Spiral of learning

Spiraling through learning …or… one grape or one suitcase at a time

article from the World Family Yoga newsletter, winter 2007

Christine McArdle Oquendo in Costa RicaFor most, this is the season through which as we cycle, we reflect. We remember the last year, we remember where we were then and how we are now. We look for the growth, the pattern, change. All learning happens in cycles. We gain a piece of knowledge and spiral around it for a time, revisit it again and again. We come to some realization and understand more completely a concept, or an aspect of ourselves and others. We grow. We move in growth cycles similar to those of most plant life. A stem moves upward and outward, twists and cycles around itself. From it a baby leaf emerges. Time passes, the stem grows, a new leaf is born proportional to the one below it, the stem circles upon itself and as it grows it buds and yet a new leaf. And so we look back and take notice. How has this year’s leaf assimilated the experiences and knowledge of last year to create a stronger more beautiful leaf?

happy pigeon poseLast year my family and I flew in 12 airplanes. If we were to add up all the miles we flew, we would have circled the globe at least once! As it is, we averaged one airplane a month. Because I had to fly to teach 2 weekends, my total rose to 16 flights. Mama Mia! If this is a record for me, it is certainly a marathon for my children! As I have been pondering the concept of cycles and learning lately, I began to look at it in my children, not only in how they grasp concepts in subjects like math or reading and writing, but in appreciation and understanding of the different cultures that we visit and live in.

kids in PeruNow we are back in Peru, we cycled here exactly one year ago. Now fully present here again, I watch them as they assimilate their past experiences here, with their present ones and fill in and anchor into their interpretation, their understanding of it. I see the growth in their ease and comfort here, their command of the language and the cultural cues, their keen observations. Watching growth happen, like a time delayed video clip of a leaf unfurling.

This winter and spring we return to Costa Rica with World Family Yoga. We will be there for the third consecutive year, and each year we extend our stay by a few more weeks. I can’t wait to see the children back in that element, to anchor the often seemingly fleeting moments that we have spent there in the past and recall as well as we can with photos, to feel the rainforest more fully and step into a place of deeper understanding and appreciation. What a gift. After observing this growth pattern more clearly and see it’s value, Peggy and I want to be able to share it with families who have already journeyed to Costa Rica with us, by offering them a discount on their returning visits with us, simply because we know how good it is to return, for ourselves and for our children.

grapesSome time this season, (which interestingly, in the southern hemisphere is the opposite of the northern – we are stepping into the bright summer light; this is our summer solstice, rather than the winter solstice) I am going to find the perfect time to talk to my two boys about their stems and their leaves, their growth and what they think and feel about it all, since last year. It’s never been a serious tradition of mine to make New Year’s “resolutions”. I have though, adopted a New Year’s tradition from Spain, in which you celebrate the sweetness and passing of last year by enjoying 12 grapes at midnight, a nice, nourishing tradition. Savor each month, one grape at a time, reflect and observe your personal growth as you add to it, one grape at a time.

Another fun one comes from Peru. If you want to find travel in your life next year, at midnight, circle around your home, with an empty suitcase. Yes, I remember doing this one year, in the freezing cold, up north. All of my sisters, my brother, husband and I took a walk around the block with our suitcases… I can’t remember whether it worked or not but I do remember how we laughed and laughed as we put our intention out to the universe in this concrete way. North, south, east or west, in whichever direction you are currently facing, may 2008 bring you many blessings, much growth and beauty, for you and your family, one grape or one suitcase at a time.

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."
– Zen Proverb