I was looking for silence (in all the wrong places apparently!) in the middle of New York City and desperately needing to regenerate my sense of calm. The screaming sirens and endless whirl of cars, trucks and busses, in addition to the endless throngs of people talking loudly into their cell phones created an exhausting daily environment. My usual antidote was a dose of nature, but in some parts of the city there is little of that to be found. So I turned my search for silence to the internet. Can’t everything be Googled? Surely I will find silence in the depths of the ‘net.
My search was rewarded with a stunning soundtrack and pictures of glacier from a Brooklyn-based artist, Zaria Forman, whose work deals with disappearing ice.
Check out this website featuring her amazing soundtrack of rice crispies, uh, I mean Glacier melt!
A discussion about intentions can open many doors to such a very broad topic. When I wanted to explore this topic I came upon a thought-provoking article by Ed Halliwell in the wonderful web site www.mindful.org . (Click to go directly to the full article). He starts off by looking at the difference between goals and intentions. We are in a goal-driven society where we are expected to achieve certain milestones such as completing college courses, getting a promotion, buying a house, and so on. But how do these goals co-exist with our intentions? Do the goals drive us forward or create tension that holds us back? Should we make a mindfulness goal or an intention?
Here is Ed’s deceptively simple sounding answer:
“When we make mindfulness a goal, however, we turn it into a commodity, the benefits conditional on our having to “get it.” The implication being that we don’t currently have what we need—there is something missing, and we might miss out. This is a recipe for tension since we are struggling to attain this goal directly, rather than through creating the conditions for it to happen through grace. mindfulness a goal, however, we turn it into a commodity, the benefits conditional on our having to “get it.” The implication being that we don’t currently have what we need—there is something missing, and we might miss out. This is a recipe for tension since we are struggling to attain this goal directly, rather than through creating the conditions for it to happen through grace.” https://www.mindful.org/meditate-with-intention-not-goals/
I was particularly moved by the idea of creating the conditions to allow something to happen through grace. We can have an intention to create the space in our lives for mindful moments without setting a goal of 20-minute meditations every day (which is stress-inducing since we know we will struggle with trying to squeeze in 20 minutes for ourselves). But an intention doesn’t give us free reign to just say “I intend to…” A true intention is made with thoughtfulness and genuine desire. Another pithy quote from Ed’s article:
Intentions come from inside, whereas goals are external. In connecting to an intention, we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction—what we desire is already here as a seed within us.
Intentions can be supple and can shift as we gather new insights and experiences. They are already within us; we just need to awaken to them.
–With gratitude to the author Ed Halliwell
Contemplative pedagogy involves the instructor, the students and the changes created by their interaction. The students and the instructor bring their own personal history, experiences, and beliefs into the classroom. The interaction begins with those individual pieces of the puzzle but is soon flavored with bits of new perspectives from each other’s personal context. Tiny slivers of light are cast into the recesses of our own experiences and there can be room for questioning and re-assessing. Eventually we leave the classroom with more context and perhaps a slightly different picture woven from the elements of conversation that took place. In our role as instructor, what should we consider? This quote, from the Contemplative Pedagogy website, may be of interest:
Contemplative pedagogy not only offers fresh challenges and perspectives to students. As educators contemplative pedagogy provides us with a beautiful yet formidable challenge – to really turn up and be present. If we are to encourage our students to bring themselves more fully into the classroom, to be there not just as students but as human beings, with all the complexity that entails, we have no choice but to show up too. It is imperative that if we are to bring contemplative pedagogy into the classroom that we have some knowledge of our own internal lives and the beauty and fear that can arise from deepening self-awareness. It would be irresponsible to encourage students into deeper self-awareness if we have not started to explore this ourselves. Furthermore contemplative pedagogy blurs the line of traditional educational power arrangements and insists that as educators we are also prepared to remain students, open to the wisdom and knowledge of those we teach. https://contemplativepedagogynetwork.com/what-is-contemplative-pedagogy/