How Do We Tell Our Children?

This morning I was asked to take my grandchildren to the park while their parents were hard at work remodelling their kitchen.  On the way we stopped at the mailbox to pick up the Sunday morning paper.  It was raining lightly when my grandson, aged 5, jumped out of the car to get the paper, but he grabbed the wrong paper and while we were getting that situation straightened around, a car pulled up beside me with an older grey hair woman at the wheel who yelled at me that I shouldn’t have my children doing the work.  She repeated this several times and I answered her that they enjoyed it, thinking she was really mistaken about not giving children some responsibilities.  At this point the “wrong” newspaper was being stuffed back into its box and the “right” newspaper was being pulled out of our box.   I reflected on why she had wagged her finger at me in criticism, and I realized that she thought my grandchildren were delivering papers for me and doing my “adult work”.  There wasn’t any way I could correct her false impression as she had already roared off down the road, but I reflected as we drove on that often in life people just plain misunderstand each other and for apparently good reasons on both sides.

The paper was flopped onto the front seat and the headlines blared out, “129 people killed in Paris shootouts”.  My 8 year old granddaughter, catching sight of the headline, asked me about the shootings.  I had to explain what had happened without explaining anything and made some vague comment like “there was a shooting” and hoped she would not ask any more questions, which she didn’t. I don’t want to burden her childhood with what will someday be the inevitable realization that some people are really “bad guys”, beyond belief.

This day has been surreal, mourning for those families who lost loved ones, concerned for the state of our planet, concerned about how good will triumph over evil, and what kind of world these grandchildren of mine are having to grow up in, reflecting on my own safe childhood where violence was so minimal after the end of World War II when all returned seemingly to normalcy.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t personally know the American exchange student, she was somebody’s daughter and now their lives would be irrevocably changed and I could just imagine the awful pain they were experiencing.

Someone said on the news today that this violence is the “new normal”.  What will come of this generation of children who are exposed to so much violence?  Will we lose a whole generation of people in the Middle East, Europe and other countries who will have their lives redefined by the mass exodus of people moving around the planet seeking safety, and finding that even in so called safe countries there is still only more violence?  Today, my husband reminded a Christian friend that Jesus cast out the demons in people and that there was such a thing as demon possession.  His friend couldn’t really relate to the concept.  I believe true safety is really only available in higher states of consciousness.  The human experience is obviously fraught with danger as we and the people of Paris have witnessed this weekend.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Wings of Light

Wings of Light

Soul Education as Curriculum

Once upon a time, education was dedicated to soul development.  This was during the Renaissance and the Reformation.  During those hundreds of years, soul expansion was the main goal of public and private education.  As a society, we have long since moved on.  Fascination with technology and science has us in its grip and is rapidly molding our lifestyles and choices.  Our new technology-given freedoms are mostly outer-directed.  Soul connection seems incidental.  Compared to previous generations, our soul senses now lie mostly dormant within us.  We spend our lives trying to figure out who we really are, and yet we leave out what our souls can tell us in that basic search for life’s meaning. To find the soul reality of ourselves is more than a religious concept.  I believe it arises out of the basic intrinsic design of life itself and thus is universal, and the search should be above the clash of ideologies and mindsets.

Here are four reasons why I believe soul education is vital.

First of all, attunement with ones’ own soul is the most important source of information for our life’s experience because our soul was created with a specific ideational blueprint of purpose and destiny.  It is our own internal crystal ball so to speak. Thus, I believe that it is ultimately important for education to reorient children to their internal states by developing the soul senses.  These allow for the quiet messages coming from our inner- most reality to be heard, and for those messages to provide a compass for the soul throughout life.
Secondly, because the soul, with its own senses, is experienced through the physical, emotional, and mental bodies, they need to be in tip-top condition.
Thirdly, the soul is also our tie to past experiences in other lifetimes which we need to learn from, and in some cases, overcome.
Fourthly, the soul continues on its learning path after death, beyond the life of the physical body, and so is the tie to our future as well.
Therefore, in addition to the traditional areas of curriculum, I believe that what truly elevates and endures is any learning that causes the soul to express itself, now, and into the future.   Getting to that “how” is one of the sections of my final book in this series, Educating the Reincarnated Child, due out later this month.

