Do you think the language you use influences your reality, or do you think reality has nothing to do with language? This has been a topic of debate between linguists. The theory of linguistic relativity… More
Over the last few months, I’ve been digging up different ways I’ve been brainwashed. The most significant connections I’ve made are with the beauty industry. Last week I finally watched Embrace (highly recommended), and while I was aware of how society forces women into a warped sense of beauty, this movie had me in tears of despair. It’s so sad what women go through.
However, it also awakened a sense of justice I hadn’t felt in a long time. I felt resolved to stop giving into the body shaming industry, and to embrace my power as a woman, especially as a white English-speaking Canadian woman. I know there is so much more I can do on this planet than worry about my love-handles. I refuse to believe I’m less than. Deep down I know I’m so much more than the dark circles under my eyes, or blotchy skin.
But how? This industry is an all-encompassing force! It has its tentacles in so many areas: social media; the music industry; the film industry; the fashion industry; the health industry; the medical industry; the pharmaceutical industry…
“It’s not a luxury anymore for us to be participating in some aspect of mind-training (…speaks about how the following is the base of her Kundalini lineage…) If you know how to hypnotize yourself, which is meditation — self-hypnosis is meditation — if you know how to hypnotize yourself, then no one can ever hypnotize you. That’s power. That’s sovereignty.” (starts at 2:30)
As she says this she’s pointing to the screen, reminding the audience of the Jay-Z/Beyonce video she had just played which was full of fast-paced intermittent shots of booties, boobs, and guns. This is the hypnosis we’re subject to each day. This is the brainwashing that makes me believe I need a tight tummy with super curves, while also being incredibly ruthless in my behaviour.
“Your reality is a trance of your own making, or someone else’s making. Someone who doesn’t have your greatest good in mind. So any type of meditation, any type of contemplative practice (…) is going to give you an ability to start to take that sovereignty of thought choice back.” (starts at 16:00)
She speaks about how thought forms come from our lineage, and a deeply engrained cultural and religious belief, whether we are religious or not, that we are sinners (this is especially relevant to Western cultures). For me this would be the lineage of the Acadian people, who faced expulsion from their land in the 1700s, which of course was not really their land since they came to Canada to settle from France. And in the not so distant past, they lived in a political atmosphere which pushed English linguistic and cultural assimilation.
Then, there is the cultural religion in which I was born into, Catholicism: a religion built on a celibate patriarchy, and founded on the belief that God can save us from out innate sins.
So, based on my DNA, these are the thoughts that are spinning around in the back of my mind:
- “I don’t belong here.”
- “My language, culture, and personhood are not worthy.”
- “Men have all the power in our society, so as a woman I am less worthy.”
- “I am a sinner.”
Then, there are the ideas I have surely absorbed from living in Korea for the last twelve years: bbali-bbali (fast-fast) lifestyle; high stakes competitions; materialism; or most of all, body shame.
So now that I’m aware of what I’m contending with, I can make a choice. But the choice to not succumb to brainwashing will be difficult without mind-training. Guru Jagat ends her talk with the idea that this type of training empowers us to choose happiness. It helps us sift through our conditioned thoughts and choose another path. It is my hope that the more I practice, the more I’ll able to choose self-acceptance…
…because for me, self-acceptance is happiness. – click to tweet
“You’re so full of yourself!”
Could you imagine yourself saying “thank you” to this comment?
I’d like to offer up the idea that it’s okay to be full of yourself.
It’s definitely not an easy idea to accept. Most would cringe knowing others see them this way. I know I would. Although I try to put myself out there professionally, as a woman I’ve learned it’s safer to play small. I sometimes worry that I said or did something that came off as conceited: “Was it really necessary to write that comment about myself in my presentation bio?”,”Maybe I should have kept that Facebook post to myself?”
As a long term expat in Korea, I’ve observed how modesty and humility are highly valued. There is a general discomfort that seems to spread across a group of friends when someone talks about their success. It’s much safer to downplay your achievements.
