Tag Archives: mindfulness

C3: New Compassionate Action Program!

COMPASSION-ACTION-HEADER

I am happy to announce our new compassionate action program is just beginning to take shape!

This exciting new program will include much movement and aim to engage the will-forces of our highly-energized children.  It will also have a large component of community engagement.  My hope is to harness that valuable energy of our most spirited kids and channel it into creating positive change in our communities.  The class motto will be, “Compassion is a Verb!”  All classes will be project-based and include on-the-go, practical instruction in secular mindfulness.

compassion is a verbSome classes will meet at Sophia’s Garden, others will meet on-site — such as singing at the Senior Center, marching against GMOs, gardening with the elders at Burbank Heights, or renegade compost-ball-poppy-seed-bombing needy hillsides and empty lots.  This class is a re-envisioning of something I started years ago, Children Creating Changeor C3 for short.

We don’t have set dates yet but we’re looking at the second Saturday of most months.  The program will run year-round with no meetings in December and April.  Please let me know if you are interested.  This program is open to the general community.  All ages are welcome.  Children already enrolled in other Om School classes are also welcome.  All C3 families are invited to attend our usual seasonal festivals at Sophia’s Garden and will have access to the Om School online forums — coming soon with resources, home-practice ideas, book clubs, etc.

Please contact Chelsea if you’d like more information.  The program will begin as soon as we have five children enrolled.   Adult volunteers are needed!  Some work-trade may be available.

Gratitude Resources

grateful kidsThis month at Om School, our mindfulness practice is GRATITUDE…

Each night at bedtime, children are bringing to mind someone or something for which they are grateful.  Their practice is to see this someone or something as a jewel — to hold that jewel for 20 seconds… and then place it into the treasure chest of the heart.  Dr. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of, The Buddha’s Brain, writes about this process of hard-wiring happiness in our children here.

A great body of research on gratitude has emerged in recent years and tells us that cultivating gratitude can strengthen immune systems, lower blood pressure, increase positive emotions, increase generosity and compassion, and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The Greater Good Science Center has launched a $5.6 million, three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude.  Their website is packed with great resources including these great tips for cultivating gratitude.

For more on the role that parents can play in fostering the development of children’s gratitude, check out this this video with Dr. Andrea Hussong.  And in, Making Grateful Kids,  Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono explain how to foster gratitude in children, drawing on new research and compelling real-life stories.

Have a favorite book about gratitude?  Please share it here!  We’d love to hear about it!

Family Mindfulness Day: Saturday, March 22, 2014

Registration is now open for Family Mindfulness Day taking place at Sophia’s Garden Saturday, March 22, 2014.

We’ll honor spring, practice together, and enjoy the gift of Lakota medicine man, Steve Stonearrow’s storytelling.  Please help make this day a success by spreading the word!

Family Mindfulness Day

Please register in advance for this event.  Thank you!

The Pause Between

candlemas verseA remarkable synchronicity is taking place this week.  We’re coming to the mid-way point to spring under a new moon.  Waldorf schools celebrate this mid-way point as Candlemas.  In ancient times, the holiday was honored as Imbolc – which means, “in the belly” and refers to the lambing season and the earth’s quickening.  The Celts honored the goddess Brigid at this time – goddess of hearth and home, of poetry, sacred fire, and water.

We know this holiday by another name: Groundhog Day.  It’s the time for peeking our heads out of our wintery dens and noticing the first, oh-so-subtle signs of spring.  Just beneath the earth surface, life is beginning to stir.

This mid-way point to spring feels like the pause between the in-breath of winter and the out-breath of spring.

The moon is also in the place in-between this week.  The new or dark moon is the quiet moment between waxing and waning… the gap where we can take a rest — and where we might just notice something unnameable.

In the next few posts, I’ll share some stories, verses, poems, and a guided meditation to enrich your experience of this beautiful time of year.  If you were able to attend yesterday’s class, I hope you enjoyed the bonfire, let go of difficulties with the waning moon, and let the light of your awareness shine with the coming of spring.

