Monthly Archives: September 2014

Panyaden Wise Habit 2014: Sati

Mindfulness

‘Sati’ by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director

Wise Habit Sati session at Panyaden School Chiang Mai
Sati is most commonly translated as presence of mind, awareness or mindfulness. It originates from the Sanskrit word smṛti, the root meaning of which is ‘to remember’ and as such an important aspect of sati is retention or recollection. To have sati is to be fully present, not lost in daydreams, anticipation or worry. It is being alert and attentive to everything as it is, not filtering things though our subjective opinions. It is also remembering to be aware of something or to do something at a designated time in the future.

In order to cultivate sati one needs to faithfully return back to refocus on an object whenever the mind wanders away from it. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains, ‘’Mindfulness is not a floating, nebulous ‘awareness.’ You can’t just be mindful. You always have to be mindful of something.’’ The Buddha identified four objects for us to maintain calm awareness of in day-to-day life (satipatthana): our body and bodily functions (such as the breathing), sensations (feelings), state of mind (whether concentrated, scattered, discontented etc) and mental phenomena (such as the Four Noble Truths).

Sati is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. Practising Right Effort (samma vayamo), Right Awareness (samma sati) and Right Concentration (samma samadhi) together helps us to train the mind to be calm, balanced and, ultimately, freed from the dissatisfactions that cloud our thoughts. As unwholesome or negative thoughts arise in the mind, we apply sati to recognise them and prevent them from causing difficulty or unpleasantness. Sati is the moderating tool we use to assess our practice and progress in the other Wise Habits. For example, if we make a strong determination to avoid harming others (avihimsa), “we immediately illuminate, whenever it arises, the intention to harm. We become mindful of the intention to harm” (Venerable Jayasaro). Sati also helps us identify the right balance between the Wise Habits. We might become aware that although we have plenty of enthusiasm for a task (chandha), we lack sufficient patience to complete it (khanti). Sati is like a mental witness, a built in system of notes and reminders which helps us stay present, learn from past mistakes, do things better next time.

Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden School Chiang MaiVenerable Ajahn Jayasaro advises parents and teachers to realise clearly what we are doing at the present, what we are teaching now, what students are learning now and whether they are listening to us. This helps us to keep focusing on teaching or parenting, doing our best to teach and guide our children continuously without being distracted. There are times when we talk to our children with one eye on the computer, or with our minds thinking about what happened at work today or what chores we need to do later. And yet we also experience times when we give full attention to what we are doing with our children. This tends to result in a happier, healthier experience for everyone.

We need to encourage eye contact from our children, remind them to place their shoes neatly on the shoe rack, ask them to describe the taste of their food, have them check their bags routinely before school in the morning, encourage self-awareness of sensations and feelings when they get angry or upset and remind them of their home and classroom responsibilities. A child who kicks off his shoes, gulps down her food, forgets her school book or loses his temper easily does not have sati. We might encourage ourselves and our children to choose a particular activity such as preparing or eating a meal, washing the dishes, or taking a walk, and make an effort to be fully mindful of the task as we perform it. In time we will find ourselves paying more attention to everything.

Changing the mental habits and conditioning of a lifetime, no matter how short, is not easy. But as we develop sati the mind becomes lucid, the body alert and we are able to think with clarity and composure, to make wise choices, to know our responsibilities and improve ourselves. No matter how brief the moment that the mind is fully focused and attentive to the present, it is very powerful.

If we are unaware of our present actions we are condemned to repeating our mistakes from the past and never achieving our dreams for the future. It is said that if you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed? Be mindful!

lotus2 transparent
คลิกที่นี่ สำหรับภาษาไทย – คุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการ โรงเรียนปัญญาเด่น : สติ

Panyaden Wise Habit 2014: Samadhi

Composing of the mind

‘Samadhi’ by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director
Learning about mindfulness and concentration, Panyaden School

The word samadhi originates from the Sanskrit sam-a-dha, meaning “to bring together.” It is usually translated as “concentration” or composing of the mind. It is the mind that does not waver, does not scatter itself and is focused on the task at hand despite being disturbed, persuaded or provoked. When we achieve samadhi we attain the calm and collectedness needed to make wise choices and decisions.

Samadhi is the second of the three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path, sila (moral development), samadhi (mind development ) and panya (wisdom development). Samma samadhi, ‘or right concentration’ is part of this second division and refers to “single pointedness of mind” or concentrating the mind to the point of mental absorption, leading ultimately to successively higher mind states (jhana).

In everyday actions of ordinary life we require concentration, but this is not necessarily ‘right concentration’ as taught by the Buddha. A mind of single intent is capable of doing what it does more effectively, be it good or bad. The skilled pickpocket must have a high capacity for concentrated thought; the cat waits with all its attention focused on its prey. But samma samadhi refers only to concentration that leads to beneficial thoughts and actions. In Buddhist teachings, before we can achieve samadhi, we must overcome the ‘Five Hindrances’ to a calm and focused mind: sensual desire or greed, ill will or aversion, restlessness or anxiety, laziness or lethargy and doubt. With right effort and right mindfulness these conditions begin to lose their power and the mind gets firmly established in right concentration.

