Perhaps the easiest type of icebreaker is asking a question that each person in the group answers. Questions reveal interesting details about people’s history, life and values, and can sometimes provide deep insights into their mentality. Some questions are very light. They help to make people comfortable, and can provoke smiles and a few laughs. Other questions are more serious and generate a more sober, introspective atmosphere. You should judge what is the best type for your environment. Make sure that people don’t feel threatened, interrogated, guilty or at fault. Answer yourself the questions you ask. In some cases it’s better you start the sharing, especially with deeper, personal questions, to give the example and show that you are not there just to probe into others' minds without opening up yourself.
If you feel that a question might be inappropriate to your situation—for your group, your cultural environment or the guests attending—just don’t use it. we are presenting these questions—and the rest of the book as well—as ideas for you to consider, not as something you have to do. So use your discrimination and don’t think that everything will be good for every situation because “it’s in the book.”
Sometimes you might choose to use more than one question, going around twice or thrice with different questions or going around once with two or more questions, combined. In some cases you will have to remind people to give brief answers or even set a strict time limit (for instance, one minute maximum of sharing for each person), so that the icebreaker doesn’t go on for too long.
Keep in mind that questions can be used in at least three ways:
1) People speak one after another, going around the circle. This is the most common way.
2) People write their answer on a piece of paper and then speak what they wrote, one after another. This method has the advantage of actively involving everyone at the same time, and it avoids the anxiety of thinking, “What will I say when I will have to speak?” It also helps people to express themselves without being influenced by what others have already said.
3) People write the answer on a piece of paper and then the papers are mixed before reading them. In this way the writer remains anonimous.
We divided the questions in categories, but some questions may fit in more than one category.
In one sense you could ask these questions at every meeting (we are not suggesting that of course), because they refer to the few days or hours before the meeting, and the answer will be always different.
What is the most significant, important thing that happened to you last week?
What is the most important thing/lesson that you learned last week?
What has been the best moment for you in the last week?
Tell us what blessing/s you received from Krishna during last week.
Let's thank the Lord for something especially good/instructive that happened to us last week. Let's complete the following sentence: "I thank Lord Krishna very much because during last week…"
What has been the best moment for you today?
Share something good, or new, or interesting that you have experienced in the last 24 hours.
If you could share something that happened to you since the last time we met, what would that be?
Describe your past week.
What did you learn this week?
Did you perceive the presence of the Lord in your life during the last week? If yes, when and in what way?
Light-hearted & Welcoming
What is the most satisfactory job you've ever done?
What is the last thing you lent that never came back?
What is the last thing you borrowed that you never gave back?
Who has been your first friend and for how long you were together?
Complete the following sentence: "People would be surprised to know that I ..................................................."
What is your favorite prasadam. What preparation would you like to cook for guru and Krishna?
What did you think the first time you saw a Hare Krishna devotee with shaved head and sikha?
What did you think the first time you saw a devotee with tilak on his forehead?
What did you think the first time you saw a devotee dressed in dhoti or sari?
Did you ever have a Krishna conscious dream? Which one inspired you most?If not, which was the funniest dream you had.
What would you do if you could take a day off from work (or school) next week?
If you could give any gift to the person on your right (but just one and within a value of 500 dollars) what would you give her/him?
What is the best thing that happened to your this year?
What is the best thing that happened to you last year?
What is your new year’s resolution? (It can be done toward the end of the year, at the beginning of the new year, and, for devotees, before Gaura Purnima, the new Vaisnava year.)
Describe yourself utilizing a symbol (for this each person needs pen and paper).
Tell us about your name: what is its meaning? How do you feel about it?
Tell us about your surname: what is its meaning/history? How do you feel about it?
When is the last time you did something for the first time?
If someone should ask you a question, or bring up a topic, that would certainly make you speak (in other words, about something you have a lot to say), what would that be?
What do you do to relax after a busy day?
What do you do with gifts that you don't like?
Were you ever caught lying? Tell us the story, and tell us how you felt and what you learnt.
What did you do during the last vacations? What would you change next time?
If you could leave on only three preparations/types of food for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose? (Example: sandwiches, curd-rice and bananas).
Which you could only eat two types of fruit for the rest of your life, which two would you choose?
What quality you appreciate most in a person?
Describe your last week in colors.
If you could learn any language, which one would you choose and why?
What is the skill you possess that you like most?
What is your feeling about exercizing regularly? Do you do it? Why yes or why not?
Select one of the two following sentences and complete it:
"I am more like my mother because ..........................................."
"I am more like my father because ............................................."
Say something positive about the person on your right.
When you were sick as a child, what your parents would you to make you feel better?
What would be your ideal one-month vacation?
What is the book you enjoyed most reading?
