First, thank you so much to many friends and yogis from On the Mat for the vast array of school and art supplies. I thought the girls would use these supplies in school, but we were asked to provide drawing time during the retreat. We started with the “little girls” between the ages of 6 and 12. We were assigned an hour after lunch when we set up tables and supplies. Any girl who chose to could come during her free time. We had no idea what the reaction would be. We were stunned.
I xeroxed 200 copies of mandalas for the girls to color in, since a mandala coincides with a monastic life, connects to Buddhism, and symbolizes the same unity as a pagoda. Some girls chose to draw free style. There was a frenzy of cooperation and sharing at each table as the girls poured into the room. We’d set up 3 tables, and needed to add 10 more. Thank goodness there were so many colored pencils and markers for them to use!
The head of the monastery said the girls need more free time, more movement, but it is not always “the way things are done.” This was a new opportunity for the girls that meant so much to them.
We taught the younger girls from 7 to 8 pm which was hard since they were tired and a little restless after sitting all day, meditating or listening to dharma talks. They often arrived to yoga at 6:30 during their free time, so the next night when we walked in the room, the girls had already started coloring, this time right on the floor. We had a harder time getting them to put the art away to practice yoga, so we gave them a little extra time.
Needless to say, I will be bringing more art supplies the next time we go. Yes. I said that. We have plans to return when the weather isn’t so hot next winter.