Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grief, Anger, Pain - there must be another way!

There are varying ways to look at the chaos in the world right now - from anger, disappointment, fear to compassion, love and forgiveness. If like emotions attract similar emotions, what do we think is most helpful for the collective? For anyone to act out in such hideous violent ways as we recently witnessed in CO or in Newtown CT, they must be experiencing incomprehensible pain and suffering internally - whether they are aware or not.

When I heard the news of CT shooting and of the subsequent accounts of death to innocent little ones and their care providers, I was overcome with grief. What a sad world in which we live...I sat in meditation and allowed those feelings of pain, grief, sorrow and anger to arise and released them. My shamanic teachers sent out a wonderful email about different activities that we could engage in to release these patterns of fear, in whatever forms they take, that do not serve the collective.

It seems to me that our most critical purpose at times like this, when the world seems so overwhelmingly negative, is to find the place in our hearts that is capable of raising the frequency out of the depths of hell and toward the light of abundant love by focusing on compassion and forgiveness. Forgiveness is a challenging concept - one perspective is that you are forgiving someone for some bad deed that they did. But, another way of looking at it is forgiving yourself for believing in separation from Source/Spirit/God - whatever your preference. The pain and suffering people experience stems from the ultimate belief that they are separate. This inspires fear and a belief in scarcity rather than it's opposite of love and abundance. If we can look at this somewhat objectively and ask ourselves if we too believe that we are separate from Spirit - that Spirit dwells only outside of ourselves or the opposite - that Spirit dwells within me and I within Him, what might this yield? Personally, I believe I walk with Spirit. As such, I am connected with all of my brothers and sisters as I believe we all walk with Spirit - we may just not know it on the surface.

While the outward acts of killing innocent people are aggregious and haneous, who among us have not ever expressed anger outwardly. And that anger - what was at its base? Anyway you slice it, bottom-line is that it came from some form of fear or cry for love. If we own that, can we not find compassion in our hearts for those who suffer so deeply internally that they lash out against a world they feel imprisoned by/wronged by? Is this not what Jesus meant by "turn the other cheek". If we engage fear with fear, anger with anger, pain with pain, are we not perpetuating the same cycles from which we seek escape?

What better purpose in our lives than to shift the tide - to allow the frequencies of love, compassion and forgiveness to emanate from our hearts and begin to shift the field of the unconscious, the sleeping beings who believe they are alone and without solace, eternally locked into a living hell?

Friday, September 21, 2012

What is the value of education? In an age when trends point to data collection and analytics as necessary elements to measure student progress toward achievement, are we at risk of diluting the ultimate value of developing human potential to its fullest? Parker Palmer in The Heart of Higher Education does a brilliant job of talking about holistic education and the value of contemplative inquiry, which he defines as "the expression of an epistemology [theory of knowledge] of love that is the true heart of higher education.

"Education is a vital, demanding, and precious undertaking, and much depends on how well it is done. If it is true to the human being, education must reflect our nature in al its subtlety and complexity. Every human faculty must be taken seriously, including the intellect, emotions, and our capacity for relational, contemplative, and bodily knowing. An integrative education is one that offers curricula and pedagogies that employ and deploy all these faculties, delights in the interactions, and is spacious enough to allow for their creative conflict.
Values such as compassion, social justice, and the search for truth, which animate and give purpose to the lives of students, faculty, and staff, are honored and strengthened by an integrative education. But to be truly integrative, such an education must go beyond a "values curriculum" to create a comprehensive learning environment that reflects a holistic vision of humanity, giving attention to every dimension of the human self. Integrative education honors communal as well as individual values and cultivates silent reflection while encouraging vigorous dialogue as well as ethical action. The geometry of the human soul is dense with such antinomies. They are essential to our nature, and real teaching and learning must reflect that inner complexity." Parker Palmer in The Heart of Higher Education.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Came across a great quote today -

"When I was growing up, I thought leadership was just for people with money or fame, but I have learned that leadership is not the position you hold. It is the difference that you make in your family and your community."
Deeqo Jibril, College Transition Project Graduate
 World Education, Inc. - Citizens Bank Scholar

I was just talking with a friend about my personal need to "make a difference" in my community through every aspect of my life including, but not limited to, work. I think genuine leaders are people who are centered in the heart - these are the leaders who never fall down. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Killing and Justice

I don't know about you, but there is something oddly sad about the ongoing coverage of Osama Bin Laden's murder. I feel a bit like I feel when I see the death and destruction of war time - doesn't matter what side of the conflict I would side with, the pain and suffering that is so prevalent is painful to see. I have a hard time saying that any of this is about "justice". In my mind it's a new "eye for eye" spin on justification of violence and hatred.

This world with the reality that we have all constructed together is a reflection of our inner Self. The nature of conflict, then, starts within. If we want to change our outer reality, we must begin with our inner reality. This all sounds great, but I am confounded by those elements in our society who are so determined to be right that they have to fight for it - how do you encourage them to look within to make changes? The imprinting, religious zealousness, cultural context etc all play into creating the current state of affairs. The more I personally look within and make changes, the greater my impact on the world around me. Others might look at this as my being complacent. However, anyone who has spent time working on what causes judgment projected externally know that this work is not easy. When successful, however, the shifts radiate outward.

Coming back to the ho'oponopnin post of last month - "what in me has me experiencing this reality?" I am sorry that I hold any individual including Bin Laden in a fixed vibration of being a insensitive, uncompassionate murderer. I'm thus sorry for his suffering and thank him for playing the part in my reality that caused him this suffering. This is 100% my responsibility - if I didn't dream it, it wouldn't have happened. It's time to find another way, to create a different reality that doesn't harbor so much pain and suffering.

