"Children's Cafeterias" provide many types of nourishment

**In translating a post by one of my Japanese colleagues, I learned about the concept of “Kodomo Shokudou” or “Children’s Cafeterias.” I thought some of you might also be interested, particularly as we enter the season of giving.

“Good evening. It's clinical psychologist Shoichi Akimoto from the Trauma Treatment Center and Resources. This afternoon, I attended a forum on “Kodomo Shokudou,” pictured below:

Kodomo Forum entry.jpg
Kodomo Shokodo Forum.jpg

(Translation note: Kodomo Shokudou, or “Children's Cafeterias,” began in 2012 as a grassroots effort to provide warm, nutritious meals and dining companionship to disadvantaged children. This article in the Japan Times gives a brief history.

“I learned quite a few things during the forum, but was particularly struck by the fact that, while these Cafeterias are created for children, they are also becoming places where parents and neighbors gather and interact.

There are Children's Cafeterias that host a Christmas party on behalf of busy parents--children may attend and the parents can then join in after they've finished work. This helps the families form relationships with their neighbors. I think it would be great if this concept became more widespread.

Also, because the children have set times where neighborhood association members come to feed them or help them with their studies, the children learn that there are adults who want to spend time with them and who honor and treasure those time commitments.

As I listened, I was nodding in agreement. This is about attachment, isn't it? Attachment trauma can always be repaired. Research into brain plasticity is continuing, and I think proof of this is coming in the near future.

But this (whether we call it a “challenge” or a “risky venture”) can be a challenge for the adult caregivers themselves. Various unconscious emotions can surface as they interact with the children. Whether or not these adults are acknowledging and learning from this could result in greatly divergent outcomes.

At our Center, we also offer counseling for caregivers. As you address your own challenges, your activities will become so much more enjoyable!

We've opened a trauma-focused counseling center in Saitama City, Japan, called TTCR: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources: https://saitama-traumahealingenglish.jimdofree.com. We also offer lectures on trauma for groups and businesses—please enquire!”

At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

Feeding Your Demons--a revolutionary meditation practice

A large part of my job is to provide clients with self-care tools.  Most of us can't afford continual trips to various therapists, and if we're serious about maintaining or improving our health, we need to create some time in our schedule to work with ourselves. 

Physical activity is important, and proper nutrition can't be overlooked.  But we also need tools to work with our minds, to deal with those things like illness, anxiety, depression, and so on that drain our energy and keep us from feeling fully alive. We can call these our “traumas;” another way to describe them is our “demons.”

One of my Buddhist teachers, Lama Tsultrim Allione, has developed a five-step method for "Feeding Your Demons." Although most of us would do almost anything to avoid these issues, Lama Tsultrim teaches that not only should we get close to them, but we should feed them to full satisfaction! This strategy of nurturing rather than battling our inner and outer enemies offers a revolutionary path to resolve conflict and leads to psychological integration and inner peace.

The following is a video of Lama Tsultrim explaining the origin of her "Feeding Your Demons" practice, and she actually guides you through it.  If you'd like to skip directly to the guided meditation, it begins at 21:40. Please let me know how it works for you!

At Bodhisattva Bodywork, I offer a variety of trauma resolution therapeutic services in my Chapel Hill office and online via a secure video link. I’m also affiliated with a trauma-focused group psychotherapy practice in Japan: Trauma Treatment Center and Resources (TTCR), which offers body-based therapy sessions and educational seminars in both English and Japanese.

Losar Tashi Delek! (Happy New Year! in Tibetan)

2017 Tashi Delek from Karmapa.jpg

Many of you know that I am a practicing Tibetan Buddhist.  My sangha (fellow practitioners) is Tara Mandala, and our teacher, Lama Tsultrim Allione, was one of the first Western women to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun in the Karma Kagyu lineage by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981).  The above greeting was recently issued by his successor, HH the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (1985-).

HH the Dalai Lama has offered this translation of the traditional greeting, Tashi Delek:  "May you be happy here and now and achieve definite goodness."  He has spoken about the importance of this at this time of Losar and suggests that we strive to live a life of meaning and to focus on benefiting others.

In this year of the Fire Bird, which begins on Monday, February 27, 2017, here are a few ideas about what to expect (taken from articles published in the Elephant Journal):

"The Year of the Firebird will be especially exciting.  By its nature, the energy of the firebird holds the intense power for continual recreation.  It is the symbolic representation of awakening, similar to the Phoenix.

In Buddhism, we see the firebird as a tenacious animal, determined and built for hard work, but also impulsive and hotheaded in her demeanor.  Similar to most passionate individuals, they adore the fine art of connecting.  We open ourselves to a time of greater community involvement and socialization as we welcome this new year.  It said that this year combines discipline and vigilance with tenderness and courage.  As we work together on challenges, we are reminded to leave time for play and banter.

The female Firebird year is often seen as an energetic but scattered year.  There are many opportunities, but concentration is necessary in order to enjoy their fruits.  The fire element adds a rather daunting but pregnant-with-possibility mix:   Fire transmits a vital, brilliant, and transforming energy and enhances expression, extroversion, and the ability to make decisions."

You may wish to make some special preparations to welcome in this exciting year!  Here are a few suggestions from my local sangha teacher, Ellen Booth Church:

To symbolize making a fresh start and eliminating obstacles from the previous year, it is traditional to clean your house before Losar. The day before Losar is the traditional day for pre-Losar cleaning. If you have an altar, you take it apart, clean it and freshen all offerings. Add fresh flowers and a "sweet" for the New Year. To create auspicious connections with good health, long life, prosperity and abundance, offer fruit, cookies, candies, etc. on an attractive plate on your altar. This is also a good time to hang New Prayer flags.

Traditionally, Tibetan families wash their faces on Losar morning with "star water."  Star water is made by taking pure water and leaving it outside in an open container so it can become imbued with starlight. This is done the night before Losar, which will be Sunday, February 26th.  A glass, crystal or ceramic container is best.  Water which is left overnight under the stars on this night is considered to have great cleansing and rejuvenating benefits.  It is said that to wash with this water in the very early morning hours of Losar is an auspicious start for the New Year!

On Losar day, you can do some special meditations/prayers at home. It is considered auspicious to wear a new piece of clothing on Losar, if possible. You can light candles on an altar, offer fresh fruit and flowers, recite long life prayers for the Dalai Lama and other lamas and spiritual figures, and chant mantras and make aspiration prayers for the new year.  Be sure to remember to dedicate the merit of your offerings to go out to all beings, everywhere, without one exception.

May each of us "be happy here and now and achieve definite goodness"!  Losar Tashi Delek!