bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: healing

sound healing seriously works

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This is Brian working on my earth angel BFF.

Every Tuesday evening after I teach my meditation class, I stick around the studio for an hour to receive sound healing from Brian Russo. I’ve been doing this for a few months now. Every week. And let me tell you.

This shit works.

Get ready for a little TMI. Last month was very stressful for me and I ended up with a hemorrhoid. Incredibly attractive, I know. I did not tell Brian before the healing because that would have been embarrassing. (And blogging about it isn’t??) During the healing, he came over to me and put a big bowl on my belly and did something that sounded a lot like an elegant, beautiful, birdsong exorcism. During this enchanting ritual, I felt that sore on my tush move to the left side of my butt and work its way straight out through my hip. I went home to check it out and it was GONE. Yes. GONE.

Okay, so that’s a one-off, right? A mere coincidence.

The very next Tuesday, I dehydrated myself by accident. Hot days, lazy with water, we’ve all been there. To add to it, I wore a high ponytail all day and my head was POUNDING. Nausea, fatigue, the works. I drank and drank and popped Advil (something I rarely do) and went to work to try to meditate my headache away with no luck. Brian came in with his bowls. I told him my head was screaming at me and he put the bowl on my head and sang his beautiful song and gonged away. Guess what? Headache GONE. Gone again.

A two-off. That’s all. This couldn’t be really working. It’s just sound, right?

I went away for a couple of weeks. Spent some time getting trained in Chakra Psychology at Kripalu, stayed a week in Maine with family. By the time I came back to town, I had a white deposit on my left tonsil that looked a whole lot like tonsillitis. Now, this is really disgusting and I am sharing way too much about my body, but I feel like I need to explain this completely so you understand the strange and wonderful power of sound.

So.

The reason I knew it wasn’t tonsillitis is that I have had an open pore on that left tonsil for years and it frequently gets filled up with grossness and turns white. This has been happening for a very, very long time. So I went to work on Tuesday night with this white thing on my throat. It hurt. I told Brian and he said, “Okay, we’ll work on that.”

He did work on it. A mini birdsong exorcism – like the last time but quieter and shorter. While this was happening, a woodpecker came to me and pecked that white nugget right out of my tonsil and swallowed it. This actually happened in my mind but it felt super real. And weird.

The next day, that white nugget on my tonsil turned into a glob. WTF?? It was supposed to go away! My biz partner Denise suggested that the sound healing may have been drawing everything up to the surface so that it could heal permanently. I liked that theory so I decided not to panic. That night, Wednesday night, the white thing was GONE. Gone again. Gone AGAIN. No soar throat. Nothing. Third time in three weeks.

So you may be wondering about the woodpecker. When I was in Maine on vacation, a gorgeous bluish-grey woodpecker flew into the glass windows at our rental. It made such a loud noise. We all went out to look as the stunned woodpecker writhed on the ground. I fired up my hands and gave it Reiki, praying for it to keep breathing: “I invoke the divine light of the creative source within. I am a clear and perfect channel. I am light. I am love. Please live. Live. Live. Fly. Live. Breathe.” I chanted those words over and over to this beautiful creature and finally watched as it passed away. I smoothed its wings and admired its perfect, soft feathers, then carried it to the woods where I laid it on a bed of leaves. It was very emotional for me. I couldn’t shake that bird. Kept thinking about his beautiful shape and feathers and softness. I think that night in my office with Brian and his bowls, the woodpecker’s spirit came to me to thank me for loving it while it was dying. Maybe it was attracted to Brian’s beautiful birdsong.

And maybe I’ll see you tonight at 7:30.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gobes is a mom, writer, and meditation teacher. She co-founded Chrysalis Meditation Center located at 28 Church Street in Winchester, Massachusetts. 

Hand off the kids, take a break

We hope to see you here in gorgeous New England! Visit http://www.insidethechrysalis.com for more details.

Peace!

Vanessa ❤

truth, time, tears

I always cry in church. And yoga class. And weddings. And sometimes when I talk to really old people or feel my daughter’s heartbeat or listen to Otis Redding or watch Steve Carell movies.

