Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A year in reflection, 2013!

Well this afternoon, I was sipping my lunch soup and wondering how the year has slipped by so quickly.  I had a dear friend remark, that this must be your year of study and introspection. She was totally right! I am in the process of completing my Ananda Yoga Teacher Training as a refresher from the year 2002. It takes quite a bit of study, reflection and physical yoga. I am so enjoying this time to dive deeper in the ancient yogic teachings and taking the time to introspect about what the new year will bring. 

2013, was also another deeply inspiring time to study with my spiritual guides, and be certified as a "Sharing Nature® trainer. With this program, it is taking some time for study and deep reflection as to how I will be applying these deep teachings more fully.  They always say: 'If you want to learn something, it is best to dive deep and teach it." 
So 2014, will bring for me personally a time for deeper attunement by sharing these two streams of inspirational light that seem to be coming my way. 
The future, is in Divine Mother's hands. 

Now to thank all my readers and friends this past year, I want to keep the tradition that I started last year and revisit my most popular blog entries. In case you didn't see them,

In the fifth position this year on "Inside Out":
"Blowing in the wind: a year of crafts in review" 
Who can resist learning more crafts. We all have creativity in our bones and as teachers we love to see what others are doing. Here were my favorites from our last school year, 2011-2012. 

In the number four position: 

My Child, My Very First Spiritual Teacher
The title and photo says it all. This is a guest post from one of our lovely parents at the Living Wisdom School. I am thrilled to see how many of my readers loved her writing and humble account about  her new book and working with her children. Thank you, Nilanjana! 

In the third position most read: 
The very last entry during my school year ending in June 2013. 

This blog entry also began with a shared piece of art from one of my internet friends in Ashland Oregon, Elaine Frenett. It was so magnetic, I know this is how others were drawn to this entry. Thank you again Elaine. 

In the second position for this year:

This was one of my favorite and most meaningful celebrations that we had for our children this past year. 
It surely started our year out in a blaze of magnetism and joy. 

An in our top position this year:

This was such a beautiful inspiring day the words and pictures I believe capture the essence of Mothers Day. 

Thank you all for a wonderful year in reading this blog. I am inspired by so many who I have met, and I will continue to meet in 2014. 

May we all be one in the light some day.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Post :Join us in welcoming Kalamali Liguori from Ashram Girl in the City

Today is a guest post by Kalamali Liguori from: 

"Ashram Girl in the City" 

I find all of her blogs, entry's and videos inspiring for all of us to use in our daily lives. 
If you are a mother, teacher, student, auntie, father, or grandmother I hope you can join us as we spread the light together. Please welcome her this week to: Inside Out!

Ashram Girl in the City is an inspirational blog to help bring spiritual teachings into daily life. It has articles on health and healing, yoga and meditation, videos, photos, a resources list, spiritual quotes, and more to help you on your journey.

Here is one of her latest entree blogs and videos below.

