Friday, August 27, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} – A weekly ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week, inspired by Amanda Soule.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, join in over at SouleMama.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day Seven {Meditation Challenge}: Our Nature

Mama Cottonwood at Little Beach (one of our favorite trees!)
Like the outside world, our inner-world moves in cycles rising and falling, growing and fading, always transforming and becoming.  When we take time to connect with each turning season, we begin to notice our inner-seasons... and we begin to see that everything is connected.  

For this mindfulness practice, you'll need to pack some paper, colored pencils or some crayons.  Then take a walk with your kids.  Invite them select a tree -- one that speaks to them... one with distinct characteristics that they find appealing.  

Sit beneath this special tree and take a few deep breaths.  Invite your child to notice the different qualities of the tree.  Are they like this tree in any ways?  Stay here and enjoy breathing together (with the tree!) for a few moments.  Consider using this time to discuss how trees create our oxygen.  

Next, ask your child to turn so they can't see the tree and then draw it including as many details as they can remember.  Ask older children to write one or two sentences about what they like about this tree.  An example might be, "I like this tree because it's strong and proud."

Now, have the younger children turn around and discover new things on their tree that they omitted in their drawing.  Invite older kids to re-write their sentences substituting their own name.  So, "I like this tree because it's strong and proud" becomes, "I like Amelie because she is strong and proud." 

By seeing ourselves in nature, we realize that we are connected to all living things -- we see that, by nature, we belong to one another.  If you try this practice with your kids, be sure to come back and tell us about it here.  Much peace to all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Six {Meditation Challenge}: Buddha Moon, Sacred Refuge

Buddha Moon, by Nicole Whitty

After my family was tucked in safely last night, I spent a little time outside under the full moon harvesting rosemary, snapdragons, and marigolds... and soaking up some of that delicious moonlight energy.

I've been listening nonstop to the Tara Mantra by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors these days, and as I collected my herbs, the words came easy.  "Om tare tutare ture soha."  In Tibetan Buddhism, this is the mantra of Green Tara.  Om represents Tara's sacred body, speech, and mind. Tare means liberating from all discontent. Tutare means liberating from danger - both external danger and the internal danger of delusions. Ture means liberating from duality.  Soha means "may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind." (See this Wiki for more info.)

I've been reading that rosemary, snapdragons, and marigolds all have properties of protection.  Once inside, I made two little bundles while repeating the mantra.  I hung one in A.'s window and put the other on the meditation table in my bedroom.  Little rituals like these remind me that my home is a sacred place of refuge. When we practice holding ourselves and others in compassion, our heart becomes a sacred place of refuge too. 

For Day Six of our meditation challenge, try thinking of your heart this way -- as a place of security and compassion.  When you meditate today, sit with dignity and hold yourself with acceptance.  Forgive yourself for anything you're holding onto, picture yourself receiving love from your friends and family, and let that love radiate in your heart.  See your heart as a sacred chamber and go there.  Rest here for a while.  Breathe.  Take refuge.

Here's a quick guided meditation to help you share this practice with your kids.  Begin by having them sit cross-legged on the floor and taking a few normal breaths.  Ask them to feel their breath in their nostrils, then read:

"Imagine sitting between two people who love you.  One might even be an animal!  Feel their love flowing into you and filling up your heart.  You, as much as anyone in the whole world, deserve this love.  This love makes your heart a special place.  You can visit this place anytime you want.  Just close your eyes and breathe.  You are safe and you are loved." 

Be sure to share your experiences with us here.  I love hearing from you and hope your practice is going well.  Much love & light. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day Five {Meditation Challenge}: Being Present

For today's inspiration, I'm sharing the twelve minute dharma talk that I listened to this morning.  It's about being present -- being attentive and mindful to what's happening in the present moment.   Gil Fronsdal is a leading American Buddhist teacher; however, you certainly don't have to be Buddhist to enjoy this talk!

Being Present from Insight Meditation Center on Vimeo.

Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has trained in both the Japanese Soto Zen tradition and the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia. Gil was trained as a Vipassana teacher by Jack Kornfield and is part of the Vipassana teachers' collective at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and in 1995 he received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. He has been the primary teacher for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California since 1990. He is a husband and father of two boys.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day Four {Meditation Challenge}: Devotion, Monkey-Mind, & Cooked Spaghetti

I woke up this morning thinking about what it means to be devoted.  My morning was pretty chaotic yesterday and I missed my time of the zafu.  Then we rushed out of the house for the day and didn't get home until after dinner.  By the time I got my little one bathed and in bed, I was feeling more like sleeping than sitting.  But the house was so quiet and the smell of sage in my kitchen was drawing me into myself.  So into the classroom I went, sage and all, to sit. This isn't my usual meditation spot, but last night it felt like my own private zendo.  

The dictionary definition of devotion is: "profound dedication; consecration."  The etymology of the word is more revealing... (from the Latin) "de" means "all the way down" or "completely," (see de-) and "vovere" meaning "to vow" (see vow). So, we might say that being "devoted" to our practice means that we've made a promise from the bottom of our heart to sit each day.  It means that we are dedicated and motivated to waking up, to seeing our lives with more clarity, and to bringing peace into the world be creating peace within ourselves.  What does "devotion" mean to you?  Consider journal-writing about this question as a contemplative practice.

If you fell off of the pillow yesterday, today is the day to get back on.  If you haven't signed up for the challenge, there is no time like right now!  If you are still feeling uneasy about a busy mind, check out this article at, Quiet Please! Taming Monkey Mind in Meditation. 

For the kiddos today, check out this exercise,Cooked Spaghetti, from Donna over at Yoga In My School.  Be sure find them on Facebook for more great tips on practicing with your kids


Please don't hesitate to ask a question or share your experience, mamas.  I'd love to hear from you!!  Much love & light.
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