Sunday, July 27, 2008

Compassion Circle, July 19, 2008 "Collective Heart Event"

Questions and topics that participants posted as areas they would like to explore during the day (some were addressed more thoroughly than others)
  • How and where do we open our hearts?
  • How do we connect with others not like us?
  • How can we be playful in all we do?
  • How do we learn to trust? How do we learn to open our hearts? (Some exploration of curiosity, kindness, connecting with stillness and grounding in the body)
  • How do we encourage loving-kindness with each other and our children?
  • How do we best work to foster compassion through our schools?
  • Promoting diversity… Bringing different people together… Learning from and exposing children to different cultures and perspectives
  • What does being “Out of the box” serve?
  • Nurturing a feeling of “social interest” in our children and selves… and others
  • What are some of the communal/community compassionate actions already happening?
  • What are meaningful opportunities for service/compassion in action that we can provide for kids?
  • How can we encourage an interest in connecting, opening, playing?
At the end of our circle we explored Things we can do (presented in brainstorming order)… many are along the theme of ‘promoting compassion in playful ways’:
  • Having a group plan together to contribute a gift as a group
  • “Secret Santa” idea but not during Christmas time. An anytime of the year Secret Pal. There could be a basket with all the names of employees in a public space. Someone could pick a name any time they wanted and just start doing nice things for that person. Randomly.
  • With children (and/or adults), buy gifts (things that they like) to give to others… especially for no specific reason, just because it’s nice to give and get a gift
  • Create little sculptures in the world (under a tree, on a newspaper stand, on the sidwalk)… hidden moments of awe and beauty
  • Create ‘encouragement tokens’ that are passed around from person to person, spreading positive energy
  • A story about a little stuffed animal bear tucked in a tree that said “hug me.” An example of another hidden moment of connection.
  • Musical instruments left in random places to be discovered (on a trail in the woods)
  • Building musical instruments into playgrouds, shopping centers… creating places for play and engagement in common public gathering places
  • A table at a festival that is ‘selling’ empathy for 25 cents (from a cartoon).
  • Explored many angles of having places set up where people can come to offer their expertise or advice “Free advice!”… or to Listen…
  • Empty Chairs with the label “receiver” and “giver” or “expert”. Experimenting with those roles. What does it feel like to sit in a chair and be an “expert”. What does it feel like to sit and just “receive”. Could be good lessons for learning explorations with children (and adults).
  • In the realm of advice… evoking the passion of advice people would like to share “What advice do you have to give? What advice are you bursting to share?” You could give advice first and then see if it attracts a question!
  • Pay it forward… passing on kindness
  • Giving donations instead of gifts, asking for donations instead of gifts
  • Party bags at birthday parties – giving others your favorite things, giving gifts that ‘make a difference’ in the world
  • Ultimate Frisbee game as a good example of another type of competition in games “good natured competitiveness.” The game is self-refereed… players learn what that means and feels like. HONESTY is important. The league offers a “Spirit of the Game” award.
  • What qualities of Ultimate are transferable to other aspects of the school culture? A conversation to be explored with Middle Schoolers.
  • Invite kids to imagine what they could do… to think about “Giving in Community Spaces.”
  • Recognize that everyone receives and is touched in different ways. Provide opportunities that can touch different types of people… through other modes of expression like music, play, words, pictures, etc.
More notes (that do not appear in the video)
  • Invitation to find a time in our lives when we’ve really trusted ourselves… Challenge oneself to be in a trusting environment… Trust comes from really listening to each other.
  • How do you encourage compassion in Middle Schoolers?
  • They have to feel comfortable in an environment so that they will feel safe enough to trust.
  • Stories help to create intimacy where safety and trust develops.
  • For people that have a hard time bonding with other people, it can be helpful to start with opportunities for them to bond with nature… “Notice the colors, shapes… find a way to appreciate the colors, shapes, etc.”
  • Exploring hidden and playful ways to help others feel at home.

Click here for the full invitation.

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