By: Rev Bowen
I am sure that there are many adages from many different cultures that speak to a certain wisdom regarding decision-making, reactions, and perspectives. The one that has echoed in my life came from a collection of Russian Fairy Tales in which one sagacious character or another would speak:
"Mornings are wiser than evenings."
I find it to be a happy coincidence that this came to me through a set of stories, because the use of stories is one very practical place that I put this wisdom to use. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy (a foundational, "spiritual philosophy") and Waldorf Education (an application of that philosophy), urged Waldorf teachers to use the power of imaginative stories and the magic of sleep in the formation of main lessons. In particular, he foresaw the great benefit of using previously imagined stories as the contextual source for creating new lessons.
In other words, a second grader could hear the fable of "The Fox and the Grapes" on Monday, then on a subsequent day, such as Tuesday, the number of grapes might become the source for a math lesson. Let us imagine that the fox actually did reach the grapes, for instance! Just as easily, the imagination might lend itself to a language arts lesson with silent-e word families (grape, ape, nape, tape, cape, escape...) and/or basic sentence composition with the conjunction "but". The fox jumped as high as he could, but he did not reach the grapes. Either way, when the lesson is formed within the imaginative context of a story, the student is already connected to it. The lesson has been pre-warmed, if you will. They have more fun learning about subtraction with borrowing or the use of conjunctions when it comes within an enjoyable imagination.
We are all like this if we reflect on it. Which of the following do most people prefer?
"One must refrain from overlaying undue reactions, emotional or otherwise, perhaps even those born of unconscious trauma, onto objective data in a given situation, lest one exaggerate and complicate the actual challenges and/or issues that need attention, thus compounding the problem and reducing the chances of successful resolution."
"Don't make a mountain out of a mole-hill."
In other words, there is a reason that well-formed, imaginative maxims, adages, and idioms remain so popular. There is something about the best stories of various cultures, stream-lined by, and steeped within, the folk-soul wisdom of the human beings in those times and places, through the "sleeping and waking" of decades and centuries, something that helps them continue to land and germinate within our hearts today. I submit this: If pictures are worth a thousand words, then imaginations--living pictures within the human soul--are worth a million.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, then imaginations--living pictures within the human soul--are worth a million.
When we allow imaginations to live within us through the process of sleep, the images are "potentized". They take on even greater meaning and value. The deeper significance, like a sprouting seed, begins to expand within us. Over time, we weave this new "information" into our being, relating it to previous experiences, emotions, understandings, and knowledge, just as the roots of a new plant form relationships and connections with the vast network of fungal mycorrhizae. These connections are critical to the plant's ability to absorb enough water and nutrients; so too the new imaginations work their way into us and take on greater and greater power over time, bringing us ever-greater "wisdom nutrition", especially as they go through the process of waking-sleeping-reawakening--sleeping...within us.
So I offer a small reflection from my own journey as a human being and an educator. Sleep on questions and awake expectantly.
Sleep on questions and awake expectantly.
When you have a challenge or a question you are facing, no matter what part of life it entails, bring it to consciousness in the evening. If you pray, pray that question clearly. If you meditate, bring your awareness to the question clearly in the evening. Embrace the question whole-heartedly. And no matter what you practice, once you have brought the question to full clarity and awareness, allow it to fade. Make a practice of giving the question and all of its associated worries, troubles, and concerns to the higher power--in whatever form that is for your beliefs. Lastly, and just as importantly, bring up the reverent mood of gratitude for the wisdom that is to come in a future "morning/waking". This mood of expectant gratitude within our hearts might be a challenge at first, but if we are diligent and consistent, it is rewarded.
Sometimes we must knock at a door many times before we find the key in our pocket.
With time and experience, this will allow us to sleep in peace, even with "unsolved issues" in our lives. When are there ever not such things, by the way? We learn to appreciate and value the magically transformative power that sleep brings to our lives. We learn to make the most of it. Sleep has a power like the ocean. During the night, sleep's high tide can cast the most lucent shells of wisdom and clarity upon the beach of our souls. Then we can wake each morning with a new openness, a new confidence in the wisdom that comes to us.
During the night, sleep's high tide can cast the most lucent shells of wisdom and clarity upon the beach of our souls.
When I have done this, I have created much richer lessons for students, I have brought much fresher perspectives to issues faced with colleagues or parents, I have been more inspired, more positive, more enthusiastic, more balanced and centered. This of course, builds its own positive momentum.
Let me end with another folk-wisdom expression: Using the magical power of sleep is another way to "work smarter, not harder".
I love the Season of Michaelmas!
So I am offering a Michaelmas Sale from now until September 30, 2023.
All courses and bundles at Simply Waldorf will be 20% off during this time! May this help us to courageously conquer and transform the dragon of expense! Use the discount code COURAGE2023 for this discount.