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Accepting the spontaneous become of our body

Reflections from the World Teachers' Conference in Dornach - Part 6 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

By Judi Remigio, Parent and Child Teacher

In last week's piece, from Day 2 at the World Teachers' Conference, we heard about how infants get to know the other, and begin to show us their "social self".

By 8-9 months, infants experience 'The Nine Month Revolution', the phenomena of 'joined attention'. Babies turn their attention to something that someone else sees. The baby points and indicates that the other sees it also. They are seeing it at the same time as each other! It is no longer a 'dyadic' relationship, but a 'triatic' one.

The infant begins to understand that the world looks different from the other's perspective, and that they, the infant, can bring their own perspective to the other.

"The others can do the same", in that the infant perceives that the other can also do this.

In the second year of life (12 months and beyond), the baby can look into a mirror and say "I" or "me", and know themselves from others. Until this time, the infant more or less perceives themselves to be 'one' with their mother.

Children are still at the centre of their own world, but they can "de-centralize" (somewhat). Please note: this is not the time to start asking our children, "do you know how this made him or her feel?" (but that is a whole other subject, the development of 'the feeling life', from 7 years and beyond, such a tender and fragile time).

This time, from about 12 months and forward, is about the early birth of self-awareness. Also, such a tender and fragile time my friends; to be handled with such kind hands and responses please.

Shame is the wish to shrink to nothing. Self-consciousness, or shyness, is when the child does not know what to do with their body.

Shame has been described as 'alienating of the innocent self, the natural grace is broken by the mirror of the other's gaze' (i.e. the other laughs at the very young child; laughs at their antics).

The child learns to 'hide under their clothes' or behind someone they trust. Eventually, cosmetics and other bits become a vehicle under which to hide our innocent self. Antics and 'behaviour' can also be a good hiding place for that little self ("don't see me, don't see me").

Education, with "socially prescribed instruction" (what is that you say?), can conflict with the nature of the subjective body. We resist this (hence cultural liberation); there is 'dialectic conflict' between "I" (the vehicle by which "I" become "me") and "me" (the "original me"); this conflict is further antagonized by the values and norms of society.

Role patterns, 'the good girl', 'the little adult', ... is our identity as it develops between the 'spontaneous self' and the others surrounding us (our community).

Conflicts are like inner contradictions, our mask, our self-image, that must be alienated from the 'natural self'. This all is our 'eccentric position in life', finding a balance between the subjective and objective self. Unfortunately, the omni-presence of media, along with our cultural projects of diet, gender-choice, ... compounds our fragility. We become used as capital, and a 'being body' becomes a task.

What if we could accept the spontaneous become of our body? As young people and adults, we can bring mindfulness to all of our processes, including yoga, breathing, bio-energetics, ...

For young children, the Role of Play is about the subjective body behind the mask. Ask your friendly neighbourhood Early Childhood Waldorf Teacher.

The reflective human being can bring harmony between the bodies, between becoming a body, and having a body; thus, decreasing alienation between the natural self and the impacted self.

God bless us all.



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