Week One: Leader Content

Theme: Practice Paying Attention —Be Still

It’s a noisy, distracting, task-driven world. Practicing stillness provides an anchor to the present, allows us to appreciate life, marvel at the wonder of our own bodies, and get in touch with a deeper wisdom. Children (and adults) need opportunities to be quiet, times to settle their minds and find peace. Here are fun, kid-friendly ideas to help you begin to weave intentional moments of stillness into your family life.

Scripture Text | Psalm 67

Three Wonderings

1

What happens when I am still?

2

What do I notice around and inside me when I slow down?

3

Where do I notice God (or love, or beauty, or kindness) when I am quiet and still?

Spiritual Practice

If you are a trained facilitator, the following tips may be helpful in supporting families going deeper with their spiritual practice. These tips are from Rev. Emily Meyer, Director of The Ministry Lab, ordained pastor in the ELCA, and who has studied at  Shalem Institute, United Theological Seminary and Mindful Schools.

Using Emily’s audio recording or downloadable pdf as your guide, try also:

  • At the conclusion of each section in the Practice, invite participants to “notice” (that word is intentional) where God is: in their body as it settles down; in the busy-ness around them; in the stillness around them; in the stillness of their own body.
  • It is most efficacious if this is an invitation and not a question. Questions tend to limit our perception, as they predetermine both how God might be showing up and our interpretation. Let the invitation be to notice or wonder where God is, so that all of our senses – and our intuition and emotions – can participate in discerning God’s presence within and around us.
  • If participants are experienced with mindfulness, meditation or contemplative practices, you might also invite them to “notice that they are noticing”; and further encourage them to notice how (with which sense, with intuition, etc.) they are noticing. This is not for beginners! It is tempting to do too much “thinking” if one isn’t used to simply observing.
  • Which leads to a further and important facet which is to notice without “naming” or attaching emotion to what is being noticed. This is the practice of nonjudgmentalism, which is so helpful in developing compassion and the empathy mentioned above. Again, this isn’t something to introduce the first time through, necessarily, but after a few sessions, this is an important aspect of the practice that helps participants move more deeply into presence with the Divine.

Caring for the Common Good Project

Offer Street Lovingkindness

Watch the short video, Street Lovingkindness with Sharon Salzberg, then take lovingkindness meditation “off the cushion and into your life” by practicing stillness and deep attention when you’re out in the world. Encourage your children or audience to become truly aware of each person they see as you sit on a park bench, walk through a parking lot, or spend time in a waiting room. Together share thoughts of joy, peace and love with the individuals you notice. Then talk about the experience: “How does it feel to offer “unconditional good wishes” to strangers?”

Kindness Rocks Project

Here’s a chance to offer a meditative art project to your group, while helping them bring calm, stillness and joy to others. Introduce the idea of creating colorful Kindness Rocks, with hand-drawn messages of hope, to share with folks in their community. Watch this video to learn the touching story of how the Kindness Rocks movement began. Then gather the supplies you’ll need, including smooth river rocks, acrylic paint, and paint pens. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create compassion-inspiring Kindness Rocks – and spread the love!

Creative Project

Draw Outside

observational, playful, ages 3+

Materials: Pen/pencil/marker, paper, hard surface to draw on

How To: Bring your drawing materials outside and find a spot to sit. Draw whatever you see, spending more time looking around you, less time looking at your paper. Draw whatever captures your attention (this won’t look like a photo!). Don’t worry about what it will look like. When you are done, take a deep breath. Look around you. Look at your drawing.

Time it Takes: Spend as long as you want drawing. If your time is limited, you can set a timer.

Games/Movement

Sneaky Statues

playful, ages 4+

Materials: Open space for walking around with 3+ participants

How To: In an open space, designate one museum guard, and the rest of the players are statues. The guard turns their back or walks away for 10 seconds, while the statues set up in their poses that they will hold when the guard returns. The guard signals they are done counting and returns, walking in and around and between the statues, as if keeping watch of a museum at night. The statues, meanwhile, try to change poses whenever the guard isn’t looking. If the guard sees a statue move, they let them know and

Time it Takes: 10-15 minutes

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2020