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Awareness through the body

Objectives & principles of work

 

Objectives

The key aim of Awareness Through the Body is to help children discover themselves as described above. In the course of our work, we have identified objectives that serve as indicators so that both the teachers and the children can assess our progress. It is our aim that children will:

  • Become aware of the witness attitude and begin to cultivate it.

  • Understand the use of oneself, and develop acceptance of one's own limits and those of others.

  • Develop children's awareness of their physical structure, so individuals will be able to more effectively use themselves.

  • Enhance their concentration and focus, and their capacity for being present.

  • Learn how to explore, understand, and manage their emotions.

  • Refine their senses, internalise them, and develop the kinesthetic sense.

  • Develop subjective sensorial landmarks.

  • Develop a heightened sense of respect, responsibility, trust, self-confidence, patience, and concern and awareness for one's own and others' timing or pace.

  • Develop an awareness of the inner and outer space.

  • Become aware of breathing patterns, their affect on the various bodies, and how the breath can be used to effect change within the self.

  • Improve the children's capacity to adapt and be flexible.

  • Develop a sense of how to better collaborate with others.

Principles of Work

In the course of our work eight basic principles have emerged:

  • All aspects of our being are interrelated.

  • Teaching is a dialogue.

  • When the children initiate something productive continue with it.

  • Do not take anything for granted.

  • Enable individuals to become responsible for themselves and their actions as long as it is within their capacity.

  • Learning, and growth, is done at different rates depending on the situation and our own inner patterns, - therefore we need to acknowledge and respect our own timing.

  • Cultivate awareness of oneself, the group and oneself within the group.

  • Enable the children to find their own subjective reference points.

Themes and activities

We have found through trial and error many themes and activities that are particularly useful in reaching our goal. By theme we mean: a set of interrelated exercises that help to explore an aspect of life or an aspect of the being; by activities we mean sets of interrelated exercises that open fields of exploration to several aspects of life, or several aspects of the being simultaneously. Examples of themes are: breathing, balance, relaxation, physical structure, subtle body, concentration, and sensory awareness. Examples of activities are Structures Setting, Plates, Sticks, Flying clothes, Games, Form and Space. There is a constant flow and interaction between all.

EXAMPLE: Do not take anything for granted

One example of how a principle is applied in exploring a theme is given here. Children get used to exercises that have been useful for a while and they make a routine out of them. When this happens, the awareness is gone and there is only an outer form that may give the wrong impression of what is happening in the child if the leader is not attentive. One day, during the concentration time in a mixed class of first and second graders, one of the children suggested as a concentration exercise doing a mudra (position of the hands that has an effect on the breath and the energy flow of the body). We said that it would be good if everyone found the exercise that helped them to achieve better concentration. We were surprised to see these children doing not only the mudra, but several exercises of concentration that we had given them during the year. For several classes thereafter they repeated their own exercise during concentration time, and for several days what was happening was true, until one day we observed and sensed that the children were no longer aware of what they were doing even though they were immobile and very quiet. It had become a routine. Because we had not taken it for granted that they were concentrating we could feel the change, swap exercise and help them to a real concentration.

We do not take for granted that an exercise works by itself because it is a good one or that a principle is unchangeable because we have been working with it. We always assess what is happening when we propose the exercises or when we apply a principle. We decide whether to continue or make changes according to the moment and the reaction in the class. An exercise will always become slightly different depending on who is doing it. These differences need to be addressed.

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