Preserving the Past Reserving the Future
Abiding Heart’s contemplative Heritage Learning is a curriculum taught through a series of courses in local (Scottish) handwork and crafts heritage as well as sacred arts from other parts of the world (Himalayas), delivered through our unique transformative learning approach.
It is the Abiding Heart's way of celebrating our common humanity.
Abiding Heart is a new education paradigm. It fosters transformative learning and a way of being that works to the depth of our human experience. It aims at changing consciousness by cultivating our innate awareness, compassion and wisdom. We believe that this is also a necessary requirement for embracing sustainable ways of living as part of the journey towards inner freedom.
Mind in Body
The common thread in all the courses and curriculum offered at Abiding Heart is the development of innate awareness, compassion and wisdom. We do this through weaving together contemplative traditions principles and practices, that are rooted in ancient wisdom, with transformative approaches to learning. To experience 'mind in body', we use old-age and well tested practices for adults and joyful exercises specifically designed for children according to their developmental stage. This means learning to face inwards to experience: mind in body; feel sensations within the body; and become increasingly aware of the three layers of mind (cognitive, feelings, and habitual tendencies).
Gradually we come to experience our ‘being mind’ (awareness) together with our cognitive mind (mental consciousness).
Educating towards the ‘Being Mind’
In the Abiding Heart approach, each child is viewed as unique but not special as we all have this true nature that is perfect. Much success in the process of educating towards freedom depends on the ability of the teacher to support the children in resting more in their ‘being mind’ to cultivate a healthy thinking mind, feeling mind, and compassionate and wise habitual tendencies. We are interested not only in our graduating teachers transmitting knowledge to children but for them to also embody transformative, experiential and contemplative education processes when teaching and learning. In this way, we are fostering in teachers and children a sense of reconnecting with their ‘being mind’ or a heightened sense of awareness.
We do this because we recognise that, our children, the younger generation, are the key to the future. They are the ones who must respond to the global challenges we face. However, finding answers and solutions demand human capability in fields we have barely begun to understand. Working with our hands through engaging with arts and crafts allows our mind to be in body and just be. Hence, the powerful connection between heritage arts and crafts and the contemplative traditions with their awareness and mindfulness meditation and loving kindness and compassion practices. Therefore, in Abiding Heart Education we rely on the contemplative traditions that rest on ancient wisdom and invest equally in the children’s and teachers' inner development to acquire the tools of innate awareness and compassion to build resilience; wisdom.
Heritage, Contemplative Ecology and Our Common Humanity
The Abiding Heart approach also recognises that to welcome a sustainable lifestyle, we need to embrace the process of self- transformation and change that is rooted in compassion and wisdom or understanding reality as it truly is. For us, teachers have a crucial role to play in nurturing such a way of being with children and young people. We see education as an important path to bridge connections between the diverse local and global cultural heritages as well as between the poor and the wealthy communities. After all, we all have this innate basic goodness and therefore we are all equally important.
We build this bridge through teaching and learning traditional arts and crafts skills fused with contemplative practices. This helps us open our hearts and better understand each other’s heritage and ways of being. Our aspiration by doing so is to reduce ignorance and prejudices between individuals and communities and increase a sense of trust and harmony. In other words, peace in oneself is peace in the world which is essential to sustainable living. Wars have never been good for our inner and outer environments.
In addition, transmitting knowledge about sustainable development or local heritage in itself is not enough to convince a majority of individuals and communities of the urgency to adapt and change to ‘tread lightly on the earth’. Attempting to teach sustainable development using approaches based in the prevailing educational culture, which essentially supports unsustainability, is also not enough. In an effort to overcome this, Abiding Heart has gone much more beyond providing an education approach which makes us clever and intelligent into a learning that fosters sensibility, joy, enthusiasm, inner mobility and nourishes the children and their teachers' ‘being’ mind.
To promote such all-round well being, we integrate into our teacher training courses and curriculum the heritage of the community where our approach is being practised. We focus on sustainable local traditional knowledge and practices, such as handwork, crafts and visual arts. We imbue our engagement with these practices with awareness and mindfulness meditation, loving kindness and compassion other contemplative practices. We call it ‘Heritage Learning’.
Heritage learning includes the Abiding Heart’s Contemplative ‘Heritage Learning’ curriculum for class 1-8, and a series of traditional arts and crafts courses delivered through our unique transformative pedagogy. Our ‘Heritage Learning’ courses include:
Local Heritage, where we teach local Scotland heritage handwork and crafts practices;
World Heritage where we teach other communities’ heritage arts and crafts practices, such as, Himalayan sacred arts.
We use the experience of Heritage Learning courses in two-fold: as part of educators’ personal development; and as part of children’s pedagogy, closely guiding teachers how to teach these skills to children.
We also offer our Heritage Learning courses as stand alone short courses for educators who are looking at furthering their personal and professional development but are unable to commit to our full time teacher training courses.
Our experience, from implementing Abiding Heart in other countries, taught us that children’s learning experiences are richer and transformative when they are well immersed in their own heritage while at the same time they are given sincere and authentic opportunities to experience and appreciate other cultures' heritage. The children and teachers develop appreciation and an attitude of open heart and mind. These are essential qualities for embracing a path of introspection and a compassionate and sustainable way of living and being. In other words, in preserving the past we can reserve the future.
In this way, children can grow up with a strong emphasis of their own heritage. At the same time, they can be curious and open to embrace other traditions without losing their own, and release any fear they may have of the ‘other’. Through our ‘Heritage Learning’ courses we nurture an attitude of loving kindness, compassion, tolerance and inclusiveness. We help raise children with a habitual tendency that living in peace is central to reduce suffering. A peaceful mind increases human flourishing and this naturally leads us towards a sustainable way of being physically and in our innate being.
Through Abiding Heart’s Heritage Learning courses we practice respect for the beauty and uniqueness of our differences and give space to make our common humanity the most important goal.
"Freedom is the sense of being capable of actions motivated solely by love."