Saturday, March 17, 2018

Atma-Prema, LoveYourself’s First Batch for 2018, Roars with Love for the HIV Advocacy

By Mark Angello C. Ganon

March 3, 2018 - 53 volunteers rounded up Batch Atma-Prema, LoveYourself’s first clutch of fresh recruits for 2018. Supported by the Australian government and in partnership with the Taguig City Government, LoveYourself embraces the new bloods in the fight against HIV and the stigma that surrounds it.

Batch Atma-Prema, LoveYourself’s new advocates in HIV awareness and prevention

Gracing the halls of the People’s Hall of SM Aura Tower, the new faces were welcomed to the LoveYourself family by seasoned volunteers headed by James Anthony “Jay” Soliman, HIV Counselor, Life Coach. Pushing the number of volunteers to 946, Batch Atma-Prema are LoveYourself’s new warriors in reaching out to the community in propagating ideas and practices that encourage loving one’s self.


BEHIND THE NAME : A STAIRWAY OF LOVE

Since its conception in 2011, LoveYourself has knighted its batches of volunteers with distinctive names in the hopes of creating a sense of amity. The names of LoveYourself batches ranged from native terms like Bahandi and Magayon, to English words like Sensation, Absolute and Originals. For 2018, the core group of LoveYourself drew inspiration from love all across the globe.
Danvic Rosadiño, Love University Chancellor, talks about the essence of volunteerism

Atma, also coined as Atman, is a Sanskrit word that depicts "the self" while Prema is defined as "[divine] love". The merging of these two concepts became the inspiration for the batch name, Atma-Prema (pronounced as aatma prem), a term that means "self-love", a very timely happenstance to the organization's namesake, LoveYourself.

"The river that flows in you, also flows in me.”
~Kabir, Indian mystical poet
Core group discussions during the batch orientation are aimed at fostering camaraderie and processing insights
Since the ancient times, the Hindus have always been lovers of life; not just the biological life, but the life that sustains and transcends the physical body as well. Devoting time and attention in their search for something profound, the Hindus brewed a five-step stairway in achieving a sense of fulfillment.

The first step in the stairway was dubbed kama, a Sanskrit word depicting sensory cravings; an indication that first and foremost, humans are geared to gratify their sexual desires. The next step is shringara, or rapturous intimacy. Hand in hand with kama, shringara signifies that without true intimacy and sharing, one will be left feeling hollow and useless. In modern times, shringara can be depicted as romancing or foreplay. Following suit is maitri or generous compassion. It was thought in the olden times that love can also be achieved in giving; for it is in giving out love in little ways that love will come full circle. Fourth in line is bhakti, which translates to impersonal devotion. It was a commonplace belief that one can also cultivate himself through love and devotion to a higher ideal, may it be an entity, a truth, or a social justice. In the last tier is atma-prema, which connotes unconditional self-love. The philosophers believed that there is a self that exists at the center of each one of us; and it is in realizing that presence and appreciating its existence that one gets to fully immerse in love and learn from its pursuit.

"The simplest acts of kindeness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer"
~Mahatma Gandhi
Chris Lagman (in white), LoveYourself’s Director of Learning and Development, engages the new volunteers in a post-activity processing

BEHIND THE LOGO :
A LOVE WITH RESILIENCE

With the addition of Batch Atma-Prema, LoveYourself has 19 batches to date. Like all other batches, Atma-Prema came with a distinct and meaningful logo.
Batch Atma-Prema’s logo exudes a resilient love with the amalgamation of the unyielding tiger and the magnificent Anahata (heart chakra)

Rick James “TJ” Monzon of LoveYourself Visual Communications was tasked to develop a logo that bears as much relevance as the batch name it will represent. With a green and white motif, he created the background with the Heart Chakra or Anahata. In essence, it can be interpreted as "unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten", signifying a love that is unswayed, resilient, and strong.

Hindus consider Anahata as an integrating and unifying chakra. Most spiritual traditions recognize love as the ultimate healing force, correlating Anahata with Atma-Prema.

In that same sense, TJ quips that he added the tiger as an ode to India’s national animal. The tiger, which exudes strength, is often depicted as a solitary animal that strives for and by itself. Together with the heart chakra, the logo depicts a love that is strong, unyielding and resilient.

With Batch Atma-Prema, LoveYourself positions itself at the frontline in our battle against HIV. It is in being united with a common initiative that LoveYourself volunteers, both seasoned and budding, are fuelled to not just create ripples of positive change in our community, but to be the ripple that transcends and changes.

“If one would expand, he must love, and when he ceases to love he dies.”
~Swami Vivekananda

*photo credits to Aaron Dacanay and Leo Pura