Tag Archives: fall

Mindful Educators Alliance

Calling all North Bay educators, counselors, parents, and anyone working with children!

The Mindful Educators Alliance is a project of Mindful Schools that aims to help mindfulness education grow in our region.

We will meet regularly throughout the year.  Our first event takes place Saturday, October 28 at the Sonoma County Office of Education.

Special guest speakers include Daniel Rechtschaffen, founder of the Mindful Education Institute and the Omega Mindfulness in Education Conference, and author of The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-being in Teachers and Students. 

Come meet other teachers, parents, and adults brining mindfulness into their work and relationships with youth!

To learn more and register in advance for the October 28th event, please visit our Eventbrite page here

To learn more about ongoing meetings, visit our Meetup group here.



Mindfulness in the North Bay

We’ve been busy this summer working on our line up of classes for the fall.  As a native to the North Bay, it gives me such joy to see mindfulness education growing here.  Take a look at some of the programs we have slated…

CREDO HIGH SCHOOL:  We are happy to announce a new program beginning this fall at Credo, a public charter school in Rohnert Park, California that ad­vances critical thinking, creativity, responsibility and initiative in public school students.  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens will be offered as an elective course beginning in September.

SONOMA ACADEMY:  The elective course Meditation and More is returning to Sonoma Academy this fall.  Sonoma Academy is a nonprofit, private coed college preparatory high school located in Santa Rosa, California that calls on its students to be creative, ethical, and committed to learning; and to communicate across cultures as they prepare to become leaders in a dynamic world.

THE HEALDSBURG SCHOOL:  After-school Mindfulness is returning to the Healdsburg School this fall.  This independent K-8 emphasizes global perspectives to promote a culture of understanding of the world as a place with many different opinions, voices and ideas.  Mindfulness takes place on Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00 pm and resumes in September.  To register, please contact Chelsea.

TLC CHILD & FAMILY SERVICES:  TLC serves over 600 children who have been abandoned, neglected, abused or who are part of a growing population of children facing mental health challenges.  The main campus in Sebastopol, California employs over 100 staff members and provides comprehensive services to six Northern California Counties.  Joyful Mind Project is happy to be offering support to TLC staff and parents this summer.

SUMMERFIELD WALDORF SCHOOL & FARM:  On October 7, we’ll host a morning workshop at Summerfield, an independent K-12 school in Santa Rosa, California.  In this program for faculty, staff, parents, and teens we will explore how mindfulness can support us in our personal and professional relationships and within the family unit.  To register, please contact Chelsea.

BAYSIDE MLK:  Bayside MLK is a public K-8 school located in Marin City.  91% of students at Bayside MLK come from low-income families and 98% of students at Bayside MLK are people of color.  Bayside MLK believes that mindfulness education will benefit the students, lift morale, and help the young people in this community define, understand, and reach their highest goals.  We are happy to be working with Bayside MLK to raise funds for a school-wide mindfulness program, slated to begin in September.

HALF DAY RETREAT FOR A MINDFUL COMMUNITY:  On October 28th, we’ll co-host an event, bringing together educators, counselors, parents, and youth-service providers interested in or already sharing mindfulness with youth.  By coming together in a community of practice, we can help mindfulness grow in our region.  This event is slated to take place at the Sonoma County Office of Education.  Please inquire for more information.

Thank you, everybody!  Together we are strengthening our communities from the inside out.

Gratitude in Novemeber

photo 4
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!

Deepening Halloween

Returning to Halloween’s ancient roots this week at, we honored our ancestors with a special ceremony…

We invited in all of the beings who have left this world — grandparents, beloved pets, and even spiders… then offered gifts of food, sang songs, an created a memory table with photos, names, and items that belonged to our beloved, departed ones.

This was the last week in October’s lesson block on impermanence.  Next week, we’ll begin November’s practice of cultivating gratitude.


Impermanence in October

pumpkin-patch-1All month, the kids at Om School have been discovering that impermanence makes everything possible.

We’ve noticed that our emotions come and go like clouds in the sky, felt the energy in our bodies moving with Qigong, and observed changes on the farm as apples fall from trees and plants are harvested.  We’ve discovered that our bodies are changing, that sounds come and go from our experience, and even built a new compost pile — a very living lesson in how the passing of one thing is the birth of another.  It seems that nothing at all is permanent.  Everything is constantly becoming.

This week we’ll conclude our look at impermanence with an ancestor’s ritual… 

We’ll use elements from a traditional Japanese Zen Buddhist ceremony for the spirits of departed ones — called sejiki.  All Om School families are invited to attend this deepening of Halloween and return to its ancient roots.

Dear Om School families:  Please remember to bring photos and items that belonged to a loved one who has passed away — friend, family, or animal.  We’ll even honor the the bugs and spiders who have departed this world by drawing pictures of them to add to our memory table.  Whimsical and non-scary costumes are welcome.  If you believe this will be a sensitive subject for your child, please let me know in advance.

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.