Activities for Month Two
The following activities are options for you to implement as works best for your family throughout the entire month. None are very demanding, but each one requires of us our full presence of mind and heart. You are invited to be creative with the activities: find your own way to make it work for the children with whom you participating. Invite each other to add to the activities in ways that add to their meaning and beauty.
Here’s a list of the activities for the month.
Find descriptions below.
Gandhi Searches for Truth, Reading and Discussion (for whole family)
Search for a Nonviolent Future, Reading and Discussion (for older teens and adults)
Wisdom Tradition Passage
Reflect and journal about a time when you experienced nonviolence for yourself. How did that moment change you? How did it change the situation or relationship that was in question?
Write a letter (in your journal) to yourself from the perspective of someone who may be in conflict with you. Upholding a higher image of both yourself and the person with whom you have a conflict, try to see it from their eyes. Imagine what they may request of you.
Were you raised in a home where there was violence? In what ways are you working to break the cycle of violence in your own family?
Either in a family meeting or around your nonviolence altar, take time together, as parents and with the children, to commit to the principles of a pledge of nonviolence for the family.
There is a pledge for parents from the Action Team to End Hitting Children, which is very powerful.
You can see a version of it here. Print it out. Read it with other adults or on your own, sign it, and put it somewhere to be reminded of your commitment.
Then, take time to create a pledge of nonviolence with your children. Here is a sample family pledge of nonviolence. You can use it or adjust it with everyone’s input.
This could take place around your nonviolence altar. Or in a space that you create intentionally to hold this meeting. Begin the meeting with something beautiful. Maybe a short song or a poem or an inspiring quote. Allow time for quiet reflection. Then, invite each other into the discussion.
Continue the exercise from last month: Ask and answer the questions: Who are we as a family and what is the purpose of our family? What do we care about in the world? How do we hope to treat one another? What do we wish for one another? Invite a conversation about how we have a deep power within us for peace as individuals and how as a family we can expand ourselves into our wider community as a force for goodness. Invite some creative expression to wrap up the family meeting, such as coloring, singing, or dancing. Take time to journal about the meeting.
Suggested topic for this month: What causes us to be afraid and insecure? What are we afraid of? What can make us feel insecure? How does it feel inside and how do I act when I am afraid or insecure? What tools do we have to grow in courage and security? Extend it to others: What might cause others to feel afraid or insecure? How do people act when they are afraid or insecure?
N.B. There are no right or wrong answers. The goal of this exercise is to be honest with each other, to try to go a little deeper with each other as a group, and to share from our hearts.
The family meeting can also serve as a space to work out problems in a collaborative way (not parents vs. children).
Reading and Discussion with Children:
Gandhi Searches for Truth can help grown-ups and children have important conversations about ideas related to nonviolence. It’s most effective when we take our time with the content. Each chapter is divided into a quote, a story, and a nonviolence principle. The quote is intended largely for the older child/adult reader, but feel free to read and then explain, in your own words, to the children with whom you are working.
You may want to make a copy of the chapter’s illustration (or have the child/children draw it themselves) as well as take the Gandhi quote, and write it out on a piece of paper, decorate it, make it beautiful, and add these to your nonviolence altar for the month. When the month is over, you can choose to leave them on the altar, or create a book where you post your journey together, something to look back upon.
We’re on Chapter Two now. As previously explained, read it on your own first. Take time to consider how you would put the quote and the content of the chapter into your own words. Depending on the age of the child, you may be called on to simply show the picture, read it through, and then explain in your own words. That’s OK. If the child is able to engage with the material (and I believe, if you are patient and creative, that this is possible as early as three years), ask them to put what they heard into their own words too. Ask the child to “read” it to you–to teach YOU about Mahatma Gandhi when he was a little boy.
Before starting into Chapter Two, ask the children to tell you about Chapter One.
Chapter Two’s focus is the Mantram.
Questions that might accompany this chapter and help us to dig deeper into the concepts of nonviolence are: Why is it important to calm our minds when we practice nonviolence? (Conversely, what does it feel like in ourselves when we are angry and want to lash out at other?) How might a mantram help Gandhi be a peacemaker?
To learn more about the use of a mantram, and choosing one other than Rama, review this resource from Jill Bormann.
Reading and Discussion for Adults
Read Chapter Two of Search for a Nonviolent Future. Over the whole month. Take your time. In your journal, take notes on key ideas that strike you, or key passages that move/inspire you, as well as any questions you may have. Talk about these ideas with the other adult working with you on this program, and/or write them into the Metta Center.
Take the opportunity to model using the mantram silently before starting to eat your food. Invite your children to join you.
Find a way to invite children into the meal preparation this month on a regular basis, including planning the menu and having input into the timing of meals. Add an aspect of ceremony to the meal that the child can help do, such as ringing a bell at the start of the meal.
Wisdom Tradition Passage
Gandhi wanted children to have a “reverential study of the world’s religions.” Choose a passage from the book God Makes the Rivers to Flow, and read it together. Wishing those who practice that faith the courage to use nonviolence; and the courage for everyone regardless of faith or religion to live together in harmony with respect, dignity, and equal rights.
Activity in Nature
Take the mantram into nature! Go for a walk repeating or singing the mantram together.Plant something. A flower, an herb. And nourish it with soil, water, sun, and mantrams!
Don’t forget to share with us how the activities are going and any questions you have.