http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... June 9, 2003


In This Issue:

1. New UrbanDharma eMail address
3. Children Get a Yen for Zen ...By Karyn Hsiao
4. A Few Sample Meditations for Young People
5. How should I teach Buddhism to my children?
6. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
Mountain Spirit Center
7. Book Review:
Meditating With Children: The Art of Concentration and Centering: A Workbook on New Educational Methods Using Meditation
...by Deborah, Ph.D. Rozman


1. Urban Dharma has a new eMail address:

UrbanDharma@ispwest.com -and- email.list@urbandharma.org

3. Children Get a Yen for Zen
...By Karyn Hsiao, The Salt Lake Tribune


Nine-year-old Keenan Barrow practices meditation during a children's Sunday session at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City. The group now has about a half-dozen regulars, ages 1 to 13.

Silence settles on Keenan Barrow as he sits in a meditative position with his palms folded together in his lap. He appears to have no trouble drawing smooth, deep breaths.

Of course, Barrow doesn't have the typical worries of a mortgage, job or bills to push out of his mind.

He's 9.

"I like meditating, and it's not that hard," he says matter-of-factly, his fingers toying with a round yin-yang charm dangling from his neck. "You just pick a spot on the floor to look at and concentrate on breathing instead of what you're going to do today."

It was Barrow's enthusiasm for meditating that inspired his mother, Jacque, to begin a free program for children at Utah's Kanzeon Zen Center, 1280 E. South Temple in Salt Lake City.

"At first, Keenan just wanted me to teach him about meditating and Zen Buddhism at home on Sundays," says Jacque Barrow. "But I volunteered to do it at the Zen center to include other children who might see their parents meditating at home and want to learn more."

So from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Sundays, Jacque Barrow strikes a gong to gather the group of children -- which now boasts a half-dozen regulars, ages 1 to 13 -- around her. Together, they sit on round cushions, called zafu in Japanese, and flat, square mats called zabuton.

The more supple children sit in the lotus position, with legs crossed and heels resting on their thighs, while others simply straddle the zafu. The room's volume plummets as the five- to 10-minute meditation session begins with arm stretches, three deep breaths and three rings of the gong.

"When you have a group of 10 children, including really young ones, it gets so quiet, it seems almost unnatural," says Jacque Barrow, who also supplements the morning with snack time, stories of the Buddha and field trips to a neighboring park.

Daniel Doen Silberberg, the Zen center's chief executive, admits that meditation in Western Buddhism largely has been geared toward adults, and its introduction to children is a recent development.

"Maybe children are already in more of a state of meditation to begin with," says Silberberg.

"Meditation is not sitting on your butt, which you can do at the movies or a ball game. It's looking into your own mind, and children probably can do that in a more playful, natural manner than adults."

Silberberg adds that many parents appreciate Jacque Barrow's program because it allows them to attend the center's Sunday lessons without being distracted.

Michelle Royer agrees as she collects son Maya, 2, and chats with friends at the Zen Center before heading home.

"Maya's probably too young to really meditate, but this is a great introduction for him," says Royer. "And as a single mother, it's wonderful to know someone is watching my child while I'm learning and meditating."

Besides, says Royer, "it's not easy to find a baby sitter on a Sunday morning in Salt Lake City."

4. A Few Sample Meditations for Young People


Here are a few sample meditations from various sources on the web. They were not difficult to find and there must be many more available. Until you are confident at developing a theme or idea 'on the fly' it might be easiest to try reading one or two of these. They have not been edited. Certainly they will give you a few ideas.


All right now, it is time for you to enter deep within your heart.  This is your home.  All the colors of the rainbow.  Take a deep breath in…and breath the fresh air from the highest of mountains, from the most peaceful of gardens…and when you let your breath out, let all the worries and pain go…  This way you have more room to enjoy your life.  Take a deep breath in… then out…….In….. and then out….. 

