Circle, named ‘Happy Ho’ (meaning Be Happy in Hindi).

We started with a two-minute Lotus of Gratitude meditation aided with a background music to align the group’s energy and shift towards positivity.

Next, each of them was asked to share three things with the group:

  • Name, their tenure of stay in the condominium and any personal stories or circumstances
  • What brings them happiness
  • What they would like to see happen and get out of these sessions

Lots of interesting things were shared by all women….avid bridge players made connections, voracious book readers were among the group and decided to exchange books just 10 minutes into the session!

It was interesting to hear the story of one of the ladies who had lived in this area since the time it was a jungle and in habitated only by the indigenous people.

A Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) session for 15 minutes was then led by a group of young volunteers invited specially for the occasion. DMT, they explained is about moving the body in a way that helps connect with the soul. The movements were simple and fun for everybody as they followed the energetic facilitator.

All then, sat in silence with their eyes closed to listen to their heartbeat and to experience the change in how they felt. All briefly shared their thoughts in one word, summarising their experience as peaceful, calm and relaxed.

The session ended with a beautiful song about nature and our connect with it which was sung by another volunteer who is training in vocal music.

We had a brief discussion about the healing power of nature and all members were urged to make time to spend with nature daily. One of the participants had recently lost her husband and she felt better and more connected with others who had faced a similar situation a few years ago.

A brief discussion with participants followed asking them about their preferred time / day / frequency of the sessions and all voted for weekly sessions, restricting the group size to 10.

We then ended the session by explaining the difference between pity (daya) and compassion. Pity is when we just feel for somebody but compassion, Nnaumrata explained is going one step beyond …it is doing something about it. She brought our attention to the fact that majority of the population in the world has to survive on less than Rs. 150/- per day according to world statistics and shared how fortunate we all were to have so much more, reiterating the importance of developing a feeling of gratitude in our hearts. The best way to develop an attitude is to practice it daily!

All participants were assigned work and requested to start with two daily practices:

  • Start their morning with a Lotus of Gratitude. Every morning, before getting out of bed, hold fingers together making the shape of a lotus. Open one finger at a time while mentally saying the ten things you are grateful for, till all 10 fingers are open.
  • Maintain a diary and write every night, three good things that happened that day.

Everybody left with hugs and smiles on their face! It was like they had found a treasure. It was however, all of us, the organisers, who felt we had found our treasure.

Our next session has been planned and we intend to invite theatre artists for playback theatre. Cannot wait to report our next experience!