What ignites your passion?

Our second gathering of Teachers Sitting By A Fire took place on Thursday, June 29. We will meet on five evenings throughout the summer of 2017 including 7/13, 7/30 and 8/20. To learn more, contact Marc Balcer at marc@yourmindfulcoach.com. This group is dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable atmosphere to join together and connect with the experience of working in the field of education.



Each meeting is organized into sections that bring us together for a time of true fellowship and connection. This model is based on the Five Touchstones:

  • Centering – We arrive in the present moment to share.
  • Gathering – We offer our presence to the group.
  • Connecting – We listen deeply to each other’s stories.
  • Releasing – We let go of ways that no longer serve us and redirect our energy to what nourishes our hearts. 
  • Serving – We take insights with us and share them with others.


“Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees.” – Robert Irwin

We practiced a guided awareness meditation, opening senses and allowing the sounds, smells, and sights of our environment to become part of the experience. We closed with the following words:

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve


Pablo Neruda

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.


We began by asking each other the question, What do you bring with you tonight? Along with the joy of transition to summer, memories of meaningful work this year, there was concern about the pressure, anxiety, and sometimes depression, held by our students.

Below is an excerpt from La Poesia, a poem written Pablo Neruda with an English translation from David Whyte. Neruda describes the passion and energy generated as he sat down to compose his first poem.

And something ignited in my soul,
fever or unremembered wings,
and I went my own way,
that burning fire,
and I wrote the first bare line,
bare, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of one who knows nothing,
and suddenly
I saw the heavens
and open.
y algo golpeaba en mi alma
fiebre o alas perdidas, 
y me fui haciendo solo, 
aquella quemadura
y escribí la primera línea vaga, 
vaga, sin cuerpo, pura 
pura sabiduría 
del que no sabe nada
y vi de pronto
el cielo 
y abierto.

passion (1).jpg

After reflecting on passion through poetry, each participant chose a partner for a mindful practice, “Tell Me What You Love“. We identified the common humanity of our experience as we related to the passions of another.

Our guiding question for the evening was “What ignites your passion?” In particular, stories of encounters with students were shared. Each story was read aloud by another participant. Some offerings:

  • The memory of students begging to do a favorite activity over and over.
  • A weaker student who built confidence and ultimately helped support a stronger one.
  • The excitement of a student learning something new.
  • The subtle discoveries that became the most important.


In pairs, we reflected on another question, “What dampened your passion?” and contrasted that with the factors that ignited our passion. How can we incline and support ourselves to come in to contact with the sustaining quality of passion? One model comes from the story of the Two Wolves,

As we moved toward closure, we encircled the fire and released our stories, both literally and figuratively. The fire is a symbol of our connection, our energy and  universal experience of being a human being. Through this releasing, we let go of the stories that may not serve us and make room for on our path of discovery and mindfulness.




How do we bring this experience to the world? I look forward to hearing your reflections as we build a fellowship and extend our friendship.

At our next gathering, I hope to explore the influences that shaped us as teachers and educators.

  • Who was your most beloved teacher?
  • What did they model that you bring to your own teaching?

Teachers Sitting By A Fire is an offering of Your Mindful Coach and led by Caroline Feldman and Marc Balcer.


One thought on “What ignites your passion?

  1. Pingback: Who was your most beloved teacher? How have your brought their spirit to your work? | Teachers Sitting By A Fire

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