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Posts Tagged ‘time’

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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Emerson:  “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates aajahn-brahmll whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.”[1]

Zen Ajahn Brahm: “Contentment is the opposite of a faultfinding mind.  You should develop the perception of contentment with whatever you have, wherever you are, as much as you can (page 44).”[2]

Wow!  What a concept!  In America we find ourselves often in a place where contentment seems impossible.  Especially during times like Christmas.  From the time we are very little until we die we make lists all year long asking for the newest toy on TV or the bike like your best friend has, or a new car like the neighbor down the street just got.  We long for material things and money and trips and more.

When was the last time you were content with what you had?  When was the last time you spent time in meditation and prayer where your mind was not drug off into thoughts of discontent?  Discontent with your relationships, your job, your income, with your health, or the world in general.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of people in need all over the world. In need of food, shelter, and safety from floods and bombs and more.  And we should do all we can to help them from supporting peace not war, supporting food banks, homeless shelters, veteran’s benefits, and more.  However, we must start with ourselves and our own consciousness.  Start with the little things and work your way up to the big things!  If you need to lose weight and you create a plan to do so celebrate even the smallest improvement be it losing three pounds, exercising three days in a row, or changing your diet to healthier foods this week.

Be open to “baby steps—baby steps” as Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) told his patient Bob Wiley (Bill Murry) in the movie “What about Bob.”  Find contentment in the little things wherever you can—whenever you can.   Longing for things that are out of reach makes you discontented with life and robs you of your contentment and your peace and joy in the present moment.  It doesn’t matter whether that discontentment is about things, places, or people.

We attract what we think about the most.  So if you want peace meditate and focus on peace and like a magnet you will draw it to you!  Remember contentment is hiding within it! If you want better health, or a different more fulfilling job, or a new relationship do the same and watch what happens!  Open your mind to receive your good by placing yourself in the middle of contentment!

Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

 

[1] http://www.azquotes.com/author/4490-Ralph_Waldo_Emerson/tag/contentment

[2] Brahm, A. (2014) Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond A Meditator’s Handbook. Wisdom Publications: Boston

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Such a moon—

Even the thief

Pauses to sing.

–Buson

There is a thief in all of us to some degree or other.  Some of us are good at stealing time from our family, friends, and co-workers by asking of them things we should not ask.  We steal time from our day when we could be sitting in quiet meditation, or volunteering our time at a local food bank, charity, or senior center.  Most things when they are stolen can be returned either by the person giving it back, the police finding it and returning it, or by buying a new one to replace it—but not so with time.  Once it is stolen it is gone forever.

Even the thief was wise enough to stop and spend some time admiring the moon.  In Zen we are particularly conscious of time and often look at it as never ending and eternal and now.  We cannot go back in time to recover the lost item or relationship and we cannot jump into the future to catch up with it.  The only thing we can do is be mindful and live in the now moment to the best of our ability.

We can steal dreams from our children when we hinder them from being truly who they are–by not allowing them to follow their hearts to where their dreams wish to take them.  I knew a man when I was young who sold shoes, he sold shoes because his father and his grandfather sold shoes, but in his dreams he was an artist: he thought like an artist, dreamt like an artist, and probably even sold shoes like an artist.  Then one day he told me that he had quit his job and was running away from home to BE an artist.  I wished him luck and knew his dream had been reclaimed like we do with the ticket we take back to the shoe repair shop to reclaim our newly soled shoes.  We walk out of that shop filled with dreams of wearing those shoes, dancing in those shoes, and maybe even getting a kiss under “such a moon” from that comely young man round the corner.

You may have stolen other things from someone, things I cannot mention out loud but that was in the past and today is a new day, with a new moon, and you may want to pause to peer at its beauty like a thief in the night stealing back a dream hoping that in the dawn it will reappear and manifest in your life.

My 92-year-old mother wrote a poem about the moon when she was nine years old.  As she walked from the farmhouse to the outhouse before bedtime she looked up at the pitch black sky with the billions of stars and her heart was stolen by the beauty and joy of the moon.  Here is what she wrote:

I can see the old moon

As he rocks in the sky

With a bean for a nose

And a rock for an eye.

Up up he goes into the blue sky

I can see him wrinkle his nose

And twinkle his eye.

–Iona Louise Bishop

Today is a wonderful day to see how your senses can be stolen by something or someone you love.  How about stealing some time away from the to-do list to sit and meditate?  How about looking to steal some time away from your rambling thoughts, anxieties, and fears by being mindful of your next meal?  I mean really mindful.  To really eat it, every bit of it and enjoy every sound, scent, and feel of it.

Tonight I hope you will steal some time to take a walk outside and as you look up at the evening sky let me know if you can see the old moon with that “twinkle” in his eye!

Things to focus on this week:

Step one: Begin by deciding which area of “stealing” you will focus on first.

  • Step two: Set your intention to practice that one throughout the day/week.
  • Step three: Remember to be mindful of it by writing it on a 3×5 notecard, or by putting it in your smartphone and having it remind you throughout the day.
  • Step four: Remind yourself to listen to your thoughts and observe your behaviors to see if you are practicing the principle of “not stealing.”
  • Step five: Finally, keep a journal on the precept of “not stealing” and make note of how learning to embody it in thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life. Good luck with that!

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