What is Eurythmy?

Some of us born in the 70s and 80s may be familiar with the haunting number ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the band Eurythmics. But have you heard of Eurythmy?

:/http/www.eurythmy.org

Eurythmy is an art of movement introduced by philosopher Dr Rudolf Steiner in 1912 that helps in the development of the body mind and soul.
Eurythmy is known as visible speech because it expresses in movement the various sounds including consonants, vowels, colours, musical tones and much more with the human body as the instrument.

When performed in the right and regular way, Eurythmy brings balance in the four sheaths of our being namely physical body, etheric body (life force), astral body (soul or emotional aspect) and I consciousness (Sense of self).


Eurythmy works on the etheric plane and strengthens the life forces.
In Waldorf schools eurythmy is used as a pedagogical tool, as part of their curriculum. In addition to nutritious food and adequate sleep, Eurythmy helps children (and adults too) build their vitality, immunity and gives them strength and resilience besides helping them learn consonants and vowels in a lively way through movement.

As a performance art Eurythmy is very appealing with its flowing movements and colourful robes and veils. It is very healing to even just watch a Eurythmy performance.

Under the guidance of an anthroposophic doctor, Curative eurythmy is used as complementary therapy in treating illnesses from cancer to allergies to asthma to psychatric illnesses, metabolic illnesses and so on.

Eurythmy helps us to become socially and spatially conscious when performed as a group by learning to become aware our own boundaries as well as to respect the space and boundaries of the others.

For people who find it difficult to do a sitting meditation with closed eyes and focusing on the breath, Eurythmy serves as a good alternative as it can be used as a dynamic, moving meditation done with the eyes open and with full consciousness.

Eurythmy helps us to connect with the external world of nature and universe in a deeper way by seeing the interconnections between the universe and the human being especially in terms of the elements.

It helps us to understand that the universe is an expanded human being and that the human being is a condensed Universe.
Eurythmy expands our world view.

By

Nirupama Rao

Acknowledgements: My Eurythmy Gurus Dilnawaz and Aban Bana, and my friends Minal and Shalu who were instrumental in making me write this article.

Sustainable Living

One evening my daughter who just completed her degree in textile design was telling me about sustainable practices in the textile industry that she was pitching for a film series. It set my thoughts rolling on how we can bring sustainability in all walks of our life. The thought excited me so much that I could take it up as a project for the rest of my life!

Another evening she told me that we need to do something at the community level to make people aware of sustainable living. That very evening I saw in my building WhatsApp group that we need to conserve water given the current situation.

This was a great opportunity to also talk about sustainable living like my daughter was suggesting. So here are a few points that we discussed in the meeting that happened the very next day!

What is sustainability?

Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
“the pursuit of global environmental sustainability”

Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

It has three main pillars:

economic,
environmental,
social.
These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits

Sustainable living requires a paradigm shift. It requires us to form new habits. It requires us to come out of our comfort zones. It requires us to not just think about our and our family’s convenience, but to think about what is good for the larger community and the planet. Its requires a change in consciousness.

Why is sustainable living important today? Why should we care?

http://www.greenewit.com/inmedia/blog/why-it-is-important-to-live-sustainably.html

Let us set an intention to live a sustainable life and set an example for our larger community.
How can we bring sustainability in our everyday lives?

1. Reduce waste. Read up the zero waste movement. On how we can reduce waste disposal in our homes. Its great that we are already practicing segregation and composting in our society even if there room for further improvement.
One example is to switch to menstrual cups. No more disposing pads and adding to landfills.
https://www.nykaa.com/personal-care/feminine-hygiene/menstrual-cups/c/9475?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkeHavtuQ4wIV0worCh1hjQ9JEAAYAiAAEgJQtvD_BwE&ef_id=EAIaIQobChMIkeHavtuQ4wIV0worCh1hjQ9JEAAYAiAAEgJQtvD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!599!3!282173849468!b!!g!!&utm_source=GooglePaid&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=DSA_Main

2. Recycle and reuse: As far as possible do not throw stuff.
Clothes, shoes and some other household articles can be repaired, reused or upcycled. There are facebook pages to sell gently used or pre-loved items and clothes!

