Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. 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!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Try it you'll like it!" New rhythms for the fall season.

Where has this month of September
actually gone?

The beginning of a new school year is filled with many projects to accomplish and new families to greet. The children need to melt their energies as one and just begin to settle into new classroom  

Last year about this same time I wrote about the change in our seasons, and rhythms with our families. If you didn't get to read it here is that entry. 

I was writing about my new habit of driving in my car to our school. 
Well this year, I am creating newer habits and have switched my impatient look at the annoying stoplights. 
Silly for me, I have always had some great moments while sitting at a stoplights.  
I have for many years prayed at a stop light for others and blessed them while I am waiting for the lights to turn green. Another more expansive thought is by trying to visualize and imagine, all the many stop lights in the world at different intersections. We are all connected at this exact moment in time, all throughout the world. You can realize the unity of people, cultures, cars and all kinds of emotions happening everywhere. Simple as it seems. Give it a try. It can brighten you day. 
I can get carried away with it and often brings me deep inner laughter and joy. 

But then as the light turns green, I am off to my next thought and moving along my way.

 So now this fall, I am changing my morning habits to embrace new rhythms.  In new ways I am changing small things as I begin each day.  I leave earlier each morning, pack my lunch the night before, prepare my veggies for my juicing the night before ,and my morning yoga/meditations are fully recharged and inspiring.  I find myself arriving totally recharged and refreshed. My day just flows beautifully.
 I think the children feel it too. It is glorious. 

 This brings me back to rhythm. What types of new rhythms are we all creating each day? Each moment?
How long does it actually take to create a new rhythm or habit? I am sure the experts have many opinions about this, but in actuality does that really matter?

I have found new habits and rhythms create enthusiasm and honestly that is how I love to start every day. 
With joyful, calm enthusiasm. This also sustains me as my inner reward to keep going everyday. 

One of the new ways of sharing on my blog for the next few months will be more photos of our activities and less writing. 

Another commitments of change this fall, is that I am retaking my Ananda Yoga Teacher Training again after 12 years. This is a thrilling time.   

There is a old saying that goes: "Try it you'll like it." 
Try some new rhythms of change. Let me know what is happening in your lives, and how your family is turning into the greater rhythm of life all around us. 

Joy to you. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A time to stop and smell the flowers

As the year ends for classroom teachers, the first couple of weeks are almost a daunting task to actually tell the body to slow way down. How do we do that? How can we actually just be? The school year is divided up into so many single tasks that seem to roll out like a long carpet, that never stops. I like to visualize a palace with the carpet of our tasks filling up the whole castle. The children are the princes and princesses. We are there to serve their needs as best we can.

But now the summer is for us to replenish our mind, body and souls.

I have over the years really loved and cherished the summertime.

 It is a time for me to remind myself that I am to slow down my mind from chattering, planning, and become one with the spiritual energy all around me. I begin to notice nature more profoundly, the birds, the warmth of the sun, and of course lets not forget the flowers. As I slow down I am inwardly more creative. I listen to the whispers of my soul more profoundly and the inner lessons that I am to receive.

I begin to look at my body temple. How can I replenish it as well? How well am I eating, sleeping, and exercising. I am I drinking enough water? I take the time to juice daily and eat organic foods that are grown right outside my door.
The summer also provides me with many opportunities to cook
 for my husband and try out new combinations of ingredients.

I also dive deep in my spiritual life, to journal, chant, and reading spiritual books that I haven't had the opportunity to read deeply through the school year.

  I also find more time to serve others in my family and community.

This next week I will be taking my annual meditation seclusion. It is a time of complete silence. I will not have emails to answer, phones,or internet connections. It is a time to dive deep into the spirit and to replenish my soul for the year that will unfold in the fall.

I am so grateful for this time to slow down and stop and smell the flowers.

In joyful expectancy......
May we all find solace in this season of warmth and inner joy.

Many Blessings,


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

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. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What is this life?

The students ask their teacher: What is life about? What should I become in this life? What is my dharma ?
What is truth?

 I just love the picture above. The picture is characteristic of disciples with a great teacher in Satsang, asking the deeper meanings of life, meditation and each one's longer rhythm of service in the world.

                I hope you enjoy this short message from Alan Watts; What if money didn't matter?

I hope that today's message reminds all of us to instill joy in our children's lives and to follow their own inner guidance and intuitions. Thus through inner happiness one 's life can be rewarding and fulfilling.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

With Beauty before me may I walk.

