Fifty five junior prefects of Vishaka Vidyalaya, the Vice Principal and a group of teachers and parents participated in a residential retreat at Nissarana Vanaya on the 21st and 22nd of August 2017.
The conventional retreat time table with alternate walking and sitting sessions was followed, inclusive of mindful games and the screening of thought provoking video clips.
Mindful games were aimed at encouraging the practice of mindfulness of smell, taste and hearing.
For the ‘Exercise on the perception of smell’ the children were divided into small groups and asked to remain with their eyes closed for the duration of this exercise. Each group was given 2-3 items ranging from herbs, incense, essential oils, essences, toiletry items to condiments. The children then had to identify each item by merely smelling mindfully. The items with more subtle smells led to ‘guessing’. At the end of this exercise they noted the range of sensations they felt and the many thoughts they encountered.
The next exercise was ‘Mindful eating of a toffee’. Similar to above, initially noticing all the visual features of the toffee to the sense of anticipation before putting it in their mouths to the actual physical sensations when sucking the toffee ad secretion of saliva etc were noted.
The final auditory exercise was based on ‘listening to the sound of gongs’ (using an audio clip). The children followed the sound from the beginning, middle to the end and focused their attention to the sound while noting the various sensations.
Time was allocated on both days for watching a few thought provoking video clips. After each video clip (ranging from 2-13 minutes) they noted the ‘message’ which resonated most with each of them and anything else in particular which captured their interest. A few of them shared their thoughts with the rest of the group.
Venerable Dhammajiwa Thero delivered a sermon describing various stages of Mindfulness, its gradual evolution and the importance of practice during the early stage of life. He also emphasized that every time that one was able to bring the mindfulness back to your breath or to the body was a great ‘victory’, and that it was the only opportunity we had to tame the defilements.
At the final Q and A session the girls asked many questions based on their meditation experiences and got sound advice from venerable Bhanthe. Feedback on the two day retreat was given in verse and prose.