One need not be ashamed to use and buy used things anymore! If its going to save the planet why not!!!

We can conduct a workshops for children and youngsters on how to make simple repairs on clothes like hemming, sewing, sewing buttons and button holes.

3. Avoid plastic products- for example, plastic tooth brushes take 400 years to decompose.

Avoid wrapping gifts with shiny plastic gift covers. It will anyway go to landfill. Instead get children to draw on white paper or paper bags!

One can buy bamboo tooth brushes, straws, pens, ear buds, etc instead from here or other sites: https://www.bambooindia.in/

4. Use biodegradable products:
Bamboo fibre sanitary pads
https://www.heydaycare.com/

Use bamboo fibre napkins

https://letsbeco.com/shop/beco-sustainable-bamboo-serving-napkins-25-pieces/

Use baby diapers only when you go out or when its unavoidable once in a while. Use biodegradable bamboo nappies: https://wonderhood.in/collections/bambo-nature-premium-diapers-buy-online/products/bambo-nature-premature-size-0
Let’s go back to the exemplary Indian toilet training practices. At home only use washable cloth nappies.

5. Stop buying more. Let’s go back to buying new clothes just twice a year. Once on your birthday and one for your special festival….like old times when new clothes were really special.
Encourage fair trade, Slow fashion and handloom.
Let’s encourage crafts made by hand. Industries indulge in sweatshops with unfair practices and underpay and use child labour.
Slow fashion where we can buy handloom material and get it stitched is good for everyone even if it costs more- at least those of us who can afford it.

Let’s learn more about minimalism.

6. Go back to pre industrial practices. Speak to older generation on how they did things in their time.
Let’s see if we can buy groceries in loose and avoid plastic packaging materials.

7. Go vegan. Plant based food takes up lot less resources than animal based food including dairy.
https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan
Contact me for vegan alternatives.

8. Use natural products like Reetha, shikakai, methi for hair wash, stuff from the kitchen for facials and scrubs like fruits and lentils. Let’s avoid products that come in plastic bottles and those that contain harmful chemicals although they may seem enticing.

These do come in plastic bottles but are completely chemical free: http://bubblenutwash.com/

9. Encourage small home businesses for buying various products. For example I buy shampoo bars and dishwasher soaps from my friend who makes them at home and the products are great!
https://m.facebook.com/fatimashaikh2229/

10. Let us go organic and encourage organic farmers. Let’s buy directly from them. As more and more of us demand pesticide and chemical free food, the cost will reduce as production goes up.
Let us avoid giving our children processed food as far as possible and give them homemade food.

11. Let’s conserve limited resources such as fuel, water and electricity. Let’s cut down on using ACs at home. Let’s patiently educate our domestic help to conserve water. Let’s spread awareness on rainwater harvesting.
Let’s walk instead of driving wherever possible.
I heard of an 80 year old lady, a scientist who has been living without electricity for the past 60 years!!
Did you know Solar panels are available for home use!?
https://www.amazon.in/Belifal-Lighting-System-20Watts-Battery/dp/B01DPBSE9Y?tag=googinhydr18418-21

12. Let us be vigilant when it comes to children’s gadget use. Let us encourage them to play outside more. We’re lucky that our kids have that possibility.
Let’s teach our children to live and consume responsibly by example.

These are some of the things we can do every day in our homes. Most, if not all of the links are of products I use. Some I found just now!
I’m not sponsored by them. My intention is to give examples of such alternatives.
Let’s us indulge in conscious consumerism. Let’s preserve the planet for our children and grandchildren.
It’s now a very real and urgent problem that needs our heart and mind space.

Nirupama Rao

PAIN IS GOOD

Pain is good. Pain has the power to transform us- if only we allow it and not fight it and resist it. I’m grateful to my pain. And to each and every one who is supporting me through it.

One night in April 2019 I was struck by this intense pain in my right neck, shoulder and arm. The intensity was way more than both the labour pains I had been through.

It was diagnosed as “prolapsed disc” but I know otherwise now.

When we are struck by an illness or crisis, we tend to ask, “why me!”

I think it’s a valid question that we need to ask ourselves and our illness…why me? Why now? Why this?

