Tag Archives: Neil Amas

Teaching Children Responsibility

Panyaden Live & LearnL - teaching students' responsibility

Live and Learn

Responsibility and how to teach it

by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director

Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas pictured at schoolWhen we see that our child is not being responsible, we can easily forget that children actually love to feel responsible! Most young children feel very proud when they have helped mum or dad. But that often seems to change as they get older and as parents, we can get very frustrated. How do we encourage responsibility in our children? Here are 10 parenting tips:

  1. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, as parents we need to hand it over! Most children do not want to be doted on because, like the rest of us, they need to feel that they matter in the world and that they can make a positive contribution. Children need our help sometimes, but when we constantly dote on them they not only start to expect to have things done for them, we risk rendering them helpless, reducing their confidence. If we always clear the table after meal times, we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t think it’s their job to help. The golden rule: don’t do for your child what he can do for himself!
  2. Draw the lines of responsibility. Be clear to your child that for some things he has full responsibility, for some you have responsibility, and for some things you share responsibility. These lines must change as she gets older and is able to take on more. If necessary, these can be written down and stuck on the fridge door. Write them together.
  3. Focus on empowering your child. Rather than a list of tasks that he ‘should do’, consider things which help him take charge of his life and then assist him in learning the necessary skills so that he actually wants to step into the new responsibility. Saying things like, ‘By now you should be able to tidy away your own toys’ leads to power struggles. If you worked out with him the areas of his life that he is fully responsible for managing, you already have a list of responsibilities he will be happy to assume.
  4. Avoid orders and instead try to make your child part of agreements on things like screen time. Ask ‘How much screen time do you think is reasonable each day (or week)?’ then agree on a sensible limit and have your child monitor the time herself. Stick to the agreement. When she feels trusted she is more likely to feel responsible.
  5. Encourage him to think for himself. Instead of, ’Don’t forget your PE shoes! Brush your teeth!’ you could ask, ‘What’s the next thing you need to do to get ready for school?’ The goal is to keep your child focused on their list of things to do, morning after morning, until they internalize it and begin managing their own morning tasks.

Teaching Responsibilty at Panyaden - students making rules sign for pool use Panyaden student responsible for collecting dishes

  1. Expect her to clean up after herself but don’t nag! When your toddler spills her drink, say ‘That’s ok. We can clean it up. We always clean up our messes’, as you hand her a cloth and pick one up yourself. By avoiding judgment or getting annoyed and by staying cheerful, our child is less likely to get defensive and will eventually be happy to clean up after herself. Lending a hand also models what we would like her to do when we make a mess!
  2. Make the job fun! At the start you may need to do chores together and it’s important that you communicate that there is a joy in doing chores and a satisfaction to be had from getting a job done. This is Chanda, one of the Panyaden Wise Habits. If you see chores as a drag, so will he.
  3. Teach a responsible attitude towards relationships. Forcing a child to apologize when he doesn’t mean it can lead to resentment and teaches him that he doesn’t have to mean what he says. Helping him to think of a way to make things better between him and his friend teaches him that he is responsible for fixing the hurt he has caused, while giving him some choice on how to do it increases his confidence and the likelihood he’ll act responsibly next time.
  4. Avoid blame! When we blame, our child will find any kind of reason to say it wasn’t his fault. Blaming is the number 1 reason why children lie to their parents. If you accept the situation as it is without pointing the finger, you are more likely to encourage a household where everyone shares responsibility. Instead of ‘Who left the fridge door open AGAIN?’ try, ‘I see the fridge door is open. Let’s make sure we keep it closed so that the food doesn’t go off.’
  5. Last but not least….Model it! If you run a red light or park in the bay reserved for elderly people, you are definitely not teaching responsibility!