There’s something about experiencing Truth, be that in the form of teachings or introspection, music or laughter, that makes our eyes well up with tears. Not wah-wah tears, but healing tears, inspired tears, humbling tears. Grateful tears that stir from some beautiful place deep within and tell us: This is Truth and Truth is Love and only Love is real.

Sometimes we mistake Time for Truth. We think that our long relationships with Truth-based practices or teachings automatically deem us Masters. We’ve meditated for 20 years, been a parent for 40 years, have read The Bible every night for 60 years, or been married for 80 years… but Time doesn’t mean we’ve mastered these practices, or even found the lessons in them. Time doesn’t grant us wisdom. Time doesn’t empower us. Time doesn’t move us to tears. Truth does. And Truth reveals itself not in Time, but in our own readiness.

My favorite Brian Weiss quote is, “Profound understanding can be gained in five minutes or in fifty years. In the end, you will be healed, no matter how long it takes.”

When we are ready, we awaken. When we are ready, we let go. When we are ready, we align. When we are ready, we honor our Truth by living it to the best of our abilities. It’s not always easy, but it’s from the point of readiness that healing begins and Truth flows…

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Vanessa serves the Boston area, teaching kids and caregivers how to meditate. To learn more visit: www.vanessagobes.com.

sobbing on the front lawn: breakdown at the yard sale

Is there anything more cathartic than a yard sale? So often we talk about lightening our heavy loads in an emotional way, but there’s no need for metaphor when we physically disencumber 1500 pounds of impulse buys from our attics and basements. The purge is deeply connected to an emotional unraveling that is both healing and heartbreaking.

I hosted a neighborhood yard sale over the weekend. On Saturday morning, my front lawn became a graveyard for misfit decor, obsolete electronics, outgrown toys, and battered sports equipment. We amateur vendors watched with relief as our old treasures were released from purgatory by folks who promised to breathe life back into them.

I confess, I struggled with the purge. I specifically struggled with several large Rubbermaid bins full of clothing samples, ghosts of a profession past. I spent much of my 20s and 30s as a serial entrepreneur, birthing small businesses that fizzled and died before maturity. My boldest endeavor was a golf apparel line for women and children. It survived three years, until my last child came into the world; when I realized I didn’t want to “do it all” anymore. So I packed up my trade show booth, fell out of touch with customers, and watched from the nursing rocker as a thick layer of dust settled on my sewing machine.

I hadn’t ventured into business since.

Though the golf business had been peacefully resting six feet under for many years, I still felt pangs of guilt, shame, and regret when I saw those bins full of clothes, when I thought about what I spent on that start-up, what others might think of me for giving it up, and, of course, what I could’ve been. I felt stuck, unable to go forward or backward, in a purgatory of my own.

Those Rubbermaid bins were my hair shirt. They held me back, haunting me, quietly murmuring, “You never finish anything, Vanessa. Good ideas. No follow through. Why bother starting anything new when you’re born to fail?”

They whispered mean things to me, but I kept them anyway. Because there’s something beautifully painful about suffering, about knowing we’re inadequate.

Shortcomings and insufficiencies are ghost stories we know so well. We can recite every line by heart. And we are strangely comfortable with them. If our dark tales weren’t here, if our lack, our suffering wasn’t holding us back, we’d have to step fully into that bright loving light that forces us to live fully. Living fully can be scary. There’s risk in the fullness. What if we fail? What if we disappoint?

But the scariest thing for me is always this: What if I succeed? What if I do so well that I need to be responsible for one more thing? Can I carry the weight of accountability? Am I disciplined enough to manage a new endeavor? Am I good enough? Am I worthy?

Oh my God.

Am I worthy?

So I stared down those Rubbermaid bins last week, which just so happened to be the same week I took on my first paying meditation students. I looked at those bins and I threatened: “It’s you or me.”

And I chose me. (I’m bawling typing this right now, by the way.)

I dragged the bins onto my lawn last Saturday, but I didn’t take the covers off. Maybe I was only half ready to let them go.

