Welcome to this week’s Exploring Geography post, brought to you by The Good Long Road. Jenni Fischer is a mom of two, Wild Thing (her toddler) and Caterpillar (her 10 month-old), as well as an independent filmmaker who has taught filmmaking to youth and has run after-school programs through her company Generation Arts. She writes about her experiences with Wild Thing and Caterpillar at The Good Long Road with an emphasis on mindfulness, imagination, and creative activities related to her toddler’s favorite children’s books.
Tibet is a plateau, north-east of the Himalayas, one of the most famous mountain regions in the world. Often called the roof of the Earth because it is the highest region on Earth with an average elevation of 16,000 feet!
|Himalayas, southern rim of Tibetan plateau (photo from Wikipedia)|
|Tibetan flag (photo from Wikipedia)|
|Map of Tibet (from Wikipedia) – yellow is the Tibetan autonomous region within China|
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and certainly the most famous Tibetan in the world, frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of inter-religious harmony, and the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture and religion (Buddhism-probably what most people around the world know about Tibet).
|Dalai Lama speaking in India (photo from dalailama.com)|
Here are 5 key principals often considered central to Tibetan Buddhism, which I am stating here in language/terms that I find relevant/easy for children to understand.
- I will not harm other beings — I will respect other living things and treat them with kindness
- I will not take from others — I will practice generosity and share with others.
- I will not use harmful speech (includes gossip) — I will use words full of love and kindness.
- I will take care of my body and treat it kindly (eat well, exercise, etc.)
- I will not engage in activities that cloud my mind — I will read, watch, participate in activities that foster positivity in the world and mindfulness in my life.
One teacher, during a lesson on Buddhism, worked with her students to relate these precepts to their classroom and to create a class list of “precepts” regarding taking care of one another and working toward a more happy and healthy world. The class undertook a trash clean up, recycling project and food drive.
Meditation is a very important aspect of a Buddhist practice. Some people think meditation is too challenging for kids, but I have found with my Wild Thing (toddler) who can get overly excited and really worked up, that helping him learn to calm himself down and make his mind still is very valuable. We do it by focusing on counting and taking deep breaths.
Awesomely Awake has great resources/activities ideas for raising peaceful children, including a mind jar and peace corner.
|Mind jar and photo from Awesomely Awake|
Creating a mind jar with or for your little one would be a great activity to use when teaching your child about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. If you decide to use a mind jar, Chasing the Firefly offers a valuable reminder that sitting with your child and being present with them in the process helps (and ensures that the glass jar doesn’t get thrown), and Jen at PaintCutPaste shares that she uses this technique in her meditation instruction with adults. I find that passing along meditation practices to Wild Thing improves my ability to practice patience with my children.
|Tibetan butter tea, image from Amazing Tibet Travel|
*Fun fact – The English word “yak” derives from the Tibetan (Tibetan: གཡག་, gyag – in Tibetan this refers only to the male of the species, the female being called a Nak. In English, as in most other languages which have borrowed the word, “yak” is usually used for both sexes, but it actually be more accurate to say Nak butter — so show off and tell people that you know what a Nak is!!