In both these cultures, you won’t make it easy on yourself by acting superior. But what if it isn’t about superiority? What if it’s simply about honoring your gifts in way that you aren’t wasting your energy worrying about what others think? Imagine the ease you would feel if you could just fully be yourself. (click to tweet)
Imagine the space that would clear up if all you had to focus on was expressing your skills and knowledge without fear of judgment. My mind goes to exciting places when I consider this freedom. I imagine myself creating projects and sharing them with people in ways, well, Oprah might.
In Brené Brown’s first interview of her *Living Brave video series, she speaks to Oprah who shares how she used to be worried about being told she was full of herself. But Oprah, being Oprah, found a way to repurpose that judgment:
“Now I work at being full. I want to be so full that I’m overflowing. So when you see me coming, it ought to make you proud, to borrow a line from Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman. When you see me coming it ought to make you proud, and what you see is a woman so full I’m overflowing with enough to share with everybody else. I’m going to own the fullness without ego, without arrogance, but with an amazing sense of gratitude that I’ve been born at a time where I am female on the planet, and I have the great pleasure and freedom to fill myself up.” (see poem below)
*Note: Brené and Oprah’s conversation on fullness starts at 12:05.
This. Overflowing. I imagine myself with a perpetually full tank of gas. Think of the places I could go and the people I could see! It’s impossible to get to these places with half a tank. But this is what happens when I try to make myself smaller in order to fit in. This is what happens when I try not to offend anyone.
This fullness isn’t about flaunting my gifts. It’s not about bragging about what I’ve done just to make myself look bigger and you smaller. To honour my gifts without ego or arrogance requires me to be appreciative of the experience I’ve gained, and the skills and knowledge that come along with it. When I’m grateful, I honour everyone and everything that helped me succeed. I fill myself up with this greatness, and in return, I take myself places I could never have imagined. (click to tweet)
What does your fullness look like?
Last September I decided to step away from the reflective practice group I had been organizing since 2012. It was time to focus my energy elsewhere. In order to help my colleagues take over, I created this guide. I thought it might also be helpful to others as well. Enjoy!
Below you will find helpful information for coordinating and facilitating a reflective practice group meeting. If this is your first time coordinating or facilitating, I recommend reading the listed blog posts:
- This post, found on the International Teacher Teacher Development Institute (iTDi) blog, gives a layout of a typical meeting: Forming and Sustaining a Reflective Practice Group. The layout may change based on the goals of your meeting, but the basic plan has been successful in the past.
- This post found on Zhenya Polosatova and Tana Ebaugh‘s website, Pioneer Training and Education Consortium, discusses the difference between facilitating and coordinating an RP meeting: Interview with ptec Members: Josette LeBlanc
- This was written when the group first began in 2012: Our Reflective Community
When leading a session, there are few elements to be aware of:
- Participants and prospective participants
- Facilitating the meeting from the beginning to the end of the meeting
- Choosing and facilitating the topic of the meeting
- Advertising each meeting
- Sharing and recording what has been discussed at the meeting
You will find more details about each element below.
Participants and prospective participants
As this is an open group, new members may attend. This is why we usually start a session with an icebreaker. In order to help them feel welcome to the group, it can be helpful to explain the aim of the group, and maybe just have a brief chat about what a typical meeting looks like. Anything you can do to help newcomers feel welcome and at ease will be great. The idea is that we want to make them feel included. Since many members have been attending for quite a while, a newcomer may feel out of place. Helping ease this sense will support them in coming back.
Here are a few things to consider prior to a meeting in case a new participant attends:
- What will you share about the group?
- What will you say to help them familiarize themselves?
- What will you ask from them? (why are they here, what they would like?)
