Spirals of Influence

I returned home on Friday after a six hour drive across Alberta to my beautiful wife and baby daughter. Being away for the few nights I was felt like an eternity and it was an immense relief to be in the same room as them again. I spent the last two week giving lectures to some of the Alberta teacher’s conventions. I gave five lectures in total this year, speaking at: NETCA, CCTC, SWATCA and SEATCA which took me from Edmonton to Calgary to Lethbridge to Medicine Hat. In total, I spoke to about 200 teachers about Heart based meditation and its application in a classroom setting. I felt that it was my most successful tour yet, but even still one finds themselves coming home and wondering if it was worth it. How many of them did I actually reach? Will they continue to practice? Will it actually make it to their classrooms? Having attended many of these types of conferences myself, I know that there is a big difference between the excitement you have during the session and the actual application of the methods in your classroom. It was especially difficult in my first year of lecturing where I had some grumpy teachers with arms-crossed in both of my lectures. Unfortunately my attitude at the time led me to focus on them and completely forget about the 150 other teachers who attended that were taking notes and asking questions.

Fortunately, I have developed a different attitude now that enables me to leave each session with a feeling of satisfaction. Whether it is a lecture hall of 100 or a classroom of 8, I focus on one person. It is not any specific person really, it is more the idea of that person. I believe that in each lecture there is at least one person in the room whose life will be changed by learning the heart based meditation method as mine once was many years ago. Chances are it is a higher number as the teachers get to pick their own sessions so something drew them to the room in the first place, but I just focus on one. Apparently that is all I needed to feel confident and satisfied with the lectures. I think the reason for this is something I realized years ago while working with children. I was in the schoolyard as the busy scatterings of children flocked to take their busses home. I overheard one of the children from our daycare teaching a child from the school something that I always said to them. Of course my heart beamed with pride that one of my mantras had not only been learned but subsequently applied and taught to another but then a profound thought occurred to me that has changed me forever. We often talk about our Sphere of Influence, the tangible circle of people and institutions in which we can affect but it suddenly struck me that this is not really an accurate description, particularly if you are someone who works with children in any capacity. What we really have are Spirals of Influence and from each individual or institution we teach another spiral forms as they continue the teaching and from their student another and on and on. What we then have is a vast network of overlapping, ever-growing spirals. Change made on any scale spirals out.

So now when I return home from a lecture, exhausted from the driving, tired from speaking and ecstatic to be home and I am confronted by that little doubt monster that lives in all our heads asking ‘was that really worth it?’, the answer is always yes. Even having an impact on a single person is enough because I know that they will teach someone else and the spirals will grow.