Life Life

31/07/2017 - 14:25

A different summer…

One summer morning, more than 50 young students like young birds joyfully come into the Cat Tuong Quan Tranquil Residence to participate in the program: “Learning about the soul – opening the stream of righteousness.” This is a fun and rewarding activity that Cat Tuong Quan’s owners – Ta Thi Ngoc Thao – and her colleagues, want to give to the future “young seeds” of the country.

Serious meditation

Stepping into the large courtyard of the front of the Upper house with five sections and two wings, the little boys and girls looked around with open mouths at the wooden house of Mrs. Thao. Cat Tuong Quan has a special architectural style consisting of four exquisite wooden houses built in the shape of khau (mouth in Chinese) (口). A large surrounding garden with many flowers and large ponds in the middle of the houses create a cool and calm atmosphere. Not letting the guests wait long, the hostess introduced the beauty and meaning of Cat Tuong Quan. The four houses are built in a square so that the hostess can observe all the activities that take place in her home; the calm lake in the middle of the house is a place where the air is conditioned and becomes fresh and cool; and there are many green trees in the garden because "in Hue, the house and the garden is one, helping people to fuse with nature. Inside the house, the body must be secure and the mind must be static, otherwise the foot will stumble, and the head will knock into the columns. That would hurt a lot!" Ms. Thao said. Listening to these things, the children laughed excitedly. This is also an introductory lesson for young students in this trip: "Living in harmony with nature and loving nature."

After the introduction, the children were lined up to visit around Cat Tuong Quan to explore the house with typical Hue garden architecture. Still surprised about the beauty of the space here, the boys and girls continue to enter a new eagerness to hear the owner of Cat Tuong Quan saying "Now you will learn to calm the mind." Oh, only adults learn to calm the minds, surely not children?! Many people would have thought so, but, according to Ms. Thao's account, "A static mind is a way to focus before a test, before stressful times, or before dealing with certain tasks. The mind is completely relaxed as if a glass of water had settled down all sediments to show the upper clear part. It helps the mind to return to a healthy state in order to cope with some of the worst stress or problems. This is why schools in the United States have taken meditation into schools to reduce stress, prevent school violence and reduce students’ uncontrolled behavior. "

Under the guidance of Ms. Thao, innocent and mischievous children are now being introduced to meditation and mindfulness of breathing, which is the first step in learning to concentrate. It was not easy to keep active children all sitting quietly at the same time, and Cat Tuong Quan’s owner surely understood it! So they were given a chocolate candy and were asked to not chew the chocolate during the meditation session. "Let the candy slowly dissolve and feel its sweetness, its bitter taste and aroma. You will have wisdom, love your parents, love grandparents, love people, love nature, have good health and laugh all day, " she said. At first, some small children were surprised, and did not "remember" that they were practicing sitting meditation and accidentally chewed their chocolates. But just a minute later, the children practiced sitting meditation very seriously in order and silent. 15 minutes of meditation passed by quickly. At this time, everyone felt refreshed and relaxed when their minds were as fresh as a cup of water! "Sitting meditating so fun!" exclaimed the little girl with sparkling eyes on the seat next to me.


Then, as instructed by Cat Tuong Quan, the children began to slowly walk step by step around the house.  Walking meditation is the conscious practice of knowing your left foot walks when your left foot walks, knowing your right foot walks you’re your right foot walks. Walking meditation helps to control every step and broadens to control over all of your actions. The lesson for the children is to be present.

Saying happy goodbyes to Cat Tuong Quan

With the mind and spirit filled with energy, the children stepped into the second activity with no less interest - the lotus specification. Most flowers bloom in the spring, not summer, but the lotus "bloom" in summer like a sacrificing virtue. Hiding under the mud through three seasons: autumn, winter, spring to bloom fragrant flowers in summer, the lotus must be very patient. The lotus grows straight, symbolizing an honest characteristic. The lotus flower stem is hollow symbolizing generous and noble characteristics ... One by one, describing eight high characteristics of the lotus: noble, helpful, patient, pure, sacrificing, righteous, and knowing cause and effect. Ms. Thao gave the children close questions about parents, friends, and how to deal with people, and the children enthusiastically responded. They also held the lotus flower themselves, looking at the lotus flower with tiny seeds inside, touching the lotus stem to see how empty it is. This made the children feel very excited. Ms. Thao finished describing the eight characteristics by saying: "Now put your hands together like lotus buds and close your eyes, the characteristics of the lotus will penetrate into you. You will be noble, helpful, patient, pure, sacrificial, righteous, and knowing cause-effect, like the lotus. "

In Buddhism, the method of watching the lotus is to meditate and concentrate. Concentration is the focus for attention on one thing. Consciousness is thinking about what is going to happen, such as going into an exam, how we will start the exam and how to solve it. Be consistent in everything you do. If you want to learn how to meditate, observe the breath to concentrate and begin to observe when you are working. When we contemplate the imminent event, 98% success will be achieved. Children are young seeds of the country so you need to have such programs to help young children to grow up to be good and useful people," she said.

The two hours in Cat Tuong Quan passed quickly. Saying goodbye to Cat Tuong Quan and Ms. Ta Thi Ngoc Thao, the youngsters have collected a lot of energy, and simple but precious lessons of life.

Story and photo: Ngoc Ha