In theory I knew that pain gives us an opportunity to evolve. But this time I had a direct experience.

What I have learnt from this whole ‘so called’ cervical slipped disc saga is this….

Pain and suffering have a purpose. They come into our lives when we stray from our destiny paths. We take birth on earth to learn and evolve. Our destiny helps us with that. But sometimes the pains and pleasures of Samsara take us away from that.

Hence we ‘need’ crises, illness and hard times in our lives to remind us of our higher purpose which is, to evolve to the next stage in spiritual development.

We need to ‘not suppress’ the pain but we need to connect with it- get in touch with it. Breathe into it (Thanks Cameron). Talk to it, listen to it and ask why its here. What it wants from us…what is it that I need to learn…..

My attention was drawn to the possibility that I was carrying a lot of emotional pain from the past that I had not dealt with. It had probably manifested into the physical. I had a huge catharsis one day. I cried for one whole hour….loudly. I let everything go.

I learnt that I had no right over the outcome of my actions. That relieved me of a huge burden of guilt and shame that I was carrying.

Another message that was coming in – from many quarters- was that I need to “look within”. Stay in the present moment. Not be carried away by external impressions.

To not think about ‘what I have to do’….that will come in it’s own course- it will find me- when I’m ready.

Now I just need to focus on “being”- not doing.

My job until then, is to work on building myself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that I am ready for whatever it is that the universe wants of me.

I found a wonderful doctor and therapist who helped me through my pain and who are helping me to get stronger than ever!

Dr Kannan and Megha from Sparrc Institute

I surrender to the will of the universe. The only thing that I need to be concerned right now is about how I can try to be the best version of myself!!

I can say that even as I set that intention, wonderful new beginnings are already unfolding, peeping around the corner….I don’t let self doubts stop me anymore this time. It’s the universe manifesting its will through me. I am merely an instrument and the instrument needs some servicing 😄.

I don’t let myself feel guilty for focusing on myself and my well being. I can’t give until I receive.

Receiving with gratitude

This time I promise myself that I shall not overstretch myself, I shall strengthen myself and find my balance. I shall increase my Qi/Prana quotient. And guess what! I have found a Taichi Master!

GRATITUDE

Nirupama Rao

My life with Autism

(Wrote this article on request for an anthroposophic compilation)

I first met autism when I was 20, fresh out of college with a degree in psychology. I didn’t know anything about it. I interned at a special school for slow learners during the summer.

There was this young boy with autism. My mindset expected someone with severe learning problems and intellectual challenges. But what he showed me instead was a genius! A mathematical genius! I was completely taken aback. I also saw the he would repeat the same sentence over and over, not make eye contact and not socialise with anyone. He would just repeat that one line and effortlessly solve big sums without even going through the process.

The second boy I saw in the same school was an artist, obsessed with the Disney movie Alladin. He would draw marvellous pictures of scenes from the movie. He could not tolerate changes in routine. He once threw a duster at me as I didn’t turn up for the usual class!

Then in the year 2001 I had a student who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

His obsessions were with straws, railway timetables and the composer Yanni. He was the first one to show me capacities that were beyond normal human comprehension. He wrote profound passages on how he perceived the world and how the world perceived him. Through him I learnt that telepathy was real. He would read my mind.

After that I met many children who showed me that there was much to know beyond what was obvious. They crossed the lines drawn by the typical human senses and gave me glimpses of what lay beyond. Their moms knew they were mind readers, philosophers and scientists trapped in bodies that wouldn’t cooperate with their great minds. They could not know whether their boys were disabled or geniuses.

Soon I grew restless and discontent with the kind of the one sided cognitively based method I was following. It did no justice to their true being. We were teaching them the alphabet when they were talking philosophy. We had find a way to connect the alphabet to their true being.

What intrigued me was that the boy who spoke of “love being the only knowledge worth gaining” was jumping uncontrollably on the bed. My mind was too perplexed to accept these two facets simultaneously as were the parents.

2008 was the year that destiny led me to anthroposophy, the philosophy that changed my paradigm- on autism, on parenting, on education and on life itself.