A mind firmly composed by samadhi provides the foundation from which to achieve the other Wise Habits. Undisturbed by distraction or persuasion, we set the mind on persevering with the task at hand (viriya), to keep our word (sacca) or endure difficulties with patience (khanti). With a strong determination, we watch over ourselves to keep our thoughts and actions firmly in line with what is practical, logical and beneficial (yoniso-manasika). ‘’A steadfast and unwavering heart is free of apprehension, remorse and confusion concerning our actions and speech. This is samadhi’’ (Venerable Ajahn Chah).

Panyaden School Prathom student practising meditation at schoolAs parents and teachers we are always hoping our children will improve their concentration skills. We can do this by reducing distractions, such as the TV or computer, while they are working on their homework. We can set them activities that require progressively prolonged periods of concentration and offer praise and encouragement for their efforts. Basic meditation techniques to promote calm and focus can be introduced from an early age, such as counting the breath or listening to sounds around them with their eyes closed, recalling each one to you afterwards. Older children are able to sit for an increasing number of minutes in silent meditation. We can start by asking them to keep the focus of attention on their breath, raising their hand each time the mind wanders off (this is the role of sati – to call back the mind). Children often have a surprising propensity for higher states of concentration. But whatever the capacity and length of time, the calm and collectedness that result from meditation, and the enhanced thinking skills that result, are proven and hugely beneficial to all of us.

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro writes “if we can compose our mind with sati, we have no need to depend on sleeping pills, alcohol, ‘retail therapy’ or other unwholesome ways to help us relax. When the mind is peaceful, we are better able to reflect, we increase our perseverance and patience, faith in our practice and we understand more. As we understand more, our faith increases, and so on, the cycle continues.’’

If we train the mind in a wholesome way, it becomes calm and assured, bringing a sense of peacefulness not only to oneself, but also to those around us. The mind that reaches samadhi is like the moon which has emerged from the clouds – clear, sharp and bright.

 

lotus2 transparent คลิกที่นี่ สำหรับภาษาไทย  – คุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการ โรงเรียนปัญญาเด่น : สมาธ

Panyaden Budding Day 2014-5

Panyaden School Budding Day 18-19 Sept 2014

Today, the students are our teachers,” remarks School Director Neil Amas about Panyaden’s Budding Day, a 2-day celebration of this term’s learning led by our students. Each day, parents were invited into the classrooms where our students began with homeroom presentations before moving on to one-to-one as well as group activities focused on subjects like Maths and Science, to demonstrate what they have learned in class. There was lots of interaction as parents asked questions, played games, danced, painted and worked out puzzles along with their children.

This end-of-term event is an informal opportunity for our parents to receive feedback from their children themselves of their progress in school. It’s also a great way to encourage our students to keep on learning and improving in all areas of school life each term.

Panyaden School Budding Day (Preschool) Panyaden School Budding Day - Preschool student performing Panyaden School Budding Day - Preschool students performing Panyaden Prathom student presenting to parents, Budding Day 19 Sept 2014 Panayden Prathom students presenting to parents on Budding Day

Lots more photos on the blog –
Anuban Budding Day
Prathom Budding Day

On Facebook –
Anuban
Prathom

Prathom Mindfulness Activity

Prathom mediation, Panyaden School

During our Wednesday morning sati and samadhi (mindfulness and concentration) session, P3-P6 exercised their memorisation and focusing skills with a coin game. Kru Ying gave sets of coins to small groups of students, who then took turns in putting them in a different order and before screening them from view. The group then had to memorise and recreate the sequence. This simple but effective exercise helps train our students to stay present and focus on the task at hand. The session ended with everyone sitting in quiet meditation before going back to class. Photos on the blog.
Prathom students engaged in coin game

Kindergarten 1 Activity

Panyaden K1 students make organic fun dough
Today, Panyaden’s Kindergarten 1 students learned to make fun dough that they moulded into different shapes. This exercise not only helps to develop stronger motor skills; it also helps the children to use their creativity, imagination and Samadhi (being calm and focused). Lots more photos on the blog!

DSCF1552 Panyaden Kindergarten 1 students make organic play dough DSCF1557 Panyaden Kindergarten 1 students make organic play dough DSCF1575 Panyaden Kindergarten 1 students make organic play dough Panyaden Kindergarten 1 students make organic play dough

‘My Project’ Term 1 Presentations

My Project presentaions at Panyaden School

Congratulations to all our Prathom students for their enthusiasm and hard work on each of their ‘My Project’ tasks this term. ‘My Project’, Panyaden School’s self-directed learning programme, is proving to be a great success, judging from the presentations by our students yesterday.

They wrote and published their own books, sewed and dressed dolls in ‘fantastic fabric’, created elaborate moving machines out of unusual materials found around the home or school, and recycled used paint buckets adorned with colourful boa feathers into melodious drums. Some of our students also designed rockets made out of used plastic bottles while others created planes and buildings from cardboard boxes as well as ceramics, paintings and more. The ‘making of’ videos showed our students hard at work with a lot of humour and khanti. Altogether, a wonderful show of initiative, creativity and teamwork!

Panyaden 'My Project' presentation 2014

Lots more photos –
On the blog:
Gallery 1
Gallery 2

On Panyaden’s Facebook page:
Album 1
Album 2

With thanks to STEPHENJEDGAR.COM for contributing some photos to the above albums.