Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER), the educational wing of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, conducted 'Finding One’s Key - an online workshop for strengthening the teacher-facilitators’. This workshop had 7 weekly sessions, aimed at helping the teacher-facilitators to re-connect & strengthen themselves, and to re-orient & re-organise their life with the help of several key-practices from the world of Integral Education.
There were 28 teacher-facilitators from all over India who participated with a commitment to finding their key to unlocking their potential, which is inside and not outside.
Each session explored a core practice through an experiential activity, including Q & A, and everyday morning micro-practices to do between the main sessions.
Finding harmony with others, first steps: The participants understood that in order to create harmony with other people, they themselves have to be an integral personality and pay attention to the different aspects of their own personality. The participants were led to understand the power of speech and what happens when we pay attention to it, through mantra chanting which they were to continue as morning practice throughout the next two weeks.
Integrating our life & its aim: The participants realised the need of an aim to steer their life just as a COMPASS is needed to point out the right direction in any adventure. An experiential activity was undertaken for them to help them set an aim for their lives. Later ‘generosity’ was explored in the light of Integral Education, as an important key to widen oneself and inch closer towards the high and wide aim one has set for oneself.
Connecting with one’s Centre – the Inner Friend: An understanding on how Integral Education must first be applied to ourselves before we apply it to children. In order to explore and develop our outer personality - the Body, Heart and Mind -, the need to access and know the nature of a fourth part, a part that is deep within us which has the right knowledge and insights of life, was discussed. Through an intense practice of being with flowers, a key was discovered to get in touch with one’s Inner Friend.
Session 4, 5 and 6
Changing one’s life-style, starting with our physical habits, Facing one’s emotions, others’ too, Getting out of the world of opinions & judgements: As we progressed deep into the adventure after having learnt to make a connection with the Inner Friend, in sessions 4, 5 and 6 we entered into mastering our outer personality of physical-vital-mental (body-emotions & feelings-thoughts). This process of “integrating” our outer personality with our Psychic Being is an important aspect of “Integral education”.
Through experiential activities, we explored the Physical, Vital and Mental parts by becoming aware of these parts through the consciousness method, and learnt to develop and refine these parts by adopting the right physical habits, and with the help of poetry and concentration practices. The latter practices were explored in the morning practice sessions.
Consolidation and looking at the future: The participants enthusiastically presented in groups what they had absorbed with reference to the physical habits they had taken up in the areas of food, life energy (mainly exercise), sleep and conscious movements. Towards the end the session concluded with an insight that the key to continue with the conscious habits is to keep reuniting with the Inner Friend - the Psychic Being.
Feedback from the participants when asked whether they found some keys during the workshop:
“To be a part of this workshop was one of the most beautiful experiences, in these times. Though it was done virtually, I never felt that we were away from Pondicherry because ... each session … gave us the insights on finding one's key. It is the Inner Friend which I aspire to find and the key to finding it is to practice stillness of painting which I am exploring little by little. ... Also practicing conscious eating because most of the time I tend to become emotional and I eat a lot more than what my body requires (this is something which I understood as I was working on the food project.); the project will be continued even after the workshop. And I feel regular practice is the most important Key in this journey.”
[Trupti Zanjad - Facilitator and School Development Coordinator, Bejon Desai Foundation, Nashik]
“This was like a refresher course for me! It helped me revisit several practices from the workshop in Pondicherry and some new ones too! Chanting, observing and connecting with nature, rediscovering the Inner Friend, remaining quiet rather than reacting in an emotional situation, physical exercise.”
[Maya Shah, Early childhood Montessori educator, Mumbai]
“Each activity had a different impact and made me aware of my own capacity with the practice. The morning routine helped me get into the practice of spending constructive time, honouring my self-development. I have noticed that I have become more observant of things, quiet and patient, the feeling of gratitude has increased, the overall self-consciousness and the perception of others as to what they are saying and doing; I've started being less judgemental.”
[Aditi Sharad, Mentor, self employed, New Delhi]
“I resonated the most with 'Getting to Know Our Inner Friend' and the flower activity. Mother's quote 'Be Like a Flower' stuck to me and remains with me till this day. ...Also, knowing about the qualities of my inner friend (in simple words) brought clarity to my being.”
[Ann Mathew, Teacher Trainer and Curriculum Developer, Mumbai]
“Reminding myself to be conscious at each moment is something that has happened. Discovering the delight in being conscious and reminding myself to see the Divine in others while greeting them. The constant reminder of seeing the Divine in the material things. The importance of aligning the jumping monkeys (viz, our physical, vital and mental activities) and the practical ways to control these monkeys. All these are small but very invaluable keys to lead life.”
[Tushar Soni, Human Resources Manager, Ujjain]
“Am so glad that I was able to be a part of this workshop. This surely helped me find a few keys for myself. Surely, I also picked up a few good habits on the way. I have found the key to being able to take care of my health and conscious movement.”
[Garima Bharadwaj, Principal, Sri Aurobindo School of Integral Education, Chandigarh]