Discovering the Light Within Each of Us

by | Nov 11, 2021

“The light you give to the world multiplies the light you receive from the universe.”

― Matshona Dhliwayo

As our days shorten, we feel the weather change and as we enter deeper into the brisk winds of autumn, we begin discussing these changes with our learners at Aishling Forest School. At our community meetings over this past week, we’ve been relating the seasonal changes to each of the cardinal directions and the four elements that we call in to cast our circles. Our learners have been prompted to wonder how does the Earth change as we transition to the shortest day of the year? How does the air change? What benefits does fire bring us during this time of the year? What happens to water, as the weather gets cold? These conversations dig us deeper into scientific discussions about all biological, meteorological, and geological events that occur as the season changes. Then we begin to wonder, how does this affect humans? How do we change with the seasons as we travel towards winter and as our daylight hours diminish?

During this natural celebration and the turning of the wheel of life, we invite our learners to reflect on their inner light, that which shines despite the darkening occurring around us, and one we can always offer to others. We all have an inner flame or fire that burns bright. Darkness may come and dim this inner flame, but it is always there. We can also remember that darkness is not evil and to picture it as a blanket of soft moss that covers the seeds underground, so that ideas, wisdom, creativity and inspiration have time to manifest. This seasonal transition towards darkness is the time to rekindle our inner fire, so that it may blaze throughout the winter and into the spring. It’s also a time to offer kindling to those who do not have much of it.

Our community question this week was, “What is your inner light or what is your gift that you share with others?” The answers were a union of love, hugs, teaching and positivity. We then taught our learners how to make their own autumnal lanterns decorated with colorful fallen leaves so that they can shine their own light as the days get darker.

These conversations and seasonal ancestral activities are a gentle approach at encouraging emotional, physical, and environmental awareness. These are skills that can best be learned through socio-emotional experiences, and it is for this reason that we encourage our learners to explore these topics together, discuss, wonder, and work through these thoughts, bonding them as a community of their own making. Watching the children think hard and ponder, “What is my gift to the world? What is my light that I shine?” was beautiful, each taking dedication in thoughtfully curating the details of what that meant for their own emotional being.

The learners also took their time in exploring the sensory experiences of the weather changes and how Earth and her elements change. This subtle meditation of physical awareness offers an opportunity for learners to develop and build their sensory perception development. Sensory perception is the organization, identification and interpretation of information that is processed via the senses.

Benefits of Sensory Perception:

  1. Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
  2. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
  3. This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory

As we move further along in our morning discussions of how these seasonal changes affect us humans, we are better able to probe into the thoughts of how these changes affect animals, plants, water, and all of life. This helps us all develop a stronger sense of environmental awareness, as well. Being environmentally aware helps the learners to better understand how our behavior impacts the environment and encourages them to commit to making changes to take care of our planet. Promoting environmental awareness is an easy way to become an environmental steward and participate in creating a brighter future.

In our ongoing Socratic discussions, socio-emotional play, outdoor activities and celebrations of seasonal changes, we encourage all of our forest school families to take this seasonally appropriate time to rest, reflect and further discover how to shine their unique, individual lights as bright as can be. We look forward to coming together as a community for our annual lantern walk so that we may create light together, encouraging our little learners to never stop shining, creating, glowing, or exploring all this world has to offer.

Ways to Introduce Seasonal Hygge (Danish word for being cozy and comfortable) at Home:

  • 1) Decide when and how long you want to dedicate to “hygge.” Knowing it is time limited helps with being present.
  • 2) Light candles if you are inside. This has become our signal that it’s “hygge time” in our house.
  • 3) Turn off your technological devices.
  • 4) Leave drama at the door. There are other times to focus on your problems. Hygge is about creating a safe place to relax with others, and leave everyday stressors outside. Sometimes taking 5-10 minutes to meditate before coming through the door helps to become more focused and to drop any agendas.
  • 5) Drink warm drinks together.
  • 6) Play games and sing songs. Singing together has been proven to be extremely beneficial for our well-being, and it is extremely connecting. Once you stop feeling silly, you start to realize how great it feels.
  • 7) Tell and retell funny and uplifting stories from the past or look through old pictures together. This is a wonderful way to bond in the moment in a positive way.

Remember, it’s quality, not quantity. Even if it’s 20 minutes, it makes a huge difference. Hygge may sound easy, but it takes awareness to value this drama-free togetherness, a special bonding time that takes mindfulness to the next level of “we-fullness”



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