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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

All great teachers have the ability to make learning fun.  It not only helps the student learn more easily and retain the information better but it makes our jobs more exciting and fun!  Who wants to be bored at work, who wants work to be drudgery?  No one I know.  I want to be excited every morning as I wake up thinking about the great things I can do at work.  To hear the students laugh, see them smile, and to see them waiting with bated breath at what I’ll do next!

Even in my adult corporate training classes I play games, I surprise them with treats, compliments, and more.  They soon begin to expect the unexpected when they are in a class with me.  This encourages them to want to come to training, to realize that making life at work less tedious for themselves and their team will help them live longer and increase the team’s productivity and decrease its sick days!  Yes, live longer and healthier!

I don’t believe the adage that “The good die young and the obnoxious live forever.”  I believe that laughter is the best medicine and it opens my mind to creativity!

In my developmental English classes I have them write a “chain story” and in one class the last student actually killed the teacher off at the end.  Yes, the class killed me off!  I just loved the story it was such fun and they all expressed themselves so well.  They were able to see how creative they could be in just a sentence or two and how teams can work together easily and without their egos or fears taking over. Even the shy and quiet ones got to participate fully.

mindfulness-on-the-go-book-coverIn Jan Chozen Bay’s book Mindfulness on the Go, she has a great little exercise you can use with your classes she calls it “Say Yes.”  Find every opportunity to say “yes” to people. She invites us to put stickers up with the word “YES” in spots where you’ll notice them in your home and workplace.  She even encourages us to write “YES” on the back of our hand so we can see it frequently.  She writes, “This task helps us see how often we take a stance that is negative or oppositional.  If we are able to watch our mind when someone is talking to us, particularly if they are asking us to do something, we can see our thoughts forming defenses and counterarguments (page 127).”

She shares some examples of how people have used her technique.  “One person noted that an external ‘yes’ might not match the real attitude of ‘no’ inside, and that the task helped him detect a hidden constricted state of mind (page 128-29).”

So say YES to life, say YES to FUN and begin to bring it into your classrooms, work rooms, and living rooms and watch what happens.  Try it I think you’ll like having FUN for a change!

Let me know how it goes!

Shokai

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Teaching students about simplicity is very difficult in a world where there is no example of it in their lives.  We live in a society that is complex, busy, noisy, and filled with to-do lists and projects and school, studying, and working toward promotions and more.  And this is all happening today!

But to live a life of peace, joy, and contentment we will need to slow down, increase our ability to focus on one thing at a time, and find time to meditate and be mindful about each word, thought, and step we take.  When we accomplish this we will be living in a world that is full and complete and filled with peace, love, and compassion.  Fears and frustrations will diminish and laughter will appear in their place.

dad, grandad, boy playingWhen was the last time you heard yourself or your children or students or co-workers actually laugh with a loud squeal, saw them roll on the floor, and hold their tummy because it hurt so much from laughing?  When was the last time you laughed so hard tears rolled down your face like the picture you see here?

Below is an exercise for you to share with them to help them think about simplicity and how it appears in their lives. You may not be able to use it with very young students so you may have to revise it a little bit to show them how to work on one thing at a time and finish it before they go on to the next thing. You might illustrate that idea with two pictures, one that is a very simple picture of something i.e. a glass of milk, and the other that is a very busy and complex picture such as a table full of dishes and food with a glass of milk among the items on the table.

Script for Exercise:

Pretend that you have a magic wand and that magic wand allows you to recreate your life and yourself– to invent a new you.  I am going to give you a few minutes to meditate on a word and think about what it means to you and how it appears in your life, or doesn’t appear in your life.  The word is simplicity.  (short pause)

When I ring the bell I am going to give you several minutes to create something with the art supplies that you have gathered that will illustrate what you discovered about yourself during the meditation.  Be as creative as possible in expressing what you discovered and even what the new you, both internally and externally, can look like. Feel free to draw, write, color, express yourself in your own unique way.

Keep track of the time. Give the students 3-5 minutes, longer if they have experience meditating, before ringing the bell. After ringing the bell remind them what they are to be doing for the next 10-15 minutes.  Keep track of the time because you will want to save time for debriefing the activity.