Christmas week is a time for inner reflection while recapping this past year's documentation on this blog, "Inside Out" and contemplating the beauty that lies before me for the coming year in 2013. 

This past year I have added many new technical experiments to my blog including: YouTube videos, iPhone applications, linking up with new inspiring bloggers and I am thrilled to have upgraded to a new iPhone.

 The iPhone has advanced my skills as a photographer, while enabling my ability to record information to my parents automatically in this new age of technology and energy.

 "Inside Out" has reached almost 11,200 page views that expands the globe. That alone is truly inspiring to me. When I began this blog, I wasn't even sure, if or how anyone would find it. This is what you hear bloggers often say. It takes a level of detachment to write weekly, while putting your heart and your passion on the line. My motto has been: "Well just get over it." Either people will read it or they will pass it by. My blog isn't for everyone.

 I personally would like to thank everyone who has read it this year and shared this blog. Simply passing it along to others is a blessing in disguise. I am deeply humbled and grateful.

I wanted to review this week, the most popular entries since I have started writing in August of 2011. I will start with the top six .

Coming in at number 6 is: Come Gather Round / Books for the holidays.

I am thrilled this years entry made it into my top six. I am glad that my spiritual book list was so popular and actually had an author, Carin Berger contact me personally to thank me. I still will be featuring my, Come Gather Around Series, along with new added pages featuring spiritual books for children and families. New books will be added monthly, as I find them in my travels. Do you have a special spiritual favorite? Let me know about it and I will research the story, to see it can be added on my favorite lists.

Coming in at number 5 is: Accepting a moment in Divine Gratitude

 This entry was life changing personally for me last Christmas and I have dedicated this year to actually practicing living one day of gratitude at a time.  I actually participated in my own experiment this summer at taking a photo a day to document my gratitude.

 This short entry features a mini short film by Louie Schwartzberg. I review this video often because it truly uplifts my spirit. 

Coming in at number 4 is: A week together 
This is another entry that is dear to my heart. This particular entry is all about Education for Life and the Foundation years. I also love to watch how the children have grown in our classroom over the past year using these principals.

 Coming in at number 3 is: We live in joy!

I am happy to announce this Valentine entry and the song highlighted was our "theme song" in our classroom last year. It was written by one of our parents, Eva Tree.  Thank you for listening and reading about our valentine activities.

Coming in at number 2 is: What color is your hearts energy?

This entry has many memories shared in my classroom. The children love to feel their energy in their hearts and expand their love each day to others. Thank you for reading it and sharing in our joy. 

Now here is where a little drum roll happens.....

Coming in at number 1 is:The light is inside each one of us” 

 This is my favorite entry, I have written to date and humbled that it is the most popular.
 It came to me right after a deep morning meditation. I don't take any credit for my writings personally. These are messages from the divine.

I also would like to thank a few very special people who have helped share the message of "Inside Out."

My editor and writing professor  Bekka Davis,   and the Education for Life teachers who share ideas and inspirations together weekly.

 I would also like to thank, Susan Tara Meyer from River Blissed and Sally Haughey from Fairy dust teaching. Susan and Sally are kindred spirits with very successful blogs of inspiration.  I have learned so much from them.

I would also like to thank my spiritual guides, Joseph Cornell from Sharing Nature with Children and Nitai Deranja the founder of the Living Wisdom Schools. Both of these great souls have been a guiding light for inspiration and my service to children and families.

With Beauty before me and behind me as I walk,
The year ahead looks very exciting and promising.

Aum, Shanti,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

May this day be merry and bright

 At this time of the year children begin to ask all types of interesting questions. Isn't it fun?
 You can see their little minds are just churning away. 

How does Santa Claus really get from the North Pole on a sleigh? Does he really exist? I also love to watch the older children just go along with the fairy tales just to rekindle the familiar warmth of their childhood memories. I can't really remember when my children were told about Santa Claus?  Naturally I try to stay clear of anything commercial in my classroom and inspire the children's imaginations.

I believe that as a parent you just have to be ready each Christmas for that ultimate question and be able to think fast on your feet. Are you willing to tell the truth or play along with the child's imagination of believing in our myths and fables that we are accustomed to during the holidays?

