Personal Growth: Awareness Exercises
By Barbara Benson
Several people responded to my request for blog topics on the Christopherus Facebook support group, Christopherus Homeschooling Families, with suggestions such as personal development, personal growth and re-centering during chaotic moments. I thought I would share with you a few of the awareness exercises that I presented at a Midwest Homeschooling Conference organized by Rahima Baldwin in 1998 that are a follow up to my earlier blog on Reverence in Daily Homeschooling. The primary source material that I used as inspiration for these exercises was Steiner’s How to Know Higher Worlds and Anthroposophy in Everyday Life.
Steiner gave six exercises for basic esoteric development and these are great exercises to practice (one at a time generally) for personal development. This blog, however, will focus on a few awareness exercises that I gave at the 1998 conference. They are obviously not meant to replace anyone’s religious or spiritual practices but are simply food for thought.
Awareness exercises fall under the general practice of soul hygiene, a conscious repetition of attitudes of truth that allow a purification of our awareness and an experience of calm. Truth can be a buzz word for many of us, but hopefully most can agree that this particular truth is somewhat universal, namely that our thoughts are creative: ” Our thoughts and feelings are facts. They are real things and have real consequences.” (How to Know Higher Worlds, 43). Since we are creative thinkers, then feelings of devotion and reverence can produce an inner strength. Aside from the attitudes of devotion and reverence you are promoting in your homeschooling daily life, try this awareness exercise from your own childhood:
Recall a memory of reverence or devotion from your childhood. What you can’t remember, add imaginatively and be specific so you see a clear image in your mind. Allow that picture to come forward into your present life and feel the sense of peace it creates. It is part of your reservoir of reverence.
Conversely, “every act of criticism and judgment drives away these powers (of devotion and reverence).” (Higher Worlds,18).
Recall an incident of anger and judgment from your past. See yourself facing the person in the incident and feel how that is experienced in your body. Now visualize yourself and the other person stepping away from those angry or fearful bodies. Let your higher selves meet in the middle and embrace. Then bring that feeling of embrace back to your bodies and feel the sense of release.
If criticism of another’s weaknesses robs us of reverence, then focusing on the good in another restores that quality (Higher Worlds, 19).
Take a few minutes ( at night before sleep is a good time) and picture each one of your family members. Let whatever obscures the good in them pass away like mist or clouds from your mind and picture the good in each one of them. See this goodness radiating out from them first individually and then as a family unit. Absorb the light of their goodness into you and reflect back your gratitude for their presence in your life.
Reverence and gratitude for our life and our family causes us to be suffused with this inner light. “Just as the sun’s rays quicken all living things, so the reverence in us quickens all the feelings in our soul.” (Higher Worlds, 21).
Blessings on your homeschooling journey! ~ Barbara