DHARMA THEMES AT MWS
TAKING YOUR SEAT
SEPTEMBER 6–OCTOBER 10
Essential Question: What is possible when I take my seat with awareness and intention?
WHAT IS TAKING YOUR SEAT?
In any endeavor, there is a first step. Cultures around the world have developed practices to acknowledge or commemorate these beginnings. The larger the undertaking, the more ceremonious that first step can look and feel. But even simple activities like drinking a cup of tea or sitting on a cushion can be uplifted when done with mindfulness, intention, and even a little ceremony. The more thoughtfully we approach beginnings, the more stable and more fun they can be. On a personal level, when we sit down to meditate, first we find a spot, then we sit. Usually what follows is a deep breath and some settling in. Importantly, we check our intentions, and then we are ready to work with our minds and bodies with dignity and awareness.
At school the Taking Your Seat unit is intended as the foundation of our time together, serving as a bridge of transition from extended vacation to the rhythm of a new school year or into a new situation. As teachers, we begin to fully embody our sacred responsibility as a holder of the environment. It’s a time for students and teachers alike to take the time to settle in, develop our relationships, and begin the year with a sense of freshness, curiosity, and delight. On a practical level, this is a time for students, teachers, and parents to familiarize themselves with the structures and rhythms of the school, which includes things like the flow of the day, the physical environment, the people in the school community, and the celebrations and practices that we do.
When we take our seats in the community, we become aware of our place within the larger context in which we operate, and develop a sense of responsibility for our actions within our shared place. We are perched in such a way that we can see the big picture and, with discernment and altruism, we can begin to develop an intention to benefit others.
From a Buddhist perspective, when we take our seat, we are rising to the occasion of being human, paying attention to the present moment, instead of being distracted by thinking about what has happened or what will come.
WHY DO WE INTRODUCE TAKING YOUR SEAT?
The time spent with Taking Your Seat provides the foundation for a healthy community and a positive, productive year together. When we feel safe and oriented, we are able to bring our full selves to the tasks at hand. By recognizing and creating rituals around the rare opportunity and auspicious circumstances that brought us together as individuals and community members, we honor this precious time all the more. Understanding our roles and responsibilities creates a boundary in which we can learn from each other. Taking the time to check in with oneself before beginning something can also help us bring more awareness, space, and compassion to our daily activities.
HOW WE INTRODUCE TAKING YOUR SEAT
Taking Your Seat is introduced at the beginning of the school year and teachers typically spend the first weeks dedicated to this unit. Like all of our themes, the concept is woven into the day wherever appropriate, including recess and meal time, keeping it to a gentle flow, not too overpowering, not too subtle. All students in all classes will do a Boundary Walk with their teachers and listen to the school’s land acknowledgment.
LINKING HOME AND SCHOOL
Here are some suggestions for families to begin the school year together:
All are welcome to join the Dharma Committee at any time. We currently meet in person monthly. It’s a joy! To learn more, please contact the Dharma Committee Executive Committee at [email protected].