Two hours into the sale, an old lady started poking around at my ghosts and said, “I’ll give you $10 for everything in this box.”

“TEN DOLLARS?” I said, “You could start a whole business with what’s in this box. There’s thousands of dollars worth of retail merchandise in this b–”

The lady looked at me in a way that I can only describe as neutral.

I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, “Okay, it’s yours for twenty.”

“I’m not buying it for me,” said the old lady. “I’m bringing it to Haiti for mission.”

I suddenly had a visual of a Haitian woman walking slowly down a bustling tropical street, wearing my light, breathable golf clothes, looking crisp and cool in the hot, hot sun. I hauled out every bin I had, transferred their contents into white Glad bags, and recruited a friend to carry my ghosts into the old lady’s station wagon. I hugged her 35 times then accepted her ten bucks gratefully.

And then I sobbed.

www.vanessagobes.com

 Please share this with your favorite entrepreneur… or yard saler. 

My Rubbermaid bins looking sweet and innocent, now empty and stacked in a closet.

My Rubbermaid bins looking sweet and innocent, now empty and stacked in a closet.

“our children are our greatest teachers”

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I awoke this morning to the sound of my son vomiting on the floor next to my bed. My husband nursed him for an hour before I took over. I set him up on the couch with a pillow and blankie, Saltines, a cup of water, and a tupperware container. It’s just after noontime now, and he’s thrown up into that container about six more times. Poor baby.

I asked him if I could do a little Reiki (a Japanese practice of healing hands) on him, and he weakly nodded his head while he stretched his body long on the couch. I said my invocation aloud: “I invoke the divine light of the creative source within. I am a clear and perfect channel. I am light. I am love.” A few ritual steps later, I was laying my warm hands on his head, beginning the healing practice.

His dark eyes raised to mine and silently said, “Thank you for helping me, Momma.” I smiled and slowly moved my hands down his body, resting on his chest, his quickened heartbeat slowing under the weight of my palms. I watched his veins pulse to the rhythm of his heart and repeated my invocation, pausing on the phrase “creative light within.”

I’ve uttered those words during healings plenty of times, believing that I am the channel for something divine that lives outside of myself, imagining a gorgeous light funneling into my body through my crown chakra to strengthen my energy and inspire healing. As if divine energy comes to me because I call for it. As if I am inviting it for a boost of strength.

Feeling my son’s heart beat under my hands, I suddenly realized that I am the source. I am the divine. God is whole within me. I don’t invite energy into my body; the power is not outside of myself. I don’t invoke it from the great beyond. I release it through my own ego’s surrender. The creative source is within me and my chakras are the portals that connect my energy to the those in the universe who are available to me. Like my baby boy.

I set my ego aside so that the purest light and love within me (that exists within each of us), could shine and connect and heal. I touched my forehead to his and whispered, “You are sick for me today. To teach me this lesson. And I’m so grateful.” My throat felt tight and my ears pulsed as tears started to burn my eyes. “I’ve learned the lesson, buddy. You don’t have to be sick anymore. No more throwing up.”

I sat and reflected for a moment, thinking about all the lessons kids teach parents, thinking about the sacrifices they make for us so we can learn the power of love. I imagined my son and I as two souls long before our birth, planning our journey together, him saying, “I’ll feel this pain so you can learn, because I love you.”

Our children are our greatest teachers. Today I’m understanding this old saying in a whole new light.

From mine to yours,
Vanessa

http://www.vanessagobes.com

how to tame your PMS and take back your life

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I have a love/hate relationship with my period.  I love it because my uterus is downright miraculous and menstruation is its required maintenance.  I hate it because tampons give me a headache and PMS gives me a bad attitude.  

Have you ever read The Red Tent?  It’s the story of Jacob and his multitude of wives; the red tent is the annex where Biblical village women would go when they were OTR, though back then it would be more appropriate to say OTH (On The Hay).  Our female ancestors menstruated simultaneously and would leave their men and boys in the competent hands of young girls who hadn’t yet started monthly bleeding and old women who’d survived the transition out of the cycle.  So basically, once a month, young women enjoyed a whole week spinning stories and teaching each other feminine skills in a cozy tent without men demanding seconds of mutton stew or begging for blow jobs.  Honestly, I think it sounds kind of awesome.  I’m seriously considering erecting a red tent in my backyard.

