It’s not too late to join our monthly, family mindfulness program!
The first class of 2016 meets Saturday, January 9th, from 1-3pm at a retreat center in Sebastopol. The class will remain open enrollment thought 2016.
The theme for our first class is, “Mindfulness as the Gate to Joyful Ease and Repose.” It’s special class aimed at giving you, the parents, a chance to begin your new year with comfort and care… the first step in creating a mindful home.
You can read about the 2015 program below…
Affectionately known as C3, Children Creating Change brings instruction in secular mindfulness together with social engagement. In each class, we learn a new aspect of mindfulness and then experience that practice through a special project. In the spaciousness of an open heart, a new awareness blooms.
In 2015, children learned, “heartfulness” while delivering Valentines to seniors at Golden Living Center in Santa Rosa. On another fun day, we cultivated generosity with a free lemonade stand in Sebastopol Town Square. For Mother’s Day, we practiced compassion by preparing meal-boxes for children and families in need through the Catholic Worker.
In June, we learned a practice called, “sending and receiving,” a method of cultivating compassion through embracing difficulties rather than turning away from them. The C3 kids then wrote wishes for the children at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on painted yellow and orange clothespins… then clipped them, one by one, to a big, yellow sun. The wishes formed the sunbeams.
Later that summer, we discovered our inter-relatedness with nature and community by harvesting tomatoes at Worker Bee Farm for Ceres Community Project. Ceres provides free, home-delivered, organic and locally produced meals to low-income people with severe health challenges. On another fun day, we learned from our four-legged friends with a special Animal Wisdom & Compassion Day where we made blankets for the Sonoma Humane Society.
In September, we practiced with the truth of impermanence by pressing 100 pounds of apples into juice for Meals on Wheels. We looked with eyes of wonder at apples seeds, realizing that each tiny seed contains a whole tree and many future apples. Children then imagined themselves as they will someday be, grandparents and elders.
In October, we continued our study of impermanence with a special ceremony to honor our departed ones… leaving flowers in the Sebastopol Cemetery. And in November, we cultivated gratitude for the small blessings in our lives by hand-making holiday ornaments for families of the Valley Fire. Of course, our youngest students only heard that we were making ornaments to give away.
Program content is always delivered in a way that is empowering, uplifting, and developmentally appropriate.
Each class begins with formal mindfulness practice — sitting silently together for just a few minutes. Children have a chance to report on their practice, how they are using mindfulness at school or at home. Then, a teaching is shared that will inform the work we’re about to do. Through our acts of service and social-awareness, our hearts begin to open. A new awareness begins to emerge. As we sew blankets or harvest vegetables, we work in mindfulness. The bell is invited many times while we work, calling us back to our felt experience of the present moment. Each class ends with children reporting on what the project evoked in them, listening to the bell, and returning to a place of stillness.
By enrolling in this year-long program, you become a Joyful Mind Project sponsor. Your generosity makes this program possible and helps keep these valuable teachings active in the world. You are also welcome to attend just the months that work with your schedule; however, advanced registration is required as much planning goes in to each program. Please see our enrollment packet or contact Chelsea for more information.
Mindfulness-Based Social Engagement
ENROLL NOW FOR 2016! Next session: January 9, 2016 – November 12, 2016
Where: Sophia’s Garden + many exciting locations!
4038 Green Valley School Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
When: 2nd Saturday of the month. 1:00-3:00 pm. No program in April, June, or December.
Ages: Children of all ages, teens, and parents welcome.
Suggested Donation: Please see our Enrollment Packet.
How can mindfulness create ease and repose within the family unit? In our upcoming winter series for children ages 5-10, we’ll discover how mindfulness is a gate to joyful ease within ourselves and in our homes.
In a nourishing environment, children learn mindfulness with developmentally appropriate methods including curriculum from Mindful Schools, a leader in mindfulness education.
Children cultivate empathy and impulse control and come into a healthy relationship with emotions. This program aims to honor the inner-life of the child by entering mindfulness practice through the door of the imagination. Content includes storytelling, handwork with natural materials, active work on the biodynamic farm, cooperative games, and play. In each class, we share a period of mindful eating — fostering awareness for the long journey our food makes to reach our plates and the many hands whose exertion provides our nourishment.
Parents and families are invited to celebrate seasonal festivals with us throughout year. Parents and caregivers are also welcome to enjoy our outdoor kitchen to make a warm cup of tea while children enjoy class.
As many schools in our community have early-release day on Thursdays, this class will be offered on Thursdays at 2pm for the Winter 2016 session. If this time slot does not work for your child, please inquire about other available times or about bringing a mindfulness program to your school.
We are excited to partner with Stone Creek Zen Center in offering a spring Family Mindfulness Day. We’ll share walking meditation in the gardens, mindful eating, and more… then close with a special family practice.
Families are welcome to relax and enjoy the grounds throughout the day and are encouraged to set up “camp” so each child will have a restful place they can return to between events.
Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015 Time:10:00 am – 3:00 pm Registration Fee: $10-$40 per family (sliding scale). Donation to teachers is appreciated.
Space is limited so please register in advance by contacting Chelsea here. Thank you!
