ED 816: Reading Log Week 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Text: Embodied Inquiry: Writing, Living and Being through the Body by Celeste Snowber

Chapter 1: Let the Body Out

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

  • how connecting to our bodies is essential to learning
  • learn to listen to your body
  • activate your body (your energy)
  • Think again like a child
  • Author asks reader to think about what their body knows and remembers.
  • External vs. Internal body
  • How and why we need to tap back into our body knowledge
  • The body is trustworthy
  • Paradox and the body

Key Words/Phrases: Embodied inquiry; body; rhythm; child; education; confined; play; movement; connection; knowledge; lifeline; daily practice; honour the body; voice; discourses; show up for your life; embodied creative; stretch; body as life guide

Snowber chapter 1 wordle.jpg

Related quotes:

  1. “It is evident that students at all levels are increasingly facing greater challenges in regulating their attention and are experiencing rates of anxiety” (Karunananda et al., 2016, p. 23).

Recommended related reading(s): 

  1. Examining Mindfulness in Education by A. Karunananda, P. Goldin, and PD Talagala

Questions:

  1. How can I make sure to practice body movement for myself throughout the day as a teacher?
  2. In what ways can I make sure to provide sufficient body movement for my students throughout the day?

Inspiring:

  1. “show up for your life” (p. 3).
  2. “life is about connection” (p. 6).
  3. “When there’s no room to breathe, the mind can become narrow” (p. 7).
  4. “Show up for your life” (p. 10).
  5. “You may not even know what that [your interior life] is, but your deepest longings are waiting to be uncovered” (p. 13).
  6. Poem on p. 14: “Remember back all of you/messy and unpredictable/veins pulsing with a hopefulness/to thirst for more” (p. 14)

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

Snowber (2016) asks us “What does your body know? What does your body remember?” (p. 6). The first thing I am brought back to is my former life. The life I have almost forgotten. The person you see today is not the person from 3 years ago.

15626324_10155679085550550_4581611251518799630_o

In another life, I was 254 pounds. I was uncomfortable in body and very happy. It was hard to teach each day when I felt miserable about myself. It all changed when I was told, at age 29, that I was testing pre-diabetic. I began to walk. Then I began to run. Now I run, walk, jump, climb, stretch. I first began with running and fell in love with how it made me feel. Not just my physical body but the mind cleared too. After running, no matter how tired or sore I was that day (mentally or physically), I would feel amazing. I began signing up for 5k and 10k events. I have now ran 4 half marathons as well. I am signed up for 2 more this year. Today, I run 25-40km a week along with 3-5 workouts for strength and conditioning. In the workouts, my trainer has us roll and do headstands. We do different weight exercises whether with actual weights or with body weight. We stretch our bodies and our minds. I am attempting a new challenge of obstacle running this summer – I signed up for 2 Spartan sprint races. I am not sure I will enjoy them but I wanted to at least try and see if I did. I allow myself to take more chances than I used to.

But in all of this, I often still feel that “in this presences there are absences” (p. 3). I haven’t fully learned how to use this new body of mind. I don’t feel at home in it just yet. My mind still makes believe I am that 254 pound girl who was miserable and not the new 168 pound woman who loves to challenge herself more each day.

This makes me wonder how my students feel in their desks all day. I am trying to fill that feeling in my body by sharing movement with my students. I started a run/walk club at school where students come once a week in the morning before school to run or walk. If it is too cold, I plan different movement activities for them. Sharing this knowledge of how to become physical and yet also focus and clear the mind does help me become more knowledgeable about my body as well as hopefully inspiring my students.

Snowber says that our children forced to learn by “stillness” (p. 5) and I completely agree. I try to do as she says by thinking like a child. I try to catch myself my saying “sit down”, “back in your seat”. If the action is purely movement to refocus, I have begun to allow it to happen in my classroom. Today in class, students were doing a magic number pattern in French to find a heart pattern in numbered circles. In the past, I would ask them to do it silently on their own. Today, they were up and down to compare their patterns. There was chatter. There were students moving to show their final work to each other. I allowed it to happen. They were doing the work but also moving around the room which the body wants and craves. Did it ruin the activity? Not in the least.

