Ship Building: mindfulness in education network

If you want to build a ship, then don’t drum up men to gather wood, give orders and divide the work. Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea.   Antoine de Saint-Exupery

bryn mawr mien ~d nelson

bryn mawr mien ~d nelson

The teacher inside bows to you,
teachers, whether  in classrooms, on the web
or elsewhere, for gifting now thriving students
your guidance on mindful living every day.

Below are words from my friend & dharma teacher, Richard Brady about the mindfulness in education network (MIEN). Followed by the talks given during this year’s annual conference in March, which I produced.

brynmawrmien-3

brynmawrmien-3

Ship Building: Although we didn’t appreciate it at the time, when Lyn Fine, Jerry Braza, and I founded the Mindfulness in Education Network in the fall of 2001, we had commenced building a ship.  Thich Nhat Hanh had just offered retreats on the East and West Coast to which he’d extended a special invitation to educators.  During both retreats educators met in interest groups to learn how others were employing mindfulness in their teaching.  This was a rare opportunity.  Mindfulness was not on the cover of national magazines.  Organizations that taught mindfulness to educators did not exist.  Most of the educators knew no other educators who shared their interest in mindfulness.  They wanted to stay in touch after they returned home.

On October 18th a listserv with 78 participants went on line.  MiEN member Nacho Cordova soon offered to create and manage a website.  In 2006 Amy Saltzman, the founder of MiEN’s sister organization, the Association for Mindfulness in Education, invited Irene McHenry, Rob Wall, and me to come west to present at AME’s first conference in San Francisco.  Before we left for home, Amy suggested MiEN offer a similar conference on the East Coast.  After retiring in 2007, I had the time, with support from Irene, Rob, and Amy to organize that first MiEN first conference.  It was held at Sidwell Friends School in February of 2008.  Eight more conferences have followed.

walking meditation brynmawrmien

walking meditation brynmawrmien

MiEN reached out to invite people with many different mindfulness backgrounds, working in many forms of education all over the world, to join our listserv and attend our conferences.  The conferences expanded from a one-day symposium to three-day events with a full-day opening workshop, a keynote talk, the symposium, and a closing day of mindfulness.  With MiEN’s growth came the need for a governance structure.  In 2010 a steering committee was established, and in 2012 MiEN incorporated as a nonprofit with a Board of Directors and bylaws approved by the participants on the listserv.  Today more than 1,600 people participate on MiEN’s listserv.  Thousands have visited MiEN’s listserv, mindfuled.org, many to view the videos of the speakers at our annual conferences.  At the end of 2014 I happily passed on MiEN’s Presidential role to my friend Katie Byrnes.

For its first four years MiEN’s Board, with members in the Pacific Northwest, the Middle Atlantic States, and New England, held its meetings by teleconference.  Last week, on the first day of our conference at Bryn Mawr College, we held our first Board Retreat.  With some of us meeting each other for the first time, our Webmaster and eight of our nine Board members celebrated the opportunity to gather and share our energy and visions for the future.  After lunch, when our ninth Board member joined us via Skype, I had an almost mystical sense that the ship we’d been building for the last fifteen years was under full sail.

Mindfulness: Foundation for Teaching and Learning Ninth Annual Conference
March 4 – 6, 2016 Bryn Mawr College

Keynote Address – A Relational Mindfulness Pedagogy ~ Sam Himelstein

Dynamic Mindfulness for Excellence and Equity in Education ~ Bidyut Bose

Adolescents and Mindfulness: Why it Matters ~ Trish Broderick

Complexities of De-constructing Hierarchical Teaching Spaces in Higher Education ~ Rose Sackey-Milligan

May our descendants grow up in a happy, mindful society
of which they have co-created!:-)

Just Pretty Roses, Please

pretty rose ~d nelson

It was a good day for him
paying attention, on purpose
becoming aware of unpleasant physical feelings
he took notice of nearby beautiful rose, intentionally.

pretty rose 10

pretty rose 10

500 years before Christ
Confucius wrote of the roses in the Imperial Gardens.
Centuries of Rosa cultivation now offers him
an instant source of beauty & fragrance
from the so-called Queen of Flowers.