Seeing my restlessness, Michael Kokinos, one of my first mentors invited me to walk with him. They were the few steps that changed how I look at children and myself as a therapist.

*The first lesson that I learnt in anthroposophic understanding from Michael was about the connection between the therapist and the child we work with. It was a learning that would shape my following years as a Curative Educator.

No matter what the therapy, the most important thing that brings about a change in the child is the connection or the bond that is formed between the therapist/teacher and child. A bond based on respect understanding and unconditional acceptance. All work can be built upon that relationship of trust.

*I learnt from my mentors that the intellect of the autistic children is intact. It was their ‘will’ that we had to strengthen through their physical body using specific techniques so that it would cooperate a little more in accomodating their expanded consciousness and help them be more embodied and grounded.

*I learnt that they had sensitive bodies that reacted adversely to factors in the environment and made them behave in ways that may not exist otherwise in cleaner, purer environs.

*I learnt that there are many aspects to a human being that need to be well balanced for a human being to be healthy and well adjusted, even if they have autism.

Anthroposophy revealed to me the truth behind the spiritual/subtle aspects of being autistic, glimpses of which my students had been revealing to me in all the preceding years.

This was about the same time when the boom in social media and technology started connecting the world autism community of parents, therapists and the autists themselves, who looked at autism from the same expanded spiritual perspective that anthroposophy had introduced me to.

Today, non speaking autists are speaking out…they speak, or communicate through keyboards, letter boards and telepathically through their moms!

Many of them now write books to teach the world about what it is to be autistic

They confirmed everything that I learnt from my mentors in the anthroposophic conference.

Armed with this expanded awareness, I set out to serve these children in a way I believe they deserved to be served, with with love and respect, on an equal footing. With a knowing that I need this child in my life as much as he needs me.

To help parents see that it’s not the children that need fixing, but the way we raise them, by parenting consciously and by strengthening oneself. As for the children, all we have to do is to let them shine with their unique strengths and accept them the way they are.

I now work with the community of parents, teachers and others through consultations, workshops and writings, trying share my truth of who these children really are,

To summarise my learnings, my truths on autism are:

– to look beyond the apparently uncooperative physical bodies at the

*true being within who, though non speaking understands what is being spoken about him, in his very presence.

*The being, though he cannot express emotions, he can not only feel the emotion of the other but takes the pain of the other as his own, because he cannot separate himself from the other.

*The being that is communicating all the time even while not uttering a single word. One that is ready to reveal a whole other world to one who is ready to listen.

*The being who is capable of many achievements from college degrees to holding jobs to learning and mastering skills that are unique.

*To talk to people about learning to be comfortable with people who are not like themselves.

Children with autism are bringing to light the concept of neurodiversity in our world.

Like his sister tells Auggie in the movie Wonder, “you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out”.

And since they are now speaking, to learn about autism from the autists themselves, by reading the blogs, articles and the numerous books that they are writing everyday.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’m being given to share my perspectives on autism and I do sincerely hope that it can make some difference in the life of a child and help a family to find joy in living and evolving with autism.

Nirupama Rao

Psychologist and Curative Educator,

Mumbai

Interview with Reena Singh!

Dear friends,

I met Dr Reena Singh at a training program and we connected immediately!

I had heard about her many times before as the both of us worked in the field of special needs and therapy.

We decided to meet again and that meeting led to an interview cum conversation with Reena as part of her YouTube channel. It was great fun doing it as we were on the same page and could relate to each other.

Here are the links to the interview presented in parts on the YouTube Channel:

Anthroposophic approach to parenting
https://youtu.be/RTC68ZQATRA

Waldorf approach to schooling
https://youtu.be/dAyAUeO-b24

Life Rhythms and Children
https://youtu.be/09dxaqsG0nU

Hurried parenting vs Slow parenting
https://youtu.be/PCAi9vqRYKM

Sibling rivalry and how to deal with it.
https://youtu.be/RVtpoZPmFA8

Will keep adding as Reena adds more parts of the interview.

So please watch, like, share and subscribe 😄

Lots of love ,

Nirupama

ABOUT NIRUPAMA RAO

Dear friends,

My name is Nirupama Rao. I’m a psychologist with 24 years of experience in the field of Special Needs and Child Development. I am a mother of 2 girls, 22 and 12.

