The central ideas explored in Family Zen activities are drawn from the Zen Buddhist tradition. Our intention is that all topics we present should be useful to the children at whatever age they are right now. This is a program designed to engage children in an interactive and fun exploration of basic Buddhist concepts and practice like mindfulness, compassion, kindness and connection.
The class schedule has modified during covid, including Zoom sessions. (In-person meetings lasted for approximately 1½ hours.) The children have become comfortable sitting silently for 3 minutes at the beginning. We typically begin our topic by reading a story. We talk about it, and then follow it with an art activity. We end with a snack and another brief sit.
For more information about Famly Zen, please contact us.)
Shinji Goodman, Jing Mayer and Gendo
Update, March 2022
Unfortunately we are not meeting on zoom at this time although we did meet in this way for several sessions. After polling the parents, it was decided not to formally meet again until the spring when we could meet in person. Though not meeting formally, in an effort to stay in touch Jing and I have distributed various art supplies-for projects to work on at home. For example, clay and tools needed for making tiles or another object of their choosing. We included a short video on how to do this project, if they chose to make tiles. We will be in touch with the families soon to set a date to meet in person.
Our group meets monthly on the 3rd Sunday of the month at the Upper Valley Zen Center Zendo, from 4 -5:30 PM. It is attended by children and parents together.
Currently, the children’s ages range from 5-10 years. Each monthly group we present a different theme. The themes somewhat reflect the monthly topics discussed in the zendo by the adults- with many modifications.
Most recently we talked about impermanence by way of reflecting on seasonal change, changes in the life cycle of animals and insects, changes in our thinking and skills. We looked at fossils, saw a brief animation of the book The Perfect Square, and talked about other observation of change.
Each meeting we follow the same structure with a different topic. The children have become comfortable sitting silently for 3 minutes at the beginning. We begin with our topic by reading a story. We talk about it, and then follow it with an art activity. Sometimes we practice walking meditation in a circle or with a chalk labyrinth drawn on the floor. Whatever we are doing, there is always help available if someone needs it.
We end with a snack and another brief sit. We hope everybody has a great time, but we hope also the children will learn to be attentive to themselves and each other, and to come to see the meditation as a reliable, helpful and skillful means to navigate their day.
Shinji Patty Goodman