There is a phrase in twelve step programs called “the geographic cure.” It refers to one’s attempt to move somewhere new to cure whatever pain one is in. It doesn’t work!
Because “wherever you go, there you are!” We take ourselves with us wherever we go.
So how do we live with ourselves, right here, right now and face whatever comes our way?
In Waldorf education, we have Inner Work, the practice of working on and strengthening our inner forces to help us to face whatever may be put before us. This is especially important work when we’re homeschooling our children!
Here are suggestions for planning an awesome homeschooling year with Inner Work.
Step Three: Inner Work
For planning our upcoming year, our acronym is BRIDLE. And we are on step three in the 6 Steps to Planning an Awesome Waldorf Homeschooling Year. Don’t skip this important step or planning out your Inner Work!
Want me to take you through this process step-by-step? Check out my online course, Plan It Out.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, was a spiritual seeker and taught meditation. In fact, he created many exercises for teachers and other seekers to practice daily such as concentrating on a common everyday object (such as a pin) and reviewing the day backwards at the end of it before falling asleep.
What does inner work look like? It can take so many forms. Choosing a practice of inner work is highly personal, and can change from year to year and during different phases of our lives, too. Think meditation, yoga, mindfulness, chanting, even journaling or reading and contemplating sacred texts. While many religions have spiritual practices that can serve as inner work, Steiner talked about much more than these in encouraging others to take up the practice of inner work.
As homeschoolers, we are free to create our own practices. And I personally have found that the deepening of my own inner work over the years has influenced my homeschooling and my life in countless positive ways.
Take Action: As a starting point, I find it helpful to think of framing each day with inner work. Here is a simple place to start with just two (ok, three) things:
- Prayer and Meditation
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I have a simple prayer that I say every morning and then I do a walking meditation because whenever I go outdoors, my outlook is refreshed and I experience joy in seeing the birds, the trees, and the plants changing with the seasons. My current favorite walking meditation is a CD of Meditations to Relieve Stress by Belleruth Naperstek of Health Journeys. Her soothing voice reminds me to stay in the moment.
Back to the moment, back to the breath, back to the feel of your feet on the ground.
Then, I end each day with gratitude. In the evening before bed, I write down (or just think of) at least three things I’m grateful for from that day.
That’s the basic framework. I often add to this but here’s the thing:
Our inner work practice has to be simple enough that we do it regularly. Preferably every single day; at least most days. Steiner spoke often about the importance of repetition in learning and personal development. This helps to create a rhythm for you. Inner work helps us to strengthen the will – and the will is the doing part!
Inner work is what leads us to sensing what is most appropriate for any given situation.
Children especially under age 7 learn by imitating us, so it is vitally important that we remain totally present in the moment. Really with children of any age.
We can then find our connection to our children as well as to the material in each block that we bring to our children. When we want to strengthen that connection, we can sit in meditation with it. Remember to ask for help from the spiritual world, whatever that might look like for you. Help is available, all we need do is ask!
On homeschooling mornings before lessons, I recite this Steiner verse before beginning our lessons: Inner Quiet (click the link for the verse).
Looking for more direction in the area of inner work? I recommend the book Start Now! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises by Rudolf Steiner, edited and introduced by Christopher Bamford. The book opens with this great quote:
I am not one of those who dive into the day like an animal in human form. I pursue a quite specific goal, an idealistic aim – knowledge of the truth! This cannot be done offhandedly. It requires the greatest striving in the world, free of all egotism, and equally of all resignation.
– Rudolf Steiner
Do you have a current practice of inner work? Don’t forget this step when planning your upcoming homeschooling year.
Here are the first two steps in this planning series, 6 Steps to Planning an Awesome Waldorf Homeschooling Year:
Next up, Step Four: Daily Rhythm.