I have previously run my own Waldorf kindergarten/ Centre for children for special needs called Niraamayaa for five years. I have worked in various school, hospital and NGO settings.

Have authored and published two books:

Parenting- The Art and Science of Nurturing with Dr Shekhar Seshadri, NIMHANS

The Autism Story. A little illustrated fictional booklet.

I love writing and post articles on this blog whenever inspiration strikes on various topics.

I currently work with preschools and with parents of young children with autism, attention, emotional and behavioral issues.

I also conduct awareness workshops for parents, teachers and general public on Autism, Special Needs, Child Development, Waldorf Education, on Conscious, Simplicity and Slow Parenting Styles.

There are many factors that exacerbate attention, sensory and behavioural issues in sensitive children. I educate the parents about these factors and help them to understand how conducive diet, rhythms, lifestyle and environment (physical and emotional), will maximise the potential of their children.

I work with the mothers closely and help them with their anxiety. I handhold the parents and guide and support them through various stages of the child’s development by leading them to the right resources. I believe in long term support.

I help parents see the gifts in their children and together work out ways of strengthening them; to celebrate the uniqueness of the child; to respect and accept differences in the child; and to eventually become their advocates.

I work from my home office at Hiranandani Powai, Mumbai.

I consult by appointment.

Thanks and regards,

Nirupama Rao

Contact:

raonino@gmail.com,

blog: http://www.wordpress.niraamayaa.com

Unconscious Childhoods

Yesterday I was watching a group of little kids…all four of them 7 years and under, accompanied by a young adult. They were waiting for an autorickshaw. The minute they found one, I was amazed to see the excitement and enthusiasm with which they piled into the rickshaw. All that enthusiasm and excitement gets jaded as the children grow into adults.
Even when adults are excited about something they may restrain their emotional expression because they are conscious of the others around them and that is normal. That’s how it is.

And when they do express excitement without holding back, we describe it as childlike enthusiasm.

The beauty of childhood lies in its unconsciousness.

As we grow we become conscious and awake.

What is important is to protect and preserve that unconsciousness, that is a gift of being a child for as long as we can.
Let us try and not awaken them with

too much information,

Scientific facts,

too much camera exposure too early,

media,

gadgets,

store bought toys,

too many structured activities,

competition,

early academic pressure, etc.,

that steal children of their innocence and unconsciousness. This often leads to precociousness, physically and mentally.

As adults, let us awaken and be conscious to preserve the children’s unconsciousness for as long as possible and allow them to be children at least until they are teenagers.

Much love,
Nirupama

Inner Work

When we used to stay in Bangalore, my elder daughter used to suffer from severe asthma. There were many sleepless nights of continuous coughing. And nights where we had to rush her to emergency to give her nebulisation. Later we bought a nebuliser. There was even a forgettable incedence where she had to be hospitalised.

I eventually found a homeopath who was inspired by anthroposophy. She explained to me how a mother’s emotional life had an impact on the child’s health, vitality and well being.

I was going through an emotional low at that time. The homeopath who was also trained in counselling said it was I that needed treatment. When I felt better my daughter would too. So I went to her and to a clinical psychologist for therapy and talked about everything that had ever bothered me.

Thanks to the homeopath I met anthroposophy and learnt about the “pedagogical law” among many other things. That is how the caregiver/mother/teacher/doctor/therapist’s well being influenced that of those they serve.

In anthroposophy a lot of importance is given to inner work on the part of parents and teachers. Children imitate us at various levels. The most important being what we don’t say!!

So I learnt that we have to strive to be worthy of being imitated.

I took the efforts to work on myself- Inner Work we call it.

Then we moved to Mumbai. My daughter started getting better and better.

Her school was better, there was no Bangalore pollen, and I was getting better. Learning everyday, bringing changes into who I am and that changed what I did.

For me an important aspect of inner work is all about being conscious of what we say and do in a non judgmental way…as an observer. In a way working from bottom up. Action to consciousness to being.

Cut to the present. My daughter has returned to Bangalore for her project. In spite of my experience and awareness I was still anxious about the pollen and it’s reputation as the ‘asthma capital’ of the country and its effect on my daughter’s health.