What is your favorite time of the day and why?
If the current (electricity) would be gone for a week, what would you miss most?
What is your most cherished, precious remembrance?
What is the best advice you ever got?
What is the best advice/teaching you ever got from your father?
What is the best advice/teaching you ever got from your mother?
What quality do you admire in your father?
What quality do you admire in your mother?
What is the best meal you ever had? What is the worst?
What is the most absurd thing you ever spent money for?
What is the most adventurous thing you ever did?
What is the most beautiful thing someone told you?
What is the worst natural disaster/atmospheric upheaval you found yourself in?
What you did not like about yourself when you were a teenager that has changed?
What is the longest period you have been without sleeping? Why?
What do you think you will be doing differently after ten years?
When you were small what would you have liked to do as a grown up?
Although these are intended mostly for children, some can be effectively used also by grown-ups.
What causes most fights among your brothers and sisters? (Or in your class at school.)
What is your favorite game? Why?
What is your favorite sport? Why?
How much do you watch TV every week? What is your favorite program?
What would you like to be as a grown up?
Do you have some income? If yes, how you are spending it? If you are saving, what are you saving for?
How do you speak with Krishna? What do you tell Him?
Of what home chore/s are you responsible?
What is your home chore that you like least? Why? Which you like most? Why?
What is your favorite subject at school? Why?
What is the school subject you like least? Why?
If you could go to any place in the world, where would you go?
What is the best thing you did during the last vacation?
Did you ever said a lie and you were caught? What happened?
Are you a person of the early morning or of the late night?
What is the best gift you ever received, the gift that gave you most joy?
If someone makes fun of another child in school, what do you do, you join, try to stop him or ignore the thing? Why?
How do you feel about giving your money to help others?
What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
If you could ask one thing to Krishna, what that would be?
What is the best birthday party you ever had? Why you liked it most?
How do you feel when you come back home from school?
If you found a 100 dollars bill in the street, what would you do with it?
What do you like most of going to the temple?
What would you like to change in the temple?
When there is a quarrel in your family, how does it make you feel?
If you could visit a demigod/demigoddess, which one would you like to meet and what would you ask him/her?
If you would receive a big sum of money, say, one million dollar, what would you do first?
If you could choose the theme or story-line of what will you dream tonight, what that would be?
If your house would go on fire, what three objects (not persons) would you try to save?
Would you give up 75% of all your belongings for a pill that would change you permanently so that one hour of sleep a day would be totally sufficient for you? Why?
If you had to leave something (an object or whatever) to be handed down in your family to help them in their Krishna consciousness, what would you leave and why?
If you could take a pill that would allow you to live 100 years, would you take it? Why or why not? What additional additional Krishna conscious activities could you do?
What constriction would you tolerate better for Krishna consciousness, if it were presented as a sacrifice: having to leave the country permanently or never be allowed to leave the country? Why?
If you had a web site on the internet that describes whom you are and what you do, how it would be? Describe it.
If you could spend a week with any person now living in the world, whom would you choose and why?
If you could travel right now to any place in the world, where would you go and why?
If you could do anything you want, what would you like to do?
If could spend the rest of your life doing exactly whatever you like, what would you do?
If you had enough money to do whatever you like, what would you do?
If you could wake up tomorrow morning having a quality or ability, which one would you like that to be?
If you had to do a television program of one hour, what would you do and with whom?
If you had to take a 12 hour flight to somewhere, whom would you like to have sitting next to you? Why?
If you had a time machine that you could only use once, to what place and time period—in the past or in the future—would you like to go?
If you were on the point of death and you could be alone with only one person, whom that would be?
Where did you grow up?
How many people were in your family?
What is the most faraway place you visited?
Name three successes you had in your life.
What was the vision of God in your family?
Tell us about the place where you were born and something you remember of the place where you lived with your family when you were very young.
What are some of the traditions in your family that helped you in your spiritual growth?
What traits of your family you inherited that you like? And what traits you inherited that you don't like?
Where did you go to school? Any special story from your school days?
What was your favorite subject in school?
What has been your first job? What did you like about it and what did you dislike about it?
Did you ever get the dust of the lotus feet of a devotee? Tell us about it. If you didn't get it yet, whose dust would you want to get?
What is the best thing that ever happened to you as a devotee?
Tell us about the greatest Krishna conscious festival you attended.
What is the nicest thing that someone did for you in Krishna consciousness?
What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
A set of questions:
· Where did you live when you were between 7 and 12 years old and how many brothers and sister you had?
· What type of transport your family used?
· Who was the person you felt closest to?
· When God became more than a word to you?
What would like to do or achieve next week?
Complete the sentence: "A skill/ability that I would like to develop is: ................................." Why?
