Teachers Education Weekend, Zonnelicht, Den Bosch, Holland
March 3rd, 4th, 5th 2006
Summary – By Sanne
Friday, March 3rd
The Introduction was given by Yolande
Neohumanism is a feeling of love for everything, which is present in all of us. At ‘Zonnelicht’ we try to touch this feeling in children, parents and other people. Children are encouraged to do something with their feeling of love, to be who they really are. The teachers are motivated to reach a process of development on the way to unity in themselves as well as in the children. Their way of working will always be dependent on time, place and person. Our inspiration as teachers comes from our sense of intuition and spirituality. Our rationality and intellect are guided by our inspiration.A Lecture on Play – By Luti Play is an essential part of the development of children. Children and play are naturally connected; around the whole world children are playing. Playing children do not discriminate at a racial or cultural level nor do they discriminate between languages. They understand each other. A clear definition of play has never been formed, but the characteristic of play is that it’s not fixed on a purpose; it’s leading to nothing in particular, except that it is leading to itself. The child becomes his or herself by playing. Play involves movement and the flow of movements with no particular goal in mind. Play can be seen as a way of making sense or giving significance to the world of the child’s experiences. Play is called truly play if its origin comes from a free flow that includes improvising in a playful way. The form the playing takes is an expression of the personality of the child. There’s surprise and expectation in play. Certain conditions foster play, including freedom to play, boundaries, safety rules, and control of overflow and underflow in the classroom.
Play can be seen as:
o an activity of joy, movement, fire
o related to objects, to body or other people
o having a non-external purpose
o self-initiating and controlling
o having a continuous variety of expectation and surprise
o an activity with less influence from reality, but the influence from reality is not removed.
Luti explained about different stages of play, according to the development and ages of children. She made a connection to the layers of the mind. We watched a video which was recorded in our school, showing playing children. We recognised the characteristics and stages of play.A Workshop on Music – By Madhavi Sound makes matter move and music can foster unity through sound. Sound touches our hearts. Rhythm is also important for unity. Rhythm is needed to create order in the universe. Rhythm can be created by interspersing movements with breaks. Music fosters the creation of forms. We need to create forms, to function in this world. For that we also need an awareness of space, time and person. Madhavi related this to the different stages of development of children. After this we were inspired by singing songs, exchanging songs and movements, creating rhythms and movements and finding new ones. Lecture and Workshop: The Experience of Unity – By Dada Shambushivananda
Nothing in the universe is static, everything is moving. Everything in the universe (energies, cells and creatures) is constantly dependent on the moving force of action and reaction. All things are moving together in a ‘game’ of action and reaction. All differences have come into existence based on a level of dependency; dependency on action and reaction to each other. So, the universe is moving by an interaction of all creatures and energies, which are different, but the same in that all creatures have come from a source and they all want to go back to that source. They are moving from unity to unity. Everything in the universe is constantly vibrating. The force of prana, which means vital energy, life force, drives it all. Manush means man is mind. Humans have a visible expression of mind and this discriminates us from other creatures. The expression of the human mind is dependent on body, environment and will. We came from the same source and want to go back. The way to this goal of unity is dependent on our will. Our will can move us to action and reaction. Every action creates a reaction; reaction creates action and so on. But to reach what we all deeply really, really want, we have to enjoy reaction, without being attached to the action. In this state we are free from samskaras, all our attached actions. For this we need viveka, our discriminate intellect. Our discriminate intellect brings us to an awareness of inner values and the inner expression of these values, the outer expression of these values, and the modality in which we are moved (for example: the value of self knowledge brings the inner expression of devotion, the outer expression of service and moves us to the modality of discipline). Dada gave us a clear explanation about this process and together we were shared and discussed a lot of things which have to do with viveka.Workshop: Creative expression in relationship to Yama and Niyama – By Yolande
Yolande gave us each a card with a moral value from yama and niyama written on it. We had to give our own expression to that value by using a creative medium. The relation between the value and the image that we were creating had to be geared to children of a certain age. We discussed all the images and shared ideas and visions about it, got inspired and formed new ideas.
Saturday, March 4th
Singing songs with Madhavi
From Madhavi we learned songs, in Dutch as well as in other languages. We talked about the message, purpose and feelings to which the songs could appeal. We sang together, sharing different melodies and sharing and enjoying the feeling, which the singing gave us.
