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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.
When 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…
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Posted in cause and effect, chant, death, education, Ethics, fears, human race, love, meditation, Metta, Mindfulness, self-help, training, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen, tagged anger, anxiety, awakservice, Buddha, Buddhism, challenges, college, compassion, Emerson, fear, goals, happiness, health, help others, joy, life, live life fully, love, meditation, mindfulness, Odelia Floris, patience, peace, prayer, sitting, students, suffering, teaching, Unity Church, wisdom, Zazen, Zen, Zen Buddhism on September 24, 2016|
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Emerson: Live, let live and help live.
Zen: Evening Gatha [Prayer]
Let me respectfully remind you.
Birth and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes and opportunity is lost.
We should all strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take Heed!
Do not squander your life!
Both of these quotes are profound in so many ways. Each tests us to live our lives fully every day and make a difference in the world in which we live. Notice that each asks us to go beyond our “self” and to help others. To live life fully, to let others lead their lives fully, and to help those who need help so they too can live life fully.
How have you done that today? How about this week, month, or year? Every time you open the door for someone with their arms full of packages, or let someone in front of you in a traffic jam, or bring a meal to a sick neighbor you are “awake.” Awake to the needs of another. You have taken the opportunity to think of someone other than yourself, to identify a need, no matter how small it may seem—you have helped meet that need for another.
When you are walking through life looking down at your cellphone checking your Facebook page or texting someone—you are missing life at its fullest. You may have missed an opportunity to help a stranger or a friend. When you are focused on self only you miss many opportunities to live.
Just the other day I was teaching at the college on the 11th floor when we had a fire scare and everyone was told to immediately exit the building. So all 16 of my students and I walked those 11 floors down to the street. One of them needed extra attention as she was pregnant. I rushed ahead so that I could make sure all of my students were out of the building and safe. As one of them walked through the door I was holding for them he said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that. Why are you holding the door for all of us and the others?” The question had never come into my mind. “Live, let live and help live” I guess.
Think of the fireman who runs into the fire, not away from it. To the policeman or security guard who runs toward the shooter in a mall. Or a teacher who stands in front of the children to protect them from the bullets being sprayed in his or her classroom.
Awaken, Take Heed! Do not squander your life! Find your purpose each and every day because time swiftly passes by and you do not want to lose the opportunity to be of service to others to go beyond yourself wherever and whenever you can. Even if it’s simply to hold the door for another. Let me know how that goes!
In gassho, Shokai
(1) Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com (page 9)
(2) Southern Palm Zen Group Service Handbook, Mitch Doshin Cantor.
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