You might even try this exercise yourself.  Reflecting on simplicity might lighten up your day and brighten up your life!  Try it I think you’ll like it…

In gassho,

Shokai

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I can’t say I am very talented in the area of art in any way from drawing, to painting, to music, or dance.  However, I love to look at great art, listen to great music, and watch people dance from classical to Hip Hop.  But to help your students grow in all areas of their lives it is important for us as parents, teachers, and coaches to expose them to art in all its forms.

mindful-teaching-schoeberlein-davidHere is another great tidbit for you from Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything by Deborah Schoeberlein (with Suki Sheth, PH.D.). This exercise  gives the students time to discover the artistic talents that they have hidden away in the recesses of their minds.  She calls this exercise “Drawing the Mind: Enhancement for Take 1 (For Students) (pages 93-94).[1]

Part 1: Current Mental State

  • Sit quietly. (Give students about thirty seconds before giving the next instruction.)
  • Notice what’s happening in your mind: are there thoughts, feelings, or sensations? None, some, or many?  Do they remain the same or change?
  • Draw a picture of your mental state right now in the left-hand corner of your paper. (Give students a minute or so to complete their drawings.)
  • Return to sitting quietly.
  • Fold the left-hand third of the paper (with the drawing) face-down, so the two remaining blank sections remain face-up covering it .

Upon completion of the three sections of this exercise she invites the students to share their drawings and reflect on their experiences.

I have an exercise that I do in my classes with my adults and it helps them learn how to use a mind map when asked to write a report, essay, or article. I read a one page mini autobiographical blog post that I wrote entitled “Sometimes a horse looks like a cow.” Next, we take our three breaths and then I invite them to think of a time in their life that they could write about.  Some write about something that happened when they were young, others about high school or college or marriage, or the day their first child was born. Once they have created the mind map I have them write the story.

They are all shocked about how much fun they had remembering this event, how easy it was to write the story after they took their three breaths and wrote their mind map out.  They discover that artfulness and creativity are in everyone if they just take the time to foster them, to let them appear, and to be free to grow!

Let me know how it works for you and your students!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Schoeberlein, D., Sheth, S. (2009) Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness A Guide for anyone Who teaches Anything Somerville, MA:Wisdom Publications

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Every day I get an email from “poem-a-day@poets.org” and I have been blessed by so many of the poets both old and new.  This one particularly hit me between the eyes and like an arrow in the heart as I thought of the job I had to do when both of my parents died: getting rid of their clothes.  Needless to say I kept some of them and wear them to this day and when I do they are here with me so close to my heart that  I feel safe and warm.  Thanks Emily for reminding me of why I still write, read, and love poetry!  Kathy (Shokai)

The Sadness of Clothes
Emily Fragos

When someone dies, the clothes are so sad. They have outlived
their usefulness and cannot get warm and full.
You talk to the clothes and explain that he is not coming back

as when he showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid
jacket
and had that beautiful smile on and you’d talk.
You’d go to get something and come back and he’d be gone.

You explain death to the clothes like that dream.
You tell them how much you miss the spouse
and how much you miss the pet with its little winter sweater.

You tell the worn raincoat that if you talk about it,
you will finally let grief out. The ancients etched the words
for battle and victory onto their shields and then they went out

and fought to the last breath. Words have that kind of power
you remind the clothes that remain in the drawer, arms
stubbornly
folded across the chest, or slung across the backs of chairs,

or hanging inside the dark closet. Do with us what you will,
they faintly sigh, as you close the door on them.
He is gone and no one can tell us where.

Copyright © 2015 by Emily Fragos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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The Peace Pilgrim walked across America talking about peace, working with the anti-nuclear movement, and the anti-war movement most of her adult life.

Peace PilgrimFrom 1953 until 1981 this silver-haired woman, with cheerful obedience to her calling, was a server in the world. As she approached each country hamlet or sprawling city she carried to all she met a message of peace expressed so simply: When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war (2004 page xi).[1]

Many people have never heard of her and I hope this little blog about her will inspire you to order her free book from the Friends of Peace Pilgrim at www.peacepilgrim.org or friends@peacepilgrim.org.

