Sunday, November 29, 2009

reflection moments

meditation in the everyday

our spiral pathway I designed for our courtyard

I was recently asked about what I do to meditate. Like most people, I picture a moment of stillness, sitting perhaps in quietness and solitude, whereby I consciously look inward to tap into some peaceful place to bring clarity to my thoughts or to seek answers. I think, like most people, rarely do I have time in my family life and work life to have the luxury to create the formal atmosphere for meditation. While I do occasionally make the effort to create a meditative moment, I realized that upon further reflection, meditative moments happen in the everyday activities of my life.

What is the purpose of meditation? For me, it is to create harmony of spirit. By this, I mean, it could be the need to center oneself, to seek clarity, to open oneself up to a revelation, to deepen one's spirituality, or to tap into one's joyfulness and creativity.

It dawned on me that aside from those times when I actually sit in a meditative manner, I create harmony of spirit - meditation - when I engage my emotional and will forces in an activity that is inherently peaceful, reflective, and rhythmic.

These meditative moments are:

1. When I watch our rabbit eat after I have given her some fresh vegetables, and she seems content as the sun bathes her in morning light.
2. When I slowly walk the garbage cans to the curb, and the sound of its wheels roll hollowly and deeply, and crunch leaves on the driveway.
3. When I sip a cup of coffee as I breathe in the cool morning dew.
4. When I write a verse from scratch, with pen in hand and paper on my lap, and I reach within for words that fit what I am feeling and express what I want to say.
5. When I play the harp and improvise the melodies.
6. When I sand a wooden snail or streamer wand and think about where it will go and who will play with it.
7. When I listen to my daughter play guitar.
8. When I hear the spinning wheel that my wife is using to spin some yarn.
9. When I look closely at leaves and branches and see that there is something so beautiful in the patterns of shapes, colors, and textures.
10. When I drive long distances (this might be a guy thing!)
11. When I wake up in the morning from a tent, unzip the door flap, and step out into the wooded setting to bear witness to the majesty of our world.
12. When I clean the house and everything appears in order, each thing repsectfully sitting in its rightful place.
13. When the kids are in bed and the house is breathing, relaxing, re-energizing.

In each moment, it is a connection with the stillness of the world around us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

verse for thanks

for my family

Journeys are made across oceans

through uncharted waters

and into new worlds.

With courage

you face the day

with faith

you face the night

with hope

you face the future.

Only with your family

can you face


Thank you Jennifer,

Ricky, Joey, and Wilson

for helping me

see me

and making the journey


Happy Thanksgiving

to all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

five spheres

of waldorf education

Rudolf Steiner created a richly textured world when he developed anthroposophy and laid the foundation of Waldorf education. It would take a lifetime - and perhaps two or three more incarnations - to understand all of it! So, the best I can do in this life, in my striving as a creative spirit, is to make the journey with the help of art. The five symbols here, for me, represent the main concepts of Waldorf education.

The circumpunct is the first symbol of the Five Spheres of Waldorf Education. It represents the singularity of the self. It symbolizes oneness and wholeness. The individual human soul is unique, and our strength to do good in the outer world comes out of working the inner life. This inner development is the core of anthroposophy. Through meditation, practical training of one's internal faculties, and living a life of good intent and genuine striving does a person develop character and presence, valued by Steiner as paramount to a Waldorf teacher.

The second symbol is the yin yang. In eastern philosophy, it symbolizes the dynamics of polarity: male and female, light and dark, heaven and earth. I borrowed it to represent synergy between relationships, how a cycle of growth develops within the particular relationship between individuals. In Waldorf education, the quality of relationships is key in strengthening us and the community. Key relationships for the Waldorf teacher are with the student, the school, and the parents. For the Waldorf school, its relationship with the community is key in its growth.

Between teacher and student: the teacher nurtures, guides, inspires, and models for the student, who grows, and in turn, encourages, motivates, and respects the teacher.

Between teacher and parents: the teacher maintains open and honest communication, offering reassurances for the parent, who grows in the Waldorf philosophy, and in turn, develops trust and faith in the teacher.

Between teacher and colleagues: the teacher contributes, collaborates, and cooperates with colleagues, who in turn offer mentorship and support, and the school grows in its vision.

The third symbol is the triform. In Waldorf education, the familiar head, heart, and hands, or thinking, feeling, and willing, is represented by this simple triangle. Balance of these three areas of human development is carefully attenuated in the Waldorf classrooms. I also like to refer to the three areas as: 1. practical cognition (thinking), 2. creative freedom (feeling), and 3. global citizenry (willing). In the service of the Waldorf student, the dynamic balance of these three areas provides an exciting framework for the teacher in bringing the art of education to the child.

