Quieting the Mind

I will be teaching my first Hakomi workshop in June!

This workshop is open to any an all who want to experience and practice relational mindfulness — the process of relating with awareness, kindness, and intention toward ourselves and others. 

Quieting the Mind

To quiet the mind, we must first become familiar with our minds. In this workshop, participants learn to bring compassionate attention to what is happening inside themselves, developing a deeper understanding of their relationship to relaxation, rest, and trust. All Hakomi workshops are experiential and consist of a series of individual, partner, or small-group exercises. This material is suitable for beginners and experienced mindfulness practitioners.

June 6 & 7, 2015
9:30 AM to 5 PM each day
12 CEU hours available

Quieting the Mind is one of four workshops offered in the Personhood Series, which includes topics such as nourishing communication, nonverbal awareness, and loving presence.

To learn more and register, visit: Seattle Hakomi Education Network.

Homeschool Day in the Life

The boys are now 11 and 8, and our days go something like this…

romandboysGood morning
I wake up at 5 AM, and I have about two hours to myself to do a variety of things. My husband Rom is also up at 5 (or earlier!) and gone for work by 5:30 AM. Some days I practice my Spanish, some days I prepare the day’s school work, or I do laundry (on Wednesdays), go to the grocery store, cook food for lunches and dinners, or sometimes even meditate. The boys wake around 7 AM every day (my oldest has an internal clock) and they usually play upstairs on their own or come downstairs to read.

Breakfast and chores
We eat breakfast together and are usually done around 8 AM or so… after breakfast is the only time we have a good chore routine, and the boys takes turns clearing the table, sweeping and wiping the table, and putting clean dishes away from the dishwasher. Orlando has recycling to take out, and Mica has the water pitcher to fill. On different days, we try to add in watering the plants, wiping the bathroom, vacuuming, and folding clothes.

Circle time and main lesson
I used to go right into school after chores, but lately they get more time to play and we end up coming together around 9 AM. From September to December, I called them together for circle time, where we sang songs, played patty-cake games, jumped rope, etc., often trying to get outside for at least part of it. It was a great way to warm up, but it didn’t quite survive the holidays, the weather, or our very unusually busy January. We might revive it…

Then we start main lesson. We have a small house, with our main floor being kitchen/dining room/living room altogether. Off of this room, we have double doors that open onto a bedroom that we use as our school room. It has books, puzzles, games, art supplies, a chalkboard, and desks. Yes, just like a school. We’ve had the desks for two years now, and I was a bit allergic to them when we first got them, but the kids really appreciate having their own space (especially my older son).

We’ve shifted how we homeschool quite a bit over the years, from using no curriculum at all to using a Waldorf homeschooling curriculum (actually, two: Christopherus and Lavender’s Blue). I have moved gradually more into Waldorf over the last few years, becoming deeply and personally inspired by it. I am still a little shocked to see myself in this role — as teacher, and bringer of this work to my children, but the whole thing has basically fallen into place wholesale. I feel at ease and confident, and my children are curious and engaged.

The theme/focus of the main lesson changes throughout the year in two- to three-week blocks. Mica is doing second grade (with some first grade) with alternating language, math, and nature blocks. The language blocks are around a certain theme, and involve storytelling, picture drawing/wax modeling/painting, and writing. This year, for language, we have covered Saints and Heros and The King of Ireland’s Son, as well as a review of all the letters. For math, we have covered the quality of the first 12 numbers and are in the midst of introducing/reviewing the four process, using stories, gems, and math gnomes, of course! For the nature blocks, we have focused on crafts mostly, since our nature experiences are more part of our everyday.

Orlando is doing a mixed fourth/fifth grade curriculum, and this year we have done two long math reviews and a long block of fractions, as well as a block on Humans and Animals (including writing/drawing/modeling/working with and memorizing verses), and one on local Geography. Orlando is particularly spatial and kinesthetic and he LOVED geography. We also managed to do a field trip and take a family trip related to this block. He is due to begin a mythology block soon.

Main lesson usually takes about an hour, sometimes up to two. It depends on what else we have that day and the kids’ stamina.

