Category Archives: Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Gratitude in Novemeber

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Gratitude at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, November 2014

This month at Om School, our mindfulness practice is cultivating GRATITUDE.

We began the month with the Youth & Family Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.  Children shared a gratitude circle — each naming one thing for which they are grateful.  We chanted The Three Lamps, offered incense, and sang, In Gratitude, a song from Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Center.

In our Wednesday class, older children made a clay model of the brain and began a three-week research project into the science of gratitude.  We’re experimenting to see if cultivating gratitude increases happiness.

All of the Om School kids received a thankful tree  for recording the things for which they are grateful.  Their practice this month is:  each night at bed time, take a moment to bring to mind someone or something for which you are grateful.  This is a jewel.  Hold on to this jewel for 20 seconds… then put your jewel into the treasure chest of your heart.

Dr.  Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, explains this practice here.

Stay tuned for more resources on the science of gratitude!  Enjoy your practice this month, everybody!  In gratitude!

Attuning to Generosity

We’re exploring what it means to be GENEROUS this month…

hands child flowerAugust 1st marks the half-way point to fall.  It’s that time of year when the earth begins to share her treasures.   Where we live, the apples are growing red and fat, green grapes are ripening to purple, pears are making branches heavy… Everything is in an outward gesture.

Looking around this time of year, we see that the earth is a great teacher of this heart-quality, generosity.   But why should we cultivate this quality?  What’s in it for us?!

Here’s what one wise teacher has to say about it:

“Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.
We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.
We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.
And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.” – The Buddha

So it seems that by giving, we are also receiving.   When we cultivate the understanding that we already have enough, the stingy, clinging mind releases.  The sensation of scarcity melts into abundance.   We experience happiness.

We’ll be sharing generosity practice with the children at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center tomorrow.  As I imagine speaking to those big-eyed angels, I keep seeing this gesture of hands opening — of offering.   Just moving our hands like this — first holding them close to our chest, then opening them wide from the heart —  brings a sensation of our heart opening.  It feels good.  It’s freeing.  Like sharing our only cookie with a friend.

These open hands are also the gesture of letting go.  Of releasing.  Of non-attachment.  And when we let go of what we’ve hardened around, of what we expect, of our ideas of right and wrong, we do experience a great joy.   Look closely at the word “forGIVE.”  Maybe forgiveness is an act of generosity we give to ourselves.

Vinny Ferraro, one of my teachers in the Mindful Schools year-long certification training, gives a beautiful talk in generosity here.   Vinny says, “The path begins with generosity because of the joy and unhindered delight that flows freely there… We can see generosity all around us if we attune our eyes to it.   It’s in so many of our moments.”

I hope you’ll join us in attuning to generosity this month.  Step outside and see the generous, open sky… breathe in the gift of the trees, feel the life-giving warmth of sun on your face.   Every moment offers itself to us freely and generously.  All we have to do is notice.

The Children's Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center meets the first Sunday of the month -- outside the zendo at 10am.  For more information, visit the the website or click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

 

Modeling Beginner’s Mind

3-7-14 361We had rain for our March Children’s Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center,  so we kept dry inside working with clay and a story.

In, The Two Teacher’s and Tea,  a university professor comes to see the Zen teacher, Nan-in.  While waiting for tea to be served, the professor starts into one of his lectures.  He talks on and on… and on… and on.

When the tea finally arrives, Nan-in pours… and pours… and pours.  The professor’s cup overflows right into his lap.  “Just like this cup, sir, you are also too full… please first empty your own cup, then we can learn something together.”

How easy it is to be like the professor — so full of our own ideas that nothing new gets in… so quick to press forward that we may not actually see what is before us.   As Nan-in tells us, it is better to cultivate a beginner’s mind — an attitude of openness and curiosity.

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Sarah Conover’s book, “Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents” features the story, “The Two Teachers and Tea.”

After the story, we enjoyed modeling, “empty cups” with terra-cotta clay.  As always, we shared apple juice and freshly baked muffins from the Green Gulch kitchen.

For more about beginner’s mind, read Shunryu Suzuki Roshi‘s classic book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.  Our next program is Sunday, April 6th.  We meet near the zendo at 10:00 am.  Hope to see you there!

Raindrops, Cherry Blossoms and Ryōkan

white cherryWe celebrated the mid-way point to spring yesterday with a new season of Children’s Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. 

The first part of the teacher’s talk featured the Soto monk Ryōkan who lived much of his life as a hermit.  He’s remembered for his calligraphy, poetry, love of children, and eccentric ways… playing games and filling his rice bowl with violets and dandelions.

After the talk, we walked through the light rain noticing cherry blossoms and daffodils in bloom.

Children were then guided through a short meditation… listening to the rain and the sound of the bell…  noticing in-breath, out-breath, and the gap in between.

IMG_1526Older children were then invited to try calligraphy and brushstroke with ink.  Younger children used crayons to draw what they noticed on the walk and their experience of listening to the rain.

We read the book, “No Ordinary Apple” — a story about mindful eating… then enjoyed apple juice and apple muffins prepared earlier that morning by some of the children in the Green Gulch kitchen.

Our next program meets Sunday, March 2nd.  We meet outside the zendo at 10am.  Advanced registration is not required.  Participating families are invited to stay for lunch in the dining hall.

Hope to see you next time!

With metta,
Chelsea

Metta Flags in July

The first Sunday of every month is a time for children at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.  Families file slowly into the zendo for the first part of the Children’s Program.  Little ones wiggle and giggle on zafus.  Energy buzzes through the meditation hall before the teacher’s talk begins. 
Last Sunday, in a short talk geared especially for the kids, Korin Charlie Pokorny told how each of us has a hidden jewel we can share with the world.  Asked what that jewel might be, children responded: our happiness, our love, our joy.   

 

The second part of the Children’s Program takes place on the farm among organic vegetable fields, fruit trees, and flower gardens.  This part of the program includes a kid-friendly mindfulness practice or seasonal project.  Earlier this year we planted corn, beans, and squash — The Three Sistersin the children’s garden.  Last autumn we enjoyed contemplative handwork by making floating acorn cap candles.  Another all-time favorite project is launching compost-seed balls into the hillsides.  

Last week, after bowing in and offering incense, nearly fifty children practiced metta or loving-kindness meditation together in the peace-garden.  Then we crafted metta prayer flags to hang on the children’s play structure.  

Children mindfully sewed wishes for the world into colorful cloth panels.  Some wishes included, “may all be free,” “may all animals be safe and healthy,” “sharing,” “less pollution,” and “may you see rainbows.”

After giving still, focused attention to their sewing, the children were ready for the out-breath of play.  With the wind carrying their metta-wishes to all beings, children climbed, slid, swung, and laughed together.  As always, organic apple juice and muffins from the Green Gulch kitchen were enjoyed by all.

Our next program is Sunday, August 4, 2013.  We meet on the lawn at 10:00 a.m. near the southwest side entrance of the zendo. 
For more information about the Children’s Program, please be sure to visit the Green Gulch website.  For the full text of the loving-kindness meditation click here.   Hope to see you next month!