Gift from the Sea is my favorite book to gift. I'm never without a spare copy. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was not only the wife of a famous aviator, she was an acclaimed author. Her work spanned genres and is led by the wisdom she gained from her life of travel and inquiry. I've attached links to a few of my favorite below
People often ask me if younger kids can really meditate. My first answer is, sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t. BUT, they can start to understand and appreciate the value of sitting in meditation and following the breath.
If a family sets aside the time - even just a few daily minutes - and the space - just a quiet corner of any room - to talk about things like good silence, calming down the mind, following the breathe...young kids find their own way to the cushion.
It’s a journey and a practice that is ever-evolving.
Starting with this simple singing bowl meditation, from Sitting Together: A Family-Centered Curriculum on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Buddhist Teachings by Sumi Loundon Kim, is a great way to get them engaged. (Link to buy the book below).
Meditation Bell and Breath
To begin this meditation practice, settle into your spot and close your eyes. Now bring your awareness to your ears. I'm going to ring the bell in a just a moment, and listen carefully. Listen to the whole sound of the bell, until you cannot hear it anymore. [Ring bell and pause.] After the bell is finished ringing, listen for how many sounds you can hear outside the room. [Pause.] I am going to ring the bell one more time. when you cannot hear the sound of the bell anymore, please raise your hand. [Ring bell and Pause.]
What sounds did you hear? Its OK if you didn't know what the sound was - just describe what you heard. If there was a loud sound, how did you feel when you heard it?
Our second meditation will be to count how many breaths you take while the bell is still ringing. One breath consists of an in-breath and an out-breath together: so in, out, that one breath. Please just breath naturally, there's no need to make the breath be any different than it is. You can count on your fingers if you wish. And the you can't hear the sound of the bell anymore, please raise your hand. Let's close our eyes again. i'm going to ring the bell now, and begin counting your breaths until you can no longer hear the bell's ringing. [Ring bell and Pause.]
Show me by holding up your fingers how many breaths you took while the bell was riding.
Now our third meditation is this: In a minute I will ring the bell. When the bell rings, notice whether you are breathing in, breathing out, or in between breaths. OK, now close your eyes. [Ring bell.]
Rise your hand when I ask these questions: When the bell rang, who was breathing in? Breathing out? In between?
This is our fourth and last listening meditation. After a minute or so of silence, I'll ring the bell. During the silence, count how many breaths you take up until the moment that I ring the bell. And then of course, you can continue to meditate by listening to the sound of the bell until it fades. You can count on your fingers if you wish. Please start counting your breath now.
[Wait, ring bell.]
How many breaths did you take up until the bell rang?
This meditation can be found in Sitting Together: A Family-Centered Curriculum on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Buddhist Teachings by Sumi Loudon Kim.
I love the wisdom and practices shared in these books and refer to them all of the time! You can purchase them on Amazon by clicking the image of the book.
Looking back at the adventures and challenges of 2016, I remain grateful....not only for the safety and health we all enjoyed, but of how much I have grown. I can not help but feel a certain buzzing inside of me in this moment of January-ness. Fresh and new and hopeful and open...excited to see what emerges.
What I’m thinking of most as I start organizing and planning the New Year is – Intention.
How can I bring intention not only to each day, but also to my children?
The calendar lies out before me and I can already imagine all of the seasonal traditions and milestones that we’ll share. But I can’t help but wonder, how many are done with an honest intention and not just on autopilot? Where can I see see myself get caught up in consumerism and speed – and not a genuine presence in the moment? Of course, I am not perfect and I have no intention of striving for that, but rather a cultivation of intention throughout the seasons.
I will forgive myself when I fall short, which I’m sure will often be the case.
I’ve had so many excuses the past couple of years based on having twins and feeling overwhelmed with multiple moves and graduate school at the same time. But now I’m sitting more still and the little boys are four. It’s time.
Intentions. We invite each other to share what ideas they have for the New Year: new adventures they'd like to take, hobbies to spend more time on, or just activities that they are interested in pursuing.
Sacred Passing. Although we spend time in fun and dancing as a family, we also find a few moments to pray together, share a blessing, or do a meditation together. This year, we sat together with my new Tibetan singing bowl, and did a Metta meditation together. Metta means loving kindness and it is a practice of sending universal love to ourselves, others, and the entire planet. I was amazed at how all of my kids were very engaged in the practice, finding their own involvement.