Why You Should Dedicate Today to Divine Mother

santa cruz california, santa cruz tourist activities, santa cruz nature, santa cruz whales, santa cruz anchovies, santa cruz beaches, santa cruz monarch butterflies
Santa Cruz, California
Yesterday I started the day by asking Divine Mother to be with me and give me a day just for her. I asked her to show me the perfect Divine Mother Day, dedicating the entire day just to Her. I have lived inSanta Cruz, California all my life, and never before have I seen so many examples of her beauty and grace. I saw seven miracles yesterday in total. And I hope that by sharing them with you, you too will be inspired to have your own Divine Mother Day.
The day began with a beautiful morning walk as the sun rose along the beach in Capitola. During the entire walk I asked for Divine Mother to be with me that day, and to open my heart to feel her joy and love. I walked all the way down the beach to my favorite place where I usually like to do my yoga exercises and practice morning meditation in the healing rays of the sunrise. The place where I usually go is a bit hidden, and not many people choose to climb down the hillside where I go, so close to the breaking waves. This morning I had it all to myself, and the sun happened to be shining on the water with a line of sunshine heading directly toward me. I felt the warmth and let it soak in all over , awakening my body cells and helping me to start my day right.
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Humpback Whale
After I finished meditating I gazed out across the ocean. To my surprise my gaze led me straight to the spouting of a humpback whale (Miracle #1). Yes. A whale! And not just this one whale, in fact, that day there were a pod of about 20 humpback whales in the ocean just in front of me. They were off in the distance, but not far enough away that I could not see their spouts jetting out of the water and their flippers dancing in the wind just as if to wave “hello!”
In all my life growing up in Santa Cruz, I have never come close to anything like that moment.
After I was finished being amazed, I walked home to be with my divine mother on Earth– my mom, and she suggested that we head off to visit the Monarch Butterflies of Natural Bridges State Park.
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Monarch Butterflies
The monarch butterflies migrate every year just around this time (October) to nest in the warm sunny Santa Cruz. The butterflies are like flowers with wings, fluttering about busily yet with such a stillness and calm strength about them unlike anything else. They just cover the area so that everywhere you look (Miracle #2)– you see a beautiful orange flashing across the gentle blue skies. Sometimes they flutter solo, sometimes in pairs, and other times they gather together in big bunches on the eucalyptus trees.
My mom and I just sat together looking up and watching silently as they fluttered overhead.
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Red Shouldered Hawk
Then I heard the screeching of a hawk in the nearby trees. I immediately began scanning the trees for this hawk, hoping to see a red tailed hawk. Red tailed hawks have always been a special sign in nature to me, as they have signified important moments and big changes in my life.
I kept my eyes on the spot where I heard the call, and finally saw the beautiful moment where the hawk spread its wings, calling to its friend across the grove. I had never before seen this kind of hawk. I learned later from a park ranger that it was a red shouldered hawk (Miracle #3). These hawks are like the monarch butterflies in that each year, they travel afar and then return to the same place to nest.
After a delicious and healthy lunch I went home to join my dad for a paddle boat outing we had planned the day before. We knew it was going to be another bright, sunny day– and wanted to spend it out on the water.
When we arrived we heard that the harbor was just finishing a giant anchovie clean up. Every so often, there is an influx of the anchovie population, in which too many anchovies enter into the confined space of the harbor, use up all the oxygen, and eventually begin to die out. Though the harbor crew and clean up volunteers had already left, there were still hundreds of seagulls swarming the entire harbor, feeding upon thousands of anchovies. I had never been able to see them up so close, practically right on top of our boat, and I could see them literally begin to take off for flight by running on top of the water (Miracle #4). 
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Sea Lion
As we continued paddling further out into the harbor, we saw Miracle #5: a pack of sea lions rolling and playing together in a group of nearly 12! My dad and I had never seen them doing this, let alone right in front of us! They apparently will band together to frighten the groups of anchovies together so that they may then feed upon them. Right after this, I saw Miracle #6– a huge swarm of anchovies that flew up onto the surface of the water, practically flying, with beautiful silver rays of light playing in the sun.
Then to our left a pair of sea otters floated right next to us (Miracle #7), tummies up, playful cute faces looking toward us curiously. They hung around us showing us their moves– beautiful spins, twists and turns with the water, deep dives, and big smiles!
And these were just a few of the sea mammals that joined us in the harbor that day (adorable harbor seals, majestic pelicans, and more)!
There may have been many more miracles happening that day, but so small and sweet that I hardly even thought to count them. That is the way that Divine Mother is. She is there with us, giving us even the smallest things–hardly noticeable as we rush about our days. But she does this because she wants us each to know that she is always with us, just waiting patiently for us to see her and let her in. So that we begin to feel her presence everywhere. All she wants is for us to feel her love and to share that love with all.
So why don’t you try it for yourself? Ask her for a Divine Mother Day, dedicated just to her nature and the miracles of her beauty and grace.

Lets end with one of her videos:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post on 'Inside Out": Author, Parent, and Healer, Nilanjana Krishnan

My Child, My First Spiritual Teacher -
 an Article by Nilanjana Krishnan

It is a popular belief that our parents are our first teachers 
and I absolutely agree with that notion. Everything was hunky 
dory as long as I was a child (because my parents had to do all
 the worrying ;-)),
 but now that I am a parent, the responsibility of being my child’s 
first teacher is not only immense but also intimidating at times. 
I realized that something needed to change to make parenting enjoyable,
effortless and effective. This called for a shift in perspective – my perspective.