 

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Panyaden 12 Wise Habits 2016

Panyden Wise Habit Mattannuta session at school

Mattannuta

by School Director, Neil Amas

Mattannuta (pronounced ma‐tan‐yoo‐ta มัตตัญญุตา) means ‘knowing the right amount’. When practised, it helps us achieve a healthy balance in life. It is the quality of understanding that, whatever goals we set ourselves, there is an optimum amount of material and non‐material things that we need. It is the ability to assess what is enough, and to know when we are being over‐demanding on ourselves, others or our environment.

phra-payutto
Phra Prom Kunaporn

The Buddha taught that the middle path should be followed by both body and mind. It is a path of neither sensory indulgence nor extreme austerity, but rather one of thoughtful moderation and balance. This does not only refer to specific actions or thoughts in isolation, for example, consuming the right amount of food, but also to achieving the right balance between all the different things we do each day and throughout our lives.

To illustrate this, Phra Prom Kunaporn refers to the importance of balancing the five indriya, or spiritual faculties: conviction (saddha), perseverance (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panya). For example, if our conviction or faith is very strong but we do not use wisdom, we have a tendency to become gullible, a person who follows without question. Conversely, high intelligence but little faith leads to scepticism, and an inability to look inside oneself for the truth. If our perseverance is strong but our concentration is weak, we are likely to become agitated and stressed. Too much concentration and insufficient perseverance, on the other hand, leads to excessive daydreaming or idleness. To find the right balance between these, we need to use the faculty of mindfulness (sati) to observe and manage the impulses that habitually drive our actions and thoughts.

In today’s world of branded ‘must-haves’ and ubiquitous advertising, teaching the new generation how to consume the right amount is very important. Natural resources are stretched and we are experiencing increasing environmental degradation. Understanding mattannuta, therefore, is vital for our students as they grow up and shape the future of our society and our world. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro counsels that if we think more is better simply in order to make our lives more comfortable, we will end up just wanting more and more and will never be satisfied. His advice is to encourage children to work out the mattannuta point for themselves. Whether eating, sleeping, studying, playing, using the computer or talking, the ability to find optimal balance through self-regulation is a skill which will lead to maturity and social responsibility. This means not dictating the rules to children, but rather helping them see the results of too much sleep – irritability and heaviness – or not enough – drowsiness and the inability to concentrate, or over-eating – stomach ache – and so on. When we ask our children how much sleep they think they need, how much food they should eat, instead of routinely imposing our own limits, they begin to understand mattannuta. If we encourage children to persevere for just another five minutes on a task they are bored with or wish to avoid, or to stop doing something they really crave a little earlier than they would like, this further helps put into focus the pushes and pulls of the mind and the benefits of balance.

Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden International School spiritual advisor
Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro

Venerable Jayasaro suggests that a family which practices mattannuta is one where parents and children are able to come to mutually acceptable agreements. This means deciding how long we think children should watch TV or play on the computer, for example, but also respecting our child’s ability to think for himself and come to a sensible agreement on the right amount of time. When the time has passed, we simply remind our child of the agreement. In this age of ever-increasing ‘screen time’, as adults we also need to reflect on the amount of time we spend on ‘smart’ phones or laptops in the presence of children, and the message we are giving them about what we consider to be important.

Mattannuta means understanding that any goals we set should take into account the optimum balance of supporting factors required to achieve the most beneficial result for ourselves, others and the environment. Practising mattannuta helps us to understand the desires and aversions created by our mind, and that understanding, in turn, increases the peaceful moments we experience. Mattannuta is, therefore, a vitally important wise habit to teach our children, but also to practice ourselves if we are to achieve true balance in our lives.

lotus2 transparentClick here for article in Thai: มัตตัญญุตา

Live and Learn: Household Chores for Kids

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Why household chores are good for your kids

By Neil Amas, School Director

IMG_2845 Panyaden International School Director, Neil Amas
I read recently that 82% of today’s parents did regular household chores when they were young, but only 28% expect the same of their children1. Not wanting to be part of that 28%, I decided during the last school break that it was time my kids did more to help around the house. The ensuing battle was almost epic…. and is still being fought! But new research shows it is worth pursuing because the benefits to your child’s wellbeing are significant.

“Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success, but ironically, we’ve stopped doing one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success – and that’s household chores,” says author and developmental psychologist, Richard Rende2.

DSCF8168 Panyaden student doing chores at school in Chiang Mai during Giving WeekNo doubt the growing tendency to fill our children’s free time with play dates, outings, entertainment and after-school clubs has contributed to the dwindling emphasis on household chores. But research by Dr. Marty Rossmann of the University of Minnesota found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, compared with those who didn’t have chores. Dr. Rossmann believes that household chores help children build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance3.

Learning to be kind and helpful at home builds empathy and leads to happiness. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro points out that generosity is the cornerstone for cultivating a sense of wellbeing for oneself and between people. That is why Caga (being generous) is one of the school’s 12 Wise Habits. It is a catalyst for family togetherness because, as Ajahn Jayasaro notes, “few things enhance the sense of connection between family members as group acts of generosity”.

The theory is all well and good, of course, but many parents know that the actual practice of getting our children to do – let alone enjoy – household chores is another matter! With gentle but firm perseverance, though, it can be done. While my own kids remain reluctant and resistant at times, I have seen a growing acceptance as the routine becomes embedded and I have even noticed some singing along the way!

Here are some tips that may help get your kids to the washing-up bowl.

Make a chores schedule. A schedule of chores made by the child himself which he can tick off each day, creates a sense of personal accomplishment as well as serving as a visible reminder of what need to be done.

Are extra piano lessons necessary? Instead of scheduling another after-school club or a weekend of visits to the cinema or water park, give priority and due importance to household chores. Then your child will get the same message.

Start small. Add fun. You are more likely to get children involved if the tasks are manageable at the start and build up to bigger ones. Add tasks that your child might find fun, like learning how to use the washing machine.

Avoid rewards and punishments. We know that promising an ice cream or pocket money for completing a task does not develop intrinsic motivation. In fact, research suggests external rewards lower inner motivation. Similarly, saying: ‘Of course we can go to the park, just as soon as you finish your chores’ is better than ‘If you don’t do your chores, you’re not going to the park’. The first indicates that there is a natural consequence of not completing something on time. The second is presented as a threat or punishment which is likely to lead to resentment and doing one’s chores begrudgingly.

Benefits to all. Caga and empathy are more likely to be developed if chores benefit the whole family (like doing the family laundry or feeding the dog), not just oneself (like tidying one’s bedroom). Describing tasks as our chores instead of your chores further puts the focus on taking care of others.

Let your child know he is a being a helper rather than helping. Research shows that young children are more motivated by the idea of creating a positive identity – being known as someone who helps4.

Add choice. Involving children in choosing the tasks makes them more likely to buy in.

Don’t make chores into ‘chores’! If you yourself complain about doing the dishes or the pile of laundry that needs to be done, so will your children. Modelling a positive attitude towards household work is probably the best encouragement you can give.

Be consistent and stick to the time frame. If you don’t monitor the chores schedule or follow up every time tasks haven’t been done, your child will soon understand that she only has to do chores some of the time. Make sure that the chore is done within a time frame previously agreed with your child and that whatever was supposed to happen next – such as going outside to play – cannot happen until the chore is done.

It’s OK to help too! If your child is trying but really struggling it’s OK to say, “Well, it looks difficult for you today. Let me give you a hand to get it done before we go out”. Model such a behaviour and, who knows, our child might reciprocate one day and help us when we find it difficult to do ours!

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ทำไมงานบ้านจึงมีประโยชน์ต่อเด็กๆ

โดย นีล เอมัส School Director

Live and Learn_TH_page1 (2)
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Live and Learn_TH_page4 (3)

Download Thai version here.