Voila!! It’s been more than a month and touchwood!! You know what…..dare I say it!!

But then again back then it was probably not even the pollen that had not allowed her to breathe!! It was probably my own insecurities that were cramping her life force!!!

I’m putting myself In a vulnerable position here so people understand the effect we have on those we serve…

Steiner said…it’s not what we say or do that affects children. It’s who we are.

Much Love,

Nirupama

The difference between Montessori and Waldorf systems of Education.

Children at play…at Niraamayaa

I wrote the following as a response to a question a member asked on the Waldorf support Group Facebook page. I’m sharing it here (after expanding it a bit) in case there are more people who have a similar enquiry.

I would like to share as a mother, as I have experienced both systems with my two daughters; as someone who worked in a Montessori environment for two plus years and ran a waldorf kindergarten for children with special needs, Niraamayaa, for four years.

As a psychologist and a special educator, I had always been on the lookout for an education system that is joyful and holistic, even before my first daughter was born. When my elder one was 4, I found a leading chain of schools that promised Montessori but was disappointed to find that they didn’t practise it.

Eventually when we moved to Bangalore, I did find a classic Montessori which was very good and my daughter was learning very fast. So in a Montessori, the child sets the pace and if the child shows readiness, they will give her more and more. Everything is taught using sensorial material where the child can touch, feel and manipulate the material and the learning is concrete. So by the end of senior kg she was doing multiplication and division and was enjoying herself! At that time we were very proud of her achievements and were happy with the school.

They also had miniature mops, pans, brooms, rolling pins, etc. where they could imitate the adults in their environment (This can also be found in a Waldof kindergarten free play).

When my younger one was born, we were led to discover waldorf education. This is an education that is salutogenic. That is, it promotes health- Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It takes into account everything that leads up to a healthy and well balanced adult who is intelligent (thinking), compassionate (feeling) and who is a doer (willing). This I realised was what I was looking for. Parents were educated about the philosophy by the teachers in the school and I attended conferences every year.

A human being needs to have a right balance of thinking, feeling and willing. So here’s where the difference between the two systems shows up. In a waldorf kindergarten, the emphasis is on the developing physical body. This is when the child is completely in the will. In movement and activity. This is not the right time to do cognitive activity although the children are capable of it. Because as I said, the body and the organs are still developing. This is the time to build on the skills (gross motor, fine motor, attention, focus, sitting tolerance, compliance, etc.) required to do academics later on. The children have to be prepared for academics. This is the age for building rhythms, for free play and for exploring the world through the senses.

Academic concepts are taught only from grade 1 in waldorf schools.

I like the way concepts are taught in a Montessori which can be very useful in early grade classes and for children with learning issues. However, I personally believe that kindergarten is too early for such intense cognitive work. There are deeper reasons for this.

This is the time for children to imitate, play, draw, do things with their limbs and get messy.

Having said that Waldorf kindergartens nevertheless are structured programs with a definite and defined curriculum.

In conclusion, I have learnt that Waldorf education is not a method. It’s a philosophy and a way of life.

Hope this helps.

Nirupama Rao

Mom and Psychologist

Time with Myself

I have been constipating sorry contemplating on this post for a long time…it’s about spending time with ourselves…
Long ago when we were doing the Steiner Education course, the teacher asked us where it is that we spend real, quality time with ourselves….we all came up with different answers…in the morning with a cuppa, while walking, on the bus and so on. But the answer that our teacher was leading to was the toilet seat…This is the most private and sanctimonious place where we spend quality time with ourselves.
I have often called this IP- Inspiration point. This is where I pick up all my brilliant ideas from the thought ether.
Sadly, this Sanctum Sanctorum of our inner world has now been taken over by the virtual world….we now take the mobiles with us into this only place in the world where we would commune with our inner selves…we take other people into the toilet with us. We WhatsApp, we browse, watch tv shows, read, talk, and what not….we are losing connect with ourselves….that is the saddest side effect of technological progress I guess….

(Pic courtesy: googlespeak.deviantart.com/art/Cell-phone-On-Toilet-Thinker-394535695)