I would prefer to dream a reality that holds us all equal in Love and light.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Daily Prayer links to a video on "reel wisdom" - I am reminded that my life is exactly what I have created. It is formed 100% by the choices I have made. There are limitless possibilities. My choices have the power to limit my full potential or my ability to create a path back to Oneness. Which way to turn may not always be readily discernable. I must quiet my mind so that I can allow my inner wisdom, Spirit to guide me toward the light. In this land of dualistic reality (which doesn't really exist but that's a topic for another post) I am constantly shown both the light and the dark - the light is love and the dark is a cry for love or fear. Fear can cloud my clarity and lead me astray. What is there to be afraid of? Death? Not really as it is inevitable and it is only death of the flesh not of Me. Pain and suffering? Ah yes, but if I allow myself the idea that these are illusory and that they only exist to validate the existence of the Ego, I can release their apparent power over my experiences. These are patterns that do not serve me and I pray for strength, courage and insight to release them and to follow the light back home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Learners as co-instructors/ Instructors as co-learners

In 1984 Bloom and his colleagues discovered that there is a significant gap between student potential and achievement in formal educational settings. In one-on-one tutoring, an average student out-performed 98% of  those in classroom settings. He gave the academic community a challenge -

"I believe an important task of research and instruction is to seek ways of accomplishing this [academic success] under more practical and realistic conditions than the one-to-one tutoring, which is too costly for most societies to bear on a large scale. This is the “2 sigma” problem. Can researchers and teachers devise teaching-learning conditions that will enable the majority of students under group instruction to attain levels of achievement that can at present be reached only under good tutoring conditions?.... If the research on the 2 sigma problem yields practiced methods (methods that the average teacher or school faculty can learn in a brief period of time and use with little more cost or time than conventional instruction), it would be an educational contribution of the greatest magnitude" [quoted from abstract Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network by Jon Mott and David Wiley]

Technology seemed the obvious solution to meet the challenge. Thus, the learning management system or course management system was born. The abstract cited above is insightful and explores the limitations of uni-directional distribution of knowledge in the traditional educational paradigm. Technology in the form of CMS or LMS has done little to change this formalized distribution of knowledge - the control of what is taught and how it is assessed is all in the hands of the class administrator.  Furthermore, the learning is restricted to a time code - when the class is over, the learning stops. This is more efficient, but this article argues and I can't help but agree that this model limits student curiosity and creativity, thus their ultimate potential.

Education should facilitate discourse through encouraging participation, self discovery and various forms of creativity and problem solving. I have been a follower of shamanic practices for years and one of the things that I have learned is how our language and concepts about how things should be fixes them in time limiting their full potential in a universe of limitless possibilities. By tightly defining the content to be learned by the student and containing the field of learning to a time black, rather than building in choice that promotes curiosity and personalization of the learning, we are fixing the parameters of the learning field. In essence, current technology builds a container as limiting as the walls around a classroom. I love the notion brought out in this abstract that we are setting students up for greater success in life in general if we set up our learning environments to support learners as co-instructors and instructor as co-learners and encourage the on-going growth of the shared knowledge long after a course has ended. Let's face it, when we go out into the real world, the problems and potential solutions are limited only by our lack of imagination and creativity. I know that I have learned a lot from my children - it matters not that they are nearly 30 years younger than I nor that I am more "educated".

Monday, April 18, 2011

Building a healthy community through life-long learning

What is the essence of learning? For the past 25 years I have been engaged in educational publishing in higher ed. I spent the last twelve years of that time period as the editor for student success. Most people in my generation don't realize that there is a course offered for freshmen in college to help them learn how to learn, how to be successful in college. Many schools focus on very basic skills - how to read actively by taking notes in your text and highlighting; how to organize your notes; how to manage your time; how to manage your finances; etc.. While these basic skills are essential for success, I would argue that they are just the tip of the gigantic college completion problem. At the end of the day, these basic skills should be the responsibility of the student and their K-12 educators. College should be the next level of learning that moves students successfully into graduate level work or into the knowledge economy. While the current administration is promoting an aggressive college completion agenda, it seems to me that if we want a healthy economy in the future, we should focus not so much on the number of graduates, but rather the quality of their ability to learn and solve real problems.

What skills will set students up for a lifetime of continual & engaged learning? Do we really want to define student success by grading memorization skills, i.e., the ability to retain information long enough to regurgitate it on a test? Wouldn't it be more meaningful and interesting to help students develop not just the ability, but the desire to question facts they encounter, to dig deeper to discover the why, where, when and how of those facts? In this age of information, with a deluge of data to ingest, organize, reflect on, synthesize etc., aren't we obligated to set up our learning environments whether online or on-site in such a way to teach students higher order thinking skills. Furthermore, any skills taught in a vacuum without application are doomed to a very brief shelf life.

Why are students disengaged in education? No doubt there are numerous reasons, but I would bet that if they were learning something personally meaningful, they would engage that internal motivation center. You can't teach motivation, but you can create an environment in which students develop their innate sense of motivation. In my estimation, the problem-based model in which students are working independently and together in teams to solve real world problems that resonate with their interests is an excellent way to inspire learning. Mandating that the outcomes focus on communication, critical and creative thinking, and collaboration will also set students up for continued success in the workplace.

Success is not the opposite of failure, rather failure is a tool that, if used properly, ultimately fosters success. Focusing on grades and allowing students to earn failing grades is counter productive. But, that's another topic for another post.

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely." - Henry Ford