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