Friday, January 29, 2010

The Power of Focussing on the Positive

"The universe is created by what you choose to focus your attention on." from ZENCAST podcast titled "Choices"

We've been trying a little experiment in the classroom, Jessica (my assistant) and I, where we try to keep our attention on the positive elements of the environment. We are trying to notice more during observation the moments of concentration and of discovery. When we meet at the end of the day, we first share the highlights we witnessed in the day. Children who are notoriously mischievous are praised after spells no matter how short of normalized-like behavior. We are keeping the negative talk to a minimum. And in communication with parents, I am trying to accentuate the progress aspects rather than the areas needing work. During a meeting with a parent about some seriously troublesome behavior from her child, all of my suggestions revolved around her giving him attention for his constructive behavior, no matter how short spanned, and cutting to a minimum the scolding/nagging/pessimistic comments.

This practice is changing my life. I am feeling better every day. More motivated to go to the classroom in the mornings. Happier. Feeling better about our school.

Sure, realistically speaking there are many shortcomings, mistakes, problems at school, but choosing to celebrate the small affirmative moments makes the time and effort feel worth it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reef fish and creatures cards- for you!

In preparation for a snorkeling field trip to the beach, we're learning all about the wildlife of the coral reef. This is the first set of cards I'll be presenting, and coming up later will be the types of reefs cards. Mind you, these are pretty specific to the Caribbean and to our region in particular, but I'd guess would still be interesting for any group doing things related to the ocean.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Patience, Humor, and Self Forgiveness

Awakening Now

Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open,
seize the day. Would you hold
back when the Beloved beckons?
Would you deliver your litany
of sins like a child's collection
of sea shells, prized and labeled?
"No, I can't step across the
threshold," you say, eyes
downcast. "I'm not worthy"
I'm afraid, and my motives
aren't pure. I'm not perfect,
and surely I haven't practiced
nearly enough. My meditation
isn't deep, and my prayers are
sometimes insincere. I still chew
my fingernails, and the refrigerator
isn't clean." Do you value your
reasons for staying small more
than the light shining through
the open door? Forgive yourself.

Now is the only time you have
to be whole. Now is the sole
moment that exists to live in
the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite
for anything but pain. Please,
oh please, don't continue to
believe in your disbelief.
This is the day of your awakening.

Dana Faulds

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dark Room Time

I was always fascinated by the idea my 3-6 trainer mentioned about children needing a quiet time for processing information after a long spell of concentration in order to "incarnate" the new knowledge. She called it "dark room time" after the idea that it's much like processing of film.

It's not uncommon to see a child after an intense work choose something a little lighter, or wander around for a little before they can commit to something else. Like they're working through what they just experienced.

For our school this year, I chose to have a lengthy 3 week winter break, finding it a good time for both the children and the staff to really separate from school and recharge. Today I was thinking that the break is also like a dark room time. Everyone has come back to the school this week seemingly more than they were before.

And curiously, where I have personally experienced this feeling of dark room processing time the most recently has been in my kite surfing training. Maybe it's most obvious with motor skills... Two months ago I decided to give this new sport a try. It involves lots of new movements with my body, simultaneous awareness of body and kite, and awareness of the wind. All of it jumbled together into a very intense learning process.

I take one two hour lesson only once a week because I think it's almost necessary to have a whole week go by without kiting for my body to process what it's learned. When I come back to the beach that many days later, I feel that I understand completely what I did the past lesson. Never more so than during what felt like a qualitative leap when I took 3 weeks off from the lessons during these vacations. I returned to the kite feeling like I had mastered it during our time apart!

It makes me reflect on the importance of quality rest and sleep, and time apart from school in order to fully gain the understanding that comes from our work.