Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nature's infinite path

I have just returned from a trip to Nevada City, California at Ananda Village. The drive is just about 2 hours outside of Sacramento. Ananda Village is the home to the Expanding Light Yoga and Meditation Retreat. Ananda Village is one of our sister communities from where I live in Lynnwood, Washington. It was the first of the Ananda spiritual communities and was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda. The community is situated on 850 acres of private land including meadows, forest lands,and valleys in the Sierra Mountains. Over 250 adults and children live harmoniously on this land.

I had the extreme fortune to be invited this year, to attend the "Sharing Nature with Children®
New healing activity: Forest Bathing
"Sky and Earth That Touched Me" Joseph Cornell
We spent five days with other participants from various backgrounds that spanned the globe. Many of us came together for the purpose of expanding our consciousness, while sharing our depth of connection in nature. I had to set my camera aside this week and became fully immersed in the vibration of the trees, forests and all life. It was a deeply rich and profound time for me. The pictures in this post are from: Barbara Bingham and Sara M.Skinner Photography. 

The reasons for my attending this training is to expand my work with children globally in the early childhood field, but to also listen to the inner guidance and resonance of my soul.

I love the two fold mirror that our soul reflects while in nature. 
"Silent Sharing Nature Walk"
Sharing Nature with Children®
@Dawn Publications 1998
"Silent Nature Sharing Walk on Lotus Lake"

How we can take nature's serenity inwardly and find it's peace consciously in any given moment but also how can we become a witness to our thoughts as this benign beauty unfolds as a spiritual communion before us? In nature, we feel a spirit of community with all life.

We gain a more positive state of mind as it guides us upward towards a deeper state of inner joy.

 During the workshop we were able to work directly with Joseph Cornell on two consecutive mornings, lunches, and during a celebratory banquet. He is currently writing his next book: "The Sky and Earth that Touched Me" and his "Sharing Nature Wellness Program." These will be published in 2014. We were able to sample the new activities.

Now as they say, after attending a workshop or training; the real work begins. How can I easily and effortlessly apply all that I have absorbed?What is my next step?

I'm convinced that I will be guided spiritually, as nature's path unfolds before me.

My first step on the ridge. 

  " Unendingly magnificent is Nature; yet we view only one of her billions of planets. Her splendor is spread across endless space and manifested on countless worlds;but for us, Her most wondrous gifts remains Her willingness to teach us about ourselves. And when we learn to see and understand ourselves and the world around us, we humans become the pinnacle of Nature's accomplishments; for through man, Nature is able to view and appreciate herself in the fullest, most vividly aware way of all.
      Quote: Sharing Nature with Children®, Joseph Cornell.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Infinite Mother of us all"

A Mother's Love

Though the miles come between us
As we fumble our way along
The paths- we like to think we choose
And through the years grow shorter
Filled with memories-Some we hold to dearly
And some we'd like to lose,
Still, that first of life's many loves,
That of a mother for her child
Shines brightly from within- to remind us of the 
Infinite Mother of us all
Who dwells within and silently calls to us.....
Come home to Me now!
   Original poem by: Joel Holliman

About nine years ago after the Living Wisdom Preschool began, I wanted to create an event at the school, just for the children to express their love for Divine Mother. Divine Mother is the feminine divine aspect of God. 

In working with children, our earthy mother it is simpler way for children to open up to the Divine Mother. I like to start in baby steps for each child. As they feel the love deeply for their mother, they can feel it for their immediate family, their grandparents, their friends mothers, and then reach out to other mothers across the globe. 

"The task of education is to attract children toward maturity- that is, toward including other's realities in their own."

The event at the Living Wisdom School is celebrated today by all the children. The children have the opportunity to cook, draw their mother's portrait for the hall of mothers, and by answering creative writing questions like:"What makes your mom perfect?" It is the direct experience by which our children can rise  above their likes and dislikes thus allowing them to think of others first. 

Each year I am given the precious moment of photographing this event.  I am in awe of the intimacy of photographing mothers and their children. I am humbled by this experience. Their souls just seem to melt  right together as one in front of my camera lens.

I am sure that you will agree from some of the photos below, the depth of divine love which pours through each family.

May this Mothers Day be our reminder in deep stillness of the"Infinite Mother"
 who dwells in all of us.
Happy Mothers Day!

In joy to you,

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Move all ye mountains that stand in my way.

This past spring I have had the joyful opportunity to expand my service with children and explore outings in nature more tangibly. These outings are happening outside of the classroom on weekends.

I was able to organize small groups of children between the ages of four through 10 years of age. I prepared a four hour program designed for using the outdoors as our classroom.  In this process, I was not only the teacher, but the students were instructing me.  In all cases, we all had such a beautiful time together. Each group brought something forward in me, as a nature instructor.

On my last excursion this past weekend, I had a brand new set of students that would be accompanying me on a two and half mile hike. This was not an easy task for this age group. It was a new location for me, and for some of the families.  I had emailed all the parents about the steep paths and warned them to remind the children that we would be climbing a mountain. I was very anxious about what might await us.

From the minute the children met, it was like an instant karmic bonding of old friends reacquainted.

