“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.” – David Whyte
Each meeting we start with a question. Why a question? Questions engage our curiosity and imagination. If we can construct a question that is beautiful, it will lead us to new questions and new frontiers of a dynamic, engaged life. As educators, we can set the context for asking these questions by asking them ourselves.
Our fourth gathering of Teachers Sitting By A Fire took place on Wednesday, August 30. More events will be planned so to learn more or get on our mailing list, contact Marc Balcer at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Our opening mindfulness practice comes from Jack Kornfield on joy and gratitude. In this practice, we express our gratitude for the gifts we and others have received and then move to wishing such blessings upon others. It serves to open our hearts to compassion.
May you be joyful.
May your happiness increase.
May you not be separated from great happiness.
May your good fortune and the causes for your joy and happiness increase.
We began by sharing one excitement and one concern in our life right now. As we returned to practice, I offered an introduction of a mindfulness practice described by Martine Batchelor in the recording below, What Is This? In this very simple practice, a question serves as the anchor. Just as your can return to your breath or your body to arrive in presence, so can you return to this question, What Is This? The intent is not to seek answers or ruminate on a response. Instead, you can bring this question to your full experience, your senses and your body. I have found it very centering. As I notice a sound, instead of wishing it will stop or bathing in its elegance, I instead am able to bring curiosity, acceptance and a willingness to be with the uncertainty of the question.
Our guiding question for the evening was “What will you bring to your calling?” We spent 10 minutes writing and then each story was read aloud by another participant. Here is what we will bring as we begin a new school year:
- Practice Self-Care
- Take Your Time
- Use Time Wisely
- Sit With Discomfort
- Be Willing To Change
- Follow Your Heart
- Do What Makes You Happy
- Don’t Measure Everything
- Do What You Believe In
- Notice Small Moments of Joy
Releasing, Committing and Serving
We closed by summarizing our intentions in a sentence or two. We then created a challenge to stay in touch regularly and serve as supporters and accountability partners in remembering and acting on these meaningful offerings to our calling.
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.
Stay tuned for more from Your Mindful Coach including “pop-up” teacher fires this fall. We closed with this poem:
Fire by Judy Brown
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
Sign up today for fall offerings from Your Mindful Coach
Mindful Men Meeting First Thursday each month beginning September 7, 7:30-8:45pm. Practice and discussion to support a regular mindfulness practice.