- Asking for their contact information so you can share information about future meetings
- Helping them access the Facebook group
Facilitating from the beginning to the end of the meeting
The most important role of the facilitator is to help keep the discussion going. In order to do this, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Remember your goal, but remain open – What do you want members to leave the meeting with? A skill? Knowledge? Stay focused on your goal. If you notice the meeting is going in another direction, try to bring it back. However, don’t be so strict that you ignore valuable learning moments. A good RP meeting is one that helps people think and grow, and sometimes that means throwing away your plan.
- Getting the meeting started –
- It’s easy for members to get wrapped up in small talk at the beginning of a meeting. Remember that they came to talk about the topic you planned. Be gently assertive and start the meeting. Everyone is with you. Some language to help them get started might be:
- If everyone is here, let’s get started.
- Feel free to come and go to get your drink (coffee/tea) or to get settled. We will begin introductions now….
- Ice breaker and names – a simple ice-breaker that doesn’t take much time is to ask members to share their favorite (choose a topic). For example, you may ask them to share their favorite drink or animal… Don’t spend too much time on the icebreaker because the content of the meeting is the juicy part.
- Presenting the agenda
- Dealing with goals – you may want members to share how they did with the goals they set during the last meeting. However, you may want to wait until the end of the meeting to discuss this as well.
- It’s easy for members to get wrapped up in small talk at the beginning of a meeting. Remember that they came to talk about the topic you planned. Be gently assertive and start the meeting. Everyone is with you. Some language to help them get started might be:
- Grouping – Depending on the size of the group, this may involve creating small groups, or pairing off people. If the group is large, you may want to opt out of joining discussion groups so you can take notes and focus on how the discussions are going.
- Stopping discussions – It can be hard to stop a juicy discussion, but discussions have to stop at some point. Before starting discussions, it can be helpful to inform members how you will ask them to stop talking. This can be especially helpful if you have a larger group. You may want to raise your hand, clap, or remind everyone they have a minute to wrap up.
- Asking people to share what they discussed in groups or not (you may not have time to share with the large group) – After small group discussions, you may want to get a summary of what each group discussed so ideas can be shared with the large group. This is a good way to bring everyone together, and increase insight and understanding
- Watching the clock – make sure you have enough time to do everything you planned. This includes the icebreaker, discussions, and the wrap-up at the end.
- Ending the meeting – Here are a few things to consider for the end of the meeting
- Asking members to share their RP goals. This may be new goals or you may want them to share progress on old one.
- open a request for facilitators for future meetings
- Talk about date of the next meeting
Choosing the topic of the meeting
It can be helpful to have the topic of the next meeting already decided so that you can share it at the end of the meeting. This will help members work on and think about the topic during the weeks in between meetings.
Advertising each meeting
Send a group email (remember to BCC the list) to members at least a week before the meeting. It’s a good idea to create a Facebook group, and to create an event within the group for each meeting as this sends a direct message to group members.
Information to be included:
- Location and directions to the location
- A brief abstract of the topic and what you expect members to do before or during the meeting
- Your contact information in case people can’t find the location on the day of the meeting
A quiet space at a central location is preferable. It can also be helpful to have a space with a white board and larger tables. Privacy is also ideal.
Sharing and recording what has been discussed at the meeting
How do we share and record what we do?
- a linoit.com page
- Google Doc.
It is a good idea to share as a way of keeping the community connected throughout the month, but this is up to you.
Below are links to resources that have helped me in teaching English as a second language, and in teaching teachers. I hope they are of service to you too.
If you have any suggestions for links to add to categories that exist, or don’t yet, please comment below.
