Challenges & Temptations

The Plum Village Children’s Manual shares a story of Buddha’s challenges and temptations when he wanted to accomplish something very important such as enlightenment and peace. Usually, whenever we want to do something that is very important in our life, we meet challenges. The story is about Mara, the bad guy, the force that pulls us away from what we want, from what we know is right. Mara is out there, but he or she is also inside of us. The ways that Mara tries to challenge us is through Distractions & Desire, Fear and Doubt. Some ways to resist the Distractions & Desire & Fear, that keep us away from what we want, is through the practice of mindfulness with 3 in-breaths and 3 out-breaths whenever each of these challenges appear. When you are distracted by Doubt, the worst weapon of them all, is to sit very still and put one hand down and touch the Earth. Put one hand on your lap, and one hand touching the Earth while breathing 3 in-breaths and 3 out-breaths. This story reminds us that the Earth is always there for us, ready to support us and help us when we have difficulty. So, anytime you feel upset, lonely, scared or confused, go to the Earth. Release your feelings onto the Earth and open yourself up to her support and healing energy.


Join both your palms and bring them to your forehead, then to your heart, in this way uniting body and mind, and then kneel down, resting our forehead on the earth (the child’s pose in yoga) with our palms turned up in a gesture of receiving, of openness, of resting, while we listen to and visualize what we want. When you hear the bell, you stand up and bow. We will touch the earth 3 times, first to Mother Earth, then to our parents, then to enjoy and appreciate who we are.

Body Appreciation Meditation – Touching, Connecting

The following meditation helps you become more attuned to your body. The in-breath is to touch a certain part of your body: eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and so on. The out-breath smiles to that part of the body. The out breath is to thank that part of your body for doing it’s job. At first you just recognize and smile to the different parts of your body, but gradually you shall see each individual part very clearly and deeply.

  1. Aware of the hair on my head, I breath in.                                                    Smiling to the hair on my head, I breath out.           Hair
  2. Aware of my eyes, I breathe in.                                                                            Smiling to my eyes, I breathe out.                                Eyes
  3. Aware of my ears, I breathe in.                                                                        Smiling to my ears, I breathe out.                                Ears
  4. Aware of my teethe, I breathe in.                                                                            Smiling to my teethe, I breathe out.                            Teethe
  5. Aware of my smile, I breathe in.                                                                      Smiling to my smile, I breathe out.                              Smile
  6. Aware of my shoulders, I breathe in.                                                              Smiling to my shoulders, I breathe out.                      Shoulders
  7. Aware of my arms, I breathe in.                                                                       Smiling to my arms, I breathe out.                              Arms
  8. Aware of my lungs, I breathe in.                                                                        Smiling to my lungs, I breathe out.                              Lungs
  9. Aware of my heart, I breathe in.                                                                        Smiling to my heart, I breathe out.                               Heart
  10. Aware of my liver, I breathe in.                                                                        Smiling to my liver, I breathe out.                                Liver
  11. Aware of my bowels, I breathe in.                                                                   Smiling to my bowels, I breathe out.                            Bowels
  12. Aware of my kidneys, I breathe in.                                                                    Smiling to my kidneys, I breathe out.                           Kidneys
  13. Aware of my feet, I breathe in.                                                                           Smiling to my feet, I breathe out.                                   Feet
  14. Aware of my toes, I breathe in.                                                                        Smiling to my toes, I breathe out.                                  Toes


Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand… The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Before I can walk in another’s shoes I must first remove my own. (Unknown)


  1. Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood means listen first, talk second; see things from another person’s point of view before sharing your own. When was the last time you tried walking in someone else’s shoes? What was the experience like – actually trying to consider another person’s point of view or idea before sharing yours? Describe what happened and what you learned. Share with classmates. In groups of 2 or 4, write your definitions of the following styles: Spacing Out, Pretend Listening, or  Selective Listening Word Listening, Self-Centered Listenoing, Genuine Listening.
  2. The following activity is about the information on pages 168 – 171. Mirroring is repeating back in your own words what another person is saying and feeling. You don’t judge or give advice. Read the following statement: “I feel so ugly. Nobody will ever ask me to dance with them.” The mirroring response could be: “It sounds like you are worried about not being asked to dance.” How would you respond by using mirroring to the following statements?
  • “No, you are not going out tonight!”
  • “You said I was the only one you wanted to be with, but that’s not what I heard!”

