Went to listen to Michael Piechowski talk about gifted kids. He spent quite a bit of time talking about a forgetten type of giftedness, which is not often spoken about in our society. I found this very interesting - it was about spiritual giftedness. He was very keen in stessing about how we shoud nuture the inner world of our kids. Lovely! I now have to work out how to teach meditation/visualization to a 7 year old whose mind is constantly whizzing around!
Really enjoyed his talk but felt a bit sad about my boys journey in life. Just hope I can enrich it fully in all ways to help him over the many rocky patches.
There are some websites with C-Ds for helping children to visualise/meditate. Unfortunatly I am yet to come across one that has a sample to listen to but the write ups sound promising. (Haven't got time to find them and paste the URL but will try to temeber to come back and do that later.)
We are keen to meditation just to bring our little fellow down to a slow relaxed state and to provide him with a tool to help him reduce his anxieties.
Spiritual giftedness is something very special and something I find challenging to understand and nuture as it is such an internal gifting - and in the case of our little boy, one that runs very deep. I think if nutured well he would be so much more peaceful and cope with changes in his world much more easily and be as happy go lucky as he is the other 98% of the time.
Please to hear it was worth going to hear Michael speak - I am envious!
To add to this discussion, one way I look at it is, is to consider that a spiritual practice is really just understanding what my consciousness is. So I do my own practice, and by improving my understanding and use of my consciousness - that in it's self teaches my children about theirs. ie: this is a bit of an exaggeration - but take the main principle - children who live in really violent households are more likely to be violent, children who live with anxiety are more likely to be scattered and anxious etc etc as it's what they learn. It's like if you're with a happy person you can feel happy and if you're around some one miserable it can rub off on you too.
So one way to teach your children to be peaceful, happy, positive, focussed is to actively practice it yourself so you become more and more this (formerly and in every moment). Gifted children seem to learn things so easily compared to others, often without the 'teaching', because what ever they are learning seems to go straight in. So if you practice and model these attributes then they learn them well. Just like how having a kind empathic teacher helps a child grow. It's the same at home, and everywhere.
Of course there are many other things that we can do too, and this is just one approach among others. I've tried meditation readings etc and my particular kids wouldn't have a bar of it, because I was anxiously trying to 'get it right'. They of course saw through me in a sniff!!! Very good teachers they are!!! I'm finding much more 'success' / getting things heading the direction that I think is healthier for us / by actively embodying it myself.
Micheal talked about kids being born, knowing what their lifes purpose was, talking about spiritual dimensions that adults would often stuggle to comprehend. Peace Pilgrim is a good example of someone with spiritual giftedness, as is mother Teresa....
who is to say that kids with imaginary friends are really not imagining this?
My son goes to Ficino School where they do a lovely thing that they call 'pausing' at the end / beginning of lessons or any time there is a change. They just all shut their eyes (teachers included) and literally 'pause' for about a minute. The teacher might gently remind them to "listen to the sounds of the birds outside" or "feel the touch of your clothes on your skin" or "feel the air going past your face". It is like a pre-curser to meditation. The result is an unbelievable calmness and sense of focus throughout the school. In year 7/8 the children have the option to be taught meditation. It has been hugely beneficial, enriching and grounding for my son who used to find the chaotic classrooms of his old school very tiring and we now do it at home occasionally if things are getting hectic. It's so easy as it's so short - ie too short for there to be any pressure to 'do it right'! - and can be done anytime/anywhere.
I attended REACH Education's Piechowski's Workshops in Wellington to ensure I was informed as to whatever would be shared with attendees, many of whom were educators, as it was promoted within the GATE community as a professional development opportunity.
My own interest was in the characteristics of gifted children with "over-excitabilities" or 'intensities' (how might this 'state of being' be more widely and better understood, identified and catered for, or at least accommodated in formal education contexts as well as supported by home. Particularly, how does this way of being contrast with the hugely more well known ADD/ADHD child - given it is probable that the intensities type child can be misdiagnosed and end up medicated.
