At the core of the human organism is an energy that wants to express itself. This is a kind of pre-verbal, pre-intellectual, spontaneous impulse or rhythm that longs to actualise itself. We are in essence creative, active beings that long to act upon our world. This naturalness can be seen clearly in young children, in animals too, but which humans often become alienated from as we grow and become self-conscious.

Too often, when we are very young this wonderful, joyous energy is met with disapproval or criticism and so we learn to inhibit the full and free expression of ourselves, suppressing our vital core, internalising the voices of shame from the world around us. We then become cut off from our organismic self, strait-jacketing ourselves in a cloak of conformity.

The healthy development of the self requires that we keep this flame, this beating heart alive within ourselves. When we shut down to our core or essence, we lose our selves and gradually grow numb, dull and lifeless.

What are the educational practices that keep this energy alive within us? Most activities that bring us into a ‘flow’ state work. Physical activity and any embodiment practice like Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation or drama put us in touch with this part of ourselves. Working with the hands, making things, crafts, can also bring about that sense of natural and effortless engagement that is the ‘flow’ experience. In addition to drama other creative pursuits like dance, music, art, writing etc. allow us to drop beneath the intellect which acts as the ‘inner inhibitor’ or censor and into a more intuitive place where we practice the art of improvisation – the ability to respond naturally, freely and intelligently to the moment, in the moment without deliberation or rumination. Such practices bring us into a place of truth and authenticity that allow us to experience a deeper sense of aliveness.