Tapestry of Faith: Circle of Trees : A Multigenerational Program about Nourishing Deep Connections with Nature
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Activity 2: Milling

Part of Circle of Trees

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Chime, drum, or rattle

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the activity several times so you will be comfortable leading the ritual.
  • Plan for the possibility of an uneven number of participants. A co-leader can serve as the needed partner or you can have one set of three partners.

Description of Activity

"Milling" is a series of exercises designed to create group bonding.

Note how many participants there are; if there is an uneven number, let the group know how to handle this when it's time to choose partners.

Say, in these words or your own:

This activity is called the Milling. You will silently and slowly walk around our area without any specific direction or pattern in mind. Be mindful as you pass by another participant and look into their eyes, but there is no need to smile or nod. During the Milling, please do not talk or make a sound in any way, except when you are invited to speak as part of the ritual. In a few minutes, I will give directions for what to do at the first of our two stops in the Milling.

Give everyone a few minutes to mill about silently.

Stop 1: Sharing

Ask participants to find a partner and stand in front of them. Ask partners to take turns telling each other something really special that happened to them in an outdoor setting. Sound the chime, drum, or rattle to indicate when it's time for the second person to share and when it's time to finish the sharing. After the second person has shared, have partners say goodbye and continue with their milling.

Stop 2: Hand Dance

After a few minutes (or less), ask everyone to stop in front of a different partner. Explain that Person A will put up their hands in front of them (leaders can model this) and Person B will place their palms on the hands of Person A. Person A will move their hands, and Person B will follow. Let them know that you will use the chime, drum, or rattle to indicate when it's time to switch who is leading, but that they should not stop the flow at any point. Have participants do this for a few minutes.

Sound the chime again. Let the group know that now no one is leading and no one is following, and they should not stop the flow but keep going until you chime again.

When you chime to indicate the end of the hand dance, say, in these words or your own:

Now, without speaking, say good-bye to your partner and start milling again.

After a minute or so, sound the chime to end the Milling.

Including All Participants

If any participants have mobility limitations, adapt the group instructions for this activity so that everyone will be able to follow them. You might be, or arrange, a "milling" partner for a person with a visual disability or someone who needs physical assistance to "mill."