On Creativity

 

In sixth grade, my daughter, Camille, made a papier-mâché  “Ellacambit”. For those of you who are wondering, an “Ellacambit” is an elephant/rabbit combo forged together with the help of a little bit of Cami ingenuity. I gotta admit, he was a pretty fabulous creature. He joyfully graced our kitchen table for quite a while. We eventually “lost” him to an encroaching mold infection.  We mourn him still. 

The job of the artist is making tangible the inner workings of the imagination. The Greeks refer to this process of bringing something into existence as aition. Creation is not just about making something happen, it is a matter of letting something come forth and setting it free. Acts of creativity capitalize on the process of making the invisible visible.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi wrote about normal human perception as containing the values of all levels of knowing – from the gross, surface level to the abstract, absolute value. His motivation for bringing meditation to the West was to restore this visionary seeing/knowing to individuals across the world. He taught that it was stress that blocked an individuals’ ability to utilize the fullness of normal perception. By releasing stress, individuals would regain a normality of perception – and this would open the gateway to enlightenment. 

Consciousness based education brings the inner and outer – subjective and objective – worlds closer together. When we are able to see beyond the gross level, we are able to connect with the pulsing urges that exist beneath the surface of known reality. This is where all the ideas live. Unencumbered by the weight of our stress, we can dive deep into this bubbling pool of creativity.

I like to imagine that this is the land where the Ellacambit’s roam free!

-Molly

(Photo: Elacambit’s distant cousin – Beacamgon!)

Our Movie is LIVE

 

We’re thrilled to announce that the Tuning the Student Mind movie is now available for free online.

Click here to view the 27 minute movie as well as our 13 minute deleted scenes.

Enjoy!

Meditation Puppy

 

Molly brought her new puppy to group meditation with the 7th graders at The Boggs School. Gotta admit, he was a bit of a distraction from meditating but Louie sure knows how to spread the love!

On Love

 

I have a beautiful garden in my backyard. The woman who helped me plan it made it clear that we needed to have a diversity of flowers in the bed. We laughed a lot during the planning – you see, I happen to really love lilies and other July blooming flowers. Debra reminded me that I wanted a garden that flowered throughout the year. And, she was right. In the spring, I have tulips and daffodils, in the summer I enjoy my lilies, in the fall I have mums and in the winter berries.

Love is born out of allurement – a gravitational pull toward something. This allurement or attraction is related good smells, a soft touch, a pleasing image, a shared laugh. Love is born out of this attraction.

With meditation and the expansion of consciousness, a new form of love spontaneously flows through us. This love is a love for the sake of love. A love related less to a figure-it-out mentality of evaluation but the simple flow of love as an undercurrent of feeling. An internal lighting up in the mere presence of other. Living in this state of love turns the world into a garden without any favorites.

On the Distinction Between Love and Desire

 

Feelings of love can sometimes seamlessly merge with feelings of desire. Culturally this connection is continuously reinforced by the media, by conversation, by our understanding of modes of expression. But, in truth, love and desire are distinct from one another. Certainly, expressing our love in a physical way can be meaningful and enjoyable. But it is not necessarily a required parallel action to be pursued every time we feel the stirrings of love deep in our heart. This is not a judgment. It is simply a reflection that is often overlooked in our hyper-sexualized culture.

Sit, Meditate, Vote

 

I have been seeing quite a few posts about meditating for peace lately. Several of them encourage meditating this weekend with the hopes of influencing a positive outcome for our national elections. Frankly, I think it is a good idea.

Neurology has confirmed that the individual human brain is actually hard wired to influence other people within our social circle. In fact, there is a body of scientific evidence that personal thoughts have an infectious nature. Karl Mannheim, the father of the sociology of knowledge, wrote about his sense of this phenomenon in his famous book, Ideology and Utopia. It was his belief that the social emergence of collective thoughts are a reproduction of feelings, understandings and perceptions of individuals living together in society. The ultimate chicken and egg puzzle – historical knowledge conditioned by groups of people living together and social change instigated by conscious beings becoming aware of the power of their thoughts.

It seems logical to me that thinking that comes from a nourished, calm mind will be more positively impactful than thinking that comes from an anxiety riddled mind. Recent research has repeatedly offered evidence that a meditation practice enhances areas of the brain involved in perception and the regulation of emotion.

Thinking is, simply put, a means to both individual and collective evolution. This is why a meditation practice is so imperative. It influences both the personal and the collective. Spending time in silence allows one to transcend the daily input of distractions, noise and stress. The repeated action of sitting in silence incrementally builds more and more purity of thought. Thoughts that bubble up out of an exploration of inner knowing are more likely to be connected to the finest level of feeling.

