Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth

“The Most Beautiful Answer”: Inner Work and Waldorf Math


I recently read an article while sitting in my midwife’s office, and it really resonated with me and has carried me forward during the time I dedicate to inner work and personal growth. It was about one couple’s experience of morning sickness (wish I read it 7 months ago!) and how the expectant mother found relief. Basically, every morning this woman woke up and spoke a positive affirmation about her pregnancy to herself, and wrote it down in a notebook. She then waited to hear what her internal response was to that positive affirmation. For instance, she might say “I am thrilled to be pregnant right now- this is perfect timing in my life for a new baby.” Then, although she *was* happy to be pregnant and had tried to conceive the baby intentionally, she listened and heard the doubts, the fears, the “can I really handle it right now?” thoughts that spontaneously arose. She wrote those down, and worked through them one by one, rejecting negativity and fear until she could embrace the higher truths that overarched these anxieties and be at peace with her positive affirmation. After about a week of doing this every morning, the intense morning sickness she had begun experiencing disappeared.

Now… you very well may be having your own inner conflict about this story… are you telling yourself this would not have worked for you or gotten rid of your morning sickness (thought crossed my mind when I read the article)? Are you debating it in your head, are you producing arguments for all the reasons why you think this *might* work for her but wouldn’t work for everyone? Are you bringing out the laundry list of of possible physical causes of morning sickness you know of that have nothing to do with anxiety about a pregnancy? Maybe even getting defensive because you tried so many things and really tried to educate yourself about the issue, and this easy peasy answer shows up that makes all your efforts seem silly and you almost want to discount the solution offerred? That’s what came up for me when I first read the article.

Stop. Let’s just make it simple- one woman had a beautiful transformation that touched her both spiritually and physically. She shared it with us. Is it possible that this truly worked for her? Yes. Is it *possible* it could work for someone else? Yes. Could it hurt to try it, or make the problem worse? Don’t think so. Is it possible that by trying this, I could gain newfound peace and wellbeing? Yes! Now I can approach the idea with a more open heart.

I’ve also been reading Ernest Schuberth’s Teaching Mathematics in First and Second Grades in Waldorf Schools.  He said something wonderful in regards to teaching from the whole to the parts (ie, holistically):

“Through the application of this method, the child learns something basic: a question can (or even has to) have many possible answers.  The child’s individual view shapes his/her answer. Those teachers who know their children well can realize just how much of the child’s nature reveals itself in the answers.  Often the whole class is amazed by one child’s ingenuity. However, this freedom of selecting one’s individual answer is tied to the group’s assessment of the answer. We are free in our unique view of solutions, but as soon as we make them public, everyone can judge their usefulness and truth. And in this we find a basic principle for our method: from inside ourselves as well as from our environment, problems present themselves. They almost always require more than one solution, since each new solution we think of creates more intricate layers demanding more solutions.

Let’s take the hypothetical case of a House of Representatives (trained in this method) debating the unemployment problem. Instead of espousing the sole truth in the form of the party line, the Representatives would gather the most diverse points of view: young people, seniors, employees, the self-employed, single parents, the handicapped, etc. would all be asked to contribute to the discussion, as well as bankers and automation specialists.

Ready answers to problems prevent us seeing the true variety of possible solutions and the result is narrow decisions based on insufficient input from others. The decision makers try to elicit this input through public hearings, expert testimony, round table discussions, and so on. But too many of these attempts fail because those involved may never have learned to create diversity in their own thinking. We should also ponder a statement frequently heard in this context: “We can’t change the status quo; this is simply the way things are. After all, 2 + 2 = 4, and we can’t change that, either.” What kind of math instruction are we dealing with when people refer to math as a metaphor for unalterable circumstances?! If everyone had learned as a matter of course that 2 + 2 = 4, but so are 1 +3 and 1+ 1 +1 +1, we would not subconsciously “know” that math represents the unyielding and unchangeable forces in life. Instead, our method of teaching the whole and its components can initiate experiences of individual freedom and cooperative thinking.”

Ernest’s statements dovetailed beautifully with my acceptance of trying a new method in what has been a bit of a dry period for me spiritually.  Too often, I rule out possibilities because I think I already know the answer.  Many times, I stay stuck because I think I know the answer, and it involves something hard and complicated that I find myself unwilling or unable to do “just right”, so instead I do nothing (and beat myself up about it). But maybe, just maybe, there is another solution, and it would flow more beautifully, and it would solve the problem.  I love Ernest’s idea of asking a child to come up with “the most beautiful” answer.  After selecting possible solutions to how to arrive at, say, 12, the child chooses one that he finds most beautiful (ie, 1 + 2 +1 +2 +1 +2 +1 +2).  Applying that to my own life, how can I come up with the most beautiful answer to the problems I face, the struggles I grapple with?

Well, in searching for my own beautiful answers, I’ve been journaling some positive affirmations for myself at this time- really needing the “lift” at seven months pregnant, tired, and feeling impatient/ overwhelmed with my very active children, and wanting to pave the way for a joyful and peaceful labor and delivery. I think one of the most pervasive negative thoughts I am trying to overcome during this pregnancy has been “I don’t really deserve another child, I’m not doing a good enough job with the ones I already have.”  Well, thankfully our gracious God tends to give us more than we deserve based on grace (unmerited favor!), and as I’ve been telling myself, “I am a wonderful mother and I’m doing a wonderful job parenting my children.”  Ok, so I inwardly snicker when I hear that, and yes a high speed movie reel of times I yelled or totally screwed up flashes through my mind in response.  But it is amazing how it begins to soften me, to make me *want* to be a wonderful mother, how it encourages me to try… so much more than the closed, frustrated feelings I end up with when I tell myself I don’t deserve my kids and am not living up to my parenting ideals the way I wish I was.  It is amazing the boost I feel when I really embrace those words… “I am a wonderful mother…” So mama… from me to you…

You are a wonderful mother!

(Now don’t you wish the people in line behind you at the grocery store would remind you of that when your 3 year old shows you all the walnuts from the bulk mixed nuts bin she collected in her pockets while you were distracted in the produce department, your 5 year old is trying to use the cart as a battering ram, and your 7 year old is lost in daydreams when you ask for his help unloading your groceries onto the conveyor belt?)



3 thoughts on ““The Most Beautiful Answer”: Inner Work and Waldorf Math

  1. Wonderful, thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Beautiful, and what a good reminder!

    My husband sent me a link to this article a few weeks ago which helped me remember that I, too, wasn’t failing a mom. Perhaps you’ll like it, too: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-morrison/motherhood_b_2271349.html

    • Great article… reminds me of sitting down with my grandmother a few weeks ago and her telling me how once a week, new to America and speaking no English, she left her 4 yr old, 3 yr old, and 2 yr old alone in her apartment with a big pot of oatmeal if they got hungry, a thrift store tv set on, and took a newborn twin in each arm and waited for a ride to pick her up so she could visit her husband in the tuberculosis sanitarium for the morning, asking her neighbor in the building to peek in on the kids left behind once in a while! Whole different set of expectations now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s