Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hard Feelings

Scarlett was our chick whisper.
Chicks often fell asleep in her hands.

At the end of Kindergarten, we said goodbye to a group of young chickens who had hatched in our classroom. They had been a big part of our lives and we were struggling letting them go. 
Mary and I had feared the chaos of chickens thinking that it would spark greater energy but instead we witnessed a serenity and emotional contentment. The chicks were the great equalizer. As a community we had a common intention which was to care for our chicks and nurture them. 
The children revealed deep empathy for each chick from egg, birth to their early development. Did they have enough food and water? Are they warm enough? Do they have room to play? Are they playing nicely with their brothers and sisters?  Each question exhibited a new level of consideration and connection to the animals.
Yet all of this connection and love made the idea of separation that much harder to accept. It is difficult to watch children having big feelings. The inclination is to solve the problem and bring back the smiles. Through the years of teaching  I have observed the good stuff that comes with working through hard feelings.

Supporting each other as we say goodbye to the chicks.
A family in our school took them home.
As the children helped to load the chicks in the car to head to a farm their feelings were evident to each other. It was beautiful to watch them all support each other with a hug or a hand held. I just recently read some passages from  Awakening Joy for Kids by James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna ©2016. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press. It resonated with me both as a parent and an educator.
"The practice of embracing the difficult is a vital part of awakening joy. The more we understand suffering and are willing to come to terms with it, the greater the possibility of developing a mind that is not afraid of the hard stuff when it comes—because underneath the pain lies wisdom, compassion, and love that can open to it.
RAIN: How humans can work with difficult feelings
When we suffer, we often experience pain, anger, fear, or sadness. The acronym RAIN can help us remember how to directly open to and work skillfully with these difficult feelings. Here are the steps to doing this practice:
Recognize what you’re feeling. Let yourself be open to your emotions of sadness, anger, or fear, and name it.
Allow it to be here. Let go of any agenda for it to change and, for a few moments, give it permission to be just as it is.
Investigate how it feels in your body on an energetic level without getting into the story behind it or trying to get rid of it. Bring a curiosity or interest that involves simply exploring the landscape of your emotion without needing to figure it out.
Non-identification—meaning, don’t take it personally; don’t assume the experience reflects who you are at your core. (For example, don’t say to yourself, “I’m an angry person.”) Recognize that everyone experiences emotions; they are part of the human condition. Open up to that truth and don’t let it define you.
Please take a moment to read the entire essay from The Daily Good