Adult Learning Theory
- Malcolm Knowles http://infed.org/mobi/malcolm-knowles-informal-adult-education-self-direction-and-andragogy/
- Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding (formative assessment strategies)
- TEFL Assessment Sheets (very comprehensive) http://www.finchpark.com/courses/sheets.htm
- Ways to Assess Student Learning During Class http://tep.uoregon.edu/pdf/assessment/Ways_to_Assess_Student_Learning_During_Class.pdf
- Secrets of Body Language (History Channel) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWm52oqDvPU and/or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aUyKs1rOiQ
Teacher burnout (2015)
- http://www.mindgarden.com/117-maslach-burnout-inventory (Inventory)
- False cognates :) http://www.careeraddict.com/en/16695/avoid-these-20-english-words-when-in-other-countries
- Cognitive skills http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/12/18/what-are-cognitive-abilities/
- Thinking Skills http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/rod-bolitho-thinking-skills
- (profain but funny) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naleynXS7yo
Community (dynamics and rhythms)
- Forming Relationships WITH Students – Michigan State University
- Forming Relationships AMONG Students – Michigan State University
- Dawn Wink – Teaching – Freedom Within Structure and Teaching with Stones
- Parker J. Palmer talks about six tensions or paradoxes that need to be built into learning spaces. http://infed.org/mobi/parker-j-palmer-community-knowing-and-spirituality-in-education/
Communities of Practice
“…communities of practice are everywhere. They are a familiar experience, so familiar perhaps that it often escapes our attention. Yet when it is given a name and brought into focus, it becomes a perspective that can help us understand our world better. In particular, it allows us to see past more obvious formal structures such as organizations, classrooms, or nations, and perceive the structures defined by engagement in practice and the informal learning that comes with it.”
“The term community of practice was coined to refer to the community that acts as a living curriculum for the apprentice.”
- Communities of practice presentation by Etienne Wenger-Trayner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn3joQSQm4o
- Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner’s website http://wenger-trayner.com/etienne/
- Conscious Competence Learning Model http://www.businessballs.com/consciouscompetencelearningmodel.htm
- Intercultural Competence in English http://www.elc-consult.com/49601/105701.html
- Scott Thornbury https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/tag/complexity-theory/
- Asian Corpus of English http://corpus.ied.edu.hk/ace/
- Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English https://www.univie.ac.at/voice/
- John Hughes http://elteachertrainer.com/2011/02/14/c-is-for-critical-incidents/
- Thomas S. C. Farrell http://www.reflectiveinquiry.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ELT-J-Farrell-08.pdf
- Willy Cardoso https://authenticteaching.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/initial-teacher-training-valuing-and-creating-opportunities-for-critical-incidents/
Critical reading and thinking
- Texts http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/category/student-opinion/?_r=0
- How to develop critical thinking http://lifehacker.com/how-to-train-your-mind-to-think-critically-and-form-you-1516998286?disableinsets=on&utm_expid=66866090-49.VYy4WCNHSyuP6EmjnM93MQ.2&commerce_insets_disclosure=on&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Flifehacker.com%2Fhow-to-train-your-mind-to-think-critically-and-form-you-1516998286%3Fcommerce_insets_disclosure%3Don
- Christina Rebuffet-Broadus https://ilovetefl.wordpress.com/?s=cuisenaire
- John Hughes http://elteachertrainer.com/2013/05/24/cuisenaire-rods-in-elt/
- Sandy Millin and CeriJones https://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/cuisenaire-rods/
- Scott Thornbury https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/tag/cuisenaire-rods/
- Barnga – a culture game http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/users/interculture/pcat6.htm
- The Place of “Culture” in the Foreign Language Classroom: A Reflection http://iteslj.org/Articles/Tang-Culture.html
