IMCW Fall Family Mindfulness Day 2017: Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World
By Jennifer Jordan | Dec 4 2017
What happens at the IMCW Family Program's biannual Family Mindfulness Days? Here is a summary of our recent Fall Family Day, led by Ofosu and Jen, to help shed light. Over seventy of us -- parents, children, and mindfulness teachers -- gathered to slow down, hit the pause button on our busy lives, reconnect with one another, have fun, and explore the mindfulness toolkit. Any parent, guardian, and grandparent with children age 5-13 are welcome to join us, and older teens are encouraged to serve as assistant counselors.
Our family days alternate between family sessions, where we all meet together, and break-out peer groups, where parents and children gather separately. Through a mix of mindful moments, games, skits, fun and music, we explore our chosen theme. This recent Family Day, Jen and Ofosu chose the theme of "Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World", a phrase coined by peace activist and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh -- a teacher whom Jen has had the honor and joy of spending time with for over a period of two decades. This phrase points to returning to our heart and mind, over and over again, with kindness and a gentle, befriending attitude. From this home base within ourselves, from this cultivation of inner friendliness, we bloom from the inside out. As we learn to "be our own best friend", our kindness naturally flourishes and ripples outwards, like a pebble tossed in a still pond.
We sprinkle the Family Day with pauses -- using our senses, breath, and body as an anchor, tuning in to our inner experience, noting the state of our heart, and allowing space for our intentions to be clear. During family sessions, the family activities are a cornerstone for practicing -- in the form of games -- deep listening and presence with our loved ones, a fruitful activity oft overlooked in our saturated lives. This Family Day, we played family games such as “highs and lows”, “If you really knew me”, and “I am aware of”.
In our break-out groups, we are fortunate to have a highly skilled group of Mindful Leaders -- experienced mindfulness instructors, many hailing from Minds, Inc. -- leading the tween and children’s sessions, with the support of our teen assistant counselors. Mindful Leaders weave relational games, mindful movement, and heartfulness and sensory-based awareness activities into the themes of inner resilience, peace, kindness, and compassion. During the break-outs, parents have downtime together, with guided meditation and a facilitated group discussion around parenting and applying the dharma and mindfulness to our family lives.
In our final family session, we close with our treasured traditions of the "Let it Go, Let it Grow" and Three Refuges Bracelet ceremonies. We end with a kid favorite -- the burning ceremony!
If this has made you curious, make sure to join us in the spring when we hold our next Family Day. Attend our bi-monthly classes in Arlington and Tenleytown. And don’t miss out on our favorite event of the year -- our annual IMCW Family Retreat, to be held June 28-July 1 in the Shenandoahs at Sevenoaks Retreat Center. Registration opens in February.
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Photos by Skip Brown