If my experience of twenty-five years of daily meditation offers one truth, it is this: All you will find at the basis of yourself is a well-spring of love.

Love as an undercurrent to thinking has just got to be good for the environment!

My advice for this weekend – sit, meditate, vote!

~ Molly Beauregard

The Labyrinth

 

The ancient symbol of a labyrinth relates to the concept of wholeness. By combining the imagery of a circle with a spiral, traditional labyrinths offer a meandering path with purposeful meaning. Walking the labyrinth offers a journey to the center of the maze and back out again. It is not meant to confuse or frustrate the walker. Rather, the gift of the labyrinth is to soothe, to comfort, to offer insight and reflection.

Perhaps, the most famous labyrinth is preserved within the nave of Chartres Cathedral in France. Built around 1200, it was intended to be walked as a pilgrimage in order to become closer to God. Labyrinths have been found all over the world — some dating back 4,000 years. All too often their origins lost in the mists of time.

The philosophical idea that if we had eyes powerful enough to see exactly what is happening, we would realize that even the most stable thing in the universe is actually changing all the time, is mirrored in the construction of a labyrinth.  The structure of the labyrinth reminds us to trust in the flow of the universe. Walking the path reminds us to trust our intuition, stay on the path — essentially to walk the walk.

This weekend my husband built a labyrinth. It was a pretty inspired move. For us, the labyrinth served as a ceremonial finish to our long awaited apple harvest. The back story on the harvest includes two smallish granny smith apple trees that had previously yielded one or two squirrel nibbled offerings each season. This year with some timely nurturance and delicate care the trees produced 28 big, fat apple gems.

The truth is it can be tough to infuse our daily life with meaning and reverence. An apple harvest is as good an excuse as any for reminding us to slow down and celebrate the abundance of life. Walking the labyrinth this weekend, I found myself reminded that we are all exactly where we are meant to be right now. Just like those sweet little trees, we all blossom at the perfect moment to shine our absolute brightest.

Molly Beauregard

Classical Labyrinths: Construction Manual

 

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College for Creative Studies News

 

We were recently featured on the College for Creative Studies’ news and events page in an article titled, Short film explores game-changing CCS sociology course that helps students tap creative potential. We’re honored to be recognized and look forward to future semesters of “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”.

 

“If you walked into Molly Beauregard’s classroom toward the end of each session, you’d find the room swathed in stillness and calm. You’d see every student sitting face forward, eyes closed, deep in silent meditation. The scene wouldn’t strike you as particularly unusual if this were a wellness room or a yoga class, but it’s not. It may well be, however, the first academic course of its kind at an American college.

For more than 15 years, Beauregard has taught sociology — mostly, and happily, at the College for Creative Studies. But a few years ago she noticed that her students weren’t showing much interest in the material. They seemed not only disengaged and preoccupied but also exhausted. It is a troubling commonplace in U.S. college classrooms.

“I can’t tell you exactly when it happened,” said Beauregard, “but I started to have this awareness that there was a struggle going on with my students, and I wondered why they didn’t seem to like sociology and why it wasn’t resonating. Semester to semester, it felt like it was getting worse. What’s going on here?”

This question formed the basis of what would become, in 2011, an innovative sociology course incorporating transcendental meditation…”

See the full article here.

 

Moving Beyond the Grading Rubric

 

The directive to “know thyself” permeates much of the American university experience. As professors and mentors, advisors and guidance counselors, we frequently tell our students to follow their passions and ambitions—to act upon what they “know” those inner strivings to be—and yet we too often ignore the role of reflection in the classroom. We ask our students to trust and follow their intuitions without teaching them to tap into intuition in the first place. We assume our students’ self-knowledge even as we eliminate the pursuit of it at almost every turn.

The truth is that all reference to the “spiritual” in the college classroom has been eradicated—a process that’s taken place over the course of many generations. As far back as one hundred years ago, the advent of the modern industrial age demanded an increased emphasis on science, technology, evaluation and rational inquiry. Even the so-called softer fields—fields like sociology, psychology and philosophy—have strived to discourage students from too much introspection.

