The 2013 LME Mindfulness Camp for Bhutanese Educators
“It is my hope that we can help children develop a broader understanding of the world around them as well as their internal world and how the two are so closely related. I feel certain that this new model of school education will be of great benefit, not just for the children and families involved, but that it can have a far-reaching effect on the world at large.”
—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Lhomon Education (LME) is one of five areas of activity of the Lhomon Society, founded in Bhutan by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2010. LME is developing a holistic, integrated alternative curriculum for Bhutanese students, and is also conducting teacher training such as the 2013 Mindfulness Camp for Bhutanese Educators. An annual grant from Khyentse Foundation covers all of LME’s administrative costs.
The camp took place January 5-12, 2013, at Jigme Namgyel Polytechnic (JNP), a constituent college of the Royal University of Bhutan, in Dewathang, southeastern Bhutan. Forty educators from across Bhutan participated in the retreat, which was led by Paravi Albert Wongchirachai of Thailand and Jamyang Chöden of Berlin and Bartsham, Bhutan.
Lhomon Education is dedicated to providing opportunities for Bhutanese teachers to become more well-rounded, self-aware, creative, and inspired “influencers” (to use Rinpoche’s word) in the classroom. In a video launching Lhomon Education, Rinpoche encouraged teachers to “be brave” and to think with a “birds eye view” about their work as influencers. The camp was designed to help the participants deepen their own practice of mindfulness and explore the inner workings of their minds so that they can benefit their students through example. “Our goal was simply to give everyone a chance to experiment with integrating mindfulness in daily life,” said Paravi.
The path that LME presented was straightforward: practice, practice, and more practice. Mindful sitting and walking began at 7:30 in the morning and continued throughout the day, interspersed with talks, recorded teachings, guided contemplations, stretching, informative and highly relevant group discussions, and journaling. Discourse ranged from the most practical discussion of cushion preference to deep philosophical explorations of belief. A selection of videos helped the teachers connect mindfulness to the classroom by showing how the technique has been used successfully in inner city schools and in prisons. The intense sitting was also augmented by exercises designed to encourage the incorporation of mindfulness into everyday life, with attention on their minds “undeceived by distraction.”
“It’s been a tightening of the screw for me,” said Lhundup Dukpa of the Royal Education Council, who brought five teachers from Paro. “Sometimes we need community to build or repair a few things.” Dr. Andu Dukpa, Director of JNP, took time out of his busy schedule to attend the entire workshop. “This programme has benefited me professionally as well as personally. Thank you for choosing JNP to host the LME camp.”
For more information about Lhomon Education, go to http://www.lhomon.bt/education/
For information about the Lhomon Society, go to http://www.lhomon.bt/