Fall '11-Spring '12 Little Buddhas

2011-12 Theme
Our theme this year will be the paramita of Dhyana, meditation. I’m translating “paramita” as “practice” in the sense of “something we do.” The word “Zen” is actually the Japanese translation of the Sanskrit word “Dhyana.” In Zen, Dhyana is expanded to mean awareness and mindfulness.

Class Rules
1. Keep hands and feet to yourself
2. No running
3. Listen when others are talking
4. Raise your hand before speaking
5. When you hear the bell, stop and breathe, wait for an adult
6. Treat cushions with care: either sit on them or pick up with both hands

Class Format

9:00 Warmup and Introductions
. Class rules (1 min)
. Yoga or Mindfulness Movements
. Short meditation (1-2 mins)
. Brief talk (5 mins)
. Story Reading (5 mins)
. Outside kinhin/games (TIME PERMITTING)
. Project (drawing, origami, games, will vary)
10:05 Cleanup
10:10 Snack
10:35 Service
10:50 Playtime

Every class centers on a story.

Class 1

Theme: Dhyana (Meditation) Paramita
Talk: We want to do good and avoid doing harm. How do we do that? People have tried to describe what this sort of life looks like. “People who lead good lives do this, and this, and this.” These different “doings” or “practices” are called “paramitas.”
Story: Anh’s Anger
Project: We will try different meditation exercises, and then play a concentration game (Jenga).

Class 2

Theme: Dhyana (Meditation) Paramita
Talk: Dhyana means “meditation,” or more generally, “awareness.” There are two basic types of awareness: concentration, and openness. Both types are essential to living an awake life.
Story: Moody Cow Meditates
Project: We will play an outdoor race game, and then play Jenga indoors.

Class 3

Theme: Dhyana (Meditation) Paramita
Talk: Meditation is like a time-out that we give ourselves.
Story: Bunny’s Noisy Book
Project: Scavenger hunt outside, weather permitting; if not, Jenga.

Class 4

Theme: Dhyana (Meditation) Paramita
Talk: In the most general sense, dhyana in Zen means “awareness of what is.” Seated meditation is only one form. We can bring awareness to everything we do. “Mindfulness” means paying attention to whatever we are doing right now.
Practices: 10 Mindful Movements (from Thich Nhat Hhan); one-thing-at-a-time practice; smell practice; touch practice
Story: Peaceful Piggy Meditation
Project: Making masks from paper plates

Class 5

Theme: Dhyana (Meditation) Paramita
Talk: In the most general sense, dhyana in Zen means “awareness of what is.” Seated meditation is only one form. We can bring awareness to everything we do. “Mindfulness” means being aware of whatever we are doing right now. Today we’ll focus on bodily movement.
Practices: The younger kids will go outside and have mindful movement. The older kids will do various walking meditations inside.
Story: Steps and Stones: An Anh’s Anger Story
Project: For the older kids, Jenga; For the younger kids, an outside scavenger hunt

Class 6

Theme: Buddha’s Enlightenment
Talk: We celebrate Buddha’s enlightenment, which means “waking up.” Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, was aware of how much pain he and other people were in. How could he solve this problem? First, he tried controlling the mind. It didn’t work. Second, he tried controlling the body. It didn’t work. Finally, he just allowed things to be as they were. This was his enlightenment. It is available to all of us. Each of us is Buddha.
Practices: We will start with movement awareness, and then do a sitting meditation.
Story: We will watch an edited version of the film The Buddha (30 mins)
Project: We will decorate our new floor covering, made out of recycled paper bags.

Class 7: 1/8/2012

Theme: Mindfulness and interconnectedness
Talk: Buddhism teaches of the interconnectedness of all things. This is a very nice idea, but what does it mean in practice? We can get a sense of it sometimes when we meditate. We just allow thoughts, sight, touch, and sound to “speak,” while we just listen.
Practices: We’ll gather four pebbles, then do various meditation practices with these pebbles.
Story:  The Dandelion Seed
Project: Make a paper bag for our meditation pebbles.

Class 9: 2/5/2012

Theme: Not Getting What I Want
Talk: What happens when I don’t get what I want? I get upset, and then maybe I hurt myself and others. What’s the solution? Awareness. When we are aware we do good to ourselves and are more likely to do good to others.
Practices: We’ll do a meditation practice in which we imagine not getting our way. The first pebble is labeling the feeling. The second pebble is saying “It’s OK.” The third pebble is asking, “Do I have to have it?” The fourth pebble is just receiving our bodily sensations.
Story: The Kind and Wise Stag, from Buddha at Bedtime
Project: Prepare water bottles, granola bars, and notecards to give to the homeless.

Class 10: 2/19/2012

Theme: Who Am I?
Talk: This is the great question. Who am I? What am I?
Practices: We’ll do a pebble practice in which we pay attention to eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
Story: Mara Tempts Buddha, from planting seeds by Thich Nhat Hanh
Project: Children divide into pairs and then trace each other on paper. Each child colors in his or her outline with the people and things that form him or her.

Class 11: 3/11/2012

Theme: What cannot be given or taken away?
Talk: In a famous story, Ryokan laments that he cannot give a burglar the moon. What cannot be given or taken away? Life as it is right now.
Practices: We’ll do a pebble practice in which we pay attention to sight, sound, body, and breath.
Story: Zen Shorts, by John Muth
Project: Scavenge hunt outside

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