An aluminium plate on top of a stick becomes a rich field of exploration for balance, concentration, relaxation, breathing, the body's interrelation with gravity, the interaction between mind, emotion and body..
'Awareness through the Body' is a quite exceptional
programme taking place in Auroville's Kindergarten, Transition School
and, occasionally, in adult groupings as well.
In these pages they tell about this unique experiment.
Expansion of consciousness
'Awareness Through the Body' aims to provide tools for children to expand their consciousness, discover their inner self and eventually their psychic being, so that they can figure out by themselves how to steer their life, make out their own navigation charts, and create their own 'owner's manual'.
We want to give individuals the possibility of refining and internalising the senses so that they can use them in a more complete way, detached from judgment and preconceived ideas, thereby becoming aware of his/her own perceptions with as little outside interference as possible.
We think that the way to achieve this large goal is to discover and explore the body, and through the body awaken the consciousness of the entire being and all the parts that form it.
Parts and planes of the being
The Mother and Sri Aurobindo describe the being as formed by several parts. Some of these, which are important for Awareness Through the Body, are as follows:
Exploring parts of the Being
We address the physical body by working with the senses and through exercises that promote fluidity, space and expansion in joints and tissues of the body. By helping the children to internalise the senses we open access to all the richness of the child's inner world and to their subtle body.
We work the vital being through games and exercises that help to differentiate and control energy, and, with older groups through exploration of emotions and attitudes.
We approach the mental being through attention, concentration, relaxation exercises, and debriefings on the exercises that have been done, although, attention, concentration and relaxation are always part of whatever activity we do.
Developing full potential
These gradations form a whole within the divine unity of being with many intermediary shades that run into each other. The parts of the being are interwoven and cannot be separated. There are also, we may say, two beings in us: one on the surface, our ordinary exterior mind, vital, body consciousness, and another behind the veil, constituting the inner self formed by an inner mind, inner vital, an inner physical consciousness. The psychic being is the inmost being of all and quite distinct from the inner self. This means that we need to develop ways to bring children into an awareness that not only acknowledges each of these parts, but experiences them as integrally linked. This creates opportunities for the children to unfold and to develop all the potential that is in them.
Awareness of the Inner and Outer Being
Normally we live on the surface of our feelings, thoughts and emotions without being aware of the depths of our being. To become aware of the inner self we need to separate ourselves from the surface and become an impartial observer or witness who looks at all that happens as a spectator without active interest or preference, being neither pleased nor repulsed. By developing an awareness of the inner being in all parts and actions of our personality, our consciousness begins to become an instrument of our soul rather than remaining primarily in the domain of our physical body, mind and emotions. Developing an awareness of the witness attitude - the observer within - stands central in all our work with Awareness through the Body. It is a never-ending process, a theme that resurfaces and grows. It is this witness attitude along with a deep sincerity that opens access to the psychic being.
The 'use' of oneself
In all of the exercises we do with children, we put the focus on what is done and how it is done, what is happening and how it is happening and we give special importance to the concept of the use of oneself. Use of oneself conveys the possibility of feeling, acting and thinking without identifying oneself with the actions, as if the thinker, doer and feeler were not oneself but tools of the self.
The key word on this concept is use. Generally speaking, we learn to use many outer things or instruments, we learn to do things, but we do not often learn to evaluate how we use ourselves in everything we do. This concept allows children to consider what they do, how they act, feel and think. Instead of just reacting to situations, they can reevaluate and assess several options to achieve their aims in a more precise and effective way. This concept helps to reduce the stress produced by conflicts that they may have in relating to themselves or with the environment. It brings the possibility of overcoming habits and limitations, and gives a sense of inner freedom. This concept also feeds the witness attitude.
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