Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shangri la?

Last weekend a group of my students, Lauren, and myself returned to Peace Village in the Catskill Mountains of New York to work with the Brahma Kumaris. We were there to brainstorm ideas for creating a game that could encourage youth to reflect and grow the values outlined by the UN to celebrate the Year of Youth: peace, non-violence, tolerance, and human rights.
We drove down through Vermont and New York and once off the highway followed a twisting-turning route alongside a gorge cut by the mountain's streams. Peace Village is on top of a mountain. The walk from the car to the entrance was windswept and cold surrounded on all sides by two or so feet of snow. But what struck me was not the cold but the brilliant light. Someone explained to me that it was because it was on top of a mountain that the light was so beautiful. I think how it reflected off of the snow and how the building allowed the light to enter also had a lot to do with it.
Friday evening youth from the Brahma Kumaris hosted an "Om Cafe" for us. It is an event that has gained popularity with their youth around the world. It is a welcoming, reflective gathering that utilizes a process of "exploring, expressing, and engaging" values. That evening we reflected on the value that worldwide BK youth have deemed the most important—love. At first I thought this was rather cliched but as the evening unfolded the group brought the concept beyond the cliche in surprising ways. Our group expression based on the engage exercise is below. I really got into drawing. Tied to the paintings I've been doing—it seemed to summarize the concept that love is fierce and begets love, that it is nurturance that gives us our freedom and ability to create peace. Thus I discovered a key to my own creative practice....and now I desire to get into the studio to explore further.
Saturday and Sunday morning the group began with meditation. Now I am not one prone to meditation. I have so much energy that I embrace walking and reflection. So my mind could get antsy as we did this. Afterward we would start our day. On Saturday after breakfast prepared and served by the BKs, we went first into game information sessions 1) what are games by myself, 2) serious games by Rene, a sound editor from EA Montreal, and 3) the process of game development behind BREAKAWAY a panel led by Lauren, with our student team. This we followed with a demonstration of various games.

After lunch we began the brainstorming sessions that continued through to Sunday at noon that I facilitated. We discovered a lot of good ideas and all of us learned things we didn't expect.
When I returned Monday to my frantic work life, a funny thing happened. And I'm not sure why exactly, but I am much calmer and at peace in an unusual way for myself. Likewise I have an unbounded energy —I got an amazing amount of work accomplished this week. I am thinking that perhaps I need to travel to mountaintops, surround myself with creative people, and meditate more often.

No comments:

Post a Comment