With metta,
Chelsea

Postcards from Impermanence

We’ve had a rough week here.  Our local feed store, Frizelle Enos — the longest, continuous running business here in our little town — was destroyed in a fire.  The store was a local landmark and we’ve spent many happy afternoons there — visiting baby chicks and stocking up on supplies for our animals.  We are deeply saddened by this terrible loss.The fire has my heart/mind turned towards impermanence — how one thing is always changing into another… that the true nature of things is that they’re always in flux.  This is a classical wisdom teaching and reflection upon it is believed to increase our sense of well-being.  Zen teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible!”How does it work?  By letting go of attachment to things as fixed or unchanging we begin to relate with the world as an interdependent evolutionary process.  We see that we are an inseparable part of a great story unfolding.  We fall in love with the flow.

How can we share this wisdom with our children?  One way is by keeping a seasonal nature table.  This hallmark of Waldorf education invites children to pay close attention to seasonal rhythms — and perhaps even notice their own ever-changing inner-seasons.

By noticing the natural world, we might also see that we’re constantly receiving little postcards from impermanence…

Here are some postcards we’ve recently received:

  • irises in the compost pile
  • the startling sight of our molting chickens
  • clouds shaped like elephants and fire-breathing bunnies
  • threads of gray in mama’s hair
  • green tomatoes ripening to purple in our garden
  • our first sunflowers opening
  • the waxing moon beginning to bulge gibbous  
  • the fire at our beloved feed store

When we open to receiving these little postcards, we allow a deeper meaning to unfold within our lives.  Each moment becomes sacred because we see that it will never come again.  Each experience becomes sweet because we see it arising in relationship with everything else.

What postcards from impermanence have you recently received?  I’d love to hear about them.

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!

 

May All Beings Be Free

It’s the 4th of July and with everyone’s attention turned towards freedom, flags, and independence, I’m thinking about freedom, prayer flags, and interdependence… and sending these wishes out to all beings.

This is the classical mindfulness practice of loving-kindness or metta meditation.  Mindful Schools translates this practice as, “heartfulness.”  Susan Kaiser Greenland calls it, “sending friendly wishes.”  You can see kids practicing in this short video.

We begin by picturing someone who loves us and feeling their love flowing into us.  Stay with this feeling for a moment.  Then repeat short verses such as:

May I be peaceful.
May I be safe.
May I be free.

Now that we are filled up with this warm, safe feeling, we’re ready to share it.  Imagine sending out this feeling — from your heart to someone you love.  Picture the person or animal you’ve selected and repeat the verses for them.  May Prudence be peaceful, safe, and free…

But we can’t stop there!  Because my freedom, safety, and peace is inextricably tied to yours,  next we send loving-kindness to all beings:  May all beings be peaceful, safe, and free…

One way to bring this practice into your home is by making metta prayer flags.  We’re using this fun, kid-friendly tutorial from Future Craft Collective:

We’re writing short words and phrases on the white panels: kindness, peace, love, homes, clean air, fresh water, joy.  Then repeating our wishes/verses as we stitch them to to the colorful panels:

May all beings have clean air.
May all beings have fresh water…

We’ll hang them in the garden and let the wind carry our wishes out into the world.  We’ll also share this project with the Children’s Program at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center this Sunday… and hope to see you and your family there.  In the meantime, may you and all beings enjoy peace, safety, and freedom this 4th of July.

With metta,
Chelsea

Mind Like the Sky

Behind our thoughts, fears, frustrations, and rough places, there is a soft spot.  Pema Chodron writes, “if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time.”

How do we help kids touch the vast sky that is our inner-nature?   One way is to get outside.  By the sea, in a field, on a farm — in these open places we notice the openness inside us.    Another way is by simply watching the clouds as they come and go.

We’ve all done this at some point in our lives.  Laying on the grass, settling into our body, gazing at the sky — we watch cloud shapes emerge and dissolve above us.  Kids are naturally drawn to this — so catching their interest shouldn’t be difficult.  Adding an element of mindfulness to it, we can invite children to notice how thoughts and feelings are like this too — coming and going and always changing shape.

Children’s artist  Betsy Rose writes, “I use this… as a way of teaching and discussing how to name emotions, and how feelings come and go like clouds; the clear blue sky of inner calm and quiet happiness is always available to us.”   She even has a song to go with it.   (If you don’t know her music or her work with children, be sure to investigate.)

Another way we can touch the clear, blue sky within us is with our breath.  Just one breath is often a starting place for clearing our mind and increasing our calm.  Encourage children to sit up tall and solid and let the sky fill them with their breath.  Thich Nhat Hanh offers children this verse for practicing with the sky:

“Breathing in, I see myself as the big blue sky.  Breathing out, I feel free and at ease.”