A Mindful Families Retreat, December 2018

Posted by Suchitra Shenoy on Oct 19, 2017
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A child brings so much joy. So much laughter and unexpected insight into the little truths of life. There is also, nothing like having a child to bring things tumbling down – sleep, time with spouse or friends, your energy at work, fitness, and any efforts towards community-building, service or meditation.

As parents, we want to nurture values of generosity, kindness, ethics and much else in our children and our families, but often just getting everyone to eat a meal, making it to school and work, bed and bath-time, can seem like a victory.

Have you struggled with any of this? Would you like to delve deeper into the world of values and see how to weave it into the rhythm of our lives? We hope to do this at a Mindful Families Retreat in December 2018, in Ahmedabad.

How can we, as parents within ServiceSpace, tackle some of these issues? Here are some examples from the ServiceSpace ecosystem that are currently underway:
  • The Kindful Kids Newsletter was started in 2011 as a resource for parents keen to teach their children about compassion and service
  • Circles in schools like those conducted in Auroville by a couple in their daughter’s school
  • Parenting circles held in Coimbatore for those who home-school their children
  • Awakin Circle for Kids in the very house in Santa Clara that started the Awakin Circle that so many of us now host in our own cities
  • Experiments in learning and generosity like this in London and this in Ahmedabad
  • A book that tries to capture some of the values, lessons for the early years
This list is only a sample. There is more in the ServiceSpace world that could come under the ‘Parents and Children’ umbrella. And yet, there are also deep feelings of loneliness and a need to be better connected. Struggles of “not being able to contribute” to the ServiceSpace community in the ways that one used to, in earlier times.

On a recent call, here are some of the questions and thoughts that helped frame the next step:
“We need a space for conversations with parents and kids that blends stillness and service in the journey of parenting.”

“What is the ServiceSpace lens of parenting?”

“How can we understand the value of "I don't know" as a strength and not a weakness in parenting? How do we build a supportive field and hold space for emergence, for parents?”

“I would like to raise my own consciousness as a parent and see how others are raising it themselves. The vulnerability and trust that we share moves something within us.”

So, let us all, together, build on these questions and the others that have arisen in your journey as a parent (especially a ServiceSpace parent). Let us build on it for the rest of 2017, all of 2018, and culminate in an exploratory, deepening retreat for parents and children in a Mindful Families Retreat in December 2018.

Please jump in. Here is a useful document to start us off. Add your ideas to it and use ideas from it – in your family, with your friends, in any community situation. Reach out to parents and families within ServiceSpace and outside.

To kick-start your activity, here is an example of how something small could grow:
What started as a series of question and answers on farm-schooling their son Aum, has grown into something larger for Nisha and Ragu. They have now held five circles on parenting and learning. Ragu writes:
We decided that we will get together in a circle once a month for three hours. So far, we have had five circles and that gave us some basic ideas about the parents' motivations, inspirations, fears, questions and willingness to contribute to the collective explorations. Though the parents in our circles are all home-schooling parents, there is a lot in our explorations that is relevant to any parents not just in the context of education but parenting as well.
Based on our 11 years of home-schooling Aum, our many interactions with parents over the last 8 years and the first four circles, the fifth circle we had at our home last Saturday is sort of the "laying the foundation stone" kind of a gathering. In it, we made a presentation followed by a dialogue on the topic "Learning to Learn". We came up with that presentation based on our journey so far as parents and on what we have been listening to and learning from other parents in our region. Everyone in the circle signed up to take up the practices suggested in the presentation and we are in the process of setting up online and offline spaces to support everyone's practices.”

There is much that we can do together. For our children, for ourselves. Let’s begin and make our way forward to becoming mindful families.

Posted by Suchitra Shenoy | | permalink

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Comments (3)

  • Nisha Srinivasan wrote ...

    Thank you Suchi for a great summary, It feels like the retreat has already begun :)

  • Gayathri Ramachandran wrote ...

    What an insightful and succinct presentation by Nisha and Ragu -- thank you for posting that. Brought clarity to my own learning journey, as I learn new things :)

  • Ami wrote ...

    This will be a beautiful gathering, our family would be honored to join. Please let me know how we can help