For a very long time I had believed that I, the parent have all the answers that my child needs because a little one is not very likely to know all that I, the adult know. This was my first parenting fallacy! In due course of time I realized that my child has so much to offer and I had hardly ever acknowledged him for the gifts he had given me. My son has shown me what it is to live in the moment and that worrying about the past or the future is futile. He has even demonstrated that we are all one; he treats everyone equally, no matter what race or ethnicity they may belong to. 

Therefore, my new perspective is to allow my child to be my teacher. My child knows as much as or maybe even a little more than I do about life. How do you think I know this to be true for me? Well, so often we adults remind one another to look at the world through the eyes of a child; now why would we say that? I believe that deep down inside every grown-up there is a child waiting to be unleashed. This inner child wants to love unconditionally, trust every person, get curious about every little thing, express every emotion, and be so much more. So I felt that if I surrendered in faith to my child, he would show us the way – the way he would like his life to unfold; the way he would like his family interactions to be; the kind of activities he would love to engage in; the type of friends he would want to bring home; the kind of foods he would like to try, and what not.

Does this mean I let him cross the road alone or let him fix his own breakfast at the stove-top? No, I don’t mean that. I am his custodian; I am responsible for providing his basic needs for physical sustenance. As a caretaker, I also feel responsible for holding the space for letting him be what he is being moment to moment; be his witness and cheerleader as he experiments with his limitless mind and experiences being the free spirit that he is. 

Let me reiterate: I am my child’s custodian only and not his owner. Kahlil Gibran, the famous Lebanese poet and spiritual teacher has written a poetic essay on children in a collection that’s named, “The Prophet” and an excerpt from the poem is as follows:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

This message resonates deeply with me and I remind myself ever so often to embody the wisdom from this beautiful piece by Kahlil Gibran.

So, have I figured it all out and am I now an infallible parent? All I can confidently state is that I am on a conscious parenting journey for which there is never a destination; the journey is all of it. There are several moments where I temporarily lose my connection with my inner guidance and dump my emotional baggage on my child or state something in anger or frustration. The good news here is that I get the awareness in the moment (or soon after) I display my “not so graceful” emotions, and I am quick to apologize to my son. I also add, “Please remind me to be a better mom. Whenever I get angry please remind me that I can talk to you about it. Also remind me that anger weakens and love strengthens.” This is how I make peace with myself and my son. When the roles get reversed, and my son is throwing a fit or is in a bad mood, I gently remind him to express his emotions in words; and then hold the space for him to express himself.

As you can well imagine, all of this takes a lot of discipline, practice, faith and commitment. What I have learned from a spiritual perspective is that when I set an intention for my state of being (example: being patient, being accepting, being communicative, being confident, etc.), I am able to easily embody that state for as long as I hold that intention. This has helped me a great deal with respect to parenting.

My son has started me on a spiritual journey: a journey that has made me delve within and uncover parts of me, I had never seen before. I am ever so grateful for this boundless spirit housed in a tiny body that has chosen me to be his mother in this life experience, and for handing down gifts that are priceless. I am so glad that our children refuse to be born with user manuals, for if they did, how would we experience our life lessons and what would happen to evolution? :)

About Nilanjana Krishnan: 

Nilanjana lives a life that is an expression and reflection of her life's purpose, which is being the change she wants to see in her children, through living a life in harmony with nature. As an advocate for children--who are the future and hope of our planet--she invites all individuals, families, and institutions that influence our children to join hands in becoming the change first. She extends this way of being to all facets of her life, from choosing the right foods to patronizing eco-friendly and conscious companies that are aware of their impact on our world.
Nilanjana firmly believes that the choices we make in each moment will determine the future we create and bestow on our future generations. She holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in business administration and has worked in engineering and information technology industries in sales and business development. She is a volunteer with the Distance Healing Network as a Reiki Level 2 healer. Nilanjana lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband Venkatesh and their two lovely boys, Harsha and Rishab

Nilanjana has now just finished her new book; "I know the way"  for families with young children, based on the 2500 year old Chinese Philosophy called the Tao Te Ching. 

