I’ve been enrolled in a yoga teacher training course with Contemporary Yoga in Aotearoa, and part of our work is keeping a journal of our experiences. I thought I’d share some of my reflections here.
This weekend we did a meditation inspired by restorative yoga and iRest, working to connect to our “Heartfelt Desire.” As I understand it, it is a long, perhaps lifetime practice of working out what we want out of our life, what we are working towards – what is our purpose and our bliss? There are a number of ways to get there:
- As myself how I could see myself through the eyes of someone who loves me?
- What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
- We were asked to imagine ourselves at our 90th birthday party. What are people saying about me and my life? What would I want them to be saying? Do I have any regrets?
- At the end of my life, what would I be happy and fulfilled to look back on? What does that feel like to imagine that as my reality? Plant the idea of that reality being true right now even if it isn’t yet.
I’d love to read your reflections if you’ve done a similar meditation.
Honestly, I think this practice is “supposed” to be relaxing and inspiring, but at first, it freaked me out so badly. All I could do was panic about how quickly I’ve frittered my life away, that I am not enough and haven’t done enough and do not do enough. I’m aware that a lot of this is useless white guilt and navel gazing. First I tried to snap out of it; then I tried to work through what was making me feel this way and how I could change this reality in the future.
As a child, perhaps this will sound silly, but I think I always thought I would be a revolutionary. I was outspoken and quirky and generally unafraid to stand out from the crowd in order to make my voice heard, especially about matters of equity, but I found I came across as so abrasive or self-righteous that it often turned people off. After college, I dropped off quite a bit with my activism. I told myself it was time to work on me and cultivate humility. I don’t think this time was wasted, but I do feel that along the way I could have been doing a lot more for others, for the world. In the process I’ve found myself getting quieter and quieter to the point that I’m just not confident I’m making an impact. I now volunteer with a couple non-profits on a regular basis, but when I get in this panicky “I’m not doing enough” mode, I tend to think I need to start my own projects afresh. Then my imposter syndrome kicks in, and I end up abandoning the projects for one reason or another, and I end up back where I started. Not good.
I think that right now as a traveler and relatively new educator, my responsibility along with continuing to educate myself on racial justice is finding more and more ways to bring activism into my classroom. I need to make sure what I’m doing in my classroom really matters, and that I am offering experiences and perspectives to my students that they likely wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. I need to make sure I’m not running through the motions.
So today I’m asking myself, what am I thankful that my educators offered me, what do I wish I’d been exposed to earlier, and how can I offer that to my students?
Here are some things I’ve come up with that I know I can address in the classroom this month. I pledge to dedicate a separate post to each of these in the coming weeks. I have started them each in a small or large way already but can commit to integrating them more meaningfully into my classroom.
- Gratitude practice – Purposes: Recognise and appreciate our privilege and to cultivate a perspective supports emotional literacy.
- Mindfulness practice – Purposes: Be able to self–regulate our emotions, be able to listen carefully, and therefore cultivate genuine respect for and understanding of one another.
- Appreciation of visual and performing arts from around the world – Purpose: See a wide variety of creative opportunities available to me represented by people who look like me and/or come from the place/s I come from.
- Poetry literacy – Purpose: Add to our toolbox of different ways we can communicate ideas that are important to us.
- Awareness of racial differences, racial injustice, and what racial justice can look like – Purpose: In order to celebrate differences, we need to be unafraid to acknowledge and talk about them. In order to advocate for racial justice, we need to see the injustice around us and have difficult conversations. I believe these discussions need to start, in a developmentally appropriate way, from the beginning. Race Conscious is a great collection of articles on talking about race with kids of all ages.
What do you do in your classroom, kura, education centre, or family to make sure you are empowering your tamariki to be changemakers?