I was also interested in what might be said or any advice about supporting the social-emotional needs of gifted children, particularly in formal education settings where they are not able to choose who they must relate too, nor have much influence on the contexts within which their inter-personal relationships take place; and, any outline of the challenges that arise for the gifted child (mainly in schools).
I was perplexed at the inclusion of so called 'spiritual giftedness' in this 3 part workshop. However, I went along with an open, but discerning mind.
Frankly, the narrative provided ought to be taken with a grain (or more) of salt. The characteristics insinuated by the many quotes or profiles as provided in the workshop left me not only unconvinced by the existence of such a dimension in its own right (rather than, for example, a result of complex interactions between thinking, emotional and cultural experiences of a person), but concerned about the limitations in any research (if any has been done) to substantiate the commentary I was hearing.
I think if anyone wants to promulgate a theory of 'spiritual giftedness', there is a way to go to explore what the heck they are
talking about and to substantiate points or assertions they choose to make. I don't think this forum is the place to raise all my questions or to post all my observations on what was said in the workshops or by attendees and now by others via this forum. But for starters, cultural perspectives could be underscored in flashing neon lights. Most importantly, in the workshop there was limited opportunity to discuss or question by the audience at the time - it was more a seminar on what some might espouse are the traits of (alleged, or self proclaimed) "spiritually" enlightened folk (as might be contrasted to those associated with being intellectually astute or being really good at heart).
I think the contribution made by Dabrowski and followed up by Piechowski - whereby they provide a reframe of how adults might interpret some gifted children, when observing and seeking to understand their neurology and associated behaviors (i.e. in light of 'over-excitabilities' or 'intensities') is more valuable than the exploration into spiritual giftedness or into whether the imagination can provide 'as real as real' experience. That was another aspect outlined in the workshop that I remain unconvinced about, and am incredulous as to some of the facts provided and assertions made (assuming there is a distinction between recovered memory, acquired 'memory' and strong imagination providing experience as real as real!).
I just don't know that believing one is able to become one with the water in a spring during practice of a relaxation technique is actually a good test of spiritual capabilities or actual ability; or that believing one can readily converse with God or hear the voice of any other deity with ease is a sign of spiritual giftedness; or, that feeling connected with and gentle benevolence towards one's fellow man or beast or all of humanity or the entire living world or even the planet or the universe has anything to do with spiritual giftedness (as opposed to a powerful imagination and big heart); or that changing one's name to "Peace Pilgrim" or walking bare-footed for long distances is a sign of being spiritually gifted or talented (the enlightened?). Perhaps trying to wipe conscious thought from one's mind through drugs, in an attempt to reach some form of enlightenment is a short-cut to fasting and meditation dreamed up by a spiritually gifted person. Where are the examples of spiritually gifted folk trying to do something useful other than forging their own oneness with forces of nature and/or humanity, and/or God. Why weren't the spiritually gifted trying to become president of the world or to cure a disease or to invent something to immobilize an army without injuring the foe! Actually, my couple of questions put during the seminar didn't get answered really, but I did get some funny looks and answers. So, I had to laugh off the afternoon or I would have cried - as here we were with a room full or educators interested in GATE . No discourtesy intended to the very likable M. Piechowski, whose books do indeed contribute to understanding giftedness and 'intensities' in some gifted children - but I don't know where all this other material came from or how might the rest of us contribute to evaluating if it has any basis or contribution to understanding the gifted or the state of being 'gifted'.
I wasn't at Michael's workshop, so can't comment on the content of it. However, I do think spiritually gifted people exist - we just aren't open to them in this day and age. When I think back over history (admittedly Western), there are several examples of people I would consider spiritually gifted - Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Albert Schweitzer, come to mind readily. I also have a friend who, while not religious in any way, I would describe as spiritually gifted - she is highly intelligent, emotionally stable, but has an uncanny inability to intuit the feelings of others and sometimes has experienced sensations which tell her someone far away from her geographically is in pain, either physically or emotionally. I'm not particularly religious and definitely not 'new age-y' in any way, but I would describe this as spiritual giftedness. It is not something that would be easily studied or researched, certainly not in the scientific sense of quantitative research, and I doubt that there is much interest in our rationalistic society to research this sort of phenomena anyway. I guess I'm saying that I think it is wise to keep an open-mind to spiritual giftedness as, while I don't possess it myself, there does seem to me to be the possibility there.