Snack and play outside
Then it’s snack time! Sometimes this looks like lunch, sometimes Mica needs a snack 40 minutes into lesson. I try to keep some rhythm while also attending to their needs in the moment. I often encourage the kids to go outside for a bit, which they like to do except if it’s really raining. We live in a cohousing community, and there are often other kids to play with (two other homeschooling families and some younger, pre-school kids).

Other lessons and lunch
Depending on when/what snack was, we sometimes try to do a bit more main lesson, or Spanish (I was fluent in college and I am currently using the Sonrisas curriculum for the kids’ lessons). And then lunch and outside.

After lunch
After lunch, I read aloud to the kids, and in the first few months, we were also doing art or other lessons in the afternoons one or two days a week. But, like circle time, certain things have fallen away over December and January. I expect things will reform in the next week or two.

One afternoon a week, we go to Homeschool Park Day, and another late afternoon we go to the library. I want to add back in our once-a-week nature day in the next few weeks.

Orlando has two outside classes: parkour during the late morning one day a week, and an all-day wilderness class on another day. Last semester, Mica and I attended a Spanish club as part of a homeschool coop on Orlando’s wilderness day.

Oh! And once-a-month, Orlando has a book group with peers (the whole family attends), and we all volunteer at the food bank.

So, that leaves us with “school” four mornings a week, with some afternoon lessons ad-hoc, a few monthly activities, and most of our outings kept to the afternoons or on one day. Phew!

We recently started aiming to eat at the same time every night, and Rom is home most evenings for it. I start preparing dinner around 4:30 or 5 PM, and we usually eat by 6 PM. After each meal, the kids clear their plates, sweep, and wipe, and then they play outside (rarely in winter), inside, or at a friend’s house. In the fall, it was soccer practice/class two to three times a week. But mostly, it is home time. Around 8 PM, Rom and the boys head upstairs for teeth brushing, jammies, and a ten-minute bedroom pick-up. Rom reads to them after that, and then it is lights out. Rom and I are usually asleep by 9:30.

All the other bits
Throughout the day there are cuddles, and fights, and tears, and lots and lots of food preparation. (I feel like I am always feeding these kids!) I am actually so deeply grateful to be here to feed them and to catch their tears when they come.

I still look at my phone too much, but I am not on the computer near as much I have been in the past, and that feels good.

It’s funny that it is called “home”schooling, because I feel like we need to make an effort to stay home. It can be so easy, especially here in Seattle with a huge homeschooling community, to get drawn into all kinds of activities and events, and gatherings. I have tried to keep it so we have a good amount of time at home, for free play, school, food, and rest. This has meant that as the children have gotten older, we have fewer and fewer “play dates.” We instead try to focus on group activities, dinners with family friends, and are very grateful for the proximity, friendship, and availability of our neighbors and their kids!

While I love my free time in the morning, there are some things you just can’t do at 5 in the morning, so throughout the day I try to be very intentional/explicit about breaks, letting the children know what I am planning on doing and how long it will take, “I need to make a phone call and I will be back in 20 minutes.”

Our days can end up having a lot of variability, but I am more committed to our daily rhythm than I’ve ever been, and that does help us stay centered. Or at least it helps me stay centered, which helps me help my kids stay centered…

I know I didn’t do a typical “day” and it’s probably hard to gather it all when it’s written out in generalities. But, our generalities have changed so much over the last year, it seemed important to give an overview! While the outside looks so different, the main difference has been on the inside — of me!

A year or two ago, I seriously could not have imagined doing school in this way. Nor did I ever think we could have such a stable rhythm to our days. I am not sure how it all happened. I sometimes joke to Rom: It only took ten years to get here! I often imagined there would be some flow of life that I could tap into or ride, and having tapped into it feels more vital to me than the method of schooling. There is a way that I am with the work and the kids that is feeling very natural, and not coercive.

Before I was here, I couldn’t see how it wouldn’t be coercive.

I know some would say it is coercive by its very nature, since it is more my agenda than my children’s. And I don’t disagree. But there is a way of leading and following that I learned from my years of Hakomi. I am more clear now that I can have a vision for my children while honoring them as autonomous, wonderful beings; I am more responsive to and creative with what is happening in the moment; I have more resources (internal and external) to draw on; and I have discovered this deep undercurrent — this flow of life — as my guide. I will keep listening, and I will see what unfolds.


