I’m basically just a teacher, but I have an unusual job — and methods. I work freelance as a classroom teacher in different roles for the local authority here in Moray, and in Highland. Often I’ll do a whole day in a primary school, or I may be covering absent teachers in secondary schools. I also work with kids who’ve been ‘excluded’. They are beyond the school system, and it’s my job to create a holding environment around them. It really helps that the location for this healing work is the Moray Arts Centre building, within the ecovillage at Findhorn.
I always enter the classroom with no knowledge of what I’m going to teach. It’s an emergent process, noticing what’s going on for the students, and co-creating a learning experience with them. For example, the other day I asked a boy what he was listening to on his mobile phone as he entered the room. His answer opened up the subject of people creating their own music, which somehow led to talking about Japan, which led to a moving discussion about Hiroshima.
It’s about paying attention, and being the presence of Love. That’s the core of everything I do. It uses all of my 35 years experience as a teacher, and all of my skills as an interfaith minister. I’m not really made for delivering lesson plans. Writing a lesson plan the night before would be like writing the plan for a counselling session in advance. You just wouldn’t do that — it would be the opposite of paying attention. Even when I do the occasional wedding or baby blessing, I love to co-create part of the ceremony, to allow it to emerge in the moment.
In a sense, all my activities involve teaching, with different flavours. Whenever I’m personally interested in something, I’ll create a conference around it. That’s how the series of Northern Lights Teachers Conferences at Findhorn began. An early one was called ‘ Art and Creativity at the Heart of the Curriculum.’ I also hosted the International Holistic Centres Gathering last year in Greece at the Kalikalos centre, where I’ve been leading a holiday retreat for families for a number of years. In the last 3 years I’ve become an ambassador for the Global Ecovillage Network, and my next trip will be speaking — teaching — at conferences in Beijing and Shanghai.
A number one priority for me is to look after myself. I make a point of turning up to these events absolutely present. You can only do that if you have a good self-care programme — eating well, sleeping well, exercising, spending quality time with friends, family or alone. One of my aphorisms is the 3R’s :‘Radiance Requires Retreat’. Human beings need this, just like a cellphone needs recharging. Another is: ‘Time is the secret ingredient’. Allowing enough time to build solid foundations enables any project to become more resilient.
Spiritually, I feel really plugged into the mains here at Findhorn. I’ve been a member of the Findhorn Community for 12 years. It’s such an international, cosmopolitan community, with an amazingly diverse range of skills and expertise. And I love the pristine natural environment of sea, river and forest. Whenever I’m travelling, I think of Findhorn as my mother ship. Dorota Owen was ordained in 2007, and is based at Findhorn, Moray, in NE Scotland. Interviewed by Rob MacLachlan, March 2016.