But what happens when we give individual students the experience of sharing their innermost truth with others? When we tie the rigor of scientific inquiry to the open-ended messiness of self-inquiry? In my opinion, we nourish not just the mind, but the heart. Shifting the focus from “What do I want to do?’ to “Who do I want to be?” reconnects students with their truest passions, jump-starting the process of true learning. In short, encouraging a search for meaning in the classroom also promotes life-long learning and curiosity. The search for meaning, unlike the search for “answers” demands that our students see their educations as dynamic and ongoing—not constricted by the fixed timelines of a particular course or a four-year degree.

Every semester I tell my students that the goal of my class is to have them leave the semester knowing less. This confuses them terribly. But I believe a college education should provide more than job training. It should offer students opportunities to see knowledge as unlimited. It should show them that true learning is grounded in the deeper experiences of the spirit. It should open their eyes to the fact that when intellectual life is supported by a deep intuition and contentment, scholarly and professional pursuits then become creative, fruitful, and significant instead of barren, ineffective, and meaningless.

Consciousness, as a field of study, can be best understood by the student through his or her own personal experience of meditation. Meditation and silence encourage reflection, validate inner knowingness and offer glimpses of transcendence. The truth is everyone experiences momentary glimpse of transcendence in daily life – getting lost in thought while walking in the woods, being swept up in the joy of playing the piano, forgetting oneself while engaged in driving. We live for these moments of inner peace and awareness where the stresses of daily life simply fall away and our experience of deep connection to the world around us feels complete. But can you imagine the impact of training individuals to systematically seek these moments of transcendence? How would the cumulative layers of such peace on a day-to-day basis transform individual lives?

These are the questions I ask of my students. In their papers and assignments, they struggle with the answers. In their own meditation practice, they grapple with their own silence and reflection. Consciousness based education programs gently push students to move from concrete to abstract values, thus expanding personal awareness while simultaneously enhancing intellectual understanding. It is the goal of the Tuning the Student Mind foundation to help teachers move beyond the grading rubric through the use of consciousness based educational programs.

Molly Beauregard

To Be Seen

 

I have been told that my finest quality is my boundless enthusiasm.  Sometimes, however, this eager openness gets me in a bit of trouble.

Several years ago a photography student asked me if I would participate in her photo series for senior studio.  Complimented to be asked, I immediately agreed.  For years, I have worn bright red lipstick in the hopes of being discovered like Lana Turner at the corner drugstore.  On the appointed day of the “shoot”, I packed a bag of potential outfits, blew out my hair and painted on my lips.

As soon as I arrived Jen invited me to look at some of the images she had already completed for her thesis project.  The first image was of her father.  He was seated on an unmade bed with his colostomy bag exposed. The second was of a young man collapsed in an overstuffed chair – his tie loosened, his face grim, Las Vegas glittering through the glass window behind him.  And, so it went – an overweight woman with candy circling her head, a video gamer hidden in the basement.  You get the gist.

I have been teaching sociology for fifteen years.  Or, at least that’s my cover.  In truth, teaching is a rather selfish act for me as I love to listen to myself share what I know. It bubbles up on an enthusiastic wave of love eager to move through me to get to the hearts of others.  As a former student once proclaimed, “She just dumps her guts!”

Back to the photo shoot.  Looking at the series of pictures, my panic slowly set in. I suddenly felt confused as to how or why Jen thought I belonged with this rag tag group of individuals sharing their raw vulnerability.  Not wanting to offend her, I figured I’d put on my most slimming black dress and let her take a few pictures just to humor her.  Prior to taking the picture, she asked me to jot down a thought on my greatest fear.  I spontaneously wrote:  “Sometimes, I wonder if there is anything left that is worth saying, while words may echo, it is feeling that resonates.”

Jen ended up winning “student select” for her project.  Her blown up photos graced the entry way to the senior show.  Despite their prominent position at the show and my attendance, not one single person recognized me.  Even my husband looked dismissively away at first glance.  Jen had captured a moment of deep feeling.  Even my carefully applied makeup, slimming dress and good cover story could not hide my true vulnerability.  In asking me to reveal my fear, Jen had set an intention.  Her talent and patient eye unearthed the truth of my being.

Reflecting on my participation in Jen’s project, I blush just a bit at initially desiring a “glamour” shot.  In the end, I feel a certain pride at being a member of this brave group of individuals willing to share and embrace their true vulnerability.

It has taken me two years to look honestly at that photo – to see my truth exposed.  I am writing this blog as a belated thank you note to my sweet former student.  Jen, you were my teacher on that grey April day.  I am abundantly grateful to you for allowing me to see in myself what you so clearly saw in me.  My own desire to be seen for who I am. 

Molly Beauregard

www.jennbondyphoto.com

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