GB No. 3(18)/95
Once again, I held winter holidays for children at Agni Farm in Dachów, based on Fran Rosen and Bonnie Maltby's book Yoga and Meditation for Children. The winter course brought some very interesting experiences to all participants. It was also a chance to serve others and help children to cope with difficult situations created by modern day living. While preparing for these activities, I took advantage of my experience from the previous summer and winter courses as well as my weekly work with children in nearby Zielona Góra. In Poland there's a lack of literature and materials about alternative education, so I had to rely on my own intuition and experiences as well as those of my friends. I did my best to get away from competitive, judgmental games for children.
I emphasised the practice of Fivefold Path concepts through a variety of activeties.
When the children arrived I met with the parents, to whom I explained what the program is based on and what results it brings. This helped them understand what yoga and meditation are and also eliminated the misconceptions some of the parents had. At present I begin all my children's activities with such meetings with parents, which also helps parents realise how they can use this program in working with their own children.
Every group of children is different. For example, in Zielona Góra I have two different groups. One is a little "crazy". The second is more balanced and quiet. The group that arrived this time in Dachów was more quiet. Most of the children came from complete families rather than broken ones, and were between the ages of 7 and 10. We had four boys and nine girls.
The adult team was Iwona and Mirek from Warsaw, Marzena (an educator from Racibórz who works with deaf children) and Krystyna (a computer teacher from Zielona Góra). Ewa and Alena, two teenage girls from previous classes, also came for a short time to help. I encourage the adults to take part in the work with children, giving them as much love, understanding and attention as possible. Whenever we rested for a while, separating ourselves from the children, they noisily reminded us that we were not giving them full attention, which neither parents nor teachers nor the environment ever did. Actually, during these winter courses I realised very clearly that so-called "naughty" children are a signal to us and a call for greater effort. If we do give them this effort, in return we receive beautiful, pure love as only children can give. Spontaneously they offered us various presents and drawings of hearts and flowers. Sweet love!
The activities started just after the new moon. The first day was Sunday, an introductory day for the children to adapt to the new environment. I hang up a schedule each day. I also put out a basket for paper strips with ideas and wishes the children had, which was filled up very quickly.
The first day the children learned about Agnihotra. Four children had already experienced it. I was amazed once again when I saw how naturally the children experience the fire, not asking any intellectual questions, quickly learning the mantras and sitting before the fire as if they had been waiting for it. The other adults were very surprised that the children were so calm and quiet during the fire and managed to sit for so long peacefully. That day they also participated in Om Tryambakam Yajnya.
The next day we started regular activities. At 10 A.M. we started with Vyahruti Homa, during which the children sent their love to others'. They imagined that a beam of light was being sent from their heart to the person they'd chosen to send love to.
With the help of posters, I always explained each Fivefold Path concept:
Every day we did loose-up exercises, specific yoga asanas and relaxation. After that came mandala drawing or another art activity. The children loved pretending to be animals while learning the yoga asanas. This group loved drawing and stories most of all. We used guided imagery techniques which I learned in Fran Rosen's workshops. During the exercises the children visualised themselves travelling on a leaf, on one's own star and also building one's own temple. All the children understood that building the temple had to do with a special place. Afterwards, they gladly, shared their experiences. One of the boys, expressed that he had rebuilt his own temple because it had been destroyed. (This boy had many problems with self-esteem.) All the children said that it was very easy for them to imagine building their own temple.
The adults envied the children and begged me to guide them through the building of their own temple when the children were asleep.
Some of the children in this group were emotionally blocked and found it difficult to
express themselves. Mandala drawings gave them the opportunity to do so. We also used
other creative activities. During ecological activities the children made collages to
create a picture of what they could do for nature. They also created self portraits on
large pieces of paper with holes cut out for the head. It became a joyful game. The group
also did a mural full of beautiful flowers and hearts connected with a long stream. On the
mural they wrote about sharing, friendship, love for others, and loving animals and
nature. During the Daan activity they independently got together presents made from
plasticine and natural materials from the forest. It was difficult for them to keep secret
whose present was whose.
Outdoor activities included drumming and traditional Polish games. In the forest, the children acted out being animals, using animal masks which were sent by a friend from the US. Twice they took part in cosmic ecological adventures. This gave the children a chance to fantasise without limit in natural surroundings. We imagined that we were on a cosmic trip; we were an envoy from another planet who had come to check on the planet Mother Earth. Every child got a coloured card on which there was written a specific job to do and different things to look for. We played that there were things we needed on our own planet, so, for example, a child might collect a sample of air or soil. The children gladly played this game in the forest for hours. (Usually, they get bored outside.) It was lovely, without competition or judgement.
In the Karma activities children collected firewood. Three times we had a bonfire and ate vegetarian potato pancakes. We sang songs and played music. They also baked bread in the shape of animals.
Those children who were interested took part in daily Om Tryambakam Yajnya. For them it was an unusual experience. It was amazing for me that some of the girls were able to sit quietly for so long at a time.
At night Alena's quiet songs put them to sleep, or we read them stories.
At the end, the children did a play with costumes. This was performed for the parents who came to pick up their children. I had individual talks with parents and gave them specific suggestions. The parents decided they would send their children back for more activities with yoga.
After the children left I felt sad that this intense time with them had ended - time which proved to me that "Kingdom of Heaven is in our hands."
I'm grateful to all the children for my experience with them and the chance to learn my next lessons.
Międzynarodowy Ośrodek Homa Terapii
the Homa Therapy International Center
Dachów 31, 66-627 Bobrowice
This article was published in an American magazine "Satseng", which is dedicated to Homa therapy.