Caregiver’s Balancing Head, Heart and Hands
In Waldorf Schools you will hear the expression “head, heart and hands” used to explain the faculties of thinking, feeling and willing.
Waldorf educators strive to educate children with these three faculties so that they can think clearly (head), feel empathy and compassion (heart) and bring these faculties to life with their willful work (hands).
Ideally, by adulthood, this trinity is balanced whenever possible so that one faculty is not overworking while another is lacking.
When using our soul faculties in a balanced way our wellness as caregivers is enhanced and allows us to care from a place of vitality.
The question then becomes: How might our own daily rhythms and rituals support this balance of three-foldedness – Thinking, Feeling and Willing?
Below are a few rituals and practices you might consider taking up if you’d like to strengthen one of the three soul faculties within yourself.
Inner Work (head)
Having a meditation practice as part of our daily ritual is the most effective way of turning off our “monkey mind” or chitta vritti and tuning into clear and conscious thinking. There are many ways to meditate but the simplest is simply sitting in an upright posture, closing your eyes and observing the breath.
Another way to cut out the noise is to journal every morning or every evening before bed – freely writing what comes to us in that moment so that we are then able to let go of some of the information overloads we’re saturated with all day.
Reading mindful books, articles and stories regarding conscious parenting, holistic wellbeing, health, and education can help bring awareness and mindfulness as we learn and reflect upon something new. They are also more in-depth and require a higher level of thinking than condensed articles you find on the internet.
Artistic Expression (heart)
Form drawing is best done freely, where drawing patterns referred to from a book can be looked at to begin and inspire you to create your own patterns and flow with the forms as you please. By allowing your pen or pencil to stay connected to the paper without lifting it, these drawings become very meditative.
Whether you are going for a hike or a nature walk, sitting in your garden, or simply resting by a window, looking out allows you to observe the nature around you in a quiet space and connect with your inner creativity. When nature journaling you might like to draw something you’re looking at or write about it in a story, or perhaps jot down a rhyme or poem.
Sketching and drawing in your journal at the same time as you write freeflow is another way to creatively express yourself without using the right side of your brain. Sometimes you may fill your page and other times you may wish to write just a few words. Either way, sketching daily in your own space is again both a creative and heartfelt activity that can be quite meditative when done quietly and in your own space.
Joy in Duty, Tasks, and Movement (hands)
Being Active in Community
Volunteering in some way each week, month or season is extremely fulfilling. Being of service to others is one of the most healing acts we can take for ourselves.
Acts of service to your community can be shown in many different ways and are seasonal.
For example, at Christmas time we can donate books or gently worn clothing and unused toys to those in need while making room for the presents that often appear during this season.
Community service really can be as big or as little as you would like it to be- every little bit helps!
Weekly Body Movement
Whether you move your body at a yoga class, on a run, or lifting weights in the gym it is absolutely imperative that we move our body to release stress, strengthen muscles and to stimulate blood flow. We are all well-versed in how essential it is to move but when we have young children it feels like the last priority on the list.
Meaningful handwork such as sewing, knitting, felting, or even crafting and mending clothes, folding laundry, doing the dishes or knitting a scarf are all meaningful activities we can engage our hands with.
**For Balancing All Three Soul Faculties in Harmony with Each Other
Steiner’s Six Basic Exercises
Rudolf Steiner outlined six basic exercises for all human beings to practice in order to develop thinking, feeling and willing. Tom van Gelder says, “The goals of the exercises are: to be more aware of how you think, feel and act; to gain more control over thoughts, feelings, and actions; to think, feel and act more clearly and to make a harmonious whole of thinking, feeling and willing. If you’re interested in using these in your daily life van Gelder’s article, ‘The Six Basic Exercises’ is a great place to start.