- Culture Matters: The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook http://www.smith.edu/studyabroad/docs/T0087_culturematters.pdf
- http://carla.umn.edu/culture/index.html (Thanks to Pat Moran’s suggestion :) )
- School girls around the world http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/50-captivating-photos-of-girls-going-to-school-around-the-world_us_56d61a7de4b0871f60ed1fce
Deductive learning (see Inductive learning)
Discussions (facilitating discussions)
- Emotional Intelligence Needs a Moral Rudder http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/emotional_intelligence_needs_a_moral_rudder
Emotions and language
- Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15039514
- Emotionally Expressive Coping Predicts Psychological and Physical Adjustment to Breast Cancer https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/ccp685875.pdf
- Feelings Into Words: Contributions of Language to Exposure Therapy http://www.scn.ucla.edu/pdf/Kircanski(inpress)PsychSci.pdf (most recent http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/10/1086 )
- Putting Feelings Into Words Affect Labeling Disrupts Amygdala Activity in Response to Affective Stimuli http://www.scn.ucla.edu/pdf/AL(2007).pdf
- Unlocking Past Emotion: Verb Use Affects Mood and Happiness http://www.bama.ua.edu/~wphart/Social_Cognition_Lab/Publications_files/verbaspectaffect.pdf
- You Are What You Speak https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-apes/201504/you-are-what-you-speak
- How Language Shapes Thought https://psych.stanford.edu/~lera/papers/sci-am-2011.pdf (More by Lera Boroditsky https://scholar.google.co.kr/citations?user=8mm3GBsAAAAJ&hl=en)
- Emotional literacy
- Antonio Damasio http://bigthink.com/experts/antoniodamasio
- Divya Madhavan http://divyamadhavan.com/2015/03/31/empowerment/
English (lingua franca, international, dialects…)
- 21 accents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UgpfSp2t6k
- 31 accents of love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBtLxuv0-u8
- History of English
- History of the English Language (British Council) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fJiHmR85cU
- Adventures in English –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihoYL-dUK1g
Experiential Learning Cycle
Fluency and Coherence (Speaking)
- IELTS (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SI0twnNEN8
Focus on form
- Scott Thornbury https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/tag/focus-on-form/
Grammar (with bonus humor because we all need to lighten up about grammar)
- Emphasizing adverbs (adding that extra little kick to your adjectives)
- Gradable or non-gradable (just HOW pretty are you really?) http://www.onestopenglish.com/methodology/ask-the-experts/grammar-questions/grammar-gradable-and-non-gradable-adjectives/146353.article
- Subject complement http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/subject_complement.htm
- Object complement http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/object_complement.htm
Operators (do, do, do…because we always need a little back-up when being negative, inquisitive, or emphatic)
Particles (pesky little things)
Phrasal verbs (all of them…the ones that love splitting too)
- Follow on Twitter @phrasalverbdmon or go to their website http://www.phrasalverbdemon.com/
Predicate (no use in denying this part of this sentence. It’s affirmed and here to stay)
Prepositional phrase (wordy adjectives or adverbs)
- Conditionals (bribery might be involved here) http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-reference/conditionals-1 and http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conditional2.htm
- Grammatical range and accuracy – IELTS (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGviA4pDHoI and http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS%20Speaking%203%20-%20Grammatical%20range%20&%20accuracy.pdf
- Dummy-do (d-uh!) http://www.linguisticsgirl.com/using-auxiliary-verbs-as-operators/
- Copular (stop with the dirty thoughts!) verbs http://www.englishgrammar.org/copular-verbs/
- Intransitive and Transitive Verbs (could we make these terms less memorable?) Grateful for Grammar Girl – http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/transitive-and-intransitive-verbs “The tip for remembering the name is to think of transitive verbs as transferring their action to the object. Transitive and transfer both start with the prefix trans-.”