pretty rose 7

pretty rose 7

A good sun-shining morning with coffee
sent him joyfully on his way.
While on the public transit
he witnesses a passenger get beaten by a gang of teens
angered when they were asked to quiet down.
All day he looked forward to smelling the roses.

pretty rose 8

pretty rose 8

Even when dwelling pleasantly in the present moment
feeling a loved one’s embrace & bright presence,
thoughts of past heroics & failures appear from nowhere
and send him soaring into blissful, nostalgic never, never land
or streets of racial, social, economic inequities, & war
or into a courtroom where his ex-beloved brutally
attacks with a lawyer extracting more than a pound of flesh;
and then thoughts of future’s uncertainty, oh, my
all this & more…
calling for an extra bouquet of grounding, healing power.

pretty rose 8

pretty rose 8

He may understand the notion that experiencing
suffering is essential
for compassion & true understanding to blossom;
no mud, no lotus.
But he can’t help but wonder if
it could be possible to soak in roses’ essence
a little longer, a little more sweeter
before the upcoming, next mud bath.

Does the rose have to do something?
No, the purpose of a rose is to be a rose.
Your purpose is to be yourself.
You don’t have to run anywhere to become someone else.
You are wonderful just the way you are…
~Thich Nhat Hanh, A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Skis With Bears

Sierra Glow ~d nelson

Sierra Peak’s Glow ~d nelson

He would escape occupation
of non stop media
tapping into & googling
his mind & essential being.

wet journey there

wet journey there

He sought that non-local place
before lyrics,
before Rolling Stones, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters;
before radio & rotary phones.

out of boundries

out of boundaries

Entering vast new spaces
where elements clearly rule,
welcoming all who dare
come to play there.

by in a blur

by in a blur

Initial release of knots
& stored energies went
swiftly down hills
towards physical relief.

seeing the signs

seeing the signs

Less frenzied revealed
ease in reading obvious signs
to slow, to glide, to appreciate
fresh air experienced
breathing in.

sunlight thru trees

sunlight thru trees

Looking at & seeing those gifts
of colors & shapes
that have been since
before human ancestors,
he smiles.

climbing higher

climbing higher

Striding & poling up
towards his higher aspiration
of inter-connectivity to what is
& has been since before
the beginning.

one of many mtns

one of many mtns

Trusting guidance from teachers,
inner wisdom & intuition
to chart a course
with no clear, guaranteed path.

Taking refuge in shelters
at each & every peak overcome
where nourishment & rest
revitalize his shining little light.

snow prints

snow prints

Tracks in the snow
transport his consciousness
to where there are no names,
no maps, no time;
just it;
this is it!

bear's stand-in

bear’s stand-in

His spirit joyfully skis
with bears who lived contentedly
in raw wilds of nature
& slept cozy in winter’s charm.
He asks that they
may awaken safely,
to harmoniously roam free, again.
May it be so for human beings
as well.

Friends, We’ve Come To That Bridge

“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

fog's golden span ~d nelson

fog’s golden span ~d nelson

Star twinkles bridge
heaven & earth
for brief eternities,
before not going to
nor coming back
from cloudy mystery.

bridge, ho!

bridge, ho!

Going as a river
approaching fate, calmly.
Recognizing possible clear passages
as well as solid and liquid obstructions.
Breathing & smiling
to interdependent
co-arising conditions.

flowing falls bridges-6

flowing falls bridges-6

In awareness, nature’s beauty
within & without ourselves
overwhelms limited perceptions
with exciting sights, sounds & sensations.
Without awareness, nature, to us
becomes as silent as one hand clapping
to a blind man.

obstructed bridges-5

obstructed bridges-5

Our deepest desire to achieve
collective consciousness’ potential
becomes obstructed by digressive stories,
hindering truly possible
full realization & unity to all.

weight limit bridges-3

weight limit bridges-3

Upon solid ground let us listen
to each other’s suffering,
with the intention to heal,
reconcile, & transform.
Patient diligence is necessary foundation
for bearing witness to ancestor’s greed, violence,
colonization, concentration camp tattoos, to name a few
which linger, continuing to fester; passed on to children.

