Monthly Archives: November 2023

Minutes from Tuesday All Sangha Meeting

In attendance:  Linda Clark, Wayne Gersen, Corlan Johnson, Karen Wynkoop, Gail Kuhl, Pat Maher, Richard Neugass, Bineke Oort, Bram Oort, Sami Saydjari, Joyce Solomon. 

Mindful Meeting Vow: read by Bineke

Joyce went over the guidelines of the meeting, and introduced the time-keeper (Karen) and note taker (Linda). 

Governance of the Sangha, overview: Board of Directors, Facilitator Committee, and Care Council.   Joyce reviewed the hand out on our sangha’s governance.  She emphasized that all three governing bodies are responsible for ensuring that we follow the Plum Village tradition and for keeping the sangha informed of practice opportunities and new ideas for deepening the spiritual growth of members.

The Board usually meets once a year in an open meeting, and focuses primarily on finances and major decisions such as moving our meeting place. The Facilitators meet quarterly. The Care Council has not met since Covid but will be re-activated. We read the mission statement on our own. 

See governance diagram attached for more details.  Further info is available upon request.

2. Details on the Care Council. New members? Wayne explained the Care Council began quite a few years ago. (Actually, in 2014) This Council addresses the “health of this organization.” Examples of the events the Council organized: New Years Eve gatherings; a guided walk (led by Ginger); a writing group (led by Jeff); picnics. The plan is to reconvene the group by the end of the calendar year or close to it. Ideas and members are welcomed; contact Wayne. 

3. Facilitator interest? Gail offered if anyone is interested in being a facilitator to please contact her or Joyce. 

4. Alternatives to Walking Meditation: mindful movements, qigong, yoga stretches. Any preferences? Ideas were presented to fit into this 20 minute time frame including singing. There seemed to be a preference for “mindful movements” as developed by Plum Village. Good advice to the facilitators. 

5. Optional activities on 5th Tuesday of the month meetings: Deep Relaxation; Touching the Earth; Sutra readings; other? Many activities are available. The Plum Village app yes a great resource. Lots of discussion about Deep Relaxation and how to make it work followed. A 5th Tuesday only happens about 3 times a year. A count of 7 out of 11 attendees would like to pursue optional activities. 

6. Feedback on Mail Chimps—what do you read? Want more or less? Videos? The majority attending really enjoy these weekly mailings. If the video is short, it is more likely watched. It was decided that the video should remain in this one mailing and not sent separately. Wayne shared a formatting idea from ListServe. 

7. Shorter readings so everyone will have the opportunity to read? No one minded not reading. A helpful idea was to start the reading at different parts of the circle. 

8. Time before/after the sit for new member orientation, other? A good discussion followed. The idea settled on: a facilitator to talk with the “newbie” at mindful chatting time, to offer a booklet to provide more information, and to answer questions. The process is often started via correspondence with Joyce when people first express an interest in attending and being put on the mailing list. (FYI, we have 244 people on the mailing list.)

9. Tutoring English with monastics. Gail explained their involvement with a nun from Blue Cliff. They converse with her about once a week, and explained it is a conversation or a chat. It’s casual, and a way for the monastic and lay person to get to know one another and, of course, to help the nun learn English. See Gail if you’re interested. 

10. How are we doing? Anything we’ve forgotten? Misc. comments? A lengthy discussion followed. A question asked was how did people find out about the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center? How can we get the word out more so that people know about our sangha and that we welcome new people? 

Currently, we are listed weekly in the “Valley News,” and we are included on the Plum Village international sangha directory and a special directory for on-line sanghas.  Also, our MPC web site comes up when people do a google search for words like “mindfulness” and “meditation” in and around the UV. All listings note where and when the Sangha meets. 

It was noted that students are struggling with mental health issues, and the Plum Village tradition may be helpful to them. Sami is going to look into the meditation offerings at Dartmouth, and contact Nancy Vogel.

A suggestion was made to dedicate a week once or twice a year to putting out more info than usual, and to offer several educational sessions. Our expectation is that people will feel less intimidated attending an educational session before coming to a regular sangha sit.  These are questions, discussions and decisions that the Care Council can explore. 

The meeting ended at 11am with 11 people attending. We bowed to each other, our ancestors and Mother Earth.