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1See Why Children Need to Do Chores by Jennifer Wallace in the Wall Street Journal
2Ibid
3Ibid
4Ibid

Live and Learn: Helping My Child at Home

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How can I best support my child’s education at home?

By Michel Thibeault, Head Teacher

Michel Thibeault, Panyaden School Head Teacher

Relax, have fun together, share your passions and give your child lots of space to be his own person!

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the time spent helping with homework that is likely to make the biggest difference in our children’s education. In fact, research shows that only high school students benefit from doing homework, while elementary school students gain little or nothing. What does make a positive difference then? Well, “Relax, have fun together, share your passions and give your child lots of space to be his own person!” seems to be what is needed!

The usual “What did you do at school today?” rarely yields more than the monosyllabic “stuff” or the extended version, “I don’t know”. What we would like of course is for them to share the exciting moments of their day, the learning highlights but also the challenges they faced and the way we dealt with them. In “How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk”, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish suggest we simply talk about our day first and model what we would like them to do! Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work right away. Staying relaxed and avoiding interrogation sessions is likely to do the trick over time.

One of the key elements of the Panyaden approach is support the development of the wonderful Wise Habit of Chanda, the love of learning for its own sake. This requires that we create an environment that will be conducive to inquiry, that will support creativity and make discovery and learning a fun activity. Pressuring students takes them in exactly the opposite direction. Whether it’s from Buddhist principles, new data on how the brain works or research by people like Carol Dweck or Alfie Khon, the conclusion is the same: feeling pressured and stressed kills creativity and limits our learning potential1.

Besides modeling, there are many small things that can help boost our children’s learning:

  • Make sure they get enough fresh air and opportunities to run around after school.
  • Avoid high sugar and other unhealthy snacks.
  • Read to them, never mind how old they are.
  • Read yourself and do it in front of your children: children will follow their parents’ example.
  • Work together on home activities.
  • When there is homework, provide a set time and quiet environment for it to happen. Patiently help out if needed but don’t feel you have to do the teacher’s job. Send a note to school to inform the teachers if you encounter any problem.
  • Look up information together when you’re not sure about something.
  • Listen to his ideas and respect the level of his attempts.
  • Understand and accept that while the goal is always mastery of a concept, skill or knowledge, we can only take the next step today. Tomorrow might take us closer to the goal.

img_3178 (1)If your child is reluctant to do his work, it might help to ask him to estimate the time needed for various sections and set a timer to see if his prediction was accurate or not, “how long do you think it will take you to read the text?”. The next questions, after the text is read, could be something like “how long do you think it will take to answer the first 5 questions?”. You could also build in an incentive such as “dinner will be served as soon as your homework is done”. Or “I hope you’ll be done before I go to your uncle’s house because I would like you to come with me”. In this case, dinner is not withdrawn, nor is his chance to go to his uncle’s house but it’s clear that something else must happen first. The child then has to decide by himself to do his homework and reap the benefits or not do it and assume the consequences. The wording is important to make sure it is not perceived as a reward. It’s best to avoid statements such as “If you do … you will get …”

If, as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”, let’s allow our children as many opportunities as possible to practice making decisions. If they feel they have a choice – even if it has to be limited – about when and where they do homework or other duties, when to have a break and so on, they are more likely to feel empowered…and from there Chanda will follow.

So, relax, have fun with your child, share your passions and give him lots of space to be his own person!

 

_____________________________
1See also recent New York Times article by Adam Grant: “How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off”, January 30th 2016

Panyaden Wise Habits: Mattannuta by Neil Amas

DSCF3253 Panyaden School wise habit, Mattanuta (knowing the right amount)
DSC01232 CROPPED smoothed

Mattannuta (pronounced ma‐tan‐yoo‐ta, มัตตัญญุตา, means ‘knowing the right amount’. When practised, it helps us achieve a healthy balance in life. It is the quality of understanding that, whatever goals we set ourselves, there is an optimum amount of material and non‐material things that we need. It is the ability to assess what is enough, and to know when we are being over‐demanding on ourselves, others or our environment.

