Thich Nhat Hahn - Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children

87 year-old Vietnamese Buddhist monk – Thich Nhat Hahn – has been an influential figure in the West since the 1960’s – e.g., he was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967.  Currently, he lives in France where he founded the Plum Village community, which offers retreats and other educational opportunities.  Hahn believes in the importance of providing children with the foundations for a mindful and compassionate life.  As a result, he has produced a book compiling hands-on activities to help children and adults relieve stress and increase mindfulness – Planting Seeds: Practicing mindfulness with children.

One example of using a hands-on method to help children visualize a concept is found in the ‘sand in a glass of water’ experiment.  Sand is poured into a glass full of water and then vigorously stirred by a child – resulting in a whirling cloudy mixture.  However, when a bell is rung, the child stops stirring and watches as the sand slowly settles to the bottom of the glass leaving the water clear.  You guessed it… the sand represents our thoughts which can race around and cloud our awareness, but when we meditate and calm our mind, clarity is the natural state. 

A video of this simple experiment can be found here.

The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

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