Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Chinese New Year)

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Because of cyclical lunar dating,however, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. On the Chinese calendar, 2009 is Lunar Year 4707-4708.

On the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on Monday, January 26, 2009 — The Year of the Ox. If you were born in 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985 or 1997 – you were born under the sign of the ox. Like the ox, you are one of the most patient signs in Chinese zodiac, but when opposed your fierce temper comes to the fore — and woe to anyone who crosses you! A born leader, you inspire confidence from all around you. You are conservative, methodical, and good with your hands.

For the ox in 2009, any recent setbacks or obstacles can be overcome, so look forward to a year in which to really shine, either personally or professionally. Guard against being chauvinistic and always demanding your own way. The Ox would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general, or hairdresser.

Famous people born in the Year of the Ox include Napoleon Bonaparte, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks, Sylvia Porter, Vincent Van Gogh, actor George Clooney, boxer Oscar De La Hoya, Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai, and soccer star Wayne Rooney.

Happy New Year!

Buddhist Thought for the Day

The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish,
and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits.
When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
The purpose of words is to convey ideas.
When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words?
He is the one I would like to talk to.
–Chuang Tzu

links for 2007-06-29

First Begin, Then Continue…

This seems like a good use of secular mindfulness in elementary schools. [h/t Dave Rogers]

In the Classroom, a New Focus on Quieting the Mind [NY Times]

As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests.

Mindfulness, while common in hospitals, corporations, professional sports and even prisons, is relatively new in the education of squirming children. But a small but growing number of schools in places like Oakland and Lancaster, Pa., are slowly embracing the concept — as they did yoga five years ago — and institutions, like the psychology department at Stanford University and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, are trying to measure the effects.

During a five-week pilot program at Piedmont Avenue Elementary, Miss Megan, the “mindful” coach, visited every classroom twice a week, leading 15 minute sessions on how to have “gentle breaths and still bodies.” The sound of the Tibetan bowl reverberated at the start and finish of each lesson.

The techniques, among them focused breathing and concentrating on a single object, are loosely adapted from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the molecular biologist who pioneered the secular use of mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts in 1979 to help medical patients cope with chronic pain, anxiety and depression. Susan Kaiser Greenland, the founder of the InnerKids Foundation, which trains schoolchildren and teachers in the Los Angeles area, calls mindfulness “the new ABC’s — learning and leading a balanced life.”

At Stanford, the psychology department is assessing the feasibility of teaching mindfulness to families. “Parents and teachers tell kids 100 times a day to pay attention,” said Philippe R. Goldin, a researcher. “But we never teach them how.”

The experiment at Piedmont, whose student body is roughly 65 percent black, 18 percent Latino and includes a large number of immigrants, is financed by Park Day School, a nearby private school (prompting one teacher to grumble that it was “Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing ‘enlightenment’ to inner city schools”).

But Angela Haick, the principal of Piedmont Avenue, said she was inspired to try it after observing a class at a local middle school.

“If we can help children slow down and think,” Dr. Haick said, “they have the answers within themselves.” (…)

Dr. Saltzman, co-director of the mindfulness study at Stanford, said the initial findings showed increased control of attention and “less negative internal chatter — what one girl described as ‘the gossip inside my head: I’m stupid, I’m fat or I’m going to fail math,’ ” Dr. Saltzman said.

A recent study of teenagers by Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif., found that meditation techniques helped improve mood disorders, depression, and self-harming behaviors like anorexia and bulimia. [more]

links for 2007-06-10