Jamie Colston

Facilitator, Catalyst, Coach, Parent

"Jamie has vision, strong organising capabilities, and the energy to make things happen. He is a tireless advocate of young people and the innovative contribution they can bring when given the opportunity. He is an innovator and a role model, always deepening his own professional practice as a change agent and facilitator, and on a personal level embodying values of openness creativity, and courage."

Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney, Founder, Embercombe

Body to Brain - Taking time to get a whole perspective

Last week Wednesday, at the closing circle, we all checked in with what our favourite part of the day was. In the moment I could not think of one and I didn’t know why, so that is what I communicated to the circle. On the drive towards the spa, my Wednesday afternoon treat, I felt exhausted and down. As I rested my body in the heat, I began slowly to realise that I had not enjoyed the day. For the next few hours I sat with it and watched internally, the words, sentences, stories and reflections on the day which emerged from those bodily sensations.

The day had been full of maintaining and clearly articulating boundaries to the children, over and over again. First in playful ways, then in sterner ways. By the end of the day I reflected that I felt more like a stern teacher rather than a facilitator of play and learning. I realised that the previous day, a parent and fellow catalyst of a Democratic school, had shared with me his ideas, on my request, about how he would have dealt with some of the more provocative pushes around boundaries. Alongside this I also had my own feelings and experiences to manage around boundaries and the need for clarity from the relationship I have with my children.

The day was a perfect example for me of being too rigid and using the brain to think about what was needed, rather than listening to my moment by moment body experience. This however is very difficult to find the right balance between when you have multiple dynamics going on and pressure points which need to be dealt with, whilst also taking care of the group.

By the end of my reflective process, I realised a couple of things. One was that I needed to be clear with the children the next day that I didn’t feel good about the way I handled the previous day and explain how I was feeling and why. The outcome of this was that one of the children felt they had permission to express their dislike of rules, which I interpreted as their confidence in being able to articulate something which may at other times be said less clearly and experienced as a behavioural issue.

The second was that it is really important to have space and time to digest what bodily sensations and our feelings are telling us. We often, as parents or busy adults, go from one experience to another, without really checking in with questions like; Did that experience work for me? Why am I feeling discomfort? What is this experience of relationship exposing in terms of a deeper truth of how I relate to myself and others?

In my own experience it is my expectations of others and consequently myself which cause the greatest amount of grief. If I choose to understand, with children particularly, that I can trust them to keep asking for help by not doing what I need them/expect them to do rather than using words, then I am in a much better place to be present to the moment and support our collective growth. Sometimes we all need help, we just haven’t worked it out yet, let alone be ready to ask for it!