flooded drought bridges-2

flooded drought bridges-2

Recognizing our collective vulnerability,
no longer finding fault in the other
and justifying behaving as victims
we are now free to face
imminent droughts & floods
of changing weather, together.

spontaneous liberation bridges-4

spontaneous liberation bridges-4

Love, understanding & forgiveness
give rise to spontaneous awakening
of your’s, mine & all’s consciousness.
From before their birth,
ancestors’ hoped descendants
would get across the abysses darkness.
It is now our time & challenge
to wisely cross that bridge
reaching the other shore of freedom.

Accepting Fresh Flower’s Free Stuff?

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace ~Thich Nhat Hanh, from Being Peace

free stuff ~d nelson

free stuff ~d nelson

With conditions just right,
all rainbow’s colors freely offered
in earth’s fragile flowery form
crafted by unconditional love
of these heavens.

flwrpwr-3

free stuff pollinator ~d nelson

In humanity’s garden
where blossoms bloom
in all’s heart potential,
are loved one’s flowers
seen, cultivated, cared for;
accepted for their gifting?

flwrpwr-5

free stuff 2, what’s my name?

Are our flowers offered freely,
and not just in return?
Can we, will we offer them
to all our neighbors, including
the hungry, homeless, unloved
ones whose unpollinated flowers
desperately need watering?

flwrpwr-1-2

When things are looking down
a garden of beauty awaits
under foot to pick us back up.
Just look at all those wildflowers there!
Thank you for being a bouquet
when I need you most.

free stuff 3

free stuff 3

Feeling small & speechless with mortality;
what else can I do
reading about impending extinction
of wild butterflies, bees and other pollinators,
across the whole of mother earth?
Perhaps longing that pollen
which has supported life would always
bring fresh spring flowers,
summer fruits, and smiles
of loved ones & strangers, alike.

free stuff bee

free stuff bee

Humbly I acknowledge my inadequacy
to do the work of just one bee,
neither royal nor commoner.
Thank you for offering free stuff
supporting life for animals,
plants & humans, in beauty
as long as conditions have been just right.

After attending & filming the annual Mindfulness In Education conference in Philadelphia I’ll return with something new to share.:-)

Please Let Me Know When I’m Caught

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. ” ~Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird

come to me ~d nelson

Itsy, Bitsy says come unto me ~d nelson

Can we talk
well, of course we can
said the stranger standing behind me
in the grocery express check-out.
I could not have known that
those thirteen minutes in line
would offer ample time to restore
mindfully breathing, calming & caring.

inviting fine strands 2

inviting fine strands 2

Why is this line moving so slow?
People don’t have any money to spend
& it took me all afternoon to scrounge
up these few dollars in order to eat today.
Listening to her continued words, admittedly
feeling unpleasant irritation about standing in this non-express lane.
Refreshing my flower to avoid getting selfishly caught,
such that compassion was mostly what I felt for her difficulties.
Breathing in, aware of my feelings
breathing out, calming strong feelings.

won't pinch on purpose

won’t pinch on purpose

When it came time to check out I paid
for my groceries, then offered to pay for hers.
She said, “ya thanks, but no way
am I going to be entangled with you.”
Breathe. Ok!
I smiled as we walked out to the parking lot,
me to my bike, wishing her well;
her, into evening’s darkness
with food, at least for tonight.

unaware they're caught ~d nelson

unaware they’re caught ~d nelson

At home continuing calming & smiling
yet curious about the state of things in the world,
then a brief glance at news on the web;
on the public & peace news venues & blogs.
Before getting to any good news & Yes offerings
my heart & mind confronted details of what
human beings said & did to each other, here
and across the planet, yesterday & today.
Defilement’s to the earth for profit,
suffering to animals, even a baby dolphin
had me snarled in strong, sad,
painful feelings & thoughts about being human.

web in wind

web in wind

Breathing in, calming strong feelings,
breathe out, feeling calmer.
Breathing in, gladdening the mind,
breathe out, experiencing kinder thoughts.
Breathing in, concentrating the mind.
Breathing out, sending out loving & healing energy
to those who are in pain, hungry & in need.