Share a dream (a deeply felt desire) you have?
Share one of your goals in life.
What is your main goal/dream for the next year?
What would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
What would you like to do when you retire?
What work (occupation) would you like to do?
Is there anything you dreamed to do since long a time? Why you did not do it?
What is your greatest hope for the next year?
Are you encountering some block in reaching the goals of your life? What are you doing to remove the block/s?
Share one of your strenghts (honestly, without artificial humility).
Share an aspect of your character that you consider a gift from the Lord.
If you could tell anything to your boss (or to some superior) what would that be?
What do you admire most in your parents?
What is the best compliment you ever received?
Describe an episode in which you lied to someone or someone lied to you. How did you feel after?
Who is the first person that comes to your mind that had a strong impact on your life? (It doesn’t have necessarily be the person who had the strongest impact.) How did he/she influenced you.
Who is the first person that comes to your mind to whom you are grateful? Why?
Who is the first person that comes to your mind to whom you would like to apologize? Why?
When someone tells you that you are doing something wrong, what is your usual reaction?
Name an old habit that you successfully tried to get rid of.
Tell us about one thing that you learned the hard way, through direct experience.
Tell us of a situation in which you felt trapped.
What topic, if any, you consider too serious to joke about?
What would you like to be remembered for?
What do you do or where do you go when life becomes stressful?
Share a recent moment of stress and how did you overcome it.
Tell us something you learned about yourself this year.
If you could give an advice to all the members of this group, what would that be?
What did you like most about going to school?
What did you did not like about going to school?
Do you have a closer relation with your father or with your mother? Say something about it.
Generally, do you feel comfortable in telling how do you feel? Why or why not?
Do you still ask help to your parents when you are in trouble? If the answer is 'yes' give a recent example.
How do you feel about old people? What does being "old" means to you?
How do you think people describe you?
Tell about a grudge you held or hold toward someone. How did you solve or are planning to solve the situation?
If you would ask people around you (family, friends, collegues) what you lament or complain most about, what would they say? Why do you lament about that?
Would you like to be rich? Why or why not?
What is the thing you are most grateful for in your life?
How do you react when someone makes you a compliment?
What do you like most of your life? What do you like least?
Did you ever steal something? What and why?
Do you speak with others about your past mistakes? Why or why not?
When is the last time you cried alone?
When is the last time you cried in front of others?
What is the most difficult thing that you had to tell someone?
What makes you laugh more? How much of your laughter is in Krishna consciousness?
What is the most difficult thing you ever did in Krishna consciousness? Why was it so difficult?
Did you ever get a Krishna conscious letter or phone call that inspired you? What was it? If not what kind of letter or phone call would you like to receive?
What is your feeling about exercizing regularly? Do you do it? Why yes or why not? How important do you feel it is for your spiritual life?
What animal describes best your personality? Why? What aspect/characteristic/mood of the animal could be helpful in spiritual life? (For this icebreaker the participants could be asked to first draw the animal and then speak.)
What animal best describes your present mood? Why? What in your mood is positive for your Krishna consciousness and what do you think is not?(For this icebreaker the participants could be asked to first draw the animal and then describe it.)
Tell us about the first time you met a devotee.
Share about the day of your life that you consider the most important.
What makes you most angry and what do you do with your anger?
Tell about the last time you lost your temper. What happened and what did you learn from the incident?
Would you like that your family and friends would tell you what they really think about you? Why or why not?
What does the word "hatred" means for you? Tell us about something or someone you "hate".
Did you ever share with an intimate friend about a deep internal struggle? If yes, how did you feel afterword?
What are your feelings about death?
If you would write an article for Back to Godhead or similar magazine, what would you would you write about?
What article would you like to see in Back to Godhead or in some other Krishna conscious magazine?
What is most beautiful dress you have ever seen a Deity wear? Where was it and why you liked it most? Please describe it. (You could ask them to bring a photo—if they have one—at the next meeting.)
What smell reminds you most of some Krishna conscious experience?
What do you wish your parents would have done to make you more Krishna conscious and happy?
What is your favorite devotional service? Why? How did you start?
From all the Puranas, who is your hero/heroin? How would you like to emulate him/her?
Tell us about the meaning of your spiritual name: what is its meaning/history. How do you feel about it. If you don't have a spiritual name, what kind of spiritual name would you like and why?
Which person (among those you know personally) you would like to accept Krishna consciousness?
What would you say to someone who doesn't have faith, to encourage her/him to chant the holy names?
What would come first to your mind if someone would ask you: "What did you get out of Krishna consciousness?"
Tell us of a time you felt the joy of serving someone else.
Tell us of a time in which you felt blessed by the Lord.
