Tag Archives: ecology

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

No Ordinary Apple

I have this book out from the library right now — and it is so clever!  I can’t wait to share it with the Om School kids next week.

The kids have been enjoying eating meditation with apples each day before class this semester.  We’ve been smelling, touching, tasting and even listening to our apples before eating them oh-so-slowly.  Take a peek inside this book… you may never see an apple the same way again.

Breath Awareness with Children: Finding the Gap

waning crescent moonThe 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:

“IN.  OUT.”

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.”

Mindfulness with the Moon

moon_phases_by_izzabell-d3inrqvBy practicing with the moon, we can give continuity to our practice.  We can also become more aware of our interrelatedness with nature.  Through bringing rhythm and intention to our practice, we become more consistent and rooted in our practice.

For centuries, the full moon has been a metaphor for the awakened mind – the inherent nobility that dwells within each of us.  With the full moon, we can practice feeling this inner-nobility.

For me, the waning moon is like the out-breath.  It is a time for letting go.  It is a time for noticing difficult emotions and negative mental formations and shining our light of awareness on them so that they diminish with the vanishing moon.  It’s also a time for slowing down, for noticing when we’re caught in the habit-energy of rushing, and preparing to rest with the dark moon.

I see the dark or new moon is the pause between the in-breath and the out-breath.  It is the quiet space where we can rest before continuing on to the next phase of our own journey… the vastness from which all things emerge.

While the moon is growing, we can explore new ideas, nurture our creativity, and plant intentions to grow like seeds under the energy of the increasing moon.   In this way, the waxing moon is like an in-breath.

Verse for the waning crescent moon: “Sister Moon, your horns point west, breathe in, breathe out then take your rest.”

Verses for the new moon.  January 30, 2014:
Breathing in, my belly grows
Breathing out, my breathing slows
In between I feel the space

Here there is a quiet place

What does the moon mean to you?  Do you feel drawn to a particular moon phase?  I’d love to hear from you.