Open Appreciation For A Workshop That Changed My Life

Dear Jane,
I’ve had a great time recalling our time at the workshop and putting into practice the techniques you shared. Stoplight breath practice has been replaced by hand signing (No, really. I’m taking an ASL class). But I frequently use ‘found time’ to return to breath and center myself and check in to release tension in my body.

RelaxthroughbreathingThought you might like to know that I did start my class in darkness with only the sound of my voice for students on Day 1 of the semester. It’s made a qualitative shift not only in the way I experience teaching but in the community of scholars in the classroom. Students definitely seem more relaxed, connected and attentive. Thank you for making that possible.

Here are the things I put in the survey CAPE sent out:

6. What did you learn in this CAPE session that is most important/valuable to you?
It was the fruitage from the practice more than learning something particular that has already proven valuable to me. An idea surfaced during one of our quiet times that I wrote down and implemented in my first class of the new semester. It made a qualitative difference in the way teaching and learning happens in my 20 year career.

7. How do you plan to use the information you obtained in this session?
I remind myself to breathe from time to time and intend to make and share the practice widely by integrating more formal (with breath) and informal (with time to write / reflect)’breathing spaces’ into each of my classes and days.

8. Please provide any additional feedback:
This was one of the best CAPE sessions I have ever attended. Thank you for remembering that those who “take care” of others (aka serve or teach in the public eye) need time and reminders to take care of ourselves. Everyone benefits!

NANOWRIMO 4 Teaching In Defense of Democracy

We had the faculty retreat today so I wrote only 639 words in the direction of 50,000 for the month. But they were good ones, truth-telling words that indicate a new level of understanding, preparation and growth. So, for this blog, despite the fact that I went home and got into bed in the coming rain after leaving the Preserve, I will simply post a few of the notes I took while preparing for my presentation on abundance using the work of Parker Palmer from An Active Life and Healing the Heart of Democracy.

Our lot is to call democracy back to its highest form… Protecting our right to disagree is one of democracy’s gifts, and converting this inevitable tension into creative energy is part of democracy’s genius. Parker Palmer

What are the steps to remaining “full of hope about our capacity to see the light” (14)?

Looking at [teaching] through the eyes of the heart might mean…(14)

AAC&U’s American Commitments

It is the ancient and honorable human endeavor of creating a community in which the weak as well as the strong can flourish, love and power can collaborate, and justice and mercy can have their day (The Drama of Diversity and Democracy, p.14).

To build and maintain a “commonwealth of compassion and creativity… (14)

Why I teach and therefore what I hope to teach more directly is the  “link between language and empathy” (13).

The will to uncover “the pain…buried under jargon” is accompanied by the skill to restore.

I love pearls for their luster. They shine from within because something irritated them into being. Some of my best students have served as spiritual irritants and made me a better teacher.

war is not the only setting in which violence is done: violence is done whenever we violate another’s integrity (13-14).

Heart + the place of integration and therefore the site of disconnection and fragmentation and opportunity once or repeatedly broken.

“The core of the self, that center place where all our ways of knowing converge – intellectual, emotional, sensory, intuitive, imaginative, experiential, relational, and bodily among others” (12)

Cor is also the Latin root from which we get the word courage.

Where does the courage to act humanely come from and can it be cultivated?

We are here today because “there are some human experiences that only the heart can comprehend and only heart talk can convey” (12).

What does it mean to teach from a heart broken open (12)?

Empathy, accountability and democracy

…to speak without fear against all that diminishes us

NEXT 098: As a learner / writer I believe _____ about myself, my potential, my chances, my future. These beliefs are seen in the following actions…

To reconcile whatever divides us from ourselves requires…

To be effective we must balance reaching out and looking in.

How capable of “reaching across divides” do you feel?

How much of a trust holder of democracy are you?

To avoid forced altruism find a true point of identity with people whose basic believes are contrary to your own.

Loaves and Fishes: Acts of Scarcity or Abundance

Contemplation and action cannot be separated the way that we separate work and vacation. … true contemplation draws us deeper into right action

(An Active Life, p. 122).

[Jesus] was perfectly capable of resisting false action (123)

…compassion is a quality that makes action responsive rather than reflexive.

Humility makes it possible to act for and with other people (124)

A life lived at the depths…

How might we feed people’s authentic hungers, help people penetrate the illusion of scarcity and act out of the reality of abundance (124)? Practice knowing / not knowing

What would it take to let others have a fair share of self respect, interdependence and self-efficacy?

Contemplation is any way we unmask illusion and reveal reality (134).

God’s abundance remains in the realm of potential, always there, always available. We are called to incarnate the Christ-life. (135). To respond to human hungers with everyday actions that incarnate God’s abundance.

The More Things Change

Now what? I know a lot of people in or near crisis. It’s not hard to be one of them. A few of us are designing a college-wide retreat to speak back to the spirit of fear that pervades. We are using Parker Palmer‘s work, believing against all odds that such gatherings can make a difference. The challenge in times like these is to keep caring, to remain warm and open in direct opposition to all the invitations to shut down, stop caring that keep coming at us from every direction.