In their Summer Edition, the Independent School Magazine of the National Association of Independent Schools published an article by CIW Board Member Kathleen J. Brownback on The Unique Self in a Contemplative School. In this article, Kathy clearly and eloquently articulates both the dharma of Unique Self and the need for that dharma in education.
As a teacher for religion and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy she skillfully weaves her experience with her students and their need for answers and meaning in the fields of Self, God, and the patterns that connect together with her deep understanding of the dharma of Unique Self as developed and taught by Dr. Marc Gafni.
She places this dharma into the context of contemplative education and mindfulness that has lately reached the mainstream and thereby speaks to teachers and educators who hold such important keys to the evolution of consciousness and love.
A longer version of her article will be published in a special edition on Unique Self of the Integral Leadership Review in Fall 2015.
As practices promoting mindfulness and embodiment become more prevalent in contemporary society, a natural set of questions emerges among educators: What role should contemplative practices play in the academic curriculum?
For much of the modern era, the answer to this question was no role whatsoever. Mind-body practice was generally linked to particular religious traditions, and so was understood to lie outside the objective goals of academic study.
But the last 40 years or so have brought a new understanding of mindful or contemplative practice as embodied self-awareness. These practices involve the movement of the mind and body in ways that are not primarily cognitive, centering on the use of the breath and the stilling of the “monkey mind.” Think of yoga or meditation, or solitary walks in nature, or dance, or the playing of a musical instrument with this focus. Their central goal is to draw us into direct awareness and experience of the present. An increasing number of people are choosing contemplative practice as a way to relate to others differently, to manage strong emotions such as anxiety and anger, to live a more centered and less reactive life, and to find a clear sense of focus and purpose. There is nothing abstract or philosophical about these goals. They emerge from the heart, from questions about human nature and direction. Students ask them of parents and teachers; teachers and parents ask them of themselves and each other. Thus the growing interest in schools.