A talk on the use of stories as a tool for facilitating greater inclusion of all children and for helping children to overcome challenges and difficult behaviors:
A recording of a talk I gave at the Maleny Neohumanist Education Seminar 2017, at the Ananda Marga River School, Australia:
A recording of my first webinar:
As the technological speed of modern society increases at exponential rates, so has the experience of early childhood been radically altered. Children are faced with increased levels of cognitive stimulation and complexity from their early years. The statistics of the incidence of childhood mental health disorders, such as ADHD, are rising. As the very landscape of childhood has shifted so dramatically since parents and teachers were themselves children and is increasingly characterized by continuous change rather than by stability, in what ways must educational approaches adapt to help children to successfully integrate these experiences and reach their full human potential? Is cognitive development in itself sufficient to guarantee happiness, or does conscious attention need to be given to the development of social, emotional and spiritual competencies? How to facilitate the development of an internal “compass” to prepare children to navigate the challenges of a technological, commercialized culture?
This webinar explores these questions according to the holistic approach to early childhood development offered by Neohumanist Education. It examines the ways that Neohumanist education balances extroversial sensorial stimulation and cognitive development, with training in introversial capacities such as self-regulation, empathy and creative visualization. The Neohumanist teacher’s own subjective experience and self-development is seen as an inseparable part of the teaching process. This webinar looks at Neohumanist Education’s synthesis of classical eastern wisdom teachings from the ancient tradition of yoga that highlight personal development and collective values with modern western progressive educational techniques that cultivate rationality, logic, and individual creative expression. The holistic vision of Neohumanist education is essentially an ecological vision that honors the interconnectedness of the web of life, seeking to preserve children’s sense of being connected to a greater whole, engage them in learning as joyful discovery, and help them discover meaningful ways to contribute to their world.
By serendipity – or rather the surprising Grace of the Cosmic Dance…I was invited at the last minute to a program at the Indian Embassy in Bucharest. Loredana Groza, a famous Romanian singer was one of the guests of honor. We ended up singing a kiirtan with Baba Nam Kevalam (a mantra that means “I am only singing to my Beloved”) and Loredana, with her warm charisma – involved all of the members in the audience in singing the mantra into the microphone. It was an unexpected moment that created a joyful and sweet atmosphere:
The program was organised in order to launch a beautiful book about yoga that has been translated in Braille. The embassy generously donated copies of the book to the Association for the Visually Impaired of Romania – I happen to know the president from a training that we took together about social enterprise, so it was a pleasure to reconnect with him as well.
Here is the entire news story that appeared on television, for those of you that can understand (or guess at) Romanian!
This is a video / slideshow I made for the 20th Anniversary party of our Familia AMURTEL home last September. It was such a beautiful feeling to be altogether with all of our Familia AMURTEL children – now of course, most of them are already grown-ups! It has been an amazing experience to see them grow and mature – often quite the roller-coaster ride, but overall I am quite proud of each of them! Glad to have been part of the adventure.
Hope you will enjoy watching this too!
I was invited to Stefan Pusca’s show “Dialogues between the Heart and Soul” on the Romanian TV6 channel – and as I was talking about yoga and kaoshikii, the format of the show is to always include a video clip – so I did a re-edit of the “Kaoshikii around the world” video to fit the 4 minute requirement, and so that we could have some Romanian representation within it! My yoga students loved the video – but were disappointed that they hadn’t had the chance to participate in the project – so now was the opportunity! Hopefully we can redo it in the summer in some more scenic areas of the country – I would like to do it the mountain villages….
On my recent trip to India, I also visited the Ananda Marga Wellness Center in the rural countryside of Ananda Nagar. Dada Dharmavedananda, who runs the project, discovered on the last day of our brief stay that I had video equipment with me – and so we quickly organized a documentation of this new center. It was quite an adventure and the whole team worked very efficiently together.
It was such a heavenly relaxing treat to spend time exercising in nature, taking yogic sun bath treatments, fasting and eating simply as well as doing yoga and meditation together. It is definitely quite far off the beaten track, but worth the visit.
In the autumn of 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to India. I revisited a project that I deeply appreciate and admire – the Abha Seva Sadan Multitherapy Clinic, which serves a very neglected rural area in Jharkhand state, near to the city of Bokaro. I made a short video documentation of one of their most impressive projects, the Cerebral Palsy program for children:
The multidisciplinary team of doctors at the clinic use a combination of acupuncture, physiotherapy, herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat children with cerebral palsy. The results are quite breathtaking. In Romania, one of our kindergartens integrates children with cerebral palsy and over the years, I have seen how their incredibly dedicated parents were always trying out new therapies in the hopes of improvement, which was often quite slight and difficult to determine.
However, in many cases, if the child is treated early enough before the onset of contractures and the resulting physiological deformations, the results are quite visible, as you will observe in the video.
I just made this video documentation of the WWD Golden Jubilee held in Ananda Nagar. My master, Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii founded a special section of Ananda Marga “WWD” standing for the Women’s Welfare Department in 1965 with the mission of promoting the all-round upliftment of women as key to societal transformation. A bird cannot fly with only one wing was a metaphor he often used to encourage women to strengthen themselves, and to encourage men to give appropriate importance to the upliftment of women.
It was memorable and inspiring to join together with so many fellow “Didis” (yogic nuns) and sisters from around the world for this three day program. I attended with two sisters from Romania, and we briefly toured a few places in India before and after the conference.