Lecture: The Difference Between Feeling and Intuition By Dada Shambushivananda
When do you know, as a teacher, that something comes from your intuition? So, how do you know that your intuition is talking to you and that it’s not, for example, your intellect or a feeling? Dada told us that one needs reflection. We have to contact the cause behind all the causes. First there’s the Final order cause, which consists of feelings. If we want to go up, we have to go through our feelings. Then, behind the feelings, on our way to the Second order cause, we’ll meet our urges. If we look what’s behind our urges, we will reach the Second order cause. This one consists of our samskaras. If we go through our samskaras, we will come on the way of intuition. At this point we will be aware of atman, unit consciousness, which will, through all experiences, still be in existence. Atman is responsible for dreams and intuition. If we follow on our way and look behind our intuition, thus reflecting the cause of intuition, then we come to the Primordial cause: the state of spirituality. That will bring us in a state of universal consciousness, which is finally causeless (like energy). This process goes through the brain. The process of the development of the brain is similar to the process of evolution. First there’s the reptilian brain, then the limbic system and at last the neo-cortex. The neo-cortex will be developed after birth till the age of 10-14. The more connections in the cortex, which are created by experiences, the more clarity it will bring us. By reviewing this, we can conclude that our role as a teacher is very important for the development of the brain. But for that insight we have to reflect.Dada gave us a model to identify our style of leadership. To identify our style, we first had to give five assets, meaning strengths a leader should have, which were very important to us for a leader. Then we had to find five corresponding liabilities to these assets, meaning where these assets could lead if taken to an extreme. After that we had to form five protecting assets, meaning pragmatic qualities or virtues which would prevent us from turning good qualities into liabilities. By reflecting on the last group of protecting assets Dada gave us an image of our style of leadership. Workshop: Be Free While Playing – By Vishvashanti
Vishvashanti divided the class into three groups. Each group formed a row and the person who was the first one in the row had to start walking and making movements. The others had to follow her/him exactly. When the first person decided to stop she/he had to turn the other way. At this moment the whole row had to turn. So the last person was going to be the first person now. This person had to start walking while singing a song. The others had to follow and sing as well. When the last person on the row ran to the first person, the row had to turn and follow the person who was going to start making movements, and so on. The three groups were walking this way, through the building. We were having a lot of fun and that created a sense of freedom.After this we formed a circle. Vishvashanti put a little piece of paper on the ground. In turns we had to keep a certain distance from the paper, concentrate, close our eyes, walk to the paper and try to point to it with one finger with our eyes still closed. After this Vishvashanti asked some people to do the same, but this time by running. At last some people did this in slow motion. We found out that by running it was easier to do it than by doing it in slow motion. If you’re concentrating and focussed and imagine a line from you to the object, then the shorter the way to the object, the better. By going in slow motion, you cannot follow your focussing impulse as well. In this situation you will lose control of your focus and will be much more open to catching impressions from outside. This process can be connected to the concentrating and focussing process of children. This has to do a lot with the intellect and senses.Lastly, we were divided into three groups again. Vishvashanti took one group with him at a time, while the others were waiting in a room. Suddenly, a strange family walked in surprising the others. The first group was disguised with masks, and acted like a non-harmonious family. Everyone had a lot of fun seeing this and trying to recognise the real people.More Singing Songs with Madhavi
We sang songs together again and we also read poems. This time we concentrated more on how to present songs to children. We concentrated on our expressions and our voices, like: tunes, rhythms, melodies, mime and movements.
Sunday, March 5th
Workshop: Circle Time – By Madhavi
Madhavi asked us what, in our view, was the aim of circle time. It was difficult for us to find one aim, so we made a list of different aims. By doing that we found that circle time appeals to all levels of the mind and that touching all the levels of the mind by doing a circle activity in a harmonious way, can lead to a feeling of completeness and unity. We talked about how to appeal to the energy of the children to make them really feel united from deep inside. Madhavi gave us examples of how to appeal to the energy of the children and how to inspire them. We discussed problems that we experienced, possible solutions and different ways to encourage the feelings of love and unity.
Workshop: Play-Exercise – By Vishvashanti
We started with warm ups and did a movement exercise to get our bodies flowing. After that we had to pretend to move our ‘flowing bodies’ through a stream of water, like we were pushed by the waves. Then we formed pairs and played various challenging games in which we each had to keep our balance while trying to make our partner lose theirs. This ended with another exercise in pairs where we had to keep each other in balance, by sitting on each other’s knees and climbing on each other’s back and taking different positions. After more warm ups we were divided into groups and Vishvashanti gave us instructions which had to do with taking care of plants. First we had to observe a plant. Then we had to imagine how the plant was feeling. We had to take the role of a teacher introducing the plant to children of a certain age. After this, the teachers had to act like the plant and appeal to the child’s feeling of taking care of the plant. We shared our plays and ways and discussed them.Evaluation At the end of the weekend we evaluated the training and concluded that there was a good atmosphere at Zonnelicht. We were open to each other and there was a good feeling of unity and an inspiring atmosphere. Most of the teachers agreed that they had obtained much clarity about the themes: love, play and unity. The workshops and lectures were very interesting and inspiring! Beside this, the meditations and kiirtan had a good effect on the harmony as well!