Tell us of a time you felt grateful to the Lord.
Where were you the last time you deeply prayed? Did the environment help or impede your prayer?
What is the thing you like most about the local temple?
What Ekadasi means for you?
Who is the first person that comes to your mind who possesses the quality of humility? Why? Share an episode that shows that quality in action. (You can ask this question for other qualities as well: determination, patience, intelligence, tactfulness, scriptural knowledge, wisdom, tolerance, joyfulness, simplicity, sobriety, mercy, and so on.)
Share about a person who contributed to your spiritual advancement. What she/he did for you?
Tell us about the person/devotee who introduced you to Krishna consciousness.
Tell us about the first devotee you establish a relation with.
Who had the greatest influence in your accepting Krishna consciousness?
Tell us one thing that you learned in your childood that it is now useful in your spiritual life.
Tell us one recent episode in which you felt that Krishna used you as His instrument.
Tell us about something you recently did to helped someone else in spiritual life.
Tell us something you recently did only out of duty.
If you could ask just one question to Srila Prabhupada, what would that be? (This is an example of question that could be answered individually on paper, before sharing, so that people are not influenced by what others say.)
If you could ask just one question to Arjuna, what would that be? (or Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srimati Saci Mata, Nanda Maharaja, or whoever—consider the level of knowledge of the group before asking: do they know who is that personality?).
In which specific way you grew in Krishna consciousness during the last month?
Tell us something you learnt this year about Krishna, the person Krishna.
If you could choose one famous person to become a devotee, whom would you choose? Why him or her?
What part of your character/personality/understanding do you feel is becoming spiritualized in this period?
If you were to ask Krishna to change one thing in the world of today, what that would be?
Tell us something you are confiding in Krishna to do because you feel that only He can do it.
What do you like most about sharing Krishna consciousness with others?
What is the major challenge you face in sharing Krishna consciousness with others? What do you think could help you in overcoming it?
Share a moment of joy in sharing Krishna consciousness with someone.
What would you like to see changed about this group's attitude to preaching?
For the Beginning of a Group Cycle (after Multiplication)
We recommend that Bhakti-vrksa groups use the word 'multiplication' when one group divides and becomes two. This is to avoid the negative connotations of words like 'divide' or 'split'.
Share something you did during the previous cycle that you would like to do in a different way in this cycle.
In what way would you like to be different at the end of this cycle?
Tell us something you started doing in the previous cycle that you want to continue doing, and doing it better.
What is your main goal for this cycle?
What should we do to make this group a happier, better group?
What could each of us do, individually, to make being in this group a better experience for everyone?
Tell us what do you think is the main strength of this new group.
What is the person from the other group that you miss the most and why?
What did you like most of the previous group servant-leader? (If it is a different one.)
What did you learn from the experience of multiplying (dividing the group)?
What are your expectations from the group servant-leader?
What are your expectations from the group as a whole?
You could use some of these questions when the time to multiply the Bhakti-vriksha group (divide it into two groups) is getting closer.
How do you feel about the multiplication? What are your hopes and fears?
Tell us some positive changes that you witnessed in any of the group members during this last cycle of the group, some good quality or behavior he or she developed.
What did you learn in this cycle of the group?
Is there anything the Lord has done for you through a member of this group? What and through whom?
What has been the most difficult thing to learn (or to do) during this cycle of the group?
What has been the biggest challenge for you in this group-cycle?
Describe with one word the period together as a group.
Is there something you fear about multiplying? Why or why not?
What gives you joy in the fact of multiplying?
Did you already have experience of multiplying before? Is this time same or different? If it is different, in what way is it different?
Which has been the most difficult phase for this group?
Which has been the easiest phase for this group?
What would you do differently in the next group?
Share something you learnt from a member of the group during this cycle.
What did you learn from your servant-leader that most impressed you?
What devotional service you started/learned/practiced during this cycle of the group?
Share a moment in the life of the group that had a big impact in your personal life.
What did you learn about cultivating new people during this cycle of the group?
Did you bring any guest to visit the group in this cycle? Whom would you like to invite in the next group?
Examples of the types of questions that is better to avoid. These questions are actually “icemakers”!
What is your strongest material attachment at present?
What do you hate of the group leader?
What is the secret that you never told to your wife/husband?
Tell us about the time in your life when you felt to be a big failure.
With what event in the life of Maharaja Prithu can you relate most? (Or any other question based on detailed knowledge of the scriptures that could make people feel inadequate, embarassed and ignorant.)
What would you change in the person who is at your right?
What is the worst name/insult you have ever been called?
Tell us how the person on your right could be a better parent.
Tell us a sin you know that someone in this room has committed, so that we can pray for her/him.
What juicy gossip did you hear this week?