This four pointed symbol, while looking much like the rose cross, is used here as the compass rose. The rhythms of life, in seasonal changes, the seven-year cycle, math concepts, nature, and music, are revered in Waldorf education. I have used the compass rose to symbolize the rhythm of the main lesson.

Beginning with E, East: ENTER the classroom. The children are greeted by the teacher, and begin circle time, which synchronizes the energy of the classroom, and makes them ready to receive the day.

Moving counterclockwise to N, North: NEW content is introduced. After review of previous content, and some mental activities, the teacher introduces the new material of the main lesson.

Now heading to W, West: WORK in the practice books and main lesson books begins. Following two-day or three-day rhythms in learning material, the students work in their practice books or main lesson books, and here they may also be work with manipulatives or other activities to engage the student in a multisensory experience.

Finally, at S, South: STORYTIME closes the main lesson. Now, I don't think there is a hard and fast rule about storytime, as it seems to be different with class teachers and grade levels. However, generally, a story does help conclude the main lesson to help the student breathe out, and also offers the student something relevant to sleep on.

The fifth symbol is the pentacle, which symbolizes many things in different faiths and cultures. Here, it represents the concept of course, with two meanings. One, as a path of discovery, and two, as an area of study. It is about the Waldorf curriculum. If you can picture Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian man superimposed onto the star, at the head is language, in the left hand is music, arts, and crafts, in the right hand is math, in the left foot is social studies such as history, including geography, and in the right foot is natural science.

By being mindful of the concepts that each symbol represent, I believe that the Waldorf teacher will have a balanced and fulfilling experience in guiding his or her students to love learning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

veteran's hope

honoring our warriors

My grandfather Lolo Victor had served in WWII, a military engineer, a warrior, a man who helped me hone an artistic eye.

In honor of our veterans, let us proceed today in peace and hope.

My verse for veterans:

in war
they were soldiers
a fraternity of singular purpose
brothers in arms in mind in heart
eyes that have seen
the darkness
of war
at home
free men and women
individuals with many endeavors
holding family in arms
finding peace of mind
longing for love
to replace darkness
with light
at home

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

calendar of the soul

for november 10 thru 16

I feel my own force bearing fruit,
growing strong to give me to the world:
I feel my own being gaining power,
turning to clarity
in the weaving of life's destiny.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

soul train

more on reincarnation and karma

Wilson visits with one of Arneson's "eggheads" at UC Davis, 2006

Our study group forged ahead on our study of Steiner's Reincarnation and Karma. In Chapter 2, Steiner offered philosophical concepts to help in our understanding of the movement of the soul through birth and death and rebirth.

What resonated with me was his illustration of the young child as the evidence for former incarnations. Soon after birth, the newborn is so full of life and energy. Without yet the provocations of the external world and influences of a thinking life, the baby is active in the will and strong in the feeling life. Where did these forces come from? Steiner believes they are what was carried over from the former incarnation. While the thoughts and concepts of one's life is learned and dissolves upon death, the striving of the individual, translated in the soul as the gestalt of feeling and will, is carried through the period between death and rebirth. This soul force is what is present in the newborn.

I created an image of my own - perhaps a simplification of reincarnation - but helpful in my understanding of the soul force. It is the soul train. Picture a train as the vehicle of the eternal soul, traveling through time and space. Each station that it arrives at is the physical embodiment of the soul, our life between birth and death. While at the station, the soul train experiences thoughts, feelings, and actions of the human being. Before it departs, the train loads the essence of the human: the striving, the feelings, the will forces. Upon death, the train leaves and travels once again through the spaces before it proceeds to the next station. At previous stations - former incarnations - the soul train builds and carries the essence of the soul, and every incarnation thereafter is a product of that force.

Each human of course is unique. We value our individuality, or in the context of Steiner's philosophy of human freedom, our individualized concepts. While the essence of the soul train lives within us, we are free to be who we are in the physical realm of human existence.

Clearly, we have a responsibility for what the soul train will take into the next incarnation. If we load the train, our soul, with positive feelings and good intentions of the will, then the human of our next incarnation will have the essence of a decent, striving individual, no matter what his or her endeavors and talents are. Karma - pass it forward.

In the study group, the image of the soul train sparked some humorous imagining of the train. What kind of train lives in me? A bullet train, locomotive, mag lev, the Chicago "L" train, a steam engine? Perhaps, it is that Little Blue Engine That Could.