Last week at Om School, children began working with the Mindful Schools workbooks. Lesson One of this research-based curriculum introduces kids to mindful bodies and mindful listening.
We began by sitting upright and tall like a solid mountain. Children sat like this for a moment with eyes open and then tried sitting like a mountain with eyes closed. We noticed that it became very quiet while we sat with eyes closed.
This led us to the second part of the lesson, Mindful Listening. To help us listen mindfully, I gave the kids the image of putting on Fox Ears. Fox listens very deeply. He can hear the sound of mice deep beneath the snow… and in summer, he can even hear the sound of grapes growing. We have to be very still to listen like fox. We also have to listen not just with our ears, but also with our heart and way down into our belly.
Next we listened with the bell. We listened with eyes open and then with eyes closed. When we couldn’t hear the sound any more, we raised our hands. With eyes closed, the bell seemed to sound for a very long time.
Finally, we closed our eyes and listened to the sounds outside of our classroom and inside our own bodies. We heard the sound of the rain, an airplane going by, and some children even heard their own heart beating.
At today’s class we’ll explore mindful breathing. We’ll also continue to expand on the themes of mindful listening and mindful speech with folk tales, and discover what’s happening on the farm.
I’m posting more photos of the children’s work on our Facebook page. Be sure to stop by and enjoy these little treasures.
Today the Om School kids practiced mindfulness of breathing. We began by sitting upright and tall like a mountain. Then we placed one hand on our belly. We noticed that our belly moves while we breathe — in and out… out and in. Next, something amazing happened! We began to feel calm and peaceful inside.
Look what happens to Elmo when he remembers his belly breathing…
We 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.
Older 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!
The Om School kids have been working with moon phases this semester. We’re keeping journals with observations and verses for practice. This is a fun way to keep our mindfulness practice consistent and to become more aware of our interrelatedness with nature.
Because tonight is the new or dark moon, I shared this guided meditation yesterday in class. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
“Sit comfortably with your back supported. You can sit in a chair or on the floor. You can even try this exercise lying down; however, this might make you sleepy! It’s best if we stay awake during this exercise!
Breathe normally. Notice where you can feel your breath. Can you feel your breath under your nose? In your chest? In your belly? Place a hand on your belly and see what happens. Do you notice your belly rising and falling? See how your belly gets bigger with your in-breath and smaller with your out-breath. Stay with your breathing like this for a moment. Notice the rising and falling of breath – in and out… deep and slow… like waves on the sea. Don’t try to control your breath. Just notice how it feels. It may slow down on its own. We can call this our Ocean Breathing.
With your hands by your sides, continue Ocean Breathing for a minute or maybe even two.
Now, let’s focus our attention on our in-breath. As we breathe in, we can say quietly to ourselves:
“Breathing in: I am aware of my in-breath.”
And as we breathe out, we say:
“Breathing out: I am aware of my out-breath.”
Simple enough, right? We can even shorten the phrases to:
Let’s try this a few times.
Now let’s try something new. What happens in between breathing in and breathing out? Can you keep your attention there? Notice that point where the in-breath transforms into the out-breath. Notice what is there — or what is not there. It’s sort of a gap.
Continue breathing normally and notice the gap between the in-breath and the out-breath. It’s like a tiny break – a beautiful rest as one thing continues into another. It’s like the dark moon pausing in stillness before beginning anew.”
For more information or to register, please visit the website. Day and time TBD. Learn more at the Fall Mindfulness Forum happening Wednesday, September 4th at Sophia’s Garden.
Hope to see you there!
Preparations continued today for the Summer Mindfulness Workshop happening next week — Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at Sophia’s Garden in Sebastopol.
Our theme for the day is “the whole earth as nourishment.” We’ll be held by a beautiful, biodynamic farm filled with healing herbs and organic fruit trees; learn three, foundational mindfulness practices; and notice how the whole world offers itself to us for our health and wholeness.
This is so evident and observable time of year — gardens are abundant, fruit is heavy on the trees, herbs are flowering, and poppy seeds are, well, popping!
When we take the time for stopping and noticing, we can see that the whole world is healing medicine. I hope you’ll join us next week.
You can learn more and register here.
We had a wonderful time at Sophia’s Garden this week. This is the biodynamic farm hosting our July 31st Summer Mindfulness Workshop and the home of the Om School Mindfulness Cooperative beginning this fall. Chamomile and poppies are in bloom and fruit is hanging heavy on the trees. There’s still time to register.
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 Sisters — in 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!
I’ve been getting feedback that a ONE day summer workshop would be more accessible to families this late in summer.
Look for a revised flyer coming soon with the date changed to JULY 31. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please — just come and join us on the farm for a day of summer mindfulness.
This fun one-day workshop introduces children to mindfulness practice in the lush gardens of a working, biodynamic farm. Enjoy storytelling, movement, connection with nature, and other kid-friendly contemplative practices. Bring lunch and something to share for a communal picnic among organic apple trees and fragrant herbs. Ages 5-11. Open for registration now.
DATE: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
TIME: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
PLACE: Sophia’s Garden
4038 Green Valley School Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Cost: $40 – $80
Remember, all programs are sliding scale and no one will be turned away for a lack of funds. Request information and register here.
Looking forward to practicing with you!