Educational Reform: Ten Exercises in Heart Intelligence

If we are really going to have educational reform it will include much more then improving test scores. If we are concerned about the emotional health of our country, educational reform would include a new curriculum developing heart intelligence. Therapists, parents, educators, many of us, in all walks of life, have the common sense that knows the importance of heart intelligence. How much suffering is from lack of education, understanding, and development of self esteem, care, and awareness? How much of life is wasted ignoring or trying to manage the stress, anger, and fears controlling our days and nights? There is heart intelligence, the specific skills which give us wholeness, well being, life purpose, and meaning.

What use to be left to parents or just the trial and error of growing up is not enough. Many, way too many people are suffering in relationships, disease, lots of painful drama unnecessarily from a lack of personal awareness. It is time for education to include the skills which for too long have been left to random chance. The potential of heart intelligence deserves our attention and integration into our ideas about what is education. Personal awareness and responsibility is too important to be left out of our concept of what is an educated person. Heart intelligence and we find happiness and peace. Isn't this what educational reform should be all about?

These exercises are good K-12 and usefulness increases with age, college through graduate school. Each student keeps a journal and is totally free to share the journal or keep it private.Even if a student does not participate and just hears about these exercises, seeds are being planted for future use. Each exercise can be practiced for a week thus here is a ten week course in heart intelligence. The vast landscape of our heart has many trails and experiences. These exercises are just a few of many that have been explored by those seeking knowledge of emotional growth and understanding of an educated heart.

1. Meditation On Inner Peace & Quiet: Take 20 minutes each morning and evening to sit in peace and quiet. No ear phones, no distractions, let the feeling of peace and quiet be your thought, feeling, intention during these minutes. Meditate and listen inwardly to the place of inner peace and quiet in your heart. If your mind is busy with lots of thoughts this is okay. Practice the meditation anyway. Restless, want to do something, stay with your meditation. For these minutes have the intention to receive peace and quiet from within. Meditate, receive, and enjoy your own inner peace and quiet.

2. Random Acts of Kindness: Consciously practice random acts of kindness with family, people you know, and people you do not know. This can be holding a door open, helping someone across a street, letting someone be ahead of you in line, giving someone a gift, money, or just your attention to hear about their lives. Let random acts of kindness be your intention and see how this effects your well being.

3. Generosity:Watch and try to increase your limits in generosity. How much of yourself are you willing to share? There is generosity of your time, sharing your possessions, giving of money, patience, being present for another. Generosity can be in many forms. How do you decide your limits in generosity?

4. Compassion:Sit with compassion for someone in your life. This maybe a friend or the most difficult person you know. Be with compassion for this person. Compassion is understanding the other person's circumstances, feelings, and why they are probably having their experience. Compassion is putting aside your feelings and experience for a moment and being in someone else's shoes. How does compassion feel?

5. Service:Make sandwiches for homeless people, visit an elderly neighbor, an ill friend or someone having difficulty in their life. Service can be cleaning a place in nature or planting a garden or trees. This exercise can be done as a class, small group, or as individual projects.

6. Practice using your senses including your heart. Yes, practice experiencing life more through your heart. You can see much more when you see with your heart. Hear, taste, touch, feel life with your heart. There is thinking about your experience and there is being very present and feeling your experience with your heart. How is life different when your heart is included?

7. Looking for BeautyTake a daily walk and have the intention to be looking for beauty in the people you meet, the nature you experience, the town or city you walk through. Notice the small and big things of beauty. Make beauty your intention and record what you find.

8. Practicing Simple Joy: What do you do to nurture yourself? What small things do you do to give yourself joy each day? Maybe this is visiting a special place, contacting a certain friend, or having a family meal. Maybe there are new ideas you have to nurture yourself? What simple things do you do that give you well being and fun?

9. Friendship:Take sometime to form a friendship, ie. to listen to and be with someone who you have not taken time for before. How much are you willing to be present, attentive, and supportive for this person? How much of yourself are you willing to share? What are the qualities for you that make friendship real and meaningful?

10. List Most Grateful Moments of The Day: Before going to sleep each night, make a mental list of your most favorite moments of the day. Remember these moments and enjoy them again before letting yourself fall asleep.