Healing Arts Report

Practices for an Evolving Life

They Don't Tell You How

“You need to love yourself more.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Always put other people first. Don’t be selfish.” The one thing that is missing from all this good advice is telling you HOW to do it. We introduce you to practical tools using your own character traits to support you in creating practical answers to those questions. Read more here.

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Two memoirs tell about times of extreme personal growth in the author’s life. Sunny Side Up is a window into the early 70s when certain young adults were searching for a way to head off society’s path bent on materialism. The Transparent Feather tells of a dying author passing the torch of writing to her new friend cum student.

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You can love yourself and other people as well. At Healing Arts Report we explore fulfilling personal development that at the same time serves to create the shift to a peaceful new world paradigm.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung

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What is Education? Part II

What is Education? Part II (continued from Part I) Bennett’s course was designed to educate the students with skills that would make them able to make uncompromising observations and then significantly strengthen themselves to work for the common good, not only for personal gain. He did this through an emphasis on several techniques: Self-Observation, Practical Work, Decision, and Meditation.

Self-Observation was achieved through Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 3.22.57 PMmeditative exercises that increased one’s ability to focus on and accept seeing things as they are. These experiments allowed us to struggle with our own attitudes and habits. Practical work, such as gardening and cooking, provided ordinary activity in which to observe our behaviors toward tasks, ourselves, and other people. The assignment of themes provided a focus for self-observation, for example: Food, Material Objects, or Noticing. Each theme topic generally lasted for four days with a meeting on the fifth to discuss our observations. Ancient dances known as Movements that originated in the East provided another tool that allowed us to observe and understand the functioning of intellect, emotion, and physicality in a depth and balance difficult to obtain while participating in ordinary activity.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 3.25.10 PMPractical Work comprised all the tasks needed for maintenance of the house and the people—house cleaning, laundry, gardening, meal preparation, and repair and improvement of the environment. These activities awakened us to many aspects of life that we take for granted in our culture due to the division of labor. A cook, for example, might not know anything about growing food. Or a seamstress might not have experience with how material is produced. The great variety of practical work not only introduced new activities but also spotlighted our attitudes about others and ourselves. Could we learn something new? Do we have uncompromising thoughts about how other people do things? How do we interact with others when sharing tasks?

Decision Exercise was a specific training that required daily attention–prepared the night before, confirmed the following morning after meditation, and assessed that evening after completion. It required specific steps that prepared one to test and accomplish each task. At first it required choosing a small task that was both slightly challenging yet clearly something one was capable of doing. An example might consist of deciding to write a note in my diary. If I did this task every day without fail, it would not be an appropriate choice for an exercise aimed to stretch my abilities. On the other hand, if I sometimes wrote but meant to write every day and hadn’t written for two weeks, that might be a good choice. We decided on a new task daily that was physical and could easily be assessed as to whether it had been accomplished.

Part of the Decision process allowed Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 3.24.37 PMus to align with an inner need or relationship with the task. Through the ten months of the course we were guided on how to do larger tasks that might require greater periods of time, were more complex in action, or were of a more abstract nature, such as changing a habit or attitude. This particular aspect of the course gave us a place to experiment with accomplishing goals that might not always be easy, yet were seen by each of us as needing to be done.

Meditation came in many forms: meditative exercises, traditional meditations from various cultures, Movements (which are not typical of the way we move in our culture), sensation (a practice of awareness and energy brought into action while doing other activities), and experiments of replicating a meditative state while being active in daily life.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 3.43.37 PMThis was a very condensed course, much of which we could not assess deeply until later in life, away from the school, and over time. By participating in most activities, however, we got a clear picture of the attitudes we held about everyone and every thing. It wasn’t always a comforting picture and there was much inner turmoil over seeing us fall short of our own ideals. But that was an important experience in itself, and the tools we were practicing did help us deal with feelings of inadequacy.

Weakness. The only failing of the course that I recognized while there was a weakness in teaching the students how to deal with emotions aroused by the ordinary interactions with work and each other. A British stiff upper lip prevailed, whereas a loving and more conscious inter-weaving of meditation with techniques on how to make positive use of all emotions would have created improved psychological stability.

Strength. The greatest strength of Bennett’s course, despite the appearance of authoritarian rigor, was the Decision Exercise. It provided a constant daily arena for students to express initiative and choice. The variety of meditative practice brought some equanimity amidst whatever inner confusion was stirred up. In addition, lack of external punishment or reward meant that every student set his or her own goals and standards of accomplishment.

In my counseling practice much attention is given to clients’ learning how to be okay with a self-view that doesn’t always match expectations. Gentle guidance helps them practice patience, self-compassion, and a growing empathy for others. Unlike the experience Bennett’s school provided, a majority of clients seem to rarely have had the pleasure of choosing hobbies or being afforded opportunities to discover their natural talents.

From infancy, authorities such as family and school directed their activities. By adolescence, boredom and lack of meaning aroused a need to experiment fruitlessly with the easily attainable titillation of drugs and sex. A little support guides many clients to appreciate acting on their own initiative and developing new emotional skills to process life’s challenges with greater satisfaction.

PRACTICE. Although many of these practices can be done alone, I recommend that individual try some of them in the company of other people, such as yoga, meditation, volunteer projects such as repair of homes for the elderly or soup kitchens. It can be supportive to your self knowledge, getting you to try the practice, seeing how others respond to and understand activities that might not mean much to you.

CONTACT. If you want to design for yourself a course that will touch on many of these activities, contact me for a 20-minute free phone or one-week email consultation and we can discuss what you’re looking for and where to find it.