On this trip, I had one older sibling that was just the kindest, loving and spiritual leader in guiding the children's energy. His smile could charm your heart away. He also knew the trail very well, and seemed to guide all of us to the hidden crevices, dips and treasures. The children were actually experiencing "every moment", as we like to call it. I never heard one complaint, or in-deference. They were joyfully skipping and singing songs from our classroom as we hiked together.

We started back up the hill after a quick round of the SuperConscious Living Exercises that I teach in our classroom. A serge of energy ran through our bodies. We climbed up the steep hill with power, energy, and vitality.

When I arrived home from our day together I was in a state or divine gratitude, joy, and inner bliss. It was indeed a humbling experience to be in the company of these great little souls.
These children were the instruments today. What a wonderful reminder for all of us.

In the days that followed this trip I have been watching children's open ended love of nature and outdoor play. It amazes to watch under all circumstances the sheer joy that radiates from their beings.

Recently I just came across an article about some of the benefits of children and nature. Here are some  quotes from that article I would like to pass along:
  • Children with views of and contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline. The greener, the better the scores (Wells 2000, Taylor et al. 2002).
  • Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001).
  • When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor, et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
But another important factor that most children experience is that God whispers through the trees, through the babbling brooks, and the sounds of the ocean. Through these experiences children tune into their higher spiritual natures. They easily experience the higher cosmic consciousness we all seek.

"Everything in Nature is God's Artwork." Joseph(Bharat) Cornell

I am profoundly grateful in being able to share nature with our children.
May this be one of many more nature programs while climbing mountains together. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Memories of our spring: a photo montage

Whenever the spring hits the Pacific Northwest, something happens to all of us. We get outside and begin to open up to the world all around us. So hence, it is with me too. I begin to expand outward and cherish natures beauty while slowly relinquishing  my commitment in sharing the Education for Life principals. Therefore, I will do my best to catch you up on some of our key activities this spring.

This has been a very busy time in our classroom with so many cherished activities that I needed to share. I can only touch on them lightly thus not to bore you with long lengthy lesson plans.

The month of March the children and all our teachers were busy with our Annual Living Wisdom Art Show. This year at the school for our main exhibit we all created a Monet's garden. The children in our class made the art sculpture with one of our fathers. This was the bridge in the garden, surrounded by a pond, a large willow tree, fish, birds, and lily pads. Each student in the school created something for the garden. It was spectacular!

The month of April the children were able to explore the human body. We spent several days on exploring the physical body. The children made their own bodies along with exploring how our hearts, lungs and brains function. 

The third week into the program we spent time exploring our spiritual body. We began a more advanced yoga program for calming our spirits. 
The third week into the program was also about keeping our bodies well and healthy.

Vibration and healing in our hands

What parts of the hand can heal our bodies?
Healing music and dance

Healing love and empathy. Here is our Pre-kindergarten baby. This is our french teacher, who now has a new baby to share with us in our classroom. 
Tibetan sound healing concert

Here we are making "\Aum" juice from all the spiritual fruits that we had all week. Yum!!

During the last week in April we celebrated " Earth day".

Next week is Mothers Day so we will have to share all our fun activities after our annual Mothers Day tea celebration.

May this spring bring you closer to the children in your life and fill our souls with many heartwarming memories.

Many Blessings,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Go with Love with Guest blog: Hriman McGilloway

Since the beginning of this blog I have had this lovely heartfelt photo on my blog each month for the announcement of our reading segment, "Come gather round." 

I may have failed to describe this photo. This is our dearest friend, Nayaswami Kriyananda, the direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Swami Kriyananda, aged 87, the founder of the worldwide work of Ananda and one of the few remaining living disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, has left his physical body and this earth. His passing took place in Italy on Sunday, April 21 at 8 am (Central European time).  He had been in residence at the Ananda Center near Assisi, Italy where, each year, he would often spend a few months teaching and writing. He had been scheduled to come to America for the summer months as he has done in the last many years. Kriyananda loved young children and they loved his childlike spirit. Kriyanada was able to visit our classroom this past September and shared candy with the children. 

On this website I publish many of his writings and songs that we share in our classroom everyday.  We also share the "Little Secrets", books that he published on love, friendship and the deep meanings of happiness

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to correspond with Kriyananda over the years through email about the Living Wisdom School of Seattle. 

  Kriyananda was a reflection of the divine and inspired many souls to reach to their highest potential and had a deep impersonal relationship with so many spiritual seekers around the globe. But  it was through his writings, music and love we all felt he was our dearest divine friend. 

In conclusion, I would like to pass along a link to this months, guest blog: Nayaswami  Hriman McGilloway 
 Nayaswami Hriman had a very special relationship with Swami Kriyananda for 36 years.  He is the spiritual director at Ananda Seattle along with his wife, Nayaswami  Padma McGilloway.  I have lived at the Ananda Community for 19 years sharing these principals of the path of Kriya yoga, meditation and Self-realization.  His writings perfectly describe more eloquently the life of Nayaswami Kriyananda. 

Please visit his blog and offer your comments and inspirations. . 

            For a more intimate look at his personal view of life, discipleship and divine teacher:
We will, however, miss him, our spiritual guide, and one who embodied so joyfully the spirit and teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.  

May we all be one in that light someday.