The winter and spring season is filled with the kids’ sports activities. We enjoy being active and the kids love to participate in sports they love. We spend late weekday afternoons at practice and Saturday mornings the kids have meets or games. Sometimes it feels like we are always headed out the door and rushing. We took a free afternoon last week to slow down and visit the Japanese Friendship Garden.
We started out by having a picnic on the grass at a city park. As soon as we sat down, my six-year-old noticed the strong fresh grass scent in the air. Soon, we all started to notice the cloudy sky, the light breeze, and the chill in the air. A simple picnic in the grass allowed us to be mindful, to notice the here and now, and to relax.
“A Japanese garden is a concentration of natural beauty, instilled within the confines of an enclosed space. It is not a “park” in our western sense, but rather where visitors may quietly reflect and seek harmony with the natural world and within themselves, a tradition that is centuries old.” — Japanese Friendship Garden
The kids and I had a wonderful time walking around and noticing the beautiful sights. The short visit provided us with time to pause and be present. Taking time to be in a natural setting helped us be mindful and to let go of the need to look at our watch. We even happened upon a small wedding taking place in the garden.
While it is important to lead an active healthy life, it is also important to rest and reflect. Rest is an important aspect of developing creativity. Spending time in nature and being mindful allows us to be open to new ideas and to be open towards inspiration.
Sometimes we try to relax by staying home, but I find there are too many distractions at home and I have difficulty being mindful at home. There always seem to be household tasks, the kids get distracted with electronics and my brain has trouble settling down. Taking time to be outdoors always refreshes us, even if it is just a short visit to a peaceful garden.
Two Books for Children
My childhood friend gave me the book, I AM PEACE. It is a wonderful book for kids that explains mindfulness and how it helps settle the mind. The authors explain how finding peace in ourselves allows us to share peace and kindness with others.
A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh is a meditation book for children that uses drawing and pebbles help children learn to meditate in a quiet place.