Learning to Invite the Bell – Lesson from Plum Village

Ask the children to sit upright, beautifully like a proud statue. They can sit on a chair or on the floor, cross legged, or kneeling. The back should be straight, but relaxed. We can only invite the bell when we are calm and peaceful, because the sound of the bell reflects our mind. We can only help others be peaceful when we are also graceful. So we recite this poem before we invite the bell:

Breathing-in: Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.

Breathing-out: I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.

Breathing-in: May those who hear it awaken from forgetfulness. 

Breathing-out: And overcome all anxiety and sorrow.

A more child-like version of the above poem is: I am really here, with my mind and body together. I am calm and happy and I want this sound of the bell to help others feel calm and happy.

Or: Breathing-in, I am calm, Breathing-out, I am smiling.

Activity: Ask the children to write their own poems for listening to and inviting the bell and then to really practice using them whenever they hear or invite the bell. They should breathe-in and out at least 3 times before picking up the bell to invite it.

Tell the children that we say “inviting the bell to sound” not “striking or hitting the bell” because it is a sound that can help many people and we always treat the bell with respect. Then we join our palms and bow to express our respect to the bell and also to show the unity of our mind and body. We pick the bell up and place it in the palm of one hand that remains flat, outstretched. With the other hand we pick up the inviter and wake up the bell. We breathe in and out once after the wake up sound and before making a full sound of the bell. The full sound should be strong and clear. If we mistakenly invite the bell too softly, we can invite a stronger sound straight away. Then we enjoy three in- and out breaths. We place the bell down and bow. Invite all the children to try inviting the bell once.

Simply Being Present – Plum Village Program

Our basic practice is to be present to ourselves and to those around us. Mindfulness helps us recognize what is happening inside and outside. We can intuit and feel the children and the atmosphere just by relaxing into the present moment. In America, the children sometimes call this “hanging out,” “chilling,” or “kicking it.” This is a wonderful way of being; at its core it is the practice of aimlessness, of being comfortable and at ease with the present situation. We enter their space, merge with their circle, and do not demand anything or force things to happen. This is the ‘cool’ way of the children. There is a lot of space and time, no rush. And then, from a smile, a laugh, a sharing, a slow opening, things begin to open and move naturally.

Habit 4 – Think Win-Win, Everyone Can Win – Happy Kids

Habit 4 – Think Win-Win  in The 7 Habits of Happy Kids is about everyone winning when there is a disagreement or conflict. Covey’s story about Lily is a wonderful story to teach kids about finding ways for everyone to be happy. In our busy life, too often we forget to teach children about creative solutions to conflicts. Lily learns that by respecting her mom’s opinion, she creates a solution that makes both  of them and the whole family happy.


  1. Today ask an older person what the golden rule is. After you know, try it out on someone. (Think/Pair/Share)
  2. Try to go a whole day without sulking, pouting, or feeling sorry for yourself.
  3. The next time you want to argue or fight with someone about who should get the best toy or who should win an argument, ask, “How can I make you happy too?” (Think/Pair/Share)
  4. Make a “wish poster.” Start by drawinga line down the middle. On one side, cut and paste magazine pictures of things you want (like an ant farm). On the other side, cut and paste pictures of things your mom or dad want (like a clean room). Together, look at your “wish poster.” See how you can work with each other to make both your wishes and your parents’ wishes come true. (Option – Do the “wish poster” with a friend or sibling.) Share with class.

Food Contemplations for Young People

Some invites the bell before the following food contemplations are read to the young people. (A bell is a beautiful way to signal that it’s time for mindfulness breathing. Children are asked to breathe in slowly and out slowly 3 times)

  • This food is the gift of the whole universe: The earth, the sky, the rain, and the sun.
  • We thank the people who have made this food, especially the farmers, the people at the market and the cooks.
  • We only put on our plate as much food as we can eat.
  • We want to chew the food slowly so that we can enjoy it.
  • This food gives us energy to practice being more loving and understanding.
  • We eat this food in order to be healthy and happy, and to love each other as a family.

After the reading someone invites the bell once more and the young people repeat the 3 breaths in and out. Then the bell is invited once more to indicate it’s okay to have the snack.

The Above mindfulness lesson is from The Plum Village