- Predicate verb phrases (maybe we should call the “predictable” verb phrases.) http://www.linguisticsgirl.com/grammatical-functions-of-verbs-in-predicate-verb-phrases/
Inductive and deductive learning
- Jon Hird, inductive grammar deductive grammar
Learning Challenges (Disabilities)
- Dear teachers… (with good subtitles) https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1125589420815248/
- VAK Learning styles Assessment http://www.kings.k12.ca.us/EdServices/Learning%20Styles%20Assessment/Grades%203-6%20VAK%20Learning%20Styles%20Assessment.pdf
- Multiple Intelligence Assessment http://www.nb.lung.ca/FFL/pdf/mii.pdf or http://www.collegesuccess1.com/instructormanual4thed/learning%20style/mi_quiz.pdf
- Self-generating test http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm#multiple intelligences tests (highlight and copy everything you see here)
- Are ‘Learning Styles’ a Symptom of Education’s Ills? http://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/are-learning-styles-a-symptom-of-educations-ills/?smid=fb-nytimes&bicmst=1409232722000&bicmet=1419773522000&bicmp=AD&smtyp=aut&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&_r=0
- IELTS Speaking (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQQE2hWrl98
- Listening in the Language Classroom by John Field (book link) http://www.amazon.com/Listening-Language-Classroom-Cambridge-Teaching/dp/0521685702
- Listening Myths by Steven Brown (book link) https://www.press.umich.edu/2132445/listening_myths
- Rachael Roberts on listening skills http://elt-resourceful.com/tag/listening-skills/
- Teaching and Researching: Listening by Michael Rost (book link) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Teaching-Researching-Listening-Applied-Linguistics-ebook/dp/B00GXBCLA2/ref=pd_sim_351_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=02F1ESMY16CVQWSX6FP0
Listening (Good listeners)
- Listening is an Act of Love http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/science_meaningful_life_videos/speaker/jon_kabat-zinn/jon_kabat_zinn_listening_is_an_act_of_love/
- Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better?language=en#t-11914
- Listen up! TED talks playlist https://www.ted.com/playlists/92/listen_up
- 9 Things Good Listeners Do Differently
- Bad listeners https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TeOGJP5vGA&feature=youtu.be
- Learning to Listen http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-taft/learning-to-listen_b_912046.html
- The Art and Practice of Mindful Listening http://www.chopra.com/ccl/the-art-and-practice-of-mindful-listening
- Compassionate Listening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyUxYflkhzo&feature=youtu.be
- Brene Brown on empathy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&feature=youtu.be
- It’s Not About The Nail https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg
Phonology and phonetics
- Minimal pairs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrIfQTOl97k
Informal and formal (politeness)
- http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/words/charts.htm – starter phrases
- IELTS (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-uYzReetEI
- Amy Walker accents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJyTA4VlZus
- KWL Charts (how to approach them) http://www.nea.org/tools/k-w-l-know-want-to-know-learned.html
Receptive skills (Listening & reading)
- Bottom-up vs. Top-down Processing http://openpsyc.blogspot.kr/2014/06/bottom-up-vs-top-down-processing.html
Self and others
“By telling others how we feel and other information about ourselves we reduce the hidden area, and increase the open area, which enables better understanding, cooperation, trust, team-working effectiveness and productivity. Reducing hidden areas also reduces the potential for confusion, misunderstanding, poor communication, etc, which all distract from and undermine team effectiveness.
Organizational culture and working atmosphere have a major influence on group members’ preparedness to disclose their hidden selves. Most people fear judgement or vulnerability and therefore hold back hidden information and feelings, etc, that if moved into the open area, ie known by the group as well, would enhance mutual understanding, and thereby improve group awareness, enabling better individual performance and group effectiveness.”
“As with feedback, some people are more resilient than others – care needs to be taken to avoid causing emotional upset.”
*I can see this as a useful tool for trainers to use when considering the progress of a course, and the various group dynamics at play.
- Johari’s Window – http://www.businessballs.com/johariwindowmodel.htm
- pdf of the window http://www.businessballs.com/johariwindowmodeldiagram.pdf
Task-based Language Teaching (Dogme?)
