I am planning a theme this year of examining fear and fearlessness this year. We will try to become more aware of the ways fear can creep into our lives unawares, and create difficulty, including subtle fears such as fear of the unknown that can sometimes support things like teasing the child who is different. We will explore ways to use meditation and insight to help deal with our fears when they arise. Learning how to move toward fearlessness does not mean blocking out or ignoring fear. But fear loses some of its power when we acknowledge it and stop trying to run from it. I hope this will be a useful theme to explore throughout the year. We will include some meditation time, trying out different types of meditation or meditation exercises from week to week. This will be a kind of laboratory, if you will, in which we will explore ourselves. I’m also hoping to weave in a brief ethical discussion each week related to the practice of the precepts. Mixed in with all this I hope to have some good fun so that the kids no only learn and experience something useful, but also enjoy their time together.
Our meetings will include activities from among the following:
- Meditation (various kinds including Walking Meditation)
- Focusing and Self-awareness exercises Activities
- Yoga, Tai Chi, or other movement exercises
- Group-building activities
- Theme-focused discussion
- Occasional reading youth-oriented zen/Buddhist materials such as The Book of Zen or Buddhist Manga materials.
- Viewing/listening to some media materials, a website with Buddhist content or related to our theme, a song, maybe a portion of a DVD, …
- Leading combined service with Little Buddhas
- Play time
Well, today we tried to kick-off our official theme for the year after a stumbling start in Septemeber. I started the discussion about fear and courage with those in attendance. It was a small class today so perhaps it was not entirely representative, but both genders were represented. While they were familiar with fear I was surprised that it seemed relatively removed from their lives. Some had only media-based experiences to talk about. That is, they only talked about fear in video games, movies, etc.–not in their own life. Some explicitly said they had no real fear in their life. As I reflect on my life at that age, I do recall some fear on occasion. Maybe my experience is not the norm. At any rate, I’m considering whether to focus as much time on this theme with the group this year. I’m wondering whether it might not be more valuable when they are a bit older.
As I indicated above I’ve been rethinking the focus for DD this year. I had thought a focus on fear/fearlessness would be useful but based on last time I think that topic will “dry up” quickly at this age. I may still bring it in a a single Sunday’s lesson again later. So, instead I’m going to draw material from Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic book, Old Path, White Clouds (check it out here). This book is written in language appropriate to the DD age range, and is full of short enough chapters on a wide variety of topics that we can explore. I’m still working out the chapters we will look at but topics could include: friendship, mindfulness, prejudice, buddhist teaching as a path to explore–not a dogma to be swallowed, truthfulness, compassion for all living beings, reconciliation, attachment to beauty/outward forms,… and many more. As usual along with this lesson with discussion we will include a wide variety of types of meditation, and some fun! -R
Using Old Path, White Clouds has seemed to work pretty well. So far we did the chapter on mindfulness in which Buddha teaches them how to eat a tangerine. We accompanied that lesson with a mindfulness while eating meditation of our own. Another week we read the chapter on friendship and used the Metta meditation to go with this theme.