Her primary inspiration for this book was Dr. Wayne Dyer (who has also written a book based on the Tao, but for an adult audience

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. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post: Elizabeth Aguilar

 This evening as a guest post, I am delighted to feature one of my colleagues, Elizabeth Aguilar from: Education for Life in Public Schools. Elizabeth teaches 6th grade language arts (English), social studies (history), and art.  On an average day she has 30 students per class and teaches 2 - 3 different sets of students for a total average of 60 -90 students. Elizabeth has taken on teaching Education for Life, in a public classroom setting and has inspired us as a pioneer for Education for Life.  I hope you enjoy her latest post below. She is an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Elizabeth.

 A Festival of Light

   We have wonderful diversity of cultures and traditions represented at our school.  Our students’ families are from all over the world every continent is represented except Antarctica.  Therefore, the holiday season means different things to different students.  We honor these different traditions in many ways at our school, specially in this last week before our Winter Break.  In my classroom I wanted to focus on the shared tradition of “Light” during this time of the year.  So many cultures and traditions have Light as a theme in their holidays.  Most even have some sort of “Festival of Light”.  Well, in Social Studies we are still in ancient Egypt so I was curious.  Did the Egyptians have a Festival of Light?  To my great surprise they did.  Herodotus, a Greek historian in BC tells of the festival of Lychnocaia, “the lighting of lamps”.  Lamps were lit in rows on the outside of houses around this time of the year to help Osiris find his way back from the underworld.

    I shared this information with my students.  I also found some wonderful pictures of the different expressions of light in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as the story of Egypt and light in the natural world.  We brainstormed to understand what Light symbolized.  The students thought it symbolized: peace, happiness, life, power, energy - these were their words.  I told them that I wanted us to experience some type of celebration of Light but that I knew we could not have lit candles in school since it would be a fire hazard.  We could, however,  have a string of lights.  Thanks to help from Erika Glazzard, a fellow EFL teacher, I had come up with a lovely plan.  We would make a walking spiral of light that would lead the students to its center where they could pick up a glass stone that would symbolize a personal excellence quality that they wanted to nurture in themselves in the coming year.  I needed a focal point of light at the center so I brought in an angel that I had from my daughters' childhood.

     The visual experience of having the lights on the floor was beautiful.  It was like walking inside our Milky Way Galaxy.  I played Pachelbel’s Canon in D for music in the background as each student made their own way into the heart of the lights.  After every one had a turn we sat around and had a few minutes of silence as we all tried to expand our own heart’s light.  I’ve asked the students to keep their glass stone to remind them of that special quality that they want to nurture in themselves.

I am a public school teacher in northern California.  I teach 6th grade language arts (English), social studies (history), and art.  This past summer I participated in Education for Life workshops and activities.  I was so excited by what I learned that I wanted to try it in my classroom and document how the EFL principles translate into the public school system.  It’s an on going great adventure that is turning out to be fun and rewarding

 Are you a public school teacher and want to see how these teachings can be applied in a public school setting? Follow Elizabeth at:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post: Celebrating Circles

In our classroom at the Living Wisdom School we celebrated the Fall Equinox with one of our specialty teachers, Martia Denniston. I have had the great privilege of collaborating closely with Martia on several large art projects and she has taught me so much about creating extraordinary spiritual art experiences that uplift young children. 
 This month I have asked Martia to be our guest bloggers and describe our ceremony and celebration. 

  Celebrating Cycles

May 2012: A dawning awareness and astonishment appears in the face of a youthful student when he asks me, “Are we really made of stars?” his voice rising upward at “stars”. “Yes,” I reply, “we are made from the elements of the stars.”  In a moment of meaning we experience a meeting of mutual understanding and admiration.

These are the moments I live for.