The Buddha taught that the middle path should be followed by both body and mind. It is a path of neither sensory indulgence nor extreme austerity, but rather one of thoughtful moderation and balance. This does not only refer to specific actions or thoughts in isolation, for example consuming the right amount of food, but also to achieving the right balance between all the different things we do each day and throughout our lives.

To illustrate this, Phra Prom Kunaporn refers to the importance of balancing the five indriya, or spiritual faculties: conviction (saddha), perseverance (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panya). For example, if our conviction or faith is very strong but we do not use wisdom, we have a tendency to become gullible, a person that follows without question. Conversely, high intelligence but little faith leads to scepticism, and an inability to look inside oneself for the truth. If our perseverance is strong but our concentration is weak, we are likely to become agitated and stressed. Too much concentration and insufficient perseverance, on the other hand, leads to excessive daydreaming or idleness. To find the right balance between these, we need to use the faculty of mindfulness (sati) to observe and manage the impulses that habitually drive our actions and thoughts.

dsc6311a Mattanuta presentation at Panysden School

In today’s world of branded ‘must‐haves’ and ubiquitous advertising, teaching the new generation how to consume the right amount is very important. Natural resources are stretched and we are experiencing increasing environmental degradation. Understanding mattannuta, therefore, is vital for our students as they grow up and shape the future of our society and our world. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro counsels that if we think more is better simply in order to make our lives more comfortable, we will end up just wanting more and more and will never be satisfied. His advice is to encourage children to work out the mattannuta point for themselves. Whether eating, sleeping, studying, playing, using the computer or talking, the ability to find optimal balance through self‐regulation is a skill which will lead to maturity and social responsibility. This means not dictating the rules to children, but rather helping them see the results of too much sleep – irritability and heaviness – or not enough – drowsiness and the inability to concentrate, or over‐eating – stomachache – and so on. When we ask our children how much sleep they think they need, how much food they should eat, instead of routinely imposing our own limits, they begin to understand mattannuta. If we encourage children to persevere for just another five minutes on a task they are bored with or wish to avoid, or to stop doing something they really crave a little earlier than they would like, this further helps put into focus the pushes and pulls of the mind and the benefits of balance.

Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden School Chiang MaiVenerable Jayasaro suggests that a family which practices mattannuta is one where parents and children are able to come to mutually acceptable agreements. This means deciding how long we think children should watch TV or play on the computer, for example, but also respecting our child’s ability to think for himself and come to a sensible agreement on the right amount of time. When the time has passed, we simply remind our child of the agreement. In this age of ever‐increasing ‘screen time,’ as adults we also need to reflect on the amount of time we spend on ‘smart’ phones or laptops in the presence of children, and the message we are giving them about what we consider to be important.

Mattannuta means understanding that any goals we set should take into account the optimum balance of supporting factors required to achieve the most beneficial result for ourselves, others and the environment. Practising mattannuta helps us to understand the desires and aversions created by our mind, and that understanding in turn increases the peaceful moments we experience. Mattannuta is, therefore, a vitally important wise habit to teach our children, but also to practice ourselves if we are to achieve true balance in our lives.

lotus2 transparentClick to download article in Thai: Mattannuta_TH

 

Welcome Back to Panyaden

DSCF2952 Morning assembly, Day 1 of new school year at Panyaden School Chiang Mai
Head Teacher Kru Dokmai and School Director Kru Neil welcomed new students back to school in this morning’s assembly. They asked old students how they can make their new friends feel welcome. ‘Ask them their name,’ suggested one Prathom 2 (P2) student. ‘Show them around the school’ proposed another from P5. ‘Do exercise with them!’ piped up one 6-year old girl from P1.

New teachers then introduced themselves, followed by some guidelines about where to play and keeping safe on our new climbing frame.

“We are very excited to see you all again and we are looking forward to a great year of learning ahead,” said Kru Neil.