The only reason I hesitate to bunk with a bunch of menstruating modern chicks is that most of us are crazy.  We women are generally so out of touch with natural body rhythms that when the crazies set in we can’t see that it’s all just hormonal hocus-pocus.  We pick fights with friends, feel offended by co-workers, convince ourselves that our children are purposely not flushing their poops to spite us.  We weep and we lash out and we oversleep, all the while believing whole-heartedly that this is who we are.  But here’s the newsflash:  We are not psychos.  We have PMS.  And we are so totally disconnected that we accept PMS as our normal state of being.

Several years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of NOW.  (Most likely anyone hanging out on this website has read it, so I won’t recap.)  Back in 2011 I responded to his study on the pain body with a rant on one of my blogs:

During his description of how to manage the pain body, Tolle strolls a bit through the forbidden forest:  PMS.  He actually calls it “menses,” causing me to choke on my pink lemonade.  Menses?  Who says that?  

Whenever a man talks about PMS or periods, I reactively roll my eyes, and Tolle is no exception.  But to my surprise, he is onto something profound.  During a woman’s menstrual cycle, he says, there is “an opportunity for the most powerful spiritual practice, and a rapid transmutation of all past pain becomes possible.”  He invites us hormonal bitches to observe the painful and emotional waves of PMS rather than be pulled down and drown by them.  A fast track to enlightenment via the feminine aisle?  Well, shit.  I gotta try this.

My first problem appears to be that when I’m behaving like a raving lunatic I don’t connect it to hormones.  For two weeks of every month, Aunt Flo moves in with her crappy attitude, her heavy suitcases, and her complaints about my cooking;  she tosses and turns in my bed, she tries to tell me how to manage my relationships, she pigs out on my chocolate cookies.  Half my adult life, I’ve shared a home with this cranky old rag…   

Screeeeeeeeccchhhh!  Hold up!  There it is.  The shift in perception.  I’ll reiterate because this is big:  Half of my adult life (2 weeks each month) operates under Aunt Flo’s grueling regime.  I’m not the freak.  She is!  Awakening to this fact was the first step in keeping Flo contained in her guest suite so I could move around my home in peace.

So this is it, ladies.  The big how-to in reclaiming your body, your emotions, your awareness:  Observe your behavior in the 7-10 days before your period begins.  Each time you are short with your boyfriend or hypercritical of your mother-in-law, each time you feel insecure about a relationship or explosively frustrated with your kids, take a breath and observe.  Watch as if you’re hovering over yourself like a sweet Midol angel.  Don’t judge the behavior.  Just notice who’s doing the talking in your head.  Is the voice loving?   If the voice is not loving, it’s not you.  It’s that curmudgeon Aunt Flo, otherwise known as your pain body.

These observations may quiet your pain body immediately.  But it’s possible that longer term observation will be required.  It depends how attached you are to your pain.  We get used to having the pain around, we accept the pain as normal, the pain becomes our story, we convince ourselves that life is pain.  But this simply isn’t so.

Meditation is the absolute best catalyst in detaching from habitual beliefs.  And there are some pretty fantastic side effects.  When I meditate, I better maintain composure, especially when I’m PMSing (yes, I use PMS as an action verb).  I still get pissed and crazy and squeezy, but not for very long.  The feelings become more like a motorcycle gang joyriding past my house on a quiet Sunday.  The ground rumbles, my heart pumps faster,  the engine noise fills every square inch of space around me; but within a few minutes, the last biker is out of sight, the engines are barely audible, and my heartbeat resumes its rhythmic thump-bump.

