Dr. Beloo Mehra from AuroBharati was invited by the Dean, School of Education at Pondicherry University to design and offer a one-day online workshop for the students enrolled in Master’s of Education programme at the university. These students are preparing to be teachers of tomorrow. The workshop was part of their 1-credit course on Yoga and Self-development.
The day-long online workshop was held on June 9, 2022. Seven main sessions were planned for the day, and several breaks were scheduled throughout so as to avoid fatigue while sitting in front of the computer. A few days before the workshop, the complete schedule and specific instructions were sent to the Dr. K. Chellamani, Dean, SoE, Pondicherry University for distribution to the students.
Twenty-one students and a few faculty members along with the Dean attended the workshop. It opened with an invocation, followed by a brief welcome address and introductions. A small overview of the programme was also given.
The first session was taken by Dr. Mehra who emphasised that the most important aim of good education is to facilitate knowledge of oneself and gradual mastery of oneself. She introduced the students to many parts of our being – physical, vital, mental and psychic. She gave several relatable examples in her presentation and made the concept simple and approachable for the students. She also explained how different sessions throughout the day will address these different parts of the being. She
The students were then introduced to simple yogasana and pranayama practices which can help them develop greater concentration and balance. This session was taken by Ms. Shweta Kshatriya.
In the next session, Mr. Basudev Sengupta shared a few reflections from his life-experience as an engineer who became a teacher later in his life. He spoke about how each and every experience in life can become a means for one’s growth if we take the right attitude of progress and lifelong learning. Values such as sincerity, honesty, perseverance, steadfastness for the truth, humility, goodness, learning from failure and many more were highlighted through this simple presentation on the theme – learning from life.
This was followed by another session by Dr. Beloo Mehra on the significance of beauty and harmony in one’s inner growth. Here also, reflections on one’s experiences and relatable examples from life were used to bring forth the point why inner harmony is something we all aspire for, and how we can create a beautiful life which values truth, right order, and harmony.
After an hour-long lunch break, Dr. Mehra took a session on Insights from Indian Culture on Self-development. She shared a few stories from the Upanishads and also elaborated on some concepts such as purushārtha, dharma, chaturvarna and a few more with the help of practical examples and anecdotes. This session also highlighted for the students that education while emphasising self-knowledge must also help students get in touch with the spirit and truth of their cultural heritage, so that they can develop a healthy sense of connection and self-worth as children of a larger nation and eventually a greater humanity beyond the nation.
The next session was on Self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence and was taken by Ms. Jayashree Ashok, who is the co-founder and director of Creative School in Bengaluru, an institution inspired by the Integral Education teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. She spoke about the significance of developing a healthy approach to handle and master our emotions and feelings. With the help of some practical examples and simple exercises she walked the group through some basic practices which we can all use to develop greater emotional intelligence. She also showed the students how breathing can be used to come to a more relaxed state when some emotional disturbance creates a stressful situation.
All the sessions in the workshop were kept interactive and participants were asking questions or sharing their comments as and when inspired. But the last session of the day was specifically planned as a reflective session for the participants to share some thoughts on what they learned from various sessions during the day. Several participants expressed their intentions to continue their path of self-development based on some of the ideas shared during the workshop. Others also shared what they found most illuminating during the different presentations.
Some time was given to the participants for completing a short written assignment which included a small journaling exercise as well as a reflective question. They were asked to submit this to Prof. Chellamani for assessment purposes.
The workshop closed with a brief moment of silence expressing our gratitude to the Divine Mother.