With the deepest gratitude, I am reflecting back on all the support Joyful Mind Project received this year, remembering each of you, and how we worked hand-in-hand.
Our Annual Report includes the names of each contributor, donor, and volunteer who made our programs possible this year, plus highlights from every program we offered. I hope you’ll take a moment to read on and reflect on the meaningful work we shared together.
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.
Where: Sophia’s Garden
4038 Green Valley School Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472 When: Thursdays 2pm-4pm Ages: 5-10 Cost: Please see our enrollment packet. Some scholarships 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.
Night is dark, and cold, and long
Winter’s hold is still so strong,
But beneath the earthen crust
Underneath the frozen dust
Life is growing, moving, thriving
Roots are drinking, resting, striving,
Buds are swelling on the trees
In the hives, still sleep the bees
But moving humming strumming sing
Soon we all will welcome spring!