 

Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan

Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan Photograph by Tom Miller

Educating the Heart

Accomplishments of the heart may even be more important in the trajectory of a human life than those of the head.  The way I am using the term “heart” is to refer to the emotions or sensibilities, (E.Q.), dispositions of character and values as well as something deeper, the indefinable spirit of man.  Educating the heart is central to our purpose because the heart is central to man’s existence.  When we think of the word heart we often come up with these concepts:  good will toward all, sharing of love for others, as well as comfort, harmony, and service to life. The famous Bible quote from Corinthians, Chap. 1, 13 often read at weddings come to mind.  Love is kind……., bears all things, hopes all things, etc.[1]  A quality education should develop the moral potentialities of the heart, as well as its generosity and courage.

Children relate to others with their hearts first.  Even a new born baby knows if someone loves her or not. It is not intellectual with children.  Thus, it is often easier for children to enter into their hearts than for the adults who are teaching them.   The axiom that children are pure in heart is very true, especially babies.  As children age, the heart becomes more multidimensional expressing many qualities –both negative and positive.

The Soul and the Heart

The soul is eternal without the heart, but needs the heart to express itself, as well as the mind and the body.  Thus the soul and the heart are intricately connected, the soul using the heart to experience the world. The heart is where the greater self (inner teacher) and soul commune.  Because of this, perhaps we should conclude that all soul education must actually begin in the heart – not the head, because the soul is accessed more easily through the heart.  A hardened heart is a closed door for the soul.  A loving heart gives the soul entre into day-to-day living.  The soul– captive to expressions of the heart, mind and body—is either limited or unlimited by our heart’s orientation to life.

A heart-education should help a child make right choices, to know that even though the head may indicate a certain action to be reasonable and correct, none-the-less, confirmation from the heart is also needed. All of our right choices help our souls to evolve.   If everyone you met was a loving person, what a world this would be!

A Heart Runs Through

If the purpose of life is to love and love again, then the qualities of heart are super important to develop.  I suggest these attributes are heart qualities, but there are probably others too.  Purity, constancy, grace, truthfulness, authenticity, compassion, reflectiveness, fortitude, practicality, and humility, come to mind.

I give an explanation in Parenting the Reincarnated Child about the concept of distinguishing between the head problems and heart problems when children misbehave.  Getting to the root of the heart problems which represent negative willful behavior will encourage the development of the positive heart attributes listed above.  Heart problems are always moral problems.   As Pestalozzi said:  “A moral education would “elevate the inner dignity of our nature, the pure, highly godly being which lies within us.”[2] This sense was not developed by the power of the mind, but by the power of the heart in love. [3]A child who has had this orientation at home will understand a teacher who points out that an infraction was a heart problem as opposed to a head problem.

Research Studies from the HeartMath Institute

I read research a number of years ago from the HeartMath Institute that said that all information coming to the brain is first received by the heart and then travels from the physical heart to the brain in microseconds.  If this is true, then the heart is the first organ to receive the brunt of either the positive or negative messages from the environment and as our first line of defense would be very important.  Some neurocardiologists are calling these signals (from the heart to the head, that influence perception, emotional experience and higher mental processes), the “heart brain” (a kind of little brain).[4] “This heart brain, like the brain proper, has an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells. It can act independently to learn, remember, feel and sense.”[5]  It has been called an intelligent heart because it can intentionally change the information the heart sends to the brain.  Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath have found that “emotions (of the heart) such as compassion, care and love, or generally positive feeling states, can actually benefit you in many ways. “[6]  We also know from personal experiences that we enjoy being with loving people.