Another side effect is physical healing.  A consistent meditation practice will do this:  diminish cramps, diarrhea, cramps, headaches, cramps, cramps, and cramps.  When we meditate we are simply more aware.  We are more thoughtful about the food we eat, the cocktails we drink, and the lifestyle choices we make.  When we meditate we create opportunities for our bodies to heal.  When we are peaceful in our minds, we are peaceful in our bodies.  All of our inner bits are connected, after all.

Meditation isn’t complicated.  There’s really nothing to it.  Just sit down, close your eyes, and breathe.  Try to feel your heart beating.  Try to sense the flow of blood under your skin.  When your mind starts to wander and chit-chat with Aunt Flo, watch it without judgment, then ask it nicely to be quiet so you can focus on your breath and your heartbeat.  Sit for 90 seconds if that’s all you can do.  The next time you sit it’ll be easier.  You might make it to two minutes.  The next time three and so forth.

Go ahead and experiment.  Try it and see if it works.  You are your own best teacher.  The proof will be in your period.

Please share this with the PMSy women in your life.  (Did you know PMS is an adjective, too?)

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

step-by-step: how to teach your young kids to meditate

This is a script that I loosely followed while teaching the children in my town’s public elementary school to meditate.  I thought it might be helpful for other parents who’d like to do it with their own children, with scouting troops, with church youth groups, with summer campers, with classrooms.  My best advice in doing this is to be animated.  Don’t be afraid to ad-lib or get silly.  The kids will respond beautifully.

For children grades 2-5

Hi, my name is ________________.   I’m here to teach you a way to be happy.  Not haha happy.  Not that-was-a-funny-movie happy.  Or I-love-ice-cream happy.  Not even I-just-got-a-new-puppy happy.  I mean heart happy.  We’re going to use a tool to help us learn how to do that.  Can anyone imagine what our special happiness tool could be?

 

The thing I’m thinking of is very close by.  It’s free, it’s super easy to find and it does not require assembly or a special carrying case.  It’s as close as your breath….  In fact, it IS your breath.

 

Just by breathing we can help ourselves find happiness.  And we can use special breathing tricks to help us.  But to be good at anything, what do we need to do?  Practice!  Right.  Just like soccer or piano or drawing.  If you want to be good at something, you need to practice.

 

But before we start practicing our breath work, I want you to help me with a check list.  You don’t need to raise your hand, just check a little box in your head if you’ve ever experienced the following things:

 

  • Had a big fight with someone at home
  • Forgot to turn in your homework
  • Couldn’t sleep because you kept thinking about something
  • Felt embarrassed in front of your friends
  • Worried about something happening in the world
  • Got the sillies and found yourself in trouble
  • Was scared on a carnival ride
  • Felt out of control with excitement before a big day
  • Knew the answer but felt shy to raise your hand in class
  • Got left out of a party or outing with friends

 

I’ve felt all of those things.  And I bet you have, too.  And if you haven’t yet, you will.  No one is exempt from this.  We all feel bad sometimes.  We all mess things up.  We all feel insecure.   You, me, the most popular kid in school, the bully down the hall, the star on the basketball court.  Everyone.  And it’s okay to feel these things.  These feelings are important parts of being a person.  The bad stuff lets us know when something’s wrong so we can work to ease those feelings when they’re no longer useful.   Once we acknowledge the bad stuff and send it packing, we can create more open space for the good stuff that reminds us how wonderful it feels to be alive.  Each and every one of us deserves to know happiness and success, acceptance and love.  And we can achieve these beneficial feelings when we activate our superpowers.  We are all born with super strength.  No one is exempt from that either.  We’ll talk more on how to use your superpowers later but I don’t want you to forget you have them, so let’s pull on our super suits, tie on our super capes and adjust our flashy masks.  Check to make sure our tool belts are on tight.

 

Okay, good.  So when we can find a comfortable balance amongst all these feelings, we can feel peaceful.  Composed.

 

What does composure mean?  Let me try to help you understand.  Listen to this.

 

(Play a bit of Mozart.)

 

Can you hear how everything is in harmony?  All of the pieces of the orchestra are very different.  Some are deep, some are light, some sound a little sad, some sound cheerful or even silly.  But when they work together they create something balanced, productive and beautiful – something composed.  In order to maintain this composure, the musicians need to practice.  They need to dedicate time.  They need to focus.

