Tag Archives: nature

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.”

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

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.

The Whole Earth as Nourishment

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.

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!

 

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.”

Welcome!

Welcome to Om School’s new blog spot.  Thanks for stopping by. 

This has been an exciting week.  I’ve been working hard to complete the new website while reaching out to the community in search of a home for our local program.  I’m happy to announce that the website is up and our program has a home!   

We’re bringing children together to create an ongoing cooperative program in the lush gardens of a working, biodynamic farm in Sebastopol, California.  Children will learn and practice mindfulness together among organic apple orchards and fragrant herbs.  We’ll care for the land using biodynamic principles encouraging a view of nature as an interconnected whole. 

A one-day Summer Mindfulness Workshop at the farm is coming up on July 29th.   Session I of the ongoing cooperative program begins on the farm September 4, 2013. 

Also beginning September 5, I’ll be teaching a ten-week Mindfulness for Children class at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center.   We’ll also create an organic community garden and learn to see nature’s hidden connections. 

All programs are designed to help children cultivate self-awareness, build empathy, reduce stress, and develop self-regulation skills.  The content is delivered through research-based curriculum, story-telling, games, Waldorf-inspired handwork, movement, connection with nature, and other fun, kid-friendly contemplative practices.    

Class sizes are limited to twelve children ages 5-11.  All are open for registration now.  Find more information and register on our new website or visit us on Facebook.

Looking forward to practicing with you!  
With metta, 
Chelsea