This is a guest post by Sheila Petruccelli, homeschooling mother of two and blogger at Sure As the World. Sheila and I met at Taproot. She was first a client of mine before becoming a dear friend. This year, Sheila will be joining the presenters at Taproot to guide homeschooling Moms in how to develop an inner work practice of their own.
The beginning of my personal inner work practice was not very auspicious. My goals were neither lofty nor holy. Truth be told: my boys were driving me nuts and my jeans were too tight. I was 38 years old, had a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and I was going slightly stir crazy being with them all day every day.
All I knew was that I needed a little peace and quiet – and some exercise wouldn’t hurt either. I started walking a loop around our property that took about seven minutes to complete. I would then come inside to check on the boys, who – to be completely honest – were glued to a screen watching monster truck videos. Then I would go back out and walk another loop.
Little by little, those tiny chunks of silence settled my mind and let me begin to hear the tiniest whisperings of my soul. It wasn’t long (maybe a couple of months) before I discovered Waldorf, read Simplicity Parenting, and heard the words “inner work” for the first time. I had literally walked into a new way of being in the world.
In the beginning, I tried to copy other people’s approaches to inner work, the core of which always seemed mysterious and esoteric. I could never quite grasp what the heck inner work actually was. Other than following the ubiquitous rules of getting up before my children and lighting a candle, I didn’t know what I was supposed to actually be doing. I remember sitting there in the dark, waiting for something big and insightful to happen. But more often than not, I would find myself thinking, “Uh, ok? Now what?!”
It took me a couple of years to learn that inner work cannot be implemented like some kind of curriculum for the spirit.
Inner work takes time to evolve. It is deeply personal and ever-changing. It is simultaneously fluid and solid. All that being said, it is not hard.
How I define inner work is really, really simple.
Inner work is whatever gets you quiet.
That’s it! Anything – and I mean anything – that allows you to access that deep reservoir of silence at the core of your being. However you are able to calm your mind, breathe deeper, and get a bit of perspective is where you should begin to build your practice. For me, a daily walk is still a part of my routine, but I also love journaling, painting, collage, poetry and meditation (which more often than not means staring out into the cow pasture with a cup of coffee). These days, I like to use the words spiritual practice or creative practice rather than inner work. Calling what I do a “practice” rather than “work” changes my relationship with it. It lets me assume a posture of gentleness, receptivity, and curiosity. It lets me focus more on process rather than product.
If you are thinking of coming to the Taproot Teacher Training this summer (and let me just say, if you’re thinking about it, you really, really should!), I will be leading a workshop on Inner Work. In the workshop sessions, I will be sharing a few things to help you discover what you may need from your inner work going forward into this upcoming homeschool year. After a bit of silence, some word play and intention setting, we will create a small collage using images from magazines. I am thinking of these art pieces as “soul seeds” – something that will grow with time and nurturing. Just like your practice itself. I am so grateful to Jean for inviting me to guest post here at Art of Homeschooling. I’m looking forward to the magic of Taproot, happening in just three short weeks!! –Sheila
Sheila is currently completing her certification in Spiritual Direction: a deep listening practice that she combines with a variety of creative techniques to help others (but really, mostly herself!) to slow down, get quiet, and listen to the soft voice of the soul. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina and blogs at Sure As the World.
Want to join a small group of homeschooling moms on a 12-week Inner Work Journey to further explore this practice of inner work? In this online experience, you’ll learn how to live from a place of acceptance and possibility so you can have the homeschool you envision. Because homeschooling isn’t just about our children! We’re on a journey of self-discovery ourselves. Join us!
Hello Sheila & Jean ~
Lovely post – beautiful art, too!
Inner work is hard to pin down & I think your definition is perfect – anything that helps us BE quiet.
For me that’s knitting (surprise!!) & walking by the lake in the evening.
How I wish I could join you both at Taproot… one day. In the meantime, I’m sending good wishes & positive vibes for a great retreat.
Yes, we just need to BE quiet! And someday we’ll meet up, Elizabeth! I’m sure of it. Thanks for your good wishes for Taproot.
Sheila, this is a wonderful post and I love how changing the word “work” to “practice” softens it. Then of course the other definition of practice suggests that we probably won’t get it right the first go, so it gives us permission to fail whilst also encouraging us to keep at it, which has certainly been true of my spiritual practice/life.
Sheila, your words are so honest and engaging – you’re such a great writer – I really miss your voice! Oh, how I wish I could come and join you all at Taproot!
Yes, I love the simple switch from work to practice, too, Cathy. It changes so much. And I’m so pleased that Sheila is coming to Taproot this year as a presenter!
Your distillation of inner work [or practice 🙂 ] into what gets you quiet makes it sound so easy… and do-able. That simple sentence removes the fear and mystique. And, once you’re quiet, that provides the space for reflection, insight, etc… or, just being.
I LOVE this post. Yes. Getting quiet and practice. I hope I can take in one of your sessions. Your rock! Love your honesty:)