Heart-Centered Teaching: Exercises for Self-Discovery

This is the second in a series of blog posts by Nancy Rosenow, Executive Director of Nature Explore. These posts were originally featured in 2013 and are a distillation of key ideas from her book, Heart-Centered Teaching Inspired by Nature.”

If you’re just getting started on your journey through Heart-Centered Teaching, click here to read the first post.

392_189In my fifth decade of life, I began to realize that my inner garden was choked with so many “weeds” that it was hard to nurture the strong and healthy “roots” I needed to keep me grounded and flourishing. Learning to understand myself better has helped me remove some of those weeds—the self-judgment and criticism that used to keep me from fully savoring life.

In my last blog, I invited you to consider ways in which you “tend your own soil” and keep your own weeds at bay. What did you discover? Share your best ideas in the comments.

For the next few days, I invite you to begin by trying a few exercises that I’ve found particularly effective. I believe these may help you launch your process of self-care and self-discovery.

*Spend a full week paying attention to your inner monologue. Resolve to change any negative messages you hear into positive, supportive statements. After just a few days of this deliberate thought shifting, you’ll be well on your way to a new, more authentically nurturing way of relating to yourself.

*Focus on a sense of purpose that will strengthen the deep roots needed to help you hold your ground during life’s storms. Find a nature filled setting where you can sit and write for an uninterrupted period of time. (I’ve found that when I’m surrounded by nature it’s easier to focus on something greater than myself, on higher purposes than I might connect to otherwise.) Don’t censor what you write; let your inner wisdom speak freely. Re-read what you’ve written… what clues and themes emerge?

*Create your own definition of heart-centered education. Consider how connections with the natural world can deepen your ability to support children from a place of appreciation, gratitude, and a genuine sense of wonder. Once you’re able to choose one phrase or sentence that expresses your commitment to your work, jot it on a post-it note and place it someplace prominent, so that you can begin each day remembering why you love what you do.

Self-nurturing—preparing our soil—takes time and is, for most of us, a lifelong journey. On those “rainy” days when things feel more frustrating than fulfilling, I invite you to keep in mind this quote by Pema Chodron:

You are the sky. Everything else—it’s just the weather.