Panyaden School students at morning assemby, Day 1 of new school term DSCF2978 Panyaden School teachers introduce themselves Panyaden School Director and Thai Head Teacher at morning assembly with students

Click here for the above photos on the blog.

Neil Amas on Panyaden Wise Habit, Sacca

Panyaden students singing about the 12 Wise Habits at school
Panyaden students and teachers singing about the 12 Wise Habits

Panyaden-School-Director-Neil-Amas2-1Sacca (pronounced ‘sat-ja’) is a Pali word meaning “real” or “true.” It means to uphold integrity by speaking and acting according to the truth and to keep one’s word. It is a wise habit of profound importance and yet in daily life it is one of the most difficult for us to consistently practise.

In early Buddhist writings sacca is often found in reference to ariya-sacca, or ‘noble truth’ and, specifically, the Four Noble Truths, the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. In this context, sacca can be translated as ‘reality’, where the Buddha expounds the absolute truth of suffering, its cause, cessation and the path out of suffering. At a deeper level, therefore, applying sacca is more than simply telling the truth; it is seeing the nature of things as they really are. Buddhist scholar and monk Bhikku Bodhi explains, “Much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.’’

One way to define truthfulness is by looking at its opposite, false speech or action. This is not only telling lies – we also have a tendency to add things in or leave things out. We often exaggerate in order to make ourselves and our lives seem more interesting and exciting; because we want to be popular and do not think we are likeable enough as we are. Or we use understatement, saying things like, ‘No, no, I’m not upset’ or ‘It’s no bother at all’ when clearly the opposite is true. We do it to please others or because we fear disapproval, whereas in fact we are being quite false. And there are also times when what we say is not a lie, as such, but because of what we leave out it is not the whole truth. Here the intention can be to convey a completely wrong impression, such as describing someone we don’t like in a one-sided way or describing events without certain unfavourable details to show ourselves in a good light. This doesn’t mean we have to say everything we feel in the name of ‘being honest’. “You don’t have to reveal the entire contents of your mind to others. You must ask yourself, to what extent is it beneficial to yourself and to others, to what extent is it harmful? Will it increase the amount of dukkha (suffering)?” (Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro). If our intentions derive from wisdom and goodwill, it follows that our words and actions will be ethical and skilful.

Untruthfulness often stems from being afraid, of one’s teachers or parents, of being punished, or being looked down on or scolded. The ability to be truthful, on the other hand, is a sign of confidence and emotional maturity. Sacca is a great strength of the mind. Venerable Jayasaro has said, ‘’People don’t have much faith in telling the truth all the time. But sacca is the foundation to all the other wise habits.”

dsc_8537 Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro at Panyaden School Chiang MaiVenerable Jayasaro suggests that children are particularly prone to being untruthful because they are so dependent on others for their well-being. It is natural they may have doubts or anxieties that the people they depend upon will disapprove, or even abandon them. To create a love for sacca from children, we should point out how beneficial it is to speak the truth. We should help them see what feelings arise when we are truthful, especially when it is tempting to create a false picture just to get praise; or how good it feels when we keep a promise, particularly one which was hard to keep. By the same token, we need to show our children the suffering and complications we have to endure when we do not tell truth. When the truth suffers, so do we. ‘’We should teach children that if we do something wrong, we should accept it, and make up our mind not to make the same mistake again. It is up to parents and teachers to gain trust from our children by demonstrating our sense of justice, integrity and our readiness to forgive.”

This most challenging of wise habits is a trial for all of us. Every day we are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to bend the truth, to leave something out or to put too much in or to do what we said we would do. If we are able to model this most pure and precious of virtues to our children, we will give them a truly wonderful gift for life, and one which creates a open and trusting society for all.

 

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Download Thai here –
คุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการ โรงเรียนปัญญาเด่น : สัจจะ – Sacca_Th 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!

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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.

 

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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

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