- Geoff Jordan https://canlloparot.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/task-based-language-teaching/comment-page-1/#comment-2616
- Steven Brown https://stevebrown70.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/why-pre-selected-language-aims-are-a-waste-of-time-and-what-we-should-be-doing-instead/
- Willy Cardoso https://authenticteaching.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/initial-teacher-training-do-they-still-teach-ppp/
- Puzzles http://www.businessballs.com/games.htm
- Cooperation based http://www.teambuilding-thailand.com/teambuilding-activities/cooperation-team-building-activities.html
- Six Thinking Hats http://www.debonogroup.com/six_thinking_hats.php – http://www.debonoforschools.com/pdfs/Six_Thinking_Hats_Card_Game_Free_Resource.pdf
Your life should reach to others. Your blissfulness, your benediction, your ecstasy should not be contained within you like a seed. It should open like a flower and spread its fragrance to all and sundry–not only to the friends but to the strangers too. This is real compassion, this is real love: sharing your enlightenment, sharing your dance of the beyond. – Osho
A few Saturdays ago, I realized again, as if for the first time, that my blissfulness revolves around contemplating and dwelling in the big picture. And then on Sunday morning the “Flowering” tarot card reminded me why this is an important truth to honour.
When I’m contemplating life’s big questions — What is the authentic self? How does this impact the world around me? How can we have a more positive impact, and what can I create to help others see they can also have a positive impact? — I’m in flow; I’m dancing. And when I’m dancing, I know I’m spreading seeds joy instead of fear. But for some reason, I judge this part of myself. (For more on the inner life of big picture thinkers, check out 15 Struggles Only Big-Picture Thinkers Will Understand)
Then on that Saturday, I realized why.
Saturdays are devoted to a yoga leadership course at the Ayurveda Yoga Academy in Daegu, South Korea. Morning sessions are focused on learning and practicing various types of healing therapies, and afternoon sessions are focused on yoga philosophy and practice. In between sessions, a few of us yogis drove off for a rare South East Asian lunch, where we had a short, yet impactful conversation that would set the tone for the next twenty-four hours.
While waiting for phở to be delivered, we discussed our interest in practicing Family Constellations Therapy during a morning session. I mentioned my curiosity in using it to heal the polarizing pain that is being caused by the political climate, particularly in the United States and South Korea. I realize that this modality is related to healing personal wounds, but with all the turmoil I noticed in my Korean friends, and of course all the trepidation I see on social media around the Trump presidency, it seemed that many individuals in our group could use an intervention of sorts.
At this point my lunch partners noted how they saw me as someone who seems to be quite concerned with the world at large, or in other words, someone who sees the big picture first. My initial reaction was to get defensive — “Of course I’m concerned with what’s going on in the world! It’s horrible. We all need to do what we can to heal this.”– but I didn’t say anything. I decided to wait and listen to what else they had to say.
I expected to hear a “yeah but…”. I expected them to tell me to get real. I thought they were going to tell me I was wrong for wanting so much. But that didn’t happen. Instead, they reflected the light they saw shining within me. They encouraged me to honour this truth that is bubbling up and see where it takes me.
I was relieved, and grateful to hear this. My shoulders relaxed, I smiled, thanked them for seeing my truth, and took another bite of my pad thai.
Then back at the yoga studio, during the afternoon demo-class, it hit me: the only “yeah buts” that were stopping me were my own. I’ve defended my big picture thinking many times in my past. I’ve been told I’m a dreamer and an optimist, and these never felt like compliments. I’ve been told to come down from the clouds and get back to reality. The thing is, I don’t connect having a sense of hope as being a Pollyanna. I actually believe, and feel in my gut, that this is the most realistic perspective we can hold.
But what I realized on my yoga mat that afternoon is that although those judgments may have come from other people, they were actually beliefs I held. I was buying into those opinions. Deep down I thought there was something wrong with my hopeful outlook. I thought I should tone it down, and only share it with people who can handle it. Otherwise, I’d have to put my “yeah but” defence gear, which includes an ability to tolerate cynicism and a heavy dose of doubt.
Maybe this is the case for all big picture thinkers. Perhaps the fear of being ridiculed and misunderstood for seeing things as they could be and not as they are holds many of us back. The sad thing is that when we worry about judgments, and fear not being taken seriously, we dim the light within.