Going to use the symbol of the circle to bring you into this peaceful place within yourself… and this circle is a circle of light.  Maybe even one of the colors of the rainbow or all of the them… and this circle is bringing you a great feeling in your body and mind.  You are like a shining star, and when you learn something, your star shines even brighter.  Picture in your mind’s eye … a garden or even see the word written.  Garden.  You may walk around this garden and find there are many beautiful blooming flowers.  There are also many seeds there to be cared for so that they will grow too and bloom like all the other flowers in the garden.  To keep the garden clean you may want to pull out the weeds of what no longer is growing… and replace them with the new seeds…you may want to revisit this garden every time you go within your special space, and then… when you leave the circle that brings you to the quiet time, you can still remember your quiet space and understand what it is used for in many ways.  You will find the more you think about it you remember how it feels to have positive thoughts words and actions… and how meaningful that is… Remembering you are always being looked out for.  You are always being looked after… Anything that you set your mind to do, it can be done. 

Feel and see the blue light going in and around your entire body.  Through your feet… through your legs… through your stomach… through your back, through your arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and face.  All around you.  Top, bottom, sides, behind and before you.  Blue.  The light of the angels always with you.  You can even remind yourself of this blue light that cleans your body and mind at anytime.  Using the color blue to take you out of the state of meditation now… and as you close , when you come back up out of meditation, you will only be open for positive thoughts words and actions.  Blue.  Eyes open and wide awake.  Blue.


Let's go on an adventure!

But, instead of rushing out the front door, let's go on an adventure within, to a beautiful place inside, in our thoughts...

Lying on the bed or soft carpet, or the lawn or beach in warm weather, stretch out on your back as a starfish. Close your eyes, let your body go limp as a Raggedy Ann or Andy doll, while counting to 10 in your mind.

Lying so still and relaxed, keeping your eyes closed, walk through the inner doorway in your mind onto the beach, on a warm sunny day.

In your mind, just feel yourself standing still for a moment looking around, seeing the waves wash against the shoreline in their regular rhythms, over and over again.

While watching the regular pattern of the waves, just breathe in and out, evenly in and out, over and over again.

Watch the waves, while breathing evenly, in and out.

Enjoy the relaxed feeling in your own body that is lying so limply on the bed or carpet. Feel whole and comfortable in your resting body and mind.

When enough time has passed, begin to come back to your everyday active self. Stretch out those limp arms and legs, take a deep breath, sit up.

Do you feel your new energy, all set and ready to go again?!

* * *

My dear friends, take time for this little restful timeout whenever you need it.

When you are swamped with homework, when you've had an argument, take time to find the place of rest within yourself, as you deeply relax your body like the limp Raggedy Ann or Andy doll.

And perhaps, when you get up and become active again, some new ideas will come to solve problems.

This is true for all your life to come. Even as a teenager, and adult.

Meditation, quiet time, with a relaxed body and beautiful thoughts is a natural way to make space for problem solving, and moving in the right direction.


Find a quiet place to sit down for awhile. A place where you can be left alone with no interruptions.

Get comfortable-wiggle around, cross your legs and put your hands in your lap. I promise you this will only take a few minutes and you're going to have fun.

Take a big breath and blow it out really noisy.

Do it again and again. That's one way to breathe.

Now, let's try another.

Take a deep breath but slowly- now let the air out slowly and quietly.

Do this again and again.

Keep breathing this way. This kind of breathing is calmer and will help you during this exercise we call meditation.

Breathe in slowly.

Breathe out slowly.

While you are doing this look around your quiet place. Look at the things you see right in front of you. See everything. Now, without moving, glance to your side. What else do you see? The other side. What's there?

Now, close your eyes.

How's your breathing?

Still slow, still deep. Just think about that.

Slow,-deep, quiet.

Don't open your eyes but try to picture your place. See in your mind what was actually in front of you. What do you remember? What colors were there? What do you see in your mind as you glance to your right side and your left side?

After a few minutes of imagining the things in your place open your eyes and look again. Did you think of most of the things or only a few? It doesn't matter. Today was one way. The next time you try this it will be different. But, do try to notice the differences. Pay attention.