May they have adequate safety, satisfaction & connection.
May we all get in touch with conditions of happiness
that are present at this very moment.

neatly packaged snare

neatly packaged snare

Now offering forgiveness to those who are so cruel
as their very hurt permits their minds to hurt others.
Offering perpetrators a bow as they help me better
cultivate my own inner love for the earth
& have strength to speak & act for the protection of all life.

inviting fine strands

inviting fine strands

May all beings be free of misperceptions,
that capture them in webs of delusion,
where they’re devoured by hate & greed.
May I better have this courage, myself
so that I may be able to more fully bloom.
As I’m sure it will again happen, I’m asking
to tell me when I am
caught, please.

caught-1

hopes bloom pollen

We have to learn to look at our body and our feelings as rivers. In the river of the body, each drop of water is a cell, always changing; birth and death take place in each moment. The same is true with the river of feelings. Feelings are born, stay for a while, and then die. To practice contemplation of the feelings in the feelings means that we sit on the bank of the river of feelings, observe them, and become those feelings. Sitting mindfully, we do not allow ourselves to drown in our feelings. Mindfulness helps us to embrace and identify our feelings. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Path of Emancipation.

Oh, the Places We Will Go

places we'll go hiking together ~d nelson

places we’ll go hiking together ~d nelson

Congratulations!
Today is today’s day.
We’re off to wonderful places!
We’re off and away!

We have minds in our heads.
We have feet in our shoes.
We potentially can steer ourselves
any direction we choose to bloom.
We’re not on our own. And we think that we know.
But, it’s us together that’ll decide where we go.

places we'll go bloom

places we’ll go bloom ~d nelson

We’ll look down the trail
breathe, becoming fully aware.
About some trails we’ll say we choose to go there.
With our Being full of mind & our shoes full of feet
We’ll avoid trails towards where fools meet.

places we'll go bud

places we’ll go bud

And we may not find any
that offer sun & soil enough
to support healthy roots,
cultivate our healthy buds.
Then moving on wishing all well
sharing insights earned
harmoniously on the trail
leaving no bridges burned.

places we'll go crossing bridges

places we’ll go crossing bridges

As things start happening
as things tend to do
miraculously we will find
we’ll be happening, too.
Perhaps someplace old, or at someplace new
wings spread, we’ll make our buzzing debut.
With practice, patient diligence & luck
we’ll gently collect & share pollen without too many achooo.

places we'll go bee

places we’ll go bee

Oh, the Places We Will Go!
So many places we had ideas about
but really didn’t truly know.
By stepping out into coldest winters
We can love small flakes & big deep, deep snow.
Getting out of a car in Mohave’s summer heat
blazing desert will make us quickly say, whoooaa!

places we'll go snow

places we’ll go snow

So many beautiful sights to be seen
our eyes a blessing we really like
compels us to travel even more slowly
energetically cycling & exploring on bike.

places we'll go biking

places we’ll go biking

It will happen sometimes, or maybe more
finding we don’t really know what we know
& we’ll listen to heart’s wisdom
to guide us, to go with the flow.
With skillful means, supportive friends & luck
we may hit many rocks
& not get too stuck.

places we'll go river

places we’ll go river

In this co-existing, with less of a “me”
more eyes looking in all directions
makes what’s happening easier to see.
One genius may hear faint ripples
echoing from universe’s birth
while the rest of us relax
enlightened of our living & loving,
experiencing this sweet, short life on earth.

places we'll go sheep

places we’ll go two-headed sheep

Oh, the Places We’ll Go
Everything, including air
we’ve always shared.
But perhaps it’s true
this trail has no destination home
because we are already there.
Rooted in Present Moment’s
eternally loving embrace & care.

places we'll go home to the present moment

places we’ll go home to the present moment

With gratitude & apologies
to Dr. Seuss,
Einstein,
& Mother Earth:-)