When Snowber said we should be “living with jouissance, living with vitality and being deeply alive” (p. 6), this really hit home. I went through 29 years of life of just being and going through motions. I was not deeply alive but going through the motions of life. I woke up every morning, just wishing it was already the end of day so I could just retreat back into my stationary self. This is not a person who can inspire children. I know that students loved my French class but I was only filling their minds halfheartedly. My own rejuvenation  transfers to my classroom. My French program the last 3 years feels more passionate and dynamic that it ever because I have learned to value body and mind of both myself and my students. In my classroom, I look to value external and internal body in my activities.

Snowber (2016)says that we were designed to learn knowledge through “mind, hearts, soul, imagination, flesh” (p. 8). If we can do this and allow our students to this, no one would be left feeling like I did. We would inspire many kinds of knowledge to our students and not just teach them knowledge.

So now what does my body know? It knows a whole lot more as I have created a “contract” that “honours” my body” (p. 9). I have begun to challenge “[r]ace, culture, class, and gender” (Snowber, 2016, p. 10) in doing the unexpected. First I challenged the perception of being busy is an excuse to be overweight and still. I find ways throughout the day to move. I challenged the culture of overweight people being lazy and unlikely to change. I come from a family who struggles. I live paycheque to paycheque working to pay off debts from going to school and helping my family when they struggled. Growing up in a low income family meant a lot of unhealthy meals and habits. I overcame this and did it anyway. I also love to challenge gender in my ways. I became a runner. Not a fast one but a pretty darn good one who never gives up. I am attempting to become stronger with strength training and will try Spartan races. I also work to challenge the boundaries of race, culture, class, and gender in my classrooms. Students have seen their teacher change over the past 3 years as I have been at the same school for 7 years. This change inspired many students to come regularly to run/walk club and for the school to plan a run/walk day last June as a school event.

Snowber also reminds us that “None of you are left untouched  by pain, suffering or loss” (p. 12). So much of the pain and suffering, and even loss, in my life is what lead me to where I am today. I haven’t completely filled the holes of those losses but by moving my body, it helps me to heal. Many of our students come to school with painful experiences. We can help them become stronger humans with stronger minds by allowing to teach them to move their bodies in order to help heal them.

I’ve  challenged the “limits and constraints” of who I was before and changed myself by leaving comfort zones. I am challenging the past assumptions that motionless students are good learners.

And like in my new passions of running and strength training, perhaps I can also teach my students that: “opening us up and discovery is a never-ending source of delight” (p. 12).

And throughout my graduate studies and my thesis, I now know that my body will always be with me even as I search and research (Snowber, 2016, p. 13).

Now get up and move…go for a walk, a run, a hike. Stretch the legs. Try something new. Inspire others to do the same. JUST MOVE!

cropped-img_4045.jpg
Running with my best running partner – Ginny, my black lab

References:

Karunananda A., P. Goldin, and PD Talagala. (2016). Examining mindfulness in education. I.J. Modern Education and Computer Science, 12, 23-30. DOI: 10.5815.

McLeod, N. (2013). Cree narrative memory: From Treaties to contemporary times. Saskatoon, SK: Purich Publishing Ltd.

Snowber, C. (2016). Writing, Living and Being through the Body. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Chapter 2: Solitude and Physicality 

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

  • Our bodies desire solitude
  • How to and what it means to have solitude in our lives
  • the Sabbath – what it is and means
  • becoming vulnerable to find solitude
  • finding balance to not just responsible for all our tasks in life but become responsible to ourselves.
  • Inspiration – Who inspires you? What inspires you? Who do you want to inspire?
  • Letting go of the sense of “losing time”

Key Words/Phrases: solitude; heart; mindfulness, bodyfullness; rest; Sabbath; vulnerability; small moments; lifelines; inhabits; reenergized; inspiration

Snowber Chapter 2 Wordle.png

Related quotes:

  1. “Spirituality is also deepened through solitude” (p. 231)
  2. “Simply paying attention to one’s inner thoughts, feelings, sensations and intuitions has a healing and restorative effect” (p. 231).

Recommended related reading(s): 

  1. Creating sacred experiences for children as pathways to healing, growth and transformation by Raisuyah Bhagwan

Questions:

  1. Is there a place or activity that you “surrender” yourself to so that your body and mind, heart and soul become unified?
  2. How do we help our students or our future research participants find that place above in question 1?
  3. I am often told I am an inspiration because of the challenges I have overcome. And often I hear “You are such an inspiration…but I just don’t have time to do all that you do.” Why do has society become so easily accustomed  easily cast aside being inspired by their inspirations by using time as an excuse?
  4. What does solitude look like in our classrooms?
  5. What does solitude look like in our grad studies?

