In this season of excitement, busyness, parties, shopping, and stress, it is easy to get lost in the holiday chaos. If you, like I, are in need of some inspiration for slowing down and reconnecting with yourself, look no further than to nine-year-old Sara Asker.
This Sonoma resident not only has discovered creative outlets for practicing mindfulness, she teaches by example to her peers as well. Mindful Littles asked Sara about her passion for making doradangos*, what mindfulness means to her and the different, creative ways she finds her center.
ML: I heard you have a passion for doradangos, and that you recently taught dozens of students in your after school program how to make them one afternoon. Can you tell me more about this experience?
SA: I decided to make the doradango because I was looking at the grassy field, and saw all the beautiful mud and thought I would make a doradango. Other kids around me asked what I was doing, and so I told them what it was, and how to make one. They ended up joining me to make beautiful doradangos. I told them the steps to make one, and where to get the mud. More and more people wanted to see what I was doing and make a doradango. It was very fun teaching other people, and giving them a new item to play with at their house.
ML: What exactly is a doradango?
SA: Doradangos are an item made out of mud that form into a solid rock, like a stone, when you are done making it…[it’s] a unique, round shape and very cool. You can polish it with a towel and make it really shiny and sparkly, or you can leave it unpolished to look like a stone. It is a very nice decoration to put around your house.
ML: Where did you learn about them?
SA: I learned about them from my sister, Sadie, and the first time she taught me was a long time ago. And the first time I made one was with this really pretty powdery dirt. She taught me all the steps in a unique way. She had me take my time, and do every step slowly and carefully.
ML: What do they mean to you?
SA: Doradangos mean a lot to me, and they are very fun to play with, and I recommend making one. They mean peace and love to me, and I love to touch them.
ML: What does it feel like for you when you’re making a doradango?
SA: I feel very happy. Sometimes when I’m alone making it, it takes a lot of patience. My emotions feel very happy and calmed down when I’m making it. Sometimes it makes me feel better when I’m stressed out. Sometimes they get really cold when you leave them out at night, and I like holding them when they are cold.
ML: What does mindfulness mean to you?
SA: What mindfulness means to me is very meditative, and very calming; and the word mindfulness makes me feel a happy passion.
ML: How and when do you practice mindfulness? Can you share an example of a time that you intentionally practiced being mindful?
SA: I practice mindfulness at my house, sometimes when I’m coloring; I think of all the pretty nature that surrounds me and I draw one of those things. When I practice mindfulness, it makes me very happy.
I also practice mindfulness at school when Miss Sani comes in the classroom, and rings a bell at the beginning and end of the circle. She tells us to share wonderful things, and happy moments in our life, and what we are feeling.
ML: Where does your inspiration to be mindful come from?
SA: My mom tells me to meditate every day, and she does beautiful ceremonies with me every new and full moon. Also, my pet dog, Sky, because he gives me wonderful cuddles and slobbery kisses on my chin which makes me very happy and makes me feel silly (in fact I’m cuddling him right now).
*Doradango is Japanese “mud art” where shiny spheres are made by hand using earth and water. Creating doradangos is a traditional pastime of Japanese children.