When you do this several times you will start to notice what you are seeing around you throughout your day. Make a game of it. What color

are the walls in your classroom? What color shirt did your friends have on

yesterday" Did you notice how many bikes were at the playground?

The more you notice, the more you know.


This exercise is a very special one. It's all about you and how you talk to yourself. This is a really good thing to do and to share so tell your family and friends about it too. We should all talk to ourselves about being special.

Let's sit quietly again. This time I want you to shake your head real fast and make a funny noise as you push out all the air that is inside of you.

Shake your arms out too. Now be still.

Give one last push through your mouth to get rid of all the air.

Close your eyes and calmly -- breathe. No matter what you are feeling at this moment, I want you to put a smile on your face. Keep it there while you think about your breathing, about relaxing and about keeping your eyes closed.

Choose to ignore any ideas that come to your mind about what has happened already today or what is going to happen later.

As those ideas try to come back to your thoughts just make up your mind to think about your breathing.

Gradually one thought will come to you. Let it have a place in your mind.

"I like myself".

Let that idea spread through your whole body. Feel it deep inside. You may sense a warm glow inside yourself. Feel it again.

"I like myself."

"I like myself."

Repeat these few words that came to your mind.

Tomorrow the sense that comes may be:

"I am happy"

or "I can learn my spelling words"

or I will try to be nice to my little sister"

or "I will stay calm when I feel upset"

or "I can be more confident".

Everyday take time to touch inside your own heart and soul to find the secret message you need to give to yourself. They're your feelings. They're real.

It's a gift you can give to yourself and you deserve it.


This is going to be very quick but also very quiet. And, it's going to be fun.

You may not want to right now, but I want you to lie down.

Start out by paying attention to your breathing. Right now, are you breathing fast? Are your breaths shallow? That's fine, but I want you to try to slow it down.

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Blow all the air out.

Now, do that again and again.

I bet you feel calmer. Just think about your breathing, eyes still closed.

Think about your feet. Pull your toes up toward your face as tightly as you can. Move to your legs; make them as stiff and straight as you can.

Now your stomach. Squeeze it in.

Put your arms by your sides- make them straight and stiff too. Keep them tightly next to your body. Make fists with your hands. Tight, tight fists.

Clinch your teeth, squeeze your eyes closed. Every bit of you is tight, tight, tight. Hold still.

Now, soften your eyes. They may flutter. Let your mouth open slightly. Open your hands, let your arms go limp, your stomach is soft.

Your legs fall to the side. Your feet hang loosely open. Your whole body is now fully relaxed.

Your breathing is still slow and steady and you are completely at ease. Just stay there gently breathing- resting your body.

You may fall asleep for awhile. Notice how nice it feels to be so calm and quiet.

You can feel this way whenever you want. You can practice first tightening all your body parts and then letting them go. You can do this before you go to bed at night. You can do this just because you want to feel peaceful.

This is a gift you can give yourself.

So, do it.

And maybe teach your Mom and Dad to do it too.


We're going to learn this here on the computer, but I hope you will soon do it first thing in the morning before you even get out of bed. We can all benefit from this delightful exercise so tell your family about it too.

As you awaken, take a deep breath- stretch if you feel like it and put a smile on your face. If you've opened your eyes, close them again.

Feel the warmth under your covers. Say to yourself:

"I feel the softness of the sheets against my skin."

"I feel the fresh air coming in through the open window."

"I smell the grass."

"I hear the birds."

"I smell bacon."

"I hear the traffic."

The garbage truck is backing up.

A train goes by.

The floor creaks as someone walks outside your room.

The clock is ticking by your head.

What else do you notice?

What always happens first thing in the morning?

What can you be sure of because of what you notice? If you hear rain you know you'll need a raincoat this morning. If the air is chilly through your

window you'll need a jacket. The birds are much livelier in the Spring.

Smelling bacon makes you hungry. Someone is up cooking already.

Certain things always happen. You can count on them. They make you feel safe.

