Seeing what is – observing


What is this…

Considering all of the gifts of this being human, we might hold for a moment the exquisite creativity, the breathtaking compassion, or the intricate intellect that arises alongside and within human consciousness. Yet beneath it all, there is this simple and always present gift of attention, of where we are putting our awareness. In this very moment, our experience of what is present is the direct result of how we are paying attention, what we are seeing, what we are holding in our hearts and our minds. As integral educators, the first question we might ask about our role as teachers is this – what do we notice? What do we observe in this space opening up in which learning can happen? What is present ? When we start by asking the question ‘What is this?’ we may become more fully aware of the range of elements and possibilities that create the fabric of teaching and learning. We begin by seeing what is. When we are truly seeing what is with openness and humility and full awareness, we might realize first that the space where we are working is filled with beauty just as it is. Our students, our colleagues, the spaces where we are living, the light and sounds in the room or outside the window or along the path become illuminated by this awareness, by this fullness of presence. We might also feel into places where we recognize something that we can do, something we can give our energy and attention to right before us. We become more fully present to things as they are, and also to our place in relationship to what we can offer. In my own teaching practice, I find that when I bring this question forward, when I can pause and ask ‘What is this?’ in a way that lets me bring my attention fully to all that is before me, many things come to light in a way that I might otherwise miss. In the school where I teach, students are very familiar with the opportunity to begin a class, an assembly or a meeting by beginning with a moment of silence. Friends work with silence as a place to seek a centering, a reconnection with spirit, a quieting into stillness out of which a greater clearness can arise. This past Friday, at the end of a very busy day, I had just one class left to teach, a science class with a group of students I had been with for just one week while a colleague was out of town. As everyone came into the room and took seats and shared conversation, I felt a tremendous sense of appreciation for what we had done together over the span of five days and for the community we had created. We began our class with a moment of silence, settling into a quiet place where there was a subtle but very noticeable shift in energy as our attention returned to a centering presence. For me, even these few short moments offered an opportunity to see what was before me, to feel into what would best serve the time and place that was before us, and also to experience a deep sense of gratitude for the relationships we had created together. Today, Saturday, I was back out in the world and welcoming the sweet small signs of Spring just ahead, everything awakening in the lengthening light of March: the appearance of lilac and saffron crocuses, the swelling of magnolia buds, the quickening and brightening of stream flows, the movement of ducks and geese. All of these held my attention on this sparkling day here in Pennsylvania.


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