During my recent retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery I had a thought about how I’d like to start a family circle time at home with my husband Mike and teenage stepson Jaden. This wasn’t a new idea, but in the past I never followed through with anything. This time, however, I spoke with Mike about it and wrote the idea down in my day planner, which is what needs to happen if ever I am to remember and take action about something.
Since we have shared custody and Jaden is with us for what works out to be 1/3 of the time (one week on and two weeks off), our family circle will wind up taking place once every three weeks. Our very first family circle was last night and went splendidly!
Mike and I decided we’d dedicate an hour to this circle on Sunday nights and our format would include: 5 minutes of sitting meditation, a check-in round, flower watering, open sharing, and a closing circle. Mike was our facilitator and during the check-in round prompted us to share about how we were feeling, both in general and specifically about the creation of our new family circle time. I was really glad to hear when Jaden shared that he was really looking forward to our newly created family circle time and said he thought it was a really good idea.
The practice of Flower Watering is something that stems from the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and involves offering our gratitude and love for another person(s) in an intentional way. It becomes especially potent when in a small group setting. In Flower Watering we share from our hearts and try our best to be specific about what we see as wonderful and amazing about the other person. We went around the circle and had each person share something about the other two and then we ended our turn by saying something we honored about our self. Oftentimes in Flower Watering it is easy to forget about watering our own flowers too!
For our open sharing time Mike invited us to basically share anything we’d like that we felt drawn to say or mention. It was a time for open communication and to be listened to deeply. Then we had a closing circle where we were prompted to end with two or three words. My closing words were: wonderfully together, Jaden’s were: freakin’ happy, and Mike’s were: happy and tired.
Mike and I have also talked about having him and I continuing this model as a couple, on the Sundays Jaden is with his mom and stepdad, which I really like the idea of. Setting an intentional time to sit down and connect is of great benefit, especially when our weeks are full of work and school, activities and events, homework and meetings. While I feel as though we do pretty well, both as a couple and a family unit, in coming together to spend quality time, and to offer our true presence with one another, the cultivation of a weekly family circle time will further aid us in generating our closeness and love.
I’m looking forward to the continuation of our new family circle time – I think it will be a wonderful new addition to our household.