Tuesday, June 11, 2013

5 Senses Game

It is utmost important in my mind that I teach my kids about differences of perspective and that variety is the spice of life.  This is grounded in virtues of equanimity and compassion.  As the Dalai Lama once said, "a super market with just one product is not super.  [Variety is] food for the mind.  Food for the emotions, growth."

I play a game with my kids that they really enjoy.  It has endless possibilities for keeping it interesting.

Sense of Touch:  In the dark at bed time, I collect a few items, toys, tools, materials, ect and one by one hand the item to my child.  I ask them to describe what they feel.  They can't taste, or see, smell, or hear it.  When they're really little, I can coach them with comments like "is it soft or hard, light or heavy, warm or cold, smooth or scratchy".  My older child now is good at describing qualities.  This is a great skill all by itself, but then I ask "what color is it." They usually have an answer, which prompts the discussion of what is truly knowable.

  • Can you really tell from the sense of touch what color it is?  We have a set of plastic critters, a brown bear and a panda bear are included in the mix, both from the same toy mold but painted differently.  
  • We talk about the 6th sense of mental formations, imagination.  It is the picture in their mind that's helping them determine the color.  
  • Is it plausible that the color of the bear is not what you believe it to be?
  • What other senses might you need to find out the answer?

Feeling the shape of a CD, is the music on the CD knowable without using their sense of sight or hearing?
Other senses: find items around the house that have a scent to them.  If you have instruments, use them to make noise.  Forage for some tasty items in the fridge, and turn the lights out.  Point out that eating is both taste and the sense of touch (texture).

The older they get, you can use life examples:
1. The boy was mean to you and doesn't want to be your friend.  How do you know that he doesn't want to be your friend?  Facial expressions, body language, he said so.  Is it plausible that the boy was angry, but that the friendship is not in danger?  What can you do to find out?
2. (For big kids:) Your spouse doesn't like what you cooked, and thinks you are a mediocre chef.  How do you know this to be true?  Is it plausible that your mental formation is incorrect?  What can you do to find out the answer?  And how might you feel or behave differently if you were to find out?

Define Entertainment

Have you ever noticed after watching a comedian, say John Steward or Seinfeld, that you have their canter of joke telling in your mind next time you say something witty.  The pauses and the head motion or eyes.

Or the last time you watched a love movie with your partner, how you may have sat a little closer, or hugged them longer before falling asleep that night.

Or maybe you modified your garden after reading a french novel that detailed out beautiful landscaping within a scene of the book.  

Wrote a note to yourself about a holiday tradition after watching or reading about a lovely idea you think your family would enjoy.

Watch a professional game, and try some of the strategies we saw next time we're on the field.

This list could go on, but also what about books of fables, prayers, jakatas, proverbs, Berenstain bears, and other books with virtuous plots that help teach your child life's examples through story.  And if we're reading a book that isn't directly for this purpose, do we pull out notable events of human interactions: "gee, that boy was mean, how do you think the other person felt."  "That girl used a bad word, in our family, we choose not to use that word."

At what point in our child or adult life do we stop learning from the content we ingest and consume something purely for the purpose of entertainment.  I'm bringing to awareness the justification adults make for themselves or for their children about watching/reading something that is violent, aggressive, mean, discriminating, or any other adjective to describe behavior we ought not mimic.  "It's just entertainment, [it doesn't effect me]".  

Is that possible?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snot-Nosed Children and their Microbiomes

Michael Pollan - Microbiomes (Click here for article)

This "article" is a small novella, but I enjoy Pollan's writing and perspective on health, food, and the world around us.  I enjoyed this one too.

Short-notes: the science of Microbiomes is brand new, and they make no claims out of certainty, but are confident to recommend diets inclusive of fermented foods (probiotics): kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, saurkraut, lacto-fermented pickles, craft beer (unpasteurized, for real!), ect.   As well, food preparation makes a difference, al dante noodles, crunchy steamed veggies, steal cut oats vs rolled oats.  Fermentation is our friend.

When pathogens and toxic chemicals are involved, wash.  When they are not, consider not washing...your hands, your food, ect.  Munch out of your organic garden with the sun on your back, but wash the grocery store produce.

Additives, antimicrobials and processing of westernized foods adds to the sterility of food, of good and bad bacteria, cutting down on the variety of bacteria present.  Diversity, at least, is a cornerstone belief in microbiology as a good thing.

Fascinating comments on the study of breast milk and early colonization of infants!  Fascinating comments on remote communities of the world!  And lots of implications surrounding better understanding of how healthy gut, mouth, and skin flora may impact our common chronic ailments.  All good reasons to stay tuned as discoveries evolve in this area of study!

Want more (or smaller bites of information)?  American Gut Project