While we were in class this past week, the children began to tell the story of Santa Claus that has been passed down from generation to generation. I was trying to tell them one of the fables that has been told about Saint Nicolas. 
Some of the children blurted out,"They are the same, Chandi." I said. "Santa Claus and Saint Nicolas are the same? Interesting? How do we know?' They all jumped in with their answers. 

I began to tell them that the story of Saint Nicolas is a folktale.  The folktale is a story, passed down verbally from generation to generation. Each storyteller tells the stories a little differently, making them more interesting and fascinating as the ages passed. Different folktales bear the characteristics of the culture, folklore and customs of the people from which they originate.

Intentionally in the Education for Life methodology we try to make teachings practical and real for children. I had to come up with something fast to make my point. This is called a direct experience using a practical method . So all at once I thought of the game,"Telephone". Maybe this will bring out the point of teaching about fables and folktales. 

I had all the children gather in a circle. I started the game, gently whispering a small part of the Saint Nicolas story immediately to my right. Then that child told the story to the partner on his right, thus continuing around the circle. When it got about half way through the circle, the whispers became completely different. Joyful smiles appeared along with silly glances towards me as they whispered. 

 In our anticipation a new part of the story had just began. As it went completely around the circle, there were many joyful laughs and surprises. The story was always very different from the one that was first whispered. The children love this game and they could quickly experience how a story could change over the course of many years and even centuries. 

Christmas is for the children. I love the familiar stories but also the sheer delight of the little daily experiences that make Christmas magical.  I am blessed to be in their company.

May this day be merry and bright.

Until tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Peace gave us the seasons

Peace gave us the morning, Peace gave us the sun,
Bird songs that call us to welcome
Day and fresh labors begun. Amen, Amen
Peace gave us the seasons, Peace gave us the rain,
Cool clouds that gather to bless us,
Mist hands that soothe away pain. Amen, Amen.

"Peace" J. Donald Walters

Beginning a new school year always brings new rhythms, patterns and the challenge of combining an unfamiliar group of children together. At the Living Wisdom School this year another new opportunity arose. We moved our school into a new community, an older building, and for me it added a short distance of driving in rush hour traffic each morning. I was sad to give up my drive to the old school, a back road journey of driving through the local neighborhoods. 

As teachers and parents we often talk about being in a flow or a rhythm within ourselves and keeping our children in a systematic rhythm for the ease of their development. But the question came to me: What is a rhythm? I turned to Wikipedia and found a very inspiring quote: Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. These sound and silences are put together to form a pattern of sounds which are repeated to create a rhythm.

Now of course this quote is talking about music, but rhythm also is part of our daily life. How often, though, do we really think about it? I know I spent quite a bit of time really concentrating on finding a  new rhythm and flow in driving to the new school. It is important that a Living Wisdom School teacher to be in a magnetic flow at any moment, not only when working in the classroom. 

One morning I was driving and felt a little rushed because I was running a few minutes late. I realized that I had not gotten my rhythm adapted to all the new changes. I felt my body start to become restrictive and tight. As I came to the first stoplight, I thought I would follow the route that others had told me was a faster way to drive to school.  As I was sitting at the light, I found myself beginning to visualize the shorter route. All it had was more cars, strip malls and stoplights. Was it shorter or not? And even if it was shorter, what state would I be in when I ended up in the classroom?  Immediately I realized, this was not a good route for me. I made a sharp turn and stayed on my original route. 

I begin each day with a morning meditation and my ultimate goal is to retain all that loving energy each morning to share with the families and children of Living Wisdom School. How would this stressful route help me? I might arrive a few minutes earlier, perhaps. But was it worth it?, “NO,” I answered mentally.
As I began to drive the longer route, I started to visually notice more around me. The new, slower route was like an extension of my meditation. A driving meditation of sorts.  It  traveled through the bedroom community of  Lake Forest Park,Washington and brought back my childhood memories of growing up in Bellevue, Washington in the 60’s.  It was so sweet to bring these memories into my thoughts. 

The trees were so beautiful, luscious and expansive. These qualities all expanded my thoughts and brought me back to my morning meditations.

How could I ever think of starting my day by driving any other way? I just love it. It adds a melodious rhythm to my morning, the, sounds of the streams, peace, and tranquil memories.. I am so blessed now to have this drive to work each morning and to begin my day with these patterns of light and sounds that bring me into my inner state of rhythm.

Everyone can try it. Let me know how it goes. May we all find that sense of rhythm within our day so we may share our peace with all whom we meet.