Monday, March 11, 2013

Ordinary Meditation #12: Definitions

It has been a while since I added a new OM here. In fact, I had to backtrack and see what OM number this one should be. This new Ordinary Meditation, like a lot of others in this blog, is an insight from being mom to an amazing six-year-old girl.

I have discovered that six is the age of, "What's that mean?". It has been a very insightful exercise to define things as simply as I can so Mecca can understand these words that we use so often ( but rarely meditate on) .

Basic words that we often use take on a new color when you have to explain it to a six-year-old child. I was telling my wonderful sister-in-law about how I defined Santa Claus to Mecca as someone who brings the gifts sent by people who love us. My sister-in-law said, " So you defined Santa as the UPS guy?". I guess I did.

It's a good exercise that helps us see how we see things. It is also a chance to chuck old definitions that were passed on to us by people who didn't bother defining the words for themselves. Very basic words like, woman. Or work, or money or freedom or world.

OM #12: Definitions
As simply and as honestly as you can, write down your definition of the following words.
1. Thank you
2. Please
3. Dream
4. Woman
5. Work
6. Good
7. Money
8. Brave
9. Freedom
10. Country

After that, review your answers and ask yourself whether your definitions are still true to you. If not, redefine the words. What SHOULD these words mean? Add new words to examine. Remember, define the words as simply as you can.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Om School Journal: Smell

We smelled things throughout our house. A smell adventure! We started with the kitchen and that alone was wild. Then lotions, sunscreen ( my personal favorite, next to coffee beans), pillows, clean clothes, bags, even our shoe closet... haaah. Awake now.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Om School Journal: The Story

We've decided which story to do a claymation piece on. This yet untitled story is from Mecca.

"Our house is a train. When we sleep, it moves very slowly, closer to the beach. One day, when we wake up, our house will be right by the beach and I can go outside and swim!"

We will use the dollhouse that we are designing as the house in the claymation piece. The little girl will be made of clay. We'll draw and cut out the moving scenery outside. We'll have Mecca make the music for it too. I love this story that Mecca came up with!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Om School Journal: Design

Over the holidays, I had an idea to give Mecca a dollhouse. I had an even better idea that we should design it ourselves and have it built. Then, I had an even better idea to design the dollhouse with Mecca as a project for homeschool.

Now we have two projects: to make a claymation movie and to design a dollhouse. While we haven't decided on which story to do a claymation movie on,I thought we could start with the dollhouse design and maybe that can inspire a story. We can even use the dollhouse as a set if that's what our story would call for.

We talked about design today. We talked about how everything made by people has been designed ( some designed more purposefully than others). We also talked about how design comes from a function (what is it for?) and function comes from a need ( why do we need it?). We talked about design as the way we think about making our life experience better, sometimes easier and happier.

We listed down her needs for the dollhouse. We talked about how to use space. Then, as I was talking, Mecca was exploring with the materials she had in front of her: paper, a plastic container, clay and some of her toys. Below are photos of her explorations.

This is a great continuing exercise. She didn't want home school to stop! We'll continue talking about design today. I know it satisfies something inside her in a totally different way than when she draws or paints. I think it is very important to have a sense of inventiveness, to direct one's creativity to satisfy our need for order and harmony.

We as humans have made good things and harmful things during our history on earth. But I am still hopeful that our immense powers of design and invention can put us back on the right track. It is already happening around us. While some people are writing articles about how dire our situation is a humans, some people are designing ways to make things better. If I can successfully instill in Mecca an appreciation for harmony within our selves, with each other and with our environment, plus arm her with the power to design, then that's one more human putting her energy into finding or creating solutions. That would make me a happy mama.

Here's what this child's beautiful mind has come up with (at least for her dollhouse) so far....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Traveling by Perfume

It's funny ( actually, it's not funny at all) how we lose things to familiarity. We can make things disappear by living with them. Just think of how you can move through a house that you've lived in for a while with your eyes closed. If, half-asleep, you can grab your glasses or your phone from the side-table, that means your side table has disappeared from your consciousness of the moment. There's a space in our brain for storing all this information that has become meaningless. That lamp that you so carefully chose loses its shape to that part of your brain. After a few months, your eyes just don't focus on it anymore.

Just imagine, this happens to things, even people that we love. This unintentional forgetting. We forget to SEE what is closest to us. Maybe that's why we are obsessed with the new. Because these are things we can actually see.

One of the things I've been doing since the new year is to have a SenseAwaken alarm during the day. When the alarm goes off, I choose an object to focus on and I just quietly observe it for a minute. It can be a cup of coffee. I let its color seep into my consciousness again. I touch a table. I look into Mecca's eyes. I chew a marshmallow. Slowly. I place the tip of my finger on that dimple on my husband's cheek. That one I fell in love with years ago.

Another ritual that I do is to travel by perfume. My sense of smell can take me somewhere I've never been. My perfume can take me to a bougainvillea-filled walkway in Spain. I smell my soap. It takes me to a sunny orange grove in California. My tea takes me to a market in India. I become awake and aware even for just a minute. Forgotten things come alive.

Then the world is magnificent again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Om School Home School Journals: Listening to Paintings

Learning about ways to tell stories this week. Today, we listened to paintings. We talked about how each painting is telling a different story to each person that looks at it. I told her what my Elk painting was telling me. She talked about her paintings and then we looked at other people's work. We looked at a book of Frida Khalo's work and then Van Gogh's paintings.

It was a very fruitful, quiet listening day.

On Killing the Buddha

An ancient saying goes, " If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

As an artist, killing the Buddha is a very important exercise. To kill the Buddha is to let go of all my notions of beauty or goodness. It is a reminder to let go of all dogma ( even the dogma of killing the Buddha) and go back to the moment.

Joy, beauty, honor, honesty, pain, discomfort, awesomeness, these are words we attach to certain experiences. These words all require judgement and comparison, filtered through our skewed perception. These words take us away from the experience of the moment.

Illusion probably started in that moment when we learned our first word. That Mama or Dada was our first step towards separation. The first (false) realization that we are separate from each other. The more words we learn, the deeper into illusion, the farther away from truth we get.

I find that the easiest way to go back to experiencing the moment is to do a meditation where I go to my no-word-place. I do my breathing meditation and then I remember being that infant, right before she learns that first word. In that moment, everything melts back to one singular experience.

Right now, I am at that point in my creative process when I need to empty out. Let go of all the concepts I hold to be right. I need to kill the Buddha, forget all my KNOWING and remember BEING. Scary as it is to not hold onto any beliefs, to not be me, I am excited to just BE. To use my senses like they were brand new. No judgements, no comparisons. No net.

I leap.