Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meditate on This

Each day at 11:00 am, children, volunteers, visitors and staff at Honour Village drop whatever they're doing and assemble for meditation.  After a few moments jockeying for places around the room, everyone settles into a comfortable position on the floor (Lotus posture for those more limber; legs crossed or out-stretched for those whose youth and flexibility are declining).

We sit on the floor in House Two.  The children like to sit near their
favourite volunteer to sneak in an extra cuddle.

Once everyone has quieted down, Da or Seyla, who lead the meditation session, usually give a few words of instruction in Khmer.  (I think it has something to do with sitting up straight and being quiet.)  Then Da rings the bell, and the room is hushed.
Da leads the meditation session. 
He lost both his legs as the result of a landmine accident.
Seyla, one of the housemothers, is on the left. 

Da times the session for five minutes using the clock on his cell phone.  Amazingly, except for the occasional cough or shuffling, even the smallest children stay still and quiet for the entire time, despite frequent outside construction noises or jets taking off overhead.

Five minutes of quiet reflection

Even the smallest seem to find a tranquil inner space

Occasionally some need a little support

...and some find it harder than others to relax

After five minutes, Da rings the bell again, and everyone opens their eyes.  This is the time when Da, Seyla, or Chhunly make announcements or talk about expectations regarding the children's behaviour or studies.  I'm not really sure what they're saying, since it's all in Khmer, but occasionally I kind of get the gist, just by the tone of voice or length of the lecture.   It's probably not much different than what gets discussed around a family dinner table. 

Announcement time.
One way to keep the attention of the youngest members
is to have them sit in a semi-circle in front of Da & Seyla.

Sometimes when the announcments go on for a long time,
some of the kids lose intererst.

The after-meditation message on this day was particularly long-winded.

I go to meditation every day when we're out at Honour Village, and I love it.  It's wonderful to take five minutes out of my day to sit quietly and peacefully.  It's not something I've ever done before and I've come to see real value in it.  When I open my eyes after those five minutes, I feel renewed and refreshed. 

I'm certain it benefits the children too.  I believe that gathering together to quietly reflect gives them a sense of oneness, of community, and of family.  And you know, just like any family, there's always fun to be had.  Like the time last week when, just as the first bell rang, somebody farted.  Imagine everyone nearby choking back the fumes, and trying to keep a straight face while searching for that inner quiet place.  It was priceless.  I'd have given anything to have my camera ready.


  1. That's what happens when you really relax, eh? Thanks for the stories Dodie.

  2. A nice sort of panorama of far eastern meditation the details of which I entirely missed when I used to try it.
    We're off to Jasper today to deliver a complimentary copy of GNOM to a dear old lady whom I've known since summer, 1947 when we worked side-by-side as Morse operators. I'm hoping for a nice reconnect