In order to feel the teachings deep down, the Dharma needs to take root in the alaya, your unconscious mind. Only then can the Dharma grow from the inside out and be true nourishment for how you live.
Here is a fun approach to Impermanence, one of the thoughts that turn the mind. It comes from Thayer Case, who has led Zen Teens at Zen Mountain Monastery for 14 years. Thayer has introduced this project at Bodhi Kids programs and we are happy to share it here.
Lesson objective: to give students an experiential understanding of impermanence and enhance body awareness.
Materials: twigs, stones, leaves accessible in a natural environment.
Step one: Have the kids feel their own bones in arms, legs and hands. Ask them how their limbs are put together, exploring the long bones, muscles and joints etc.
Step two: Create a person with natural elements, doing the best they can to replicate the anatomy they have felt in themselves with a little more detail added by instructor’s sense of anatomy. You could use stone for organs and leaves and grass for skin etc. The person can be big or small.
Step three: When the person is complete, sit around him (or her) and talk about how these natural elements that came together will remain for a while and then change.
Closing contemplation and meditation: Asks the students for their thoughts and reflections with, “How might the person change after we leave, in different seasons for example? Might animals find some of the elements useful and take them away?” After all the children’s thoughts are heard, conclude with a short meditation session. (Mind Jars can be used at this time to support the meditation.) Dedicate the merit of this activity for the benefit of all beings.