For years, the community of children, parents and teachers at Nova Montessori School in Christchurch, New Zealand, gather before dawn on the morning of the Winter Solstice (June 21). They are waiting to view the sun on the ocean horizon. As a prelude, there is quiet repose and everyone lays out their blankets and makes their way down to lay entirely on their front in preparation for experiencing Earth roll; that is, feeling one’s body attached to the Earth as it rolls towards the sun.
After Earth roll reveals the sunlight, there is a large circle dance and drumming.
The beach experience is followed by a short walk back to school, where there is warm chocolate for everyone. It is now story time….. stories that celebrate the light from the beginning and recognize the light within.
Marsha and I attended this event annually. It is a visceral feeling of what it means to live in space. The solstice is no longer an abstraction, it is a “felt experience.” Throughout our lives, whether in school or later in life, visceral experiences tap into a place where there is no separation between the observer and the observed. In such times we can be awakened to intuition, creativity, and insight. In my own experiences, these have been opportunities for self-recognition during the journey of life.
Visceral experiences can allow the mind to be quiet as body and heart become extensions of self. This bandwidth opens the gate to inner awareness and self-transformation. It provides for moments when there is a separation between the doer and the doing, when the “state of seeing is more important than what is seen.” (J. Krishnamurti}
During the TIES program, students are exposed to three sequences of experiences through viewing self from both third and first-person perspectives. We call this sequence observation, creativity and research. Each is an indirect preparation for the next. During observation, students are called to notice the assumptions built into their reflections while viewing from the third-person perspective. A similar experience occurs during creativity when free-form objects become opportunities to “see” layers of insight and intuition normally not accessible outside of visceral experiences. This leads to a type of research that involves “seeing” through a subjective lens. Graduates of the program have shared that this sequence of learning –observation, creativity and research– were catalysts for their own personal transformation.
—–Similar to the Solstice experience, here is another one for children and adults that can occur throughout the year. On a clear night without background light, participants lie on their backs and feel the tug of gravity “holding” them on Earth as they look “down” at the stars. Try this sometime and notice your inner experience.