In counselling, psycho-synthesis is a tool which can be used to help oneself tune in to the inner self and I wonder if some of Michael's session may have used or demonstrated psycho-synthesis techniques. In a modified way, I have used some of the relaxation and calming techniques very successfully with gifted children in my classes to teach them ways to relieve anxiety and relax enough to go to sleep at night.
I was at the workshop, and loved the content. I took a number of the ideas, and all the handouts back to my daughter's teacher.
We spent about an hour exploring what this might mean for my daughter... where does it cross over with Emotional intensity? I don't know, but I know that both my daughter and I experience a sense of deep connectedness to other living things, and the planet.
I was fascinated by the concept of this as spiritual giftedness. I will certainly continue to explore this with her, and within myself. I didn't empathise with everything Piechowski said about this aspect of being... but I loved being challenged to explore it. I am grateful that my daughter has a teacher this year who is willing to engage - and to examine her experience of my daughter in her classroom around this topic.
To clarify - i didn't say "spirituality" doesn't exist as a human characteristic - and perhaps it could become seen as spanning a spectrum of innate 'capability' (like intelligence or creativity or physicality or imagination) - so maybe there are those born with low spiritual capacity and others born with high spiritual capacity (spiritually gifted). But I think that is a very tricky proposition for someone to make. And, further, just maybe it can even be correlated with other forms of 'giftedness'.
What I said is the jury is out from my perspective. The workshop provided little justification for what was implied. It was simply examples of what might be thought of as 'spiritual giftedness'.
Of course people can also work on their own spirituality or on the spiritual wellbeing of others even - and attain certain enlightenment (is that philosophical or spiritual?), and they may even have or develop talents (like talking to God or to spirits or reading auras, etc). I am, however, sceptical of some of the claims made by the examples given in the workshop, and of the proposition that this is an innate component of giftedness (like high IQ), rather than something able to be acquired through emotional, intellectual, experiential circumstance and inter-action, such that some can and do become "spiritually" aware and focused. I would be cautious about attributing 'spiritual giftedness' to one person and not to another based on outward appearances and what they are able to articulate, or what they can/can't do (paranormal activity) and even based on good deeds or behaviour.
Yes, lots of people have interesting spiritual experiences, feelings and thoughts - spirituality is a part of the human condition - not peculiar to the 'gifted' community. Religious manifestations are cultural expressions - and I take what I heard with plenty of salt! Heck, I have traits of the 'spiritually gifted' myself, and am surrounded by spiritual people who do good deeds galore and say discerning things and commune with god and/or nature. I even have some paranormal experiences that my mind struggles to comprehend or explain - what has it to do with 'giftedness' or how does it help teachers or the children this forum was set up to support?
I wonder if it may be their highy developed powers of observation that help gifted children pick up on what others are feeling which could sometimes be interpreted as spiritual giftedness.
My daughter is one who reads people so well it's like living with the 'Mentalist'. Her Teacher would be horrified to know that my daughter can tell how she feels about every child in her class. That she knew her Teacher was pregnant before it was announced. That with regards her fellow students she knows who likes whom and who doesn't, no matter how carefully they try to hide it.
Having said that she also has an amazing way with animals which cannot be so easily explained.
Just adding to the conversation again. anon3 says that spiritual practice can be understood as understanding ones consciousness. This is interesting as my 5 year old has been asking me for sometime now how it is that we know what we know: `how do I know I am speaking mummy?', etc. I haven't seen the relevance of such questions but they seem very important to her. She is a bit like your daughter Linda and it's exhausting and amazing. It probably is to do with powers of observation as you say. I would like to follow this up with more reading without getting too new agey about it. (I don't know if she is gifted in the academic way, no sign of it so far, I just go on the fact that her older sibling is)