SAFIER, the educational wing of Sri Aurobindo Society had successfully conducted a 5 month online Integral Education Intensive course with 9 teaching faculty of Auro University in 2021. As this course happened during the surge of Covid it was on a full online mode. This year, with the objective to introduce, guide and mentor a group of 11 more teaching faculties of Auro University in the practical application of the principles of Integral Education, both in their personal life and in the academia, we have started the first Phase of the AU-IEI 2022 course with an offline workshop at the campus of Auro University itself.
Course Facilitators: Shivakumar and Priti from SAFIER, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry
Introduction - The essentials of the Workshop
The participants were welcomed and certain essentials were spelled out by Shivakumar before we started the journey
The participants started by introducing his/her friend instead of a self-introduction.
Then the self-introduction continued in a very innovative way.
Vision and Relevance of Integral Education
In order to delve deeper into the topic of Integral Education, the vision and relevance of Integral education was taken up so that the participants could understand it’s need in the current context.
Journey from Integral Yoga to Integral Education
Shivakumar gave a very brief introduction to Integral Yoga as that which enables us to lead a completer life, and one of the ways of doing it is through the path of Integral Education. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as the founders of Integral Education were briefly introduced.
The Source of Inspired Education
Priti led the participants on a journey into the past where they could find glimpses of Integral Education in their favourite teachers, the teachers who inspired them the most.
Inspired education needs inspired teachers. Our next question was:
Where does “Inspiration” come from?
Shivakumar asked the participants to reflect upon ‘Where does the Inspiration of these teachers come from? Where do we think its source is? Is the source on the outside or within? Can this Inspiration be ‘taught’ to others?”. This was taken up as a deep discussion.
Connecting with the “Source Within”
How do we connect with this source of Inspiration that lies hidden in the deeper parts of our being so that we can also be inspired in our everyday life and be our best?
An experiential activity was taken up to help the participants connect with their Inner Source.
The Science of Living: Aim of Life
The day started with travelling further on the road to discovering more about Integral Education. The integral educator, being an important aspect in the delivery of Integral Education, has to first start with himself/herself if he/she wants to develop anything in the student. Thus, if AURO University wants its students to rise high and fly wide, the facilitators will have to set a high and wide aim for themselves as the first step even before tapping on to the source of Inspiration.
A reflective activity was taken up to facilitate this discovery.
The Science of Living: Parts of the Being
Shivakumar took the discussion further that without achieving a mastery over oneself, one cannot hope to achieve the high aim that one has set for oneself. According to Integral Education, mastering oneself is a two-step process: ‘Knowing oneself and Controlling Oneself’. This is the ‘The Science of Living’ which Mother professed which every facilitator has to adopt, in order to reach the high aim that he/she has set for themselves.
A further exploration took place with the help of an experiential activity where the participants, like a scientist, became aware of the different parts within themselves
Energising Awareness Activity
An awareness activity was taken up. The objective of this activity was to help the participants become aware of their parts of the being.
The Science of Living: Experiencing the Parts of the Being
Priti continued the exploration of the parts of the being with an exercise that made everyone aware of their Physical, Emotional (Vital) and Mental consciousness through activities.
Inner Exploration of the Parts of the Being
Priti started the day by continuing the inner exploration with an activity. It was a meditative experience, and the participants were then encouraged to express what they had sensed and felt, with colours as a pictorial expression. The participants shared their experiences with beautiful expressions and were very amazed that there is an inner weather too just like there is an outer weather.
Exploring Physical Awareness
Shivakumar led the exploration further by concentrating on the Physical aspect of the being. He took up some very simple awareness activities to lead the participants to become aware of how much they know of their body.
Shivakumar did a brief recap of what has been facilitated in the past two and a half days and expressed it in a very simplified form:
Integral Education is the facilitation of ‘The Science of Living’ and that means ‘To know Oneself and to Control Oneself’ i.e. to become conscious of one’s body, emotions and thoughts so that one can control and master them in the light of one’s Soul/Psychic Being. Thus, when one starts this journey of ‘The Science of Living’, the shift starts from an EGO-based to a SOUL-based life. Then one can face life from the Soul’s Wisdom, Soul’s Strength, Soul’s Harmony and Soul’s Perfection. Thus, Integral Education is a SOUL-GUIDED EDUCATION.
Conclusion: Flame of Aspiration
As a sacred closure to the two-and-a-half-day workshop, all the participants gathered around a flame and concentrated on it. With the wish that all the participants move to a higher consciousness and are able to live the vision of the University, we concluded the Introductory workshop to Integral Education. This journey will continue online into Phase 2 of the Course.
Feedback by Participants
When the participants were asked at the end of the workshop ‘What stood out for them or what they liked the most about the workshop, this is what some of them had to say:
“All the sessions were amazing. I particularly liked the sessions ‘Source of Inspired Education’, ‘Where does Inspiration come from?’ And ‘Connecting with the Source Within’.
Though in the schedule these are 3 different sessions, they were so well interconnected that it felt like one session. These sessions made me more aware of the infinite possibilities that we all have within us.”
- Sushant Bharat Singh, School of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
“I was eagerly awaiting to undergo this formal training as I was asked to teach a module on the ‘Science of Living’. Knowing was good, experiencing was joyous.”
- Dr Nimesh Joshi, School of Business Administration and SAILC
“Flower activity, where we listened and touched the flower as well as drew it. It made me more conscious of the things around me in Nature as well as people.
The way both resource persons conducted the sessions.”
- Dr Sunita Devi, School of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
“Identifying the Parts of the Being. I was in fact upset and angry while I was exploring ‘anger’ within me. Only to realise that expressing one's emotions is good and necessary until it isn’t. A little mindfulness here and a little mindfulness there goes a long way.”
- Ms. Subarna Ghosh, School of Law
“Understanding about Integral Education, how to connect to regular teaching and how to introspect were the three things that stood out for me.”
- Mr. Devashish Shedge, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
“The three things that stood out for me in this workshop were: mindfulness, detachment from outside for the duration, interesting perspectives on things.”
Abhijit Pariyal, School of Design