They remind you of how good you feel about you. What a wonderful way to start your day. Good morning!


Choose a place to sit down for a few minutes. This is going to become a special place for you where you can be quiet, be alone, be comfortable and you're going to like it that way.

Now that you're sitting quietly practice your slow quiet breathing. Think about your breathing and try to ignore other thoughts that come to your mind. You can think about that later. Anything that comes to mind is for later. Close your eyes.

Breathe in through your nose – out through your mouth.

In… out.

In… out.

Start to notice what you feel. If your in a chair, does the material scratch your skin? Is it soft or hard.

You feel an itch on your nose. Don't scratch it, just feel it.

Your shoes are tied too tight.

Feel the breeze coming in through the window. Or, feel the heat on your back as the sun shines through the window.

Does your stomach feel full or empty?

Is your mouth dry?

These sensations will become so big because you are focusing on them. Pay attention to them. Try to just feel.

Don't shift to ease the scratchy material against your skin.

Don't move out of the sun.

Just let them be.

These feelings are real. They will go away later when you move but right now

just stay put and feel them.

What else do you feel?

Today you feel happy. Maybe the other day you were sad.

Do you like being alone or does it feel lonely?

Do you feel good about yourself right now? You did well in school today; that feels good. Last week someone was mean to you; that felt scary.

Pay attention to how you feel. What made you feel that way?

What do you call the feelings. Try to name them. Where in your body do you feel funny or good when you have these different emotions?

Now, put all the good feelings right inside of you. I bet you're smiling. I bet you feel like you do when you get a big hug. You can feel this way anytime.

Just remember what makes you feel good about yourself and how it makes you feel inside.

Give your self a hug!

5. How should I teach Buddhism to my children?


The Buddha's advice to parents is straightforward: help your children become generous, virtuous, responsible, skilled, and self-sufficient adults. Teaching Buddhism to one's children does not mean giving them long lectures about dependent co-arising, or forcing them to memorize the Buddha's lists of the eightfold this, the ten such-and-suches, the seventeen so-and-sos. It simply means giving them the basic skills they'll need in order to find true happiness. The rest will take care of itself.

The single most important lesson parents can convey to their children is that every action has consequences. Each moment presents us with an opportunity, and it is up to us to choose how we want to think, speak, or act. It is these choices that eventually determine our happiness. This is the essence of kamma, the basic law of cause and effect that underlies the Dhamma. It also happens to be the message behind one of the few recorded teachings the Buddha gave to his only child, Rahula. This sutta -- the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta (MN 61) -- offers parents some important clues about teaching Dhamma to young children -- in terms of both the content of what to teach and the method to use.

In this sutta the Buddha reprimands the seven year old Rahula for telling a small lie. The content of the Buddha's lesson here is clear and simple: it concerns right speech, and helping Rahula keep himself true to the fundamental principles of virtue. There are several noteworthy aspects to the Buddha's method. First, by artfully drawing comparisons to an everyday utensil (in this case, a water dipper), the Buddha makes his point in vivid and age-appropriate language that Rahula can easily understand. Second, the Buddha doesn't launch into a long-winded abstract lecture on the nature of kamma, but instead keeps the lesson focused on the immediate issue at hand: choosing your actions carefully. Third, although the five precepts do indeed constitute the fundamental framework for moral conduct, the Buddha does not mention them here -- presumably because some of the precepts (concerning sexuality and using intoxicants) are simply not relevant to most seven year olds. (Perhaps the Buddha had more to say about the precepts by the time Rahula was a teenager.) Fourth, the Buddha keeps Rahula engaged during the lesson by asking him simple questions; this is no dry, soporific lecture. And finally, the Buddha takes advantage of the opportunity presented by this "teaching moment" to expand into deeper territory, to explain to Rahula the importance of reflecting inwardly before, during, and after performing an action of any sort -- whether of body, speech, or mind. The Buddha thus places Rahula's original small misdeed into a much broader context, transforming it into a lesson of deep and lasting significance.

