Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Impact of Mindfulness

Colin Beavan, No Impact Man, has a great article on Mindfulness in regard to waste (just the topic of this blog!)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mindful paper use

We are hoarders of paper at our house. Scrap artwork? Uh, yeah. Envelope? Yes, please. Cereal box? Oh yes! Cardboard box? Yay!!!

I pretty much never get unused paper, and even that is secondhand or promotional notepads or discards. The kids are used to drawing on their own old artwork, and go to the paper bin for anything from magazines to old school worksheets. They re-color old coloring, turn it into origami, then paper airplanes, then for collages. Kids can understand that paper comes from trees, so it's good to use less and help them live - for shade, birds, fruit, and more.

I, in turn, save those leftovers for notepads or grocery lists or journal paper. When they finally make it to the recycle bin, they are sometimes rescued for making new paper, projects, origami - or they make their way out to be turned into new paper.

Mindfulness, kids, technology

I was going to write a post on technology and how we and our kids are addicted, and how we should get off for the sake of the planet, but this one just pretty much did it for me, for adults at least:

Practical tips here:

For kids, I try sometimes to give them the first choice of something real over a technology solution:

Instead of...
a video game - play a board game
Instead of...
Netflix - watch live television (if you have a DVR, pause during ads and then forward), or an audiobook
Instead of...
Kindle - read a paper book (from the library!)
Instead of...
Looking it up online - check an encyclopedia or the library Instead of...
Audiobooks - read or tell them a story
Instead of...
A movie - see a play
Instead of...
Email - send a card or letter
Instead of...
Text - make a phone call
Instead of...
Online - go offline!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mindful bathing

Children love water. We water plants, wash hands, bathe.

Here, whike we are in India, the scarcity of water makes it all the more precious. We fill a bucket with heated water, then add cold water until just right. The kids get a mug with which to pour water on their bodies, and a half bar of glycerin soap. They get to play, enjoy the feel of the water on their skin as long as they like, and save any leftover water for the next person!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mindful consoling

As parents, we are often consoling our children, and asking obvious questions - did you fall? Are you okay?

I am trying to take a moment to just be - here, lean in,let me hold you, oh, darling, I'm here. I'm here, and now. I'm holding her, present, breathing, needing nothing more. Her tears smear my cheeks, my neck. No stuff, no toys.  We are consuming nothing but space and oxygen. This is green, this is mindful, this is just a few moments of totally present.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Meditation in bed

We are in India - hot and jetlagged. I awake and it's only 4am, kids turn over next to me in our one shared bed, awakening and asleep.

I consider just waking up, but I know it will stir the household, plus my body needs rest. My mind is awake. So I start to breathe. Just a few deep breaths lying down. My back hurts, so I raise my knees.

My breath deepens, then flows to a rhythm that's familiar. I feel my soft belly, the one that once housed life, rise and fall. I drift to memories of their birth, then return, breathing.

My body grows languorous. It grounds into the bed, a feeling of sinking. I breathe and return.

My mind stills. I breathe.

My little one stirs beside me, "Amma," she calls.

Yes, I breathe. I am here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mindfulness in flight

It's not an occasion that happens to everyone, but travel is kind of its own retreat. International travel with children might well be a trial by fire.

You just have to let go during travel - go through security, do a lot of standing around, be alert and ready, wait at the gate, watch your bags, sit, buckle, eat when meals are served, be quiet when the lights are off, steady yourself through turbulence, prepare for landing. It parallels a meditation session, in a way.

Here I am, a seven hour flight to Frankfurt, not too bad by overseas flight standards. Over four hours in, I have watched no movies or TV (yet), though I plan to. Whike children watched TV and explored, here is what I did:

- got in and settled with a drink, sipping slowly and answering my children's excited questions, helping them get settled and find their headphones and stuff
- exercises - eyes and in-seat yoga and breathing and abs sitting up and stretches
- mindful walk to and from bathroom
- ate a lunch silently complete with champagne and tea while daughter ate hers and I fed her
- wrote three blog posts and sent four emails and took a photo and sent an ecard
- gratitude and journaling
- compassion and lovingkindness practice
- read a full magazine article about climate change and today's page in Simple Abundance
- did some brain teaser games
- filled out some calendars for July and August
- said some Sanskrit prayers
- sang to myself
- drawing for fun
- got kids some extra snacks and vitamins from bags
- watched the flight route
- meditation for 40 minutes

It has been a lovely trip, and I might never have thought plane travel without a good book or show possible otherwise. Of course I am lucky the children aren't having tantrums or crying, that I have let them watch as much as they want, eat when they want, sleep or not - they are old enough to mostly occupy themselves.  Flights when my children were younger were horribly tough, but sweet in different ways (ok, sometimes only in retrospect).

My daughter is napping now as the lights are off! I think I will watch something uplifting, then rest, too.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Mindfulness, green, and children

If I were to rename this blog, I would call it Green Mom Sangha, because those three cover the things I am most passionate about and interested in and love - being sustainable in everyday life, sharing and being with my kids, and mindfulness, to which I have devoted more time lately.

There are many, many books, blogs and other materials available to those who wish to bring mindfulness to parenting, and likewise being mindfully green is an emerging, growing area. Still, if you want to be green AND mindful with your kids, you have only a few small choices, and not necessarily instructions. So...I hope to fill this gap with a few posts. Please let me know if this is useful to you!

I'll start with getting outside. Fresh air helps children appreciate nature to want to take care of it, and a view of trees is calming, giving oxygen. From the point of view of mindfulness it gives us a lesson in interconnectedness and impermanence, as trees grow, leaves fall, flowers bloom and wilt, then compost below to give new life.

A simple way with little ones is to go for a walk. A stroller for the younger ones is fine. They may have food and drink but avoid other distractions for yourself and them. Put away the phone. Take out the earbuds. Carry a single bag to pick up trash along the way.

Stroller and walking meditation

Walk - slowly and deliberately. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the handles in your hands, the flex of your toes.

Notice the breeze on your face, the ground before you. Each step is a lift, a movement, a careful placing of your foot. Bring your attention to your breath - in and out.

When your child needs your attention, stop the stroller. Go to her kindly, and help silently, with a gentle smile. If she is screaming, console her as long as she needs. If he wants to go back, turn around. If they want to examine rocks, let them. If they ask a question, answer. If you or they see trash, pick it up.  If you see something beautiful you want to share, stop and share it. This is the moment.

When your are stopped, breathe. Slow your walking. Focus on the in and out of the breath. You may wish to count your steps or your breaths.

When thoughts arise, stop to return your focus to the breath, or slow down. You are here, now, in the ground under your feet. You are solid. You are all together, and free.