 

We are like that.  In our lives, we juggle lots of different feelings.  They’re all important.  But when we can make all those diverse feelings work together and still feel balanced, we can maintain composure.  When we can engage that composure throughout the day, our frequency begins to rise.

 

Frequency is a big word.  It’s like the radio station our lives are tuned into.  You can tune into frustration and negativity or you can tune into love and empowerment.  Which one would you like to tune into?

 

Yes, me, too.  So think of frequency like energy – and get those super suits ready.  When it’s on the rise, we’re getting happier and happier.  We can use our super powers to feel good and think clearly.  And when our frequency rises, the people around us can feel it and believe it or not, our awesomely fast frequency helps others.  Just by being fast.  Superhero fast.

 

Understanding that we are all very much the same may help in relieving some of the confusion we feel when we’re angry or sad or anxious.    And we can team up that understanding with meditation to cool our own jets and ease the stressful feelings we’re carrying around.

 

Who has heard the word meditation before?

 

Meditation is a quiet time to connect with our breath, to be still, to remember that right here, right now, we are alive and safe and okay.  When we meditate, we remember to treat our bodies well, to use kind words with others and think before we speak, to think clear, useful thoughts.  When our thoughts are good, our lives will be good.

 

For some people, this comes naturally.  But most of us need to practice to achieve that state of peace and harmony, which we can find by taking a moment to TUNE IN.

 

Times to use meditation:

  • While taking exams and quizzes (you know the answers but your jitters keep you from remembering clearly)
  • Leading up to big celebrations, holidays, vacations or events (when you’re so excited that you’re having a hard time sitting still or thinking clearly)
  • Before games, recitals, performances (visualization helps you prepare by creating a vision for your future)
  • During arguments with friends or family members (taking time to breathe will calm you down so you can use your most compassionate voice)
  • In uncomfortable social situations (mindfulness will bring you back to your personal truth and keep you out of trouble when trouble is tempting)
  • To ease depression or sadness (bringing your thoughts to center will connect you to “what is” instead of “what was” or “what might be”)

 

There are many ways to meditate.   But we always begin by breathing.  So let’s sit straight in our seats, feet on the floor, spine long, chin tucked in, head reaching to the ceiling.  Place your hands in your lap, palms up and close your eyes completely.  Now think of yourself as breathing “on purpose”.  Start with a deep inhale, filling your lungs as much as you can and releasing the breath, completely emptying your lungs.  Try it two more times with me.  Now breathe in and out through your nose naturally and notice the way your body feels from the inside.  The chair supporting your weight, your hands relaxed on your legs, the air touching your skin, your soft belly rising and falling with every breath.  If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place.  Let’s breathe for one more minute and when the time is up, I’ll invite the bell as a signal to end this meditation.

 

(Wait one minute.  Invite bell.)

 

A great tool to help us is this bell.  You can think of the bell as a peaceful voice, inviting you to take a breath.  You can accept this invitation each time you hear any bell.  Keep your ears open for school bells, church bells, door bells – and use their sound as an opportunity to stop what you’re doing and breathe.  Tell the people around you what you’re doing and invite them to stop and breathe, too.  Use it as a reminder to think about your breath and about being connected to the earth and about being a perfectly imperfect human being.  Listen to the way the bell resonates and stay still and quiet until you can no longer hear its sound.

 

The Pebble Meditation is visual type of meditation that we can use to relax.  I learned it from a book called Planting Seeds, written by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh.  He worked with Martin Luther King Jr. to bring peace to America and to his own country Vietnam during a tough time in our countries’ histories.  And he’s continued to help us find peace since.  He especially loves to help children like you.  So here we go.  Each of you can close your eyes.  Imagine that there’s a black movie screen behind your forehead and you are a film director.  You choose all of the pictures in the movie.  Let me guide you the first time.

 

Imagine a flower.  Any color.  See its petals, its center, its softness, its beauty.