Although most of us who are parents can only dream of teaching our children as consciously and effectively as the Buddha did, we can still learn from his example. But before we can translate his example into action, there is one crucial point to recognize: the Buddha's instructions to his son were given by someone who really knew what he was talking about; Rahula's teacher was someone who truly practiced what he preached, a role model par excellence. So the message is clear: if we hope to instruct our children about matters concerning the path of Dhamma, we had better be sure that we ourselves are practicing on that path. If you extol the virtues of skillful qualities such as generosity, truthfulness, and patience, but your children only see you being stingy, overhear you telling lies, or see you losing your temper, then your message will be lost. Of course, you need not have perfected the Dhamma in order to instruct your children, but for your instruction to carry any weight your children must be able to witness firsthand that you are earnestly striving to put these same teachings into practice yourself. And if you can inspire them by your example and give them the skills they need to know to live in tune with the Dhamma, then you've given them a rare gift indeed:

The wise hope for a child
of heightened or similar birth,
not for one
of lowered birth,
a disgrace to the family.
These children in the world,
lay followers,
consummate in virtue, conviction;
generous, free from stinginess,
shine forth in any gathering
like the moon
when freed from a cloud.   [Iti 74]

If you're looking for books to read to (or with) a younger child, I recommend the series of colorfully illustrated Jataka story books published by Dharma Press. These books (in the "Jataka Tales Series") recount stories of the Buddha's former lives. They are suitable for children under 10, and are available from » Dharma Publishing (2910 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA).


1. Seven years after leaving his home and family to begin his spiritual quest, Siddhattha Gotama -- now the Buddha -- returned on the first of several visits to his family to teach them Dhamma. The only suttas that record the Buddha's instructions to his son Rahula are these: MN 61 (Rahula is 7 years old), in which the Buddha explains the importance of self-reflection before, during, and after performing any action; MN 62 (age 18), in which the Buddha teaches him breath meditation; MN 147 (age 20, just after his ordination as a bhikkhu), in which the Buddha queries him about impermanence, and Rahula thereby becomes an arahant (this sutta is identical to SN XXXV.121); SN XXII.91 (= SN XVIII.21) and SN XXII.92 (= SN XVIII.22), in which the Buddha answers his questions about uprooting I-making and conceit; and Sn II.11, in which the Buddha praises to him the virtues of the homeless life.

2. The Jataka, or "Birth Stories", is a book in the Khuddaka Nikaya that recounts tales of the Buddha's former lives prior to his final rebirth as Siddhattha Gotama. In previous lives he was born a human, or a bird, or a monkey, etc., and each life he devoted to strengthening a wholesome quality. So one Jataka story might be about developing patience, another about developing generosity, and so on.

6. Mountain Spirit Center


8400 Juniper Way, Tehachapi California, 93561-9315,

Phone- 661-822-7776

eMail- Info@MountainSpiritCenter.net

Mountain Spirit Center is a Zen Temple located in the Tehachapi Mountains, two hours north of Los Angeles. The temple was founded by Mu Ryang Sunim, an American monk and student of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn.

Every Sunday at 11AM, there is a Buddhist service, including chanting, meditation, and a talk, followed by lunch. Everyone is welcome.

Short  (2-3 days)  Zen meditation retreats are held the second weekend of each month.  Some prior retreat experience is suggested. Please call for more information and reservations.

7. Meditating With Children: The Art of Concentration and Centering: A Workbook on New Educational Methods Using Meditation
...by Deborah, Ph.D. Rozman


Amazon.com- Reviewer: A reader from USA... Rozman teaches children to center in the heart, which puts them in touch with the depth of their own being. By using the heart as the primary focus for centerning and concentration, children balance their mental, physical, and emotional natures, self-esteem expands, decision-making skills improve, and the ability to concentrate increases. Guided imagery, yoga, creative fantasy, movement, psychology, and love are used to give form to the inner spiritual qualities inherent in youth, resulting in happier, more caring children who may communicate the truth of their hearts.


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