I am privileged to create celebrations and art with children. Like the 4 & 5 year olds in Chandi's class I started life curious and connected to the world of nature. As I learned to read I became more and more immersed in a world of imagination and less interested in exploring the world outside. At 45, I awoke with a shock at how distanced I was from the natural environment and my Self. Experiencing nature, and ourselves as nature, helps us develop an authentic inner life. We learn who are, where we come from, where we are going...WHY WE ARE HERE.

Why I am here, at Living Wisdom School, is to volunteer my life experience in service and sharing. The teachers, children and I weave shared experiences of gratitude and relationship in ceremonies to celebrate our place in the cycle of the seasons, to honor the Earth as our Mother, to evoke respect for the elemental forms of the Universe, Earth, revere all Life.

I am a Tree
coiled within a seed within the earth. I stretch and grow as I draw the element of water up from the earth into my trunk and branches. I become living earth, growing and unfurling my leaves, feeling the breeze of air whispering through me. Lifting my hungry leaves up and up I capture the fire of the sun. I am water, earth, air, and fire. For many decades I remain here, the center of a world of life, breathing in, breathing out, cycling air and energy. After a long time I become weary with longing to return home. I fold in upon myself and into the earth, returning to the planet water, earth, air, and fire for the future life that will embody the memory of me.

The Circle
We lay out the directions for our circle. West is water (mist & clouds, rivers & oceans, blood & tears, tides without and within cleansing and healing). North is earth (asteroids & moons, mountains & forests, hearts & muscles, skeletons and shells for strength and endurance). East is air (ether, atmosphere, breath, the inhale and the exhale, inspiring and awakening). South is fire (sun, earth's molten core, life's metabolism of energy, creating and transforming). In the Center we become a Unity of Spirit, the Center is here and everywhere. Each of us takes a tiny glass pebble. We silently, secretly say our words of gratitude and slip the stone into a receptacle of water placed at the center of our Center.

Does every child understand it all? Do I? Deep in our being we do. We know what we are doing is significant and sacred. I see it in the glow of respect and reverence in their small faces, in the hallowed hush of their bodies.

    Autumn Appreciation
I read the Greek myth of Persephone, Hades and Demeter. I come to the part where the land is laid waste by the mother's grief for the loss of her daughter. My voice falters and tears find form as I push forward a small blue bowl of water, “these are Demeter's tears.” I am moved by the moment of mystery. We are all touched and talk about Autumn rains and darkening landscapes, what is going and what is coming.

I am a living Autumn, my hair turning and skin weathering like bark on the trees. Like the oldest trees on our planet, I hope I have gained a little wisdom. The children are mere beginnings of Spring, full of joy and enthusiasm. They are helping me to heal the cares of my past. I hope I am helping them to see the possibilities of the future.

Earth, ourselves,
breathe and awaken,
leaves are stirring,
all things moving,
new day coming,
Life renewing.
Pawnee Prayer

To close our ceremony we share in the Blessings of the Fruits of the Earth, calling out the qualities we are about to consume: richness of plum, melody of pear, knowledge of apple, brightness of orange...fruits to sooth our souls, berries of summer to which we say farewell until next year. We use their juice to dye grains of rice. Tomorrow we will arrange bright blue seashells (water), crushed shells of eggs dyed green (earth), light yellow grains (air), and the raspberry red rice (fire) in patterns to make mosaic mandalas ~ circles of elemental forms, our inner feelings and thoughts made visible.

It is a good day.


 Martia Dennison

 Martia Denniston

Since graduating from the Whole Systems Design program at Antioch University in 2001 Martia has worked with school, community, and spiritual groups in many capacities, including designer, school librarian and storyteller, and art, meditation, and youth group teacher. Martia earned a certificate in Drawing and Painting from the University of Washington in 2008 and is a mixed media artist. She co-creates art and nature experiences with teachers at Living Wisdom School and Gaia's Temple in Seattle. “I have always used nature as our inspiration and teacher for art. I believe that making art can enhance our ability to observe deeply the processes of nature, and that observing the interactions between living systems and their environment will enrich students' art making. My dream is to help nurture in our youth a lifelong relationship with Nature and Mother Earth, one characterized by mutuality, founded in inquiry, exploration and self-expression, with a healthy respect for the awe and mystery of Life.”