Imagine a mountain.  The weather around it is stormy, but deep inside the center of the mountian, it’s solid and still and quiet.

Imagine a clear, still, placid lake.  See the way the water reflects the sky above and the trees around like a mirror.

Imagine the sky.  See the clouds and the sun.  See a bird wheeling through the air, turning and twisting, happy and free.

 

Now, I’m going to share Thich Nhat Hanh’s Pebble Meditation.  As I share this meditation, I want you to imagine yourself as really being the things I say.

 

Pebble Meditation:

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.

Breathing out, I feel fresh.

 

Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.

Breathing out, I feel solid.

 

Breathing in, I see myself as still water.

Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.

 

Breathing in, I see myself as space.

Breathing out, I feel free.

 

Flower, in, Fresh, out (3X)

Mountain, in, Solid, out (3X)

Still water, in, Reflecting, out (3X)

Space, in, Free, out (3X)

 

(Invite bell.)

 

How do you feel?  Do you have any questions?  There are lots of ways to meditate and you can learn more about a mindfulness practice at the library or online.

 

In order to enjoy the benefits of meditation, we need to practice.  Try to find a few minutes every day to sit and be quiet.  Maybe for a minute or two after your alarm clock rings.  Maybe when you get home from school.  Maybe in bed at night when your mind is racing or before you start your homework.  As you work on your practice, you will find that you’ll notice your breathing all day long.  And that’s when you’ll know you’re getting really good at it.

 

Grades K-1 (Have kids sit on a line in a circle.)

 

Hi I’m ________________.  I’m here to teach you a way to get happy.  Not haha happy.  I  mean heart happy.  But to be really good at something, what do we have to do?  Practice!  We’re going to practice something called meditation today.  Does anyone know what this is?

(While you say the following sentence, use your fists to demonstrate the way these feelings look – ball up your hands and squeeze then hold them to your mouth as if you’re terrified, punch the air like you’re fighting, pump them in the air as if you’re excited, squeeze the seat bottom and bounce like you can’t sit still, pretend to hug something as if you can’t squeeze it tight enough.  Give yourself over to the acting – the kids won’t judge and it’ll help them understand.)

Have you ever felt squeezey?  We ball up our fists so tight like this.  We feel Scared.  Angry.  Excited.  Overwhelmed by love.  (This puppy is so cuuuuutte!)  Fidgety.  Meditation helps us to control our minds so that when these challenging feelings pop up, we can let them go and make our hearts happy and peaceful.  We can relax our bodies and our squeezey hands.  It starts with breathing deeply.  When I ring this bell, I’d like everyone to take three beautiful breaths.  Then we’ll stand up and start moving our bodies mindfully.  Stand in a circle and be sure not to touch anyone else’s body.

 

Invite the bell.  Walking meditation…

 

Imagine walking through very deep snow, leaving deep footprints.

Imagine walking on thin ice, careful not to break it.

Walk like a business person.

like a big hairy beast.

like a robot.

like a burglar.

like a soldier.

like you are wearing a big crown.

like you are sad.

like you are happy.

like you are scared.

on a tight rope.

like a cat.

on hot coals.

like a toddler baby.

elephant.

shy

confident.

skipping across stones.

really fast.

 

Now walk really slow.  Notice how the heel of your foot touches the floor.  Lift and move your other foot slowly.  Can you feel how your body keeps its balance?  Let your body relax in each step and put all of your weight on the floor.  Breathe deeply.  Now breathe in whenever you lift your foot and breathe out whenever you place it down.  Walk this way for one minute.

 

When I invite the bell, I want you to stop walking and sit down where you are.  Then close your eyes.  Walking is a fun way to calm down, but we can also calm down by breathing deeply.  And no one even has to know we’re doing it.  Let’s try that now.  We’re going to do some square breathing.  As you breathe in count to 4.  When you reach the top of the breath hold it there and count to 4.  Then release the breath to the count of 4.  Then wait at the bottom of the breath for the count of 4.  I’ll snap my fingers 4 times while we breathe and help you keep track.