Senses Shared

the obvious thing about feelings (they’re meant to be felt)…
finished The King of Ireland’s Son (read-aloud for Mica)
and none of the million books I’ve bought or checked out from the library

cooked cabbage, so sweet and yummy

pride (movie)

Water by Alex Theory, Sitting Still Like a Frog, and Supercalifragilisticexpialdocious… oh! and just a little bit of Bjork’s new album

beeswax… candles and modeling… oh, how I love the smell of beeswax!

presenting Hakomi exercises for the Loving Presence workshop

a knitted wool two-color hat for Rom

a hundred kisses, counted out in Spanish, with Mica

jumping five feet onto a balance board, asking to practice his math, always with a nose in a book

eating five meals a day, feeling proud of his handwriting, curious (maybe a little nervous?) to begin our math block

hunger is the best spice

about recreating patterns in my life… making things difficult… feeling in-between

a little at loose ends (transitions)

* ~ *

{joining in with Autumn at ink + chai}

Mica Poked Himself in the Eye

An eyeball
by oneself,
when you’re seven.
A scratched illumination
of the universe of us.
Line us up and when the cue ball strikes
we scatter
to the edges of stress,
careen, and reel ourselves back in
to center.
An undulation
of the four of us:
Orlando whimpering and seeking a safe, quiet place
amid Mica’s yelps of pain. Mica feels
it all fully, in wide, loud arcs.
I alternate:
a soft chair, an open vessel,
humming with space to absorb it all—
and then a board, stiff
with wanting everything to be flat,
and still, and straight. To stop.
Rom puts his head down and
stays the course.

Mostly it was hours, off and on, of
two hours of which were in urgent care,
where we all took a long exhale
putting ourselves in the hands of
something larger,
knowing some end was in sight
even though it came in several-minute bursts amid hours of waiting
we made the room our own,
doing math and art on the white-board
and wandering the halls
until it was all as I had thought:
Mica had an abrasion on his eyeball,
and while it seemed impossible to understand how it had happened
as he sat quietly next to his brother on the couch looking at books
(and all the times they wrestle and throw things, including each other,
around?), it was so.

We waited for the prescription
and I felt like super mom
because I had almonds and raisins
and bananas and water in my backpack.
Rom and the boys played rock-paper-scissors.

We were on our way home when
Mica proclaimed the medicine not medicine at all
because it stung his eye – like hell!
The dam was let loose:
“And those doctors are mean, and Mama and Papa, you are mean!
And I give this hospital NO stars!!”

We were all tired, and Rom almost drove into the pole
in the middle of the parking lot,
and it was my turn to yelp.

At home, I told Mica:
“I know you are not happy and your eye hurts a lot
but, please, let’s take a break from the complaining
until after we eat dinner, and then you can see if there is more
complaining after that.”
It sort of worked.
I was desperate for quiet, the cooking was slow.

We ate quickly and then we went to bed,
where Mica couldn’t sleep.
It hurt more when he closed his eye.
He tossed and turned and we cold-compressed
and pain-reliefed. I noticed
the shallowness of my breath, and took it easy
on myself. And after an hour and a half,
he was asleep with his feet in my face,
and at some point, too, I slept.

I told Mica that
when I had a cut on my eye,
I woke up the next morning
and it felt so, so, so much better.
It had healed in the night.
The doctor told him, too, that cuts on eyes heal
more quickly than cuts on skin.
He added, “And they hurt more, too.”

In the morning he woke up, and while his eye was puffy and damp,
his spirit was bright and light,
and he said, “That’s what cuts do! They get better!”
And later, after breakfast, he said quietly and plainly,
“I wish there was no hurting in the world.”

there is.
And, still,
we heal.


~ * ~

We have a history with eyes around here:

Mica Poked Me in the Eye (2010)
Orlando Squirted Soap in His Eye (2007)
Rom, you’re next…


Each time, I doubt the profundity of the experience. After all, I am walking on top of canvas, with a lot of other people, and know where it is all leading… But somehow, the length of the walking, the process of twisting and turning, folding and unfurling, leads me to some inner place, where tears reside, where words weighing a lifetime flash through me, and I am softened and opened and changed.

The labyrinth walk — our annual tradition on New Year’s Eve. Orlando and I enter, and walk together. I always forget about walking with a question until I am in the labyrinth, and soon after stepping in, the question comes to me: Will I put down arms?

