"Form a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 18,31)

Ok, so we're back in the community which will be home to us until the 26th of November! After settling back in, greeting the sisters, we're ready to take our studies and continue the experience of the Trimester.
Today we began our course with Sr. M. Celine Cunha who will accompany for a few days on topics regarding human formation.
Our first class was spent looking at the heart as the centre of emotions of the person. By doing a quick brainstorming exercise we realised that there are various ways of seeing the heart: physical, sentimental, spiritual, emotive etc.
The Scriptures teach us that the seat of the pyschic life, sentiments, of the will, of reason, virtues and vices are all found in the heart! The heart is the centre of affectivity: my capacity to experience myself and others at various levels which include emotions, sentiments, passions and motivations. This is a very important area for any religious but in a particular way for those preparing and journeying towards a life commitment in consecrated life. In biblical anthropology there are two words used for heart. The first 'nèfesh' appear 755 times in the Scriptures and is often substituted with the word 'soul'. The other 'lev' appears 814 times, refering only to the human being. How then can one say that the Bible is cold and does not speak to our lives?
So what does it mean to 'form one's heart'? True, God alone as the Potter can mould our hearts but we can render ourselves more available to his gentle yet firm touch. Are we hard of heart? Do we resist, afraid that He might ask us to change? We are aware we need to change but we resist wholeheartedly, yet deep down we know it is necessary. Other times we are not aware of our defects and weaknesses. This led into a discussion about how we are made up from the perspective of Johari's window. Within each one of us there are four spheres of knowing/ignorance. The Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1969 in the United States, used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships.Room 1 is the part of ourselves that we see and others see. Room 2 is the aspect that others see but we are not aware of. Room 3 is the most mysterious room in that the unconscious or subconscious part of us is seen by neither ourselves nor others. A person is divided within themself and attracted towards the opposite direction, progressive and regressive. Room 4 is our private space, which we know but keep from others. The concept is clearly related to the ideas propounded in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator programme, which in turn derive from theories about the personality first explored by the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung.

 It was interesting to explore this concept as the Window is a tool that helps us realize where we are in our ability to know who we are and for others to know who we are. Real transparency in communication takes place when those we associate know who we are after we discover who we really are. To render the idea more real, we carried out a series of roleplay using a series of adjectives to express various emotions and sentiments. This is important for our life in community which is inter-relational and based on the continious formation journey of each person. During our roleplay we discovered we have more 'actresses' in our midst than what we thought!


Indeed the 3 day workshop left us with alot of food for thought about our human formation and the need for auto-formation. It is necessary for each person to find a method, relational modalities as well as appropriate resources to faciliate the ongoing work on oneself. Each growth process is marked by the relational dimension. We can personalise the Gospel scene of Mark 10, 46-52 ): Jesus asks the blind man: "What do you want me to do for you?"...the blind man answers: "Lord, that I may see again!". During this time of intense preparation for Perpetual Profession, each one is asking ourselves: "What do I want to change? Do I acknowledge that I am blind?" One of key moments of growth is when we are able to work on our blind spot. This can be simple information, or can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, rejection) which are difficult for some individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others. In the spirit of Gospel humility and by creating trusting relationships, it is possible to arrive of new levels of awareness.

Another area which was very enlightening was the shift in emphasis in religious life from IQ ( Intelligience Quotient) to EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Considering the many challenges which religious life, in particular, commnunity life presents, it is understandable why the focus is more on the latter.
EI includes four types of abilities:
  1. Perceiving emotions – the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artifacts—including the ability to identify one's own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.
  2. 
  3. Using emotions – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in orderto best fit the task at hand.
  4. Understanding emotions – the ability to comprehend emotion language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
  5. 
  6. Managing emotions – the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.

    Consequently, the formation of sentiments and emotions is imperative or else we risk moving from extremes of explosive or implosive reactions which damage individuals and structures of communion. Therefore science offers us a four step process:
    1) Acknowledge the emotion is there, 2) name it, 3) appropriate it, 'it is mine' and 4) action to change.
Role play
An afternoon of lessons and discussion was dedicated to the states of conscience and an exploration of defence mechanisms. Defence mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image, hence they are a subtle force at work to which we often remain blind. Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life though they do have a major influence on community dynamics. Again, a form of role-play helped us to see certain situations and possible reactions, based on our own experiences.

“Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyze themselves too much, but you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.” ( Tori Amos). Any kind of personal work of this genre is not easy as it often involves embarking into a world which is unpredictable, discovering one's vunerablities and with God's grace be able to arrive at the point of saying, like St. Paul: "by the grace of God, I am what I am" or "when I am weak, then I am strong".
It is a journey which allows a form of self-awareness which opens up the heart to acknowledge that we are in the hands of Another. The more I know and accept myself, the more I am freer to know God, not just know about Him, and to love and be loved in return.


Comments

  1. excellent recapitulation!!!I'm really thinking about taking notes just from your blog, eheheh. It's very reliable!! Congratulations!!!

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