Five years ago, Ajay Relañ and a group of friends unintentionally started a global movement. They decided to throw a party with purpose on Christmas Day—packing 100 lunches with love for those in need, then hitting the street to feed anyone who needed a meal. The response from people wanting to attend "the next one" was overwhelming, and with that, #HashtagLunchbag was born.
Karuna was overflowing when we had the chance to partner with #HashtagLunchbag for Hunger Action Month, so we asked Ajay to expand on the impact its had in his life.
Read on to raise your vibration.
How do you interpret the meaning of the Sanskrit word Karuna?
I understand Karuna as compassion through action. It’s a two-way street, as kindness and empathy can help us just as much as it helps the other person. All acts have the ability to heal, even simply acknowledging that we’re all human and going through your day with open awareness of that. Something as seemingly small as smiling at a stranger could change their day—and yours.
#HashtagLunchbag’s purpose is to feed and feel love. Compassion is at the root of that.
How do you apply it in your daily life?
For me, it’s one thing to understand what compassion is, and another to understand what TRUE compassion is, where other people are coming from. In every situation, I try to understand that everyone has a place they’re coming from, and when we cross paths, learn not take things so personally. Having compassion for people releases you of having to figure out why they are the way they are and accept them regardless.
What are three small acts to help others bring more karuna into their lives?
1. Acknowledgement - the one thing all humans have in common - the desire to see and be seen. Making eye contact, smiling, saying hello/good morning to a stranger, etc. These little things help us feel a little more connected with each other and, when compounded, have the potential of shifting your day/life in a positive way.
2. Self-Awareness - realizing that we are responsible for ourselves and have ownership of our actions. When aware and moving with intention, we have the ability to inspire those watching us to emulate the responsibility we are taking. When everyone takes responsibility for themselves and their immediate surroundings, things begin to shift.
3. Small act of kindness/empathy - doing whatever we can, wherever we are, with whatever we've got. Coming from a place of service/contribution eliminates the space between giver and receiver. Everyone wins!
Share a mantra focused on karuna
'Feed and feel love.'
How did the idea for #HashtagLunchbag come about?
It was actually spontaneous. A group of us were looking for an opportunity to give on Christmas Day in 2012 and were having a hard time finding something happening. So, we decided to go to the grocery and buy enough food to feed 100 people, then went back to my house and made meals, writing notes on the bags before we packed them. Then we simply rode around and found people who looked like they could use a meal.
We all shared the act on our social accounts and got an overwhelming response of people asking about the next event, so we decided to start doing it once a month. We quickly outgrew my house and people started to reach out to set up events in different cities – we just provided a template for how others could have their own ‘party with purpose’.
We kind of built it backwards. We weren’t setting out to create a huge movement. We know we’re not making a real dent in the issue right now—we just want to provide people with an opportunity to give back and connect with their WHOLE community.
What's the most surprising impact that living through giving has made in your life?
There are so many. It’s caused an overall perspective shift of not only my role in the world, but working to inspire others to give and see the humanity in people they might not otherwise see. Having heartfelt conversations with people on the streets, learning their stories and empathizing with them.
It’s really cool to see the impact beyond the actual event – the connections that are created. Someone actually just proposed at an event in Cleveland!
How can others join the movement and start their own #HashtagLunchbag events?
Snoop can help out with that one below...also, head to our Get Involved page to find events already happening in your area!