By Miranda van Schadewijk
The 19th of May, the usual Sangha morning in Den Haag took a slightly different turn. Inspired by the theme of Connecting Generations, both the regular Sangha and the Wake Up Sangha were invited to practice together that morning.
Armed with chalk, we arrive quiet early that morning for the Sangha gathering. A little bit excited, just like naughty children, Barry and I start whispering spontaneously: ‘Do you write down “Breathe”? Then I’ll write “smile”. Which colours shall we use?’ When we are happy with our work of art, we walk a little further, around the corner of the street, giggling. This is where we will pass later during the walking meditation. Naturally, the sentence we write down on the pavement here is: ‘Enjoy every step’. Now, it’s really time to head back, the morning of mindfulness is about to begin…
Connecting Generations in Den Haag
By Barry Wright
What a beautiful morning! The idea of connecting the Haagse Sanghas (Wake Up & LIA) has been in my thoughts for a while now. Together with Miranda (van Schadewijk), we’re going to make this happen: Connecting Generations – an idea which is close to both our hearts. Seeing past the information and touching the feeling and art which lies behind the stories. Touching those feelings which can only be passed on between the words.
I begin the day relaxed but nervous. How would the idea be received by the two Sanghas? Would people come? To my surprise, we sit together in a group of 20 people packed into the Sangha room… Wow! It seems that this theme lives in the hearts of more people.
So what is ‘connecting generations’ about? Miranda and I had touched upon a feeling in us that, in our current society, there is a loss of contact between the generations. In times past, elders would pass on their wisdom in stories around a campfire. We now only need to Google our question and the ‘information’ is at hand, but lacking the feel, wisdom and experience.
Once everyone has shared their names with the group, we begin with a guided meditation to connect with the playfulness and the pain of our inner child. From the eyes of this inner child we can be open to connect with the wisdom of our ancestors – the child who can look with innocent eyes upon the world. We realised early on that connecting generations is a process which occurs inside us as well as around us. We can always connect with our child and our ancestors in ourselves.
With the sun still shining in a clear blue sky, we head outside for a walking meditation. We are invited by Miranda to take our inner child (or grandparent) with us. To walk hand in hand with our inner child. To connect with the inner generations… Walking under the trees with my child is a beautiful experience. Every leaf is new, fresh and soft, just asking to be touched; the flowers are bright; and the friends around me close. Seeing a swing hanging from a branch, my inner child can’t resist and just has to play…
We stop to enjoy the sun together, before we return inside to continue our day… But there is room for another invitation for our inner children. Once we get over our inhibitions, we skip and dance our way back to the house, our inner child playing and enjoying him or herself… Miranda and I set off in the lead. Looking back over our shoulders and seeing the whole Sangha skipping happily behind us brings a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts…
Once back our thoughts turn to our ancestors. We come in contact with them through following the 5 touchings of the Earth…
After tea we move onto sharing. We have invited the Sanghas to prepare for the morning. To answer the question: “What have you received from your parents?” Maybe this could be a poem, a story or a song… And we surprise them with a second question: “What would you like to pass on to the following generations?”
The sharing is beautiful. It is amazing to feel how much these questions touched people and set their thoughts in motion, even before the day began. Hearing the beautiful stories makes me smile, and hearing how people are working to transform the negative is touching…
My experience is also very deep. Seeing what I have unconsciously received from my parents has really touched me. Growing up on a nursery I was surrounded by plants. Now when I see chrysanthemums I think immediately of my parents. I had bought a bunch of flowers before the Sangha meeting – my first in more than 7 years. I end by sharing with you my thoughts:
A simple bunch of flowers
A bunch of flowers – chrysanthemums, stocks and lilies.
A symbol of my parents; of my childhood
A memory of my first sixteen years
Years which shape and form my life
Years with my hands and heart in the earth
Back then, when life was simple.
No thoughts of the pain of the world
No thoughts of the damage being done
Just being. Just living
Now that same bunch of flowers has another feeling.
A feeling of sadness
A feeling of pain
Memories come flowing back of the life we led.
My father feeling ill again – he had sprayed pesticides to control the insects
My mother ill – stung by a wasp – her allergy growing
The financial struggle they tried to keep hidden. In word at least… But they passed it on still
Now the flowers bring less joy, even though the link to my parents remains so strong.
It is now time to let go.
Let go of the pain
Let go of the joy
Let go of the past
And to live in the now
Since the morning I have spoken to a number of people. One person has been so inspired by the thought of connecting generations that she has agreed to write the life story of her aunt. This is truly connecting generations…
This theme is endless to explore! Therefore we will organize a continuation of this morning, on the 3rd of August with the Wake Up Central event: Connecting Generations.
Practicing together, old and young, experienced and new, from all Wake Up and non-Wake Up Sanghas in the Netherlands, with our beginners mind so fresh, deeply rooted in our ancestral wisdom. We hope to see you there!