The emotions are more important than we previously thought.  As we learned from Pert (1999) the brain and the body share chemicals and hormones and they constantly communicate with one another.  Dr. Green of the Mayo Clinic has said

“[E]very change in the physiological state is accompanied by an appropriate change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, and conversely every change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, is accompanied by an appropriate change in the physiological state”. [7]

Because we now know that emotion drives attention and attention drives learning and memory, obviously, the emotional climate of our classrooms is either a detriment, or an assist to learning.  Creating a positive, nurturing environment is essential. We need to be artful about creating learning experiences which allow for the possibility of trial and error without fear of failure, loss of face and self-respect.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Excerpted from the soon to be released Educating the Reincarnated Child

[1] Corinthians I, Chapter 13, 1-13
[2]Heafford, M. (1967).  Pestalozzi, London: Methuen & Co TS, Barnes and Noble US distributors. (Pestalozzi, Schriften 4 (1805-26, I) p.193, Uber die Idee der Elementarbildung. Quoted in Heafford.), p.60

[3] Werke, S. (1899). Pestalozzi, Uber Geist und Herz in der Methode,  Vol 18, pp. 36-7
[4] www.heartmath.com website
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., p. 127

Butterfly Galaxy

Butterfly Galaxy

Whose Karma is the Refugee Crisis?

I find it hard to go on with my day-to-day life as if the refugee crisis in Europe doesn’t impact me. I find myself thinking, feeling, and praying a lot about the fate of the people involved—the images so haunting and the numbers so great.  The pictures overwhelm.  The dead bodies; all of a family’s belongings in backpacks; people pushing to board vehicles of various kinds; the refuse left on the ground after the people have moved on. The children, especially, tug at my heartstrings whether in the arms of their parents or walking with them hand in hand.  I wonder what their little hearts are feeling.  What impact will this experience have on the rest of their lives? What do they really understand about what is happening to them?  What trust and faith these parents must have to attempt this most trying arduous and dangerous journey to find freedom and opportunity?  Talk about living in the now!  Could you or I go through this?  Would our families survive?

With modern media, we are asked to think globally about so many issues that in past ages we would not have even known were happening.  Daily, TV and newspapers tell us that thousands of people from many different countries are pouring over the borders of countries with no end in sight.  Today, a report in the New York Times, has illustrated graphically the exponential rise in the numbers of refuges pouring into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan (4.7 million) and those entering the European Union countries, estimated to be 1.3 million by the end of the year.[1]

A few countries have been welcoming.  How heartwarming it was to hear that the Germans welcomed the arriving children with cheers, candy and stuffed animals, and for the adults, sanitary supplies, food and other necessities.  We learned that some German people gave over empty homes to house families and the government was making every effort to make the refuges feel welcomed with housing, food and opportunity to apply for asylum. For how much longer can the Germans continue to open their arms?  At what point does the welcome, by necessity, turn to other reactions when, because of the sheer numbers, their resources to cope with the large influx of refugees are strained to the breaking point?

Tomorrow (9/14) the EU leaders are going to be meeting to try to come up with a plan to distribute the refugees across its member states.  Merkel has said the refugees do not get to choose where they will go, as Germany is close to closing its borders after having taken in the bulk of those heading towards Europe so far.  We know certain countries have refused to take in refuges. Why have the Arabian countries been so reticent? The US has agreed to 10,000 by last count, but apparently only those who are already in the pipeline. Were there not an ocean between us, we too, no doubt would have thousands pouring across our borders as well.  Where will all these people end up?

Looking ahead, how will the world feed, clothe, educate and medicate these millions of refugees?  It strains my heart and mind to consider the ramifications of these numbers of people on the social, cultural and political systems of these European countries.   How generous will our own countries be with resources and supplies? Goodwill will be required in every instance and will surely test the moral timber of us all.  If God was giving us a test of our sense of responsibility for our fellow man, this is certainly a good one–a Good Samaritan test for our modern times, which I hope we will all pass with flying colors.  It seems to me that it has become our collective opportunity to make good karma, for ourselves individually and for our nations, but until the problem of religious intolerance and man’s inhumanity towards man, as we have seen it emerge in the Middle East, is collectively addressed, we will continue to have these challenging migrations.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

[1]Aisch, G., Almukhtar, S., Keller, J., Andrews, N. (2015).  The Scale of the Migrant Crisis from 160 to Millions, New York Times, 9/13.

Lighting over the Catalina Mountains

Lighting over the Catalina Mountains