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.
Ripple Vol. 5
As a teacher-educator responsible for sparking awe and wonder in adult learners so that they too will spark awe and wonder in their students, I turned my attention to exploring the function of what I suspect is a game-changing element in adult education. What I found is that to be in a state of awe is a key to transcendence, and it is woven into the story of the universe as part of the fabric of our evolutionary spirit.
Movement is helpful for physical health, but movement for the sake of creating awareness is beneficial for physical, mental, and emotional health. This is not to say that mindful meditation practice is not helpful or valuable, but, instead, that mindful somatic practice integrates the entire being – body, mind, and spirit – into the process of knowing and understanding the inner world through both stillness and motion. For me, mindful somatic practices lend themselves to the experience of a more full and rich internal landscape, from which I can then begin to relate to my outer world.
Our spirit is the lens through which we process and internalize the world around us. When we connect at a spiritual level through wonder, curiosity, and imagination, our personal narrative is woven into the narrative of others and the environments we interact with. When we seek to educate ourselves about these relationships, our spirit is activated, and we discover a deep sense of belonging.
It’s easy to read and theorize about allowing the natural development of a child to unfold before us, but can we actually show that restraint and patience necessary when the moment is before us? Can we defend childhood and adolescence against the myriad pressures and outside influences we all feel? That, to me, is the most radical aspect of Montessori education, but it must be found in a radical transformation of ourselves and our conditioning.