Saturday, January 30, 2010

P is for Peace

February first marks the half-way point through winter and with a burst of sunbeams midweek, we felt the first stirrings of spring.  The big, blue sky was too great a temptation, so we took our classroom outside. 

We found a cozy spot nestled in the trees by a little creek and used a tree stump as a desk.  Since we're working on the letter P, I thought it was a good time for Thich Naht Hahn's Pebble Meditation

P is for peace, pebble, pocket, and practice.  If you're not familiar with the pebble meditation, check out this video beautifully presented by Plum Village brother Thay Phap Huu. 

We began by finding four pebbles near the water.  Then we sat down and took a few centering breaths.  The first pebble represents a flower.  I got us started by saying, "Breathing in, I am the flower.  Breathing out, I feel..." and let Amelie express how a flower feels.  She said, "pretty."  We repeated "flower, pretty" a few times taking care to breathe in that pre-Spring air, then we drew a pretty flower.  "I am a pretty flower," Amelie smiled and wrote the words, "flower" and "pretty" on her picture.  Then we moved our first pebbles to our right side.

The second pebble represents a mountain. I read from the mindfulkids pebble mediation cards: "Mountain represents solidity, stability.  There is a mountain within yourself because when you practice sitting and walking, you can develop the capacity of being solid, stable."  Then we said, “Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.  Breathing out, I feel solid.  Mountain.  Solid.” After drawing a picture of a mountain and writing the words, "mountain" and "solid" on her picture, we moved our second pebbles to our right side.

The third pebble represents water.  Water can reflect the sky, the clouds, and the mountains.  Reading from the pebble meditation cards, I said: "Still water is within you. When the water in you is still, you are calm, you are serene. You see things clearly as they are. You do not distort things. You do not have wrong perceptions. It is wonderful. Breathing in, I see myself as still water.”  Together we said, "water, still" a few times and sat still just enjoying breathing together.  Then Amelie drew a picture of still water and moved the third pebble to her right side.

The fourth pebble represents space.  This one was a little more difficult to grasp.  I explained that space is just the big, open sky above us and asked Amelie what she thinks it would feel like to be the sky.  She said, "Like a bird flying."  I think she was spot on.  Space is openness and freedom.  When we have spaciousness within us, we are free.  

I read, "People without space around them cannot be happy. Be like the moon traveling in the beautiful sky. It has a lot of space. Freedom is what we want, and space is inside. We have to touch the space inside to be free. Without freedom, no one can be truly happy."  Amelie drew a bird flying in a big blue sky and then we said, “Breathing in, I see myself as space. Breathing out, I feel free.”  After breathing in the cool afternoon sky, we moved the fourth pebble to our right side, laid back on our blankets, and smiled at the sky.   

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind." - Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Because the sunshine was too beautiful to resist, we decided to take this lesson block slow and extend it another week.  Stay tuned for more about our P words from the Fry's 300 Instant Sight Words: put, people, play, please, present, pretty, pair, part.  We'll be practicing peace in every step.
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