But thanks to my dear friends, and my practice, I am starting to see there is nothing to fix; there is nothing to change; there is nothing to defend.
Being true to this part of myself is a constant practice. It requires honouring what helps me connect the dots to the larger picture: yoga, tarot, noticing beauty, noting synchronicities, and my studies of A Course in Miracles.
These practices help me paint my own big picture, and keep me from tearing it down.
You can find the #Truthbomb Card Deck pictures above at www.daniellelaporte.com.
“How can we be happy?” asked Wonjangnim.
“When we’re in the moment,” I responded. But that was only after I had processed a silent emotional roller coaster ride on my yoga mat.
Not long before he had asked this, I desperately raised my hand, wanting an answer no matter how silly my question sounded.
“How do we know we’re happy?”
“You just know. You’re either happy or you’re not. You just choose in the moment.”
A wave of sadness came over me. Tears started to well.
If he had asked me how I felt at the beginning of class, when he was asking everyone else, I would have replied, “Happily relaxed.”
But now the realization hit me in the heart: I so often seem to choose anxiety and disappointment.
Then, came grief. All the time I’ve wasted. All those moments I chose to over-analyze every.little.thing. All those moments: gone.
But then again, what was he talking about? Choosing happiness didn’t feel like a choice at all! How annoying that he thinks we can choose! Come on. Really?
And as that angry thought was crossing my mind, he asked, “How can we be happy?”
It was clear as day.
I raised my hand again, “When we’re in the moment.”
The sadness was gone. The grief was gone. The anger was gone. I came back to a relaxed, happy state.
“That’s right. You have to choose. You have to answer like that,” Wonjangnim remarked.
And this is why we come to yoga. This is why we do things we love: because before a certain, point we don’t really have a choice. We are led and directed by habit and conditioning. We can’t help it.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be different.
Keep feeling. Keep watching. Keep letting go. Come back. Choose happiness.
*I dedicate this post to my dear friend and yogini sister, Michelle D’Almeida. Not only is she a good friend, but she’s also a precious teacher. On this Friday I learned a lot about the power of feeling your feelings through her courage to feel, watch, let go, and come back. Thank you for being real and raw, my dear. Your courage is contagious. Never forget this.
*Also, a big thank you to HK Ku for translating during this Friday’s class at Ayurveda Yoga. These insights couldn’t have happened without you.
Although the school year starts in March here in Korea, September will forever mark the new year for me. It could be the fact that my birthday coincides with the first days of school back in Canada, or it could be something about the cool autumn air cleaning away the heavy summer humidity. There’s something about September that sets the tone for the twelve months ahead.
I’m grateful for this because the tone of the last twelve months seemed to have been tuned to a low resonance with overwhelming treble. Last year, and probably for more years than I wish to admit, life was all about angst. Everything was all so serious. And I seem to slip into seriousness like a cold hand slips into warm winter mitts. It’s just too easy.
That’s why I need to be proactive instead of retroactive, or reactive, for that matter. I need to be proactive about bringing joy, play, and fun into my work, which the majority of time involves planning lessons, or giving written feedback to students. But considering the fact that this work sees me sitting at a desk in front of my computer, how can I be proactive in this way?
One of the ways I do this:
It’s all about making the mundane magical. (click to tweet)
Here are my favorite ways to bring magic to my work:
- Taking a screen break by gazing at my favourite flowers or picture.
- Typing away with my favourite snack by my side.
- Slowly sipping a good cup of coffee, or if needed, a glass of wine (in moderation of course).
- Bringing in color pens, candles, or crystals to add beauty to my process.
- Pulling a tarot or oracle card to see what my next step could be.
After a while you’ll discover there’s nothing mundane about the cover of your spiral notebook, the cool breeze coming through the window, or the wisps of nag champa (or your favourite incense) circling your office chair. There’s nothing mundane about the good work you are doing.
It’s all magic.