Inspiring:

  1. “I am interested in the quality of solitude” (p. 17)
  2. Teachers need less workshops but need more rest (p. 18).
  3. “My body is a constant reminder to alert me to what is really important. My own sense of over-responsibility will delay what truly gives me life. I may need to shift responsibility to being responsive and respond to what I know deep inside” (p. 19).
  4. The myth of losing time (p. 22).

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

Snowbers (2016) once again struck me to my core with her opening poem about solitude:

“solitude beckons/dwell in your own company/coming home to heart” (p. 17).

In my life, I have worked hard to become a different person but yet the same person. I decided to return for my Masters of Education because I felt I needed more. I think I have discovered so much more about myself as a person in the past 3 years with my weight loss journey as well as setting boundaries in family issues. Yet, I still seek solitude.

Perhaps this is why I fell in love with running and other workouts. I lose myself into those moments and I surrender every worry, every stress, every bad day to the movement of my body.

Video on my running partner and I surrendering to the run. Just the sound of my feet, her paws, and our breathing. 

Snowber says that athletes (as well as actors, children, mediators, and artists) know “these moments where time stops, and brilliance happens. A physiological rhythm occurs where a kind of surrender happens, where body and mind, heart and soul are in unison” (p. 17). This is what the Sabbath means for me which Snowber also discusses in the chapter. Snowber (2016) describe the Sabbath as “being a place that is set apart, a place where the ordinary becomes sacred” (p. 18). Running seems like just a ordinary task but for me, it has made me connect to myself and other runners. By starting a school run/walk club, I have also made running and using the body become sacred to others.

What I struggle with is allowing myself to become vulnerable will help me find solitude. I have many stories to share but I am hesitant to share them. However, it is through sharing my story that I can relate to those who will be involved in my research as well as my students I teach every day.

Snowber (2016) said: “My own sense of over-responsibility will delay what truly gives me life. I may need to shift responsibility to being responsive and respond to what I know deep inside” (p. 19). I have created many responsibilities for others instead of just for myself. Taking care of my parents financially, organizing all events at work, doing 4 or 5 extracurricular activities for my students. I need to also focus on myself. Recently, my principal had said to me that I have done so much and it is okay to take for me now. While investing in me by returning to school for my masters, I was scared to let go of other responsibilities. But I am not going to be any good for myself, my students or those involved in my research if I don’t learn to respond to what I need too.

I empathize with the author about struggling to find  solitude as adult. I have focused on myself more by running for me, doing workouts for me, doing my Masters for me. I often mistake the time I spent doing that as work. But in reality, in all of those, I find my solitude. I find my meaning. And at the end of each day, I strive to take 15-30 minutes to read a book that isn’t school work. In all of this, I connect myself back to me and all of goals and desire to live a life full of movement and inspiration. Many people around me tell me that they can’t believe how much I do and ask “Do I ever sit and relax?” But I like to look at the times I am busy as meaningful to me. Finding solitude isn’t just about finding time alone or by doing nothing. Solitude is finding yourself in a moment that allows you connect to yourself and reenergize. Maybe that is in a 7:45am run/walk club with students; or a 6:35pm group workout with adults; or a 5:30am run alone with your dog.

We lose focus on finding our solitude when we fall into the trap of thinking doing things for ourselves that actually do take time (such as my masters, my runs, or workouts) is losing time. That is the myth that Snowber brings up – the myth of losing time that we often complain about.

 

“Close to my home, a world was waiting for my attention” (Snowber, 2016, p. 20). 

Sunrise
Running Paths Near Home

When I took my first step outside of my house for a walk in March 2014, I found that I had a beautiful park with running paths. Half a kilometre from my house, I found a place that I connect with and when I am walking or running there, I find myself connecting to my home inside my heart and soul that has needed attention for so long. The ability to do this helps me to become better at connecting with others – my students, my colleagues, my family, and my future research participants.

The final thing in this chapter that I feel need to address is about inspiration. I don’t have much to say about it but it made me ask myself three questions. Who do I inspire? Who inspires me? What makes someone be an inspiration?

References:

Bhagwan, R. (2009). Creating sacred experiences for children as pathways to healing, growth and transformation. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 14:3, 225-234, DOI: 10.1080/13644360903086497.

Snowber, C. (2016). Writing, Living and Being through the Body. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

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