I’ve been thinking about a certain story in Florence Caplow and Sue Moon’s book, The Hidden Lamp, in which a monastic woman has undertaken to keep the 311 precepts required for her ordination. When a young visitor asks how she could possibly keep all of these vows, she responds, “I keep only one. I just watch my mind.”
If you are resolved to make or keep New Year’s resolutions in 2015, consider keeping just one: watch your mind. If you’re new to meditation or mindfulness, check out this quick article, Getting Started — from Zen teacher Norman Fischer.
If you are inspired or daring enough to take up yet another resolution, then consider this one: commit to serve.
These are the two foundations of Om School’s newest program: Children Creating Change — more affectionately known as C3. This family program combines training in secular mindfulness with social engagement. We’ll meet monthly to discover a new aspect of mindfulness while serving our community. Slated projects include: gardening with elders at the Senior Center, taking needy dogs to the park, renegade compost-ball-poppy-seed-bombing hillsides and empty lots, and making Valentine’s Day cards for hospice patients.
In this awesome interview, Thich Nhat Hnah tells how he became involved in compassion-based social change. He says, “When bombs begin to fall on people, you cannot stay in the meditation hall all of the time. Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on – not only in your body and in your feelings, but all around you.”
In this newest offering from Om School, we will endeavor to take our practice into the world — for and with all beings. As Thay says: “You have to learn how to help a wounded child while still practicing mindful breathing. You should not allow yourself to get lost in action. Action should be meditation at the same time.”
Our first meeting will be at Sophia’s Garden — the biodynamic farm that’s home to our weekly classes. Monique Camp, the owner and operator of this botanical sanctuary, has helped make Om School possible by welcoming us onto her land. Her farm sustained much storm-damage this winter, so we will begin our service-work there by pulling weeds, turning compost, laying mulch, and giving back to the place that has so generously supported us.
We’ll also move our bodies learning our new class song, hear a story about Avalokitesvara (our class mascot, bodhisattva, and one-who-hears-the-cries-of-the-world), share a formal practice, and enjoy eating mindfully together.
I am happy to announce our new compassionate action program is just beginning to take shape!
This exciting new program will include much movement and aim to engage the will-forces of our highly-energized children. It will also have a large component of community engagement. My hope is to harness that valuable energy of our most spirited kids and channel it into creating positive change in our communities. The class motto will be, “Compassion is a Verb!” All classes will be project-based and include on-the-go, practical instruction in secular mindfulness.
Some classes will meet at Sophia’s Garden, others will meet on-site — such as singing at the Senior Center, marching against GMOs, gardening with the elders at Burbank Heights, or renegade compost-ball-poppy-seed-bombing needy hillsides and empty lots. This class is a re-envisioning of something I started years ago, Children Creating Change — or C3 for short.
We don’t have set dates yet but we’re looking at the second Saturday of most months. The program will run year-round with no meetings in December and April. Please let me know if you are interested. This program is open to the general community. All ages are welcome. Children already enrolled in other Om School classes are also welcome. All C3 families are invited to attend our usual seasonal festivals at Sophia’s Garden and will have access to the Om School online forums — coming soon with resources, home-practice ideas, book clubs, etc.
Please contact Chelsea if you’d like more information. The program will begin as soon as we have five children enrolled. Adult volunteers are needed! Some work-trade may be available.
“Look for a little light anywhere in the field of darkness and ask that it may increase.” –Joan Halifax Roshi
When I look to nature, deep winter feels like a sacred time. Grandfather Sun is completing his journey across the sky. He is old now and his light is fading. Nights are long and the time of rest is upon us.
In October, the children in our weekly mindfulness classes honored their departed ones with an ancestor’s ritual. We noticed that giving attention to impermanence gave rise to a deep sense of appreciation for our own short lives. In November, we turned towards gratitude with the coming of Thanksgiving. Now, with the winter solstice approaching, we’re turning inwards. One student, an eight year old girl, has given us a new phrase for this deep place: direct darkness.
Earth-based traditions tell us that it is from this darkest place that the light is born. On winter solstice, the longest night of the year, Grandfather Sun completes his journey. The Baby Sun is born at dawn. These mythologies speak to a wisdom in each of us.
In the Zen tradition, the awakening of the Buddha is celebrated in December. It is said that after sitting through the night, upon seeing the morning star, the Buddha realized awakening and exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s it! That’s me that’s shining so brightly. How wondrous, how wondrous! All beings share this indwelling light. What an astonishing thing has been realized!”
This winter, we’ll celebrate this indwelling light with a candlelight spiral walk. We’ll meet inside for quiet songs and storytelling before walking the spiral together. In quiet walking meditation, each child first walks the spiral turning inward, gathering light at the center, and then walks the spiral turning outward, bringing her light back into the world.
We are excited to join together with Stone Creek Zen Center to offer this celebration for all ages to the general community. We ask that families please register in advance or contact Chelsea for more information.
Please bring your own candle in a wind-proof jar or apple votive. Suggested donation: sliding scale $3-$10/per person. Your generosity helps ensure that programs like these will continue to be available in our community for a long time.
Please register in advance here. Thank you!