She walked across this country with nothing but the cloths on her back and a vest with pockets where she kept all she believed she needed, paper, pencil, envelopes, and stamps. She ate only when invited to by strangers and friends. She slept outdoors unless invited into someone’s home for shelter. She walked over 25,000 miles before her death in a tragic car accident on her way to give a talk on peace at a college. She spoke to young people on college campuses, people in churches, and parks, and on the roadside everywhere she went.

During her years on the road she was picked up and jailed several times for vagrancy because she carried no money, but she said, “they always release me once they understand (page 33). When she went in front of the judge in one state they released her because they found this letter in her vest pocket.

It read: The bearer of this note has identified herself as a Peace Pilgrim walking coast to coast to direct attention of our citizens to her desire for peace in the world. We do not know her personally as she is just passing through our state, but since undoubtedly it will be a long, hard trip for her, we wish her safe passage.” It was on official stationery and signed by the governor of the state, Howard Pyle (page 34).[2]

I know that I would not have the courage or the conviction to spend my adult life on the road for a cause such as this, but she did and was able to raise the thoughts and minds of thousands of her followers, college students, police, and politicians and ordinary citizens through her convictions and drive to see peace in the world and disarmament of all nuclear bombs that she believed could and would destroy the planet as we know it.

This war mongering again from some American politicians and their followers is just what she gave her life to upend and what brought this little book on my bookshelf into my hands this morning.

As such I end this post with a poem that she wrote. I hope you share it with everyone you know to help stop the war mongering, shouts, and actions toward war that are here among us today.

War Fever

That terrible blindness—

Which makes your foe appear like a fiend

And makes you look like fiend to him—

War fever!

 

That awful insanity—

Which makes the same act brilliant strategy for you

And foul treachery for the enemy—

War fever!

 

That frightful drunkenness—

Which muddles the mind until wrong seems like right,

Hate appears good, and murder a virtue—

War fever!

 

That horrible sickness—

For which no cure is sought, but instead

Ways are sought to spread the disease—

War fever! (page 164)[3]

 

I hope there is an antidote invented for this “war fever” before we exterminate human kind on planet Earth. As Peace Pilgrim said, “When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”[4]
This I wish for you and for all our politicians in every country around the world.

 

Namaste, Shokai

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid

 

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A friend brought in a bunch of books this morning to the zendo to share and for us to take if we wanted them.  One little book of poetry caught my eye, The Poetry of Zen, translated by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton so I took it in my hands, quickly opened it at random, and read.

When I got  home I made myself a delicious iced coffee with hazelnut creamer and sat down with great expectations.  I was not disappointed, as usual!  The poetry of the great Zen and Taoist masters is profound. I hope you enjoy this small sample as much as I did.

Shih Te

(8th Century)

Five Poems

You say, “If you want to be happy

There’s no way, but to be a hermit.

Flowers in the grove are better than brocade,

Every single season’s colors new.

Just sit by a creek and turn your head

To watch the moon’s ball roll.”

And me? I ought to be at joyous ease,

But I can’t help thinking of the people in the world.[1]

 

It seems as though if I am part of the “people in the world” and I want to be happy all I need to do is to stay in the moment, appreciate the flowers, the season’s colors, the moon, appreciate everything that comes within my vision or my grasp.  Choose to really see it, really experience it, and really let it penetrate my mind, body, and spirit.  Allow myself to be at ease and joyous.  If not, forever, at least for this moment.

Then what?  Remember that there is only “this moment” so “if you want to be happy” and have a peace filled life simply allow yourself to be happy!  Be at peace with yourself, your thoughts, and your surroundings and the happiness will spontaneously appear. Don’t try to force it or manipulate it or even hope for it, just be it.

Peace to the people in the world starts with me—right here, right now.

 

 

[1] Hamill, S. and Seaton J.P. (2007). The Poetry of Zen.  Shambhala: Boston, MA

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Someone Should Start Laughing

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
How are you?

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
What is God?

If you think that the Truth can be known
From words,

If you think that the Sun and the Ocean
Can pass through that tiny opening called the mouth,

O someone should start laughing!
Someone should start wildly Laughing Now!

Hafiz

Mitch Doshin Cantor

Mitch Doshin Cantor

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