 

(Do 3 square breaths together.)

 

Now take 3 deep breaths.  Feel the way your body connects to the floor underneath you.  Relax your jaw, your hands, your belly.  If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place. Reach your head high to the ceiling and draw your shoulders back.  Let your body feel heavy and loose.  We’re going to do one more meditation.  It’s called The Pebble Meditation.

 

(Use same meditation written above.)

 

Invite the bell.  Anytime you hear a bell ring, I want you to stop what you’re doing and take three breaths.  Church bells, school bells, door bells, cow bells…  any bells.

 

Try to do this at home.  Teach your family and friends.

Have a peaceful day.

 

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

 

suffering: oh, how we love a good train wreck

Last week I shared a traumatic experience with readers.  I was rewarded, in a weird way, with well over 300 hits on that post over 2 days.  Now, I’ve gotta say…  I have logged 200 plus posts in my 2 years of blogging: uplifting, funny, emotional, quirky, informational posts that I write with loving intent.  Never once have I received that many hits on a post in such a short amount of time.

What this tells me, is that people love a good train wreck.

We’re all just a bunch of rubberneckers.  None of us can resist the temptation of watching someone suffer.  We love to watch each other burn, don’t we?  Public hangings, courtroom dramas, war footage, animal attacks, car accidents, couples arguing on the sidewalk, school kids fighting after class, anything on Jerry Springer…  We gather around with curiosity to watch as others suffer.  Sick and twisty, right?  But we’ve all done it.

And this is nothing new.  When I read books or watch movies about King Henry’s England (one of my fave topics) I’m always amazed to see mothers and fathers bringing their kids to watch public executions.  There is one scene in the movie Elizabeth I, in which QEI is tricked into thinking her beloved Jewish doctor, Dr. Lopez, is poisoning her.  She feels she has no choice but to have him executed.  We are flashed forward to a grizzly torture scene where Dr. Lopez watches as his very own intestines are cut out of his body and burned.  Did I mention he is still alive watching this???  Oh, and there are families standing around cheering?  Horrid.  But we watch anyway.

We are voyeurs.

We are curious.

We are glad it’s not us.

We might even feel happy it’s them.

Suffering doesn’t always mean blood and guts.  Suffering can be much more benign.  And I’d bet that we can all relate to certain joys and reliefs found in observing others’ pain.  Watching that woman who always wins first place as she falls down during a race.  (Good, she won’t win this time.)  Finding out your son didn’t make the varsity soccer team, but your neighbor’s son didn’t make it either.  (Phew, he’s not the only one who was cut.)  Learning your co-worker has to cancel his vacation to Barbados b/c a storm damaged his hotel.  (Ha!  Now he’s stuck here like the rest of us.)

There’s nothing to feel bad about.  These are things we think b/c we are wired to think this way.  But.  (There’s always a But.)  We don’t have to think this way.  These thoughts are not creating a better world.  These thoughts are holding us back from standing in the spotlight that is meant to shine on us.  Instead of focusing attention on our own identities, our own stories, our own intentions, we are busy applauding someone else’s failures or feeling jealous of other people’s successful journeys.

Each of us has a path designed specifically for ourselves.  Once we set our intentions straight and start working towards our goals, there won’t be any time to watch others burn.  In fact, when we do come across others’ moments of suffering, we will discover a heightened sense of compassion.  Successful people help others succeed.  Michelle Obama said this beautifully at the DNC last month:

When we succeed in our own stories, we will no longer have the desire to poo poo other people’s efforts to live their best lives.  We can succeed by living mindfully, compassionately, purposefully…  and with intention.

One important addition to today’s story:  I know that spike wasn’t all about rubbernecking.  The high traffic last week tells me something else, something that especially warms my heart.  There are a lot of mommies, friends and readers who appreciated the peek inside a really horrible day in my house.  Through my embarrassing admission, others could see their own households reflected.  And through this reflection might spark the desire to actively heal.  I know that’s what it did for me.  And for that, I’m totally in love with you.  🙂  Well, then again, I was pretty much in love with you already anyway.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa