On Saturday we had our annual sanghas solstice celebration at the mindfulness center. Open Way has been putting these together for 20 years or so. Our day started with sitting and walking meditation followed by a short dharma talk on the topic of beginning anew by our local teacher Rowan. After his talk there was time for discussion and then we had our Bringing Back the Light ceremony which consists of each person going into the middle of the room and screwing in one of the lightbulbs in our lovely centerpiece (pictured above) until it lights up and then sharing an offering of story, song, poetry, or whatever else you’ve brought to share. This circle of sharing took us a little while, as there were around 20 of us present. After the sharing circle I led a deep relaxation and then we shared in a potluck dinner. People came and went throughout the afternoon and early evening and we had a lovely day of practice together.
We also chose to combine the solstice celebration with the start of our winter series open mic nights at the mindfulness center. This is our third year of offering once a month open mic nights at the center through the winter and we’ve been having a lot of fun with them. So after our afternoon of practice, solstice celebrating, and potlucking we had our first open mic of the season. We had magic, comedy, songs, show-n-tell, poetry, and instrumentals. For our open mic’s we invite all ages and all types of sharing and have never been disappointed with the array of creative stylings we receive. I look forward to hosting the rest through the winter!
And then two days later (this past Monday) at my home sangha Be Here Now we had our annual white elephant gift exchange! After our altered format of sitting meditation followed by a guided deep relaxation we had snacks and the gift exchange. If you’re not familiar with what a White Elephant Gift Exchange is they are a lot fun! So, you have a group of people each bring a wrapped gift of something that was made or found around the house – it can be something silly, practical, meaningful, or otherwise. You pile up the presents together and then hand out slips of paper with numbers written on them for however many people there are. Whoever choses #1 goes first and picks a present and unwraps it. #2 can then either pick a new present from the pile or steal #1’s present. And on it goes until everyone has had a turn. While the White Elephant was probably not designed as such it makes a great zen practice in non-attachment and letting go :)
My deep gratitude for my sangha family near and far.