Or more a prayer: May I put down arms… May I let feelings come, may I care for them, may I not react from them…

Mica joins me and Orlando as we head toward the center, and then we are all three in the center, and I kneel on the floor with Mica in my lap, and I feel the word melt course through me. My body relaxes, and Mica’s body relaxes, and Orlando stays in his little segment of the center, and says, “Can we go back now?”

I want to stay a moment, and rest. We are whispering and being with ourselves and each other (and all these other people) and I decide to go out now. I am with myself, walking back, noticing the force of questioning within me: Why isn’t Orlando happy? Knowing the question is more mine than his; that it is not a question at all, but a cloaked coercion: Be more happy. Be different than you are.

Will I put down arms?

All this is moving through my body as my body moves through space. Walking, step by step, things settle. The cathedral is cavernous, and gorgeous, and there is medieval music with a woman plaintively singing, and candlelight, and people I don’t know, and among them, familiar faces (friends and neighbors), and my family. A container.

At some point, Mica peels off and joins Rom on one of the pews… Orlando and I lose each other. I search for him and see him, as he moves toward and away, and is finally swallowed up in a group of people. I realize that we are on different paths and that they aren’t going to cross. I stand still, and wait for him to reappear. He sees me, and comes over, “I think I got turned around.”

Me too.

We start walking again, together, with me stepping confidently back onto the path. Orlando is looking ahead, and soon tells me, urgently and with panic in his voice, “We’re going the wrong way!” I can feel in my body that I am not worried. Truly. The energy that gathers within me—trying to ensure that I am doing it “right,” fretting that already I am doing it wrong—isn’t coming forward. It is so quiet.

I tell Orlando, “At some point it will become clear. It’s okay.” I’m surprised to find I believe it.

Indeed, we discover we are going the “wrong” way—back to the center, where we stop, for only a moment. I still want to connect to Orlando, but he is impatient (still), and we walk back out.

I notice a mild wave of subterranean worry (yes, my old friend, worry), Why won’t Orlando connect? But also, I know that I asked him to connect with me in one specific way, and there are a million ways, but—restless feelings push into my feet, wanting them to move more quickly, and into my shoulders, where they find form as the idea that Orlando is walking too slowly.

Aware of it all, holding it gently, and still I ask Orlando quietly if he would mind if I walk in front of him. He agrees and promptly begins walking so closely to me that he bumps my legs. I am not irritated (another surprise), and am managing to hold space for this weird tension between us. I feel curious. Then Orlando politely asks, “Mama, is it okay if I go in front of you now?”

Yes, it is.

And finally, it seems, we come to the entrance, where I make a little bow and step onto concrete.

Orlando is running off, on to the next thing, eager to find Rom and Mica, and soon I am at the Burning Bowl.

I kneel at the table, scribbling notes in the half-dark, and fill out sheet after sheet. I wait my turn in line, and this is what I burn:

May I lay down arms. May I know what it feels
like in my body, in each moment, to lay down arms.

May I be in my body, moment to moment.

May I serve my body, and my body serve me.

May warmth and temperance grow in
my every interaction.

May all beings live their lives, and flourish.

Mica comes to me and wants to know what I am doing. I pick him up as I stand in front of the bowl. I whisper to him about letting go and setting intentions and trusting something bigger than ourselves. He nods and the paper glows and blackens into ash.

We come all this way to live our lives, right out loud on this canvas. We come all this way to touch our own hearts and see how they feel up against another’s. We come all this way to stand still (or not) in the center. We come all this way to be imperfectly together. To see ourselves, to feel the limits, to let go, and to glimpse the possibilities.

And then we come home to the common house, where we dance and dance and dance, and dance some more. Pump Up the Jam. Can’t Hold Us. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. What’s Going On? Stop! In the Name of Love. Love Shack. Get into the Groove. Music without words. And on into eternity.


Mica says, “I flow with the music. I go with the music.”

~ * ~

Our other labyrinth walks:

2013, (we were in Hawaii, on the beach, watching fireworks!)
2012, Nest
2011, I Want a Whole Mama
2010, Walking the Labyrinth

labyrinth photo by theheartindifferentkeys

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