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Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

It seemed like it took for ever for me to learn to 8-3-3-9-9-8 (text.) No wonder many states make it illegal to text while driving (see earlier post.) I heard a report that the safety council had suggested that data had been misinterpreted which suggested that car crashes had gone UP in states where texting while driving had been made illegal. We’ll see.

Texting in school is a hot issue, though. Many of us try to embrace the new wave of technology while trying to decrease distractions. It is true that teens are so accustomed to multiple streams of input that they can learn faster than we can teach–well, at least in theory.  It may be true that the net can be spread wider, but they’re not catching many fish.

So why is it that the world of information can be a mile wide and only an inch deep? Linda Stone may have an answer. It’s called continuous partial attention. Years ago, I did a research project on memory, and the bottom line of the whole thing was:

 If you want to remember something you must pay attention to it.

Students (and adults) who are in constant contact through their phones and texting devices are hard to get through to. They seem to linger on the edge of many things simultaneously without giving true attention to anything. This is  the state of continuous partial attention. This is not multi-tasking, this is multi-glossing. It increases stress, frustration, and causes email-apnea and early burn out. (www.lindastone.net)

The internet as well has changed the way we think. For example: we can sift through Google results faster as we search for something, and decide which information we’re looking for. That’s a good thing. And while we can search, message, Facebook, and any number of other things, we have lost many of the more human aspects in exchange.

Many of these human things–recognizing irony, reading body language and facial expression–have become lost to many students today. We even have to use emoticons in our messages and e-mails!

In feeding students spirit, try to have a totally disconnected time. Turn everything off – breathe – focus – pay attention to the task at hand. There is no mass of information to sift through-the teacher has already done the sifting. There are no decisions to make-the teacher has done the deciding.

And while new teacher methodologies dissuade this approach, sometimes we need to let the students sit back,

and think.

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I’m glad in a way that texting while driving is illegal in my area. Personally I cannot do it. If I were to hold my cell phone out to my right and try to steer with my left hand I would quickly drift to the right and off the shoulder of the road. The reverse is also true. Either way, I’m in danger.

Why? Well, we tend to go where we’re looking. We tend to drift in the direction of our attention. We usually wind up arriving at whatever destination we give our attention to, and it’s not always what we really want. Most of the time it’s just “whatever” and “where ever.”

When one of my children was learning to ride a bike, she was concerned about a small sapling in our yard.

“Don’t let me hit that tree!” she said. “I won’t” I reassured her, “Just steer toward me.” 

“But what if I hit the tree?”

“You won’t! Just look at me.”

She began to peddle then coast across the yard. And yes, straight into the tree. I ran over to her and through the tears and snubbing she said:

“I TOLD you I was gonna hit that tree!”

When you set out on a journey toward educational or professional success, look at your goal and focus on it every day. Imagine how it will look and feel to be the person you desire to be. Learn to stay focused. And as you learn to be good at it, teach your students to do it.

It’s much more rewarding that driving and texting.

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Ok, so it’s not what Descartes had in mind, but it’s still a  fun notion to jostle around. Most minds that are drawn to this kind of writing at least entertain the possibility that our thoughts create our reality, and at the very least create who we are within that reality. Centuries before Descartes, Solomon had stated “As a man thinks within (in his heart), so is he.”  In 1902, James Allen published his famous As a Man Thinketh and in one statement revealed the entire premise: 

The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires – and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.

I once read a play by Argentine playwright Osvaldo Dragun called The Man Who Turned Into a Dog.  It is about a man who, after unsuccessful attempts to find a job and in much desperation, takes the job of the night watchman’s recently deceased dog. He sleeps in the doghouse and, by the night watchman’s own instructions, must bark when spoken to. He eventually becomes so accustomed to this new life he even loses his ability to walk upright. He loses everything, his home, his wife. All because he believed he was a dog.

I once heard of a primitive tribe of people living deep in the jungle, far away from Western influences. One tradition which had endured for generations was the curse of the deathbone. If someone did something to shame the village, the shaman would point the deathbone at that person and they would be considered dead to the entire tribe. No one could speak to them, trade with them, eat with them, no interaction at all. They would eventually crawl into their tent and die from neglect. Make no mistake, there was really nothing wrong with them, but everyone agreed and believed that there was.

What you know is simply what you have grown accustomed to. Many times truth is just something that you have told yourself over and over until you believe it. So you are a product of all you have thought in the past. It crept up on you. It has been building up for years. You are not going to change it overnight.

But that’s no reason not to begin…

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We’ve all been there–wanting to throw something, I mean.  Throwing something that breaks or smashes with a good deal of noise is pretty satisfying. Frustration builds, our inability to deal or cope builds, and something has to give. Or does it? A tantrum never fixes anything. It almost never makes you feel better, even though most people will tell you that it does.

One of the administrators at a nearby community college “throws” pottery. I have seen her handiwork at craft fairs and faculty art shows. The lump of clay is thrown onto, and spins on, a platter-like wheel where she shapes it with her hands. As long as she gently guides its shape, she always has a work in progress with potential. If she, in frustration and impatience, grabs at the clay, as if to force it into the desired shape, the once forming shape will simply shear off to the side and become a clump of wet trash. 

Some people are so afraid of small failures that they sabotage their own success by creating epic failures on such a scale that no one would dare blame them openly. Temper fits and lashing out in an episode of giving up are just  psychological attempts to reorganize without blame. British educator Ken Robinson says “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Maintaining your composure is the key to progress. When the fuse appears to be ignited, just stop and breathe–go in your mind to that peaceful place mentioned in earlier posts–and regroup. A student once told me “That doesn’t fix my problem,” to which I responded “It’s not supposed to fix the problem. It’s supposed to fix you so you can fix the problem.”

Then you can throw…a party!

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All of us have seen stepping-stones at one time or another. Sometimes they’re just decorative, other times they provide a real service. You usually see them where someone wants to provide access down a path without the intrusion of an out and out sidewalk.

A while back I came up with a list of  spiritual stepping stone that help me survive unpleasantness, most of it brought on by my own negative internal dialogues. When I think a negative thought, I immediately use one of these little exercises to get me past the rough spot and on to a more positive mind-set where I can actually find solutions. Remember: you can never feel bad enough to change things–only good enough.

Check out my article online at Associated Content. The link appears below.

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“When he had said these things many turned away from following him.” I kind of feel that way. Some will read these words and think this is all nonsense. Others will get the point and receive some benefit from it. Either way here goes:

When I need to talk something out, I sometimes pretend Jesus is sitting next to me in the passenger’s seat, also called riding shotgun. Yes, I really speak outloud and imagine him listening and offering comment. Now it’s not all make-believe. I do believe in a real creator who has in place a system of care and providence that supplies our needs and responds to our faith. I believe I am listened to. I believe I am responded to. The only part I make up is someone physically sitting in the car with me.

Sometimes the insights I receive amaze me. I think the answers I get are part spiritual guidance and part intuition based on all I have learned about Jesus and his teachings. But I know that’s not true for everyone. You’ll need to find what works for you. Maybe you’d prefer a wise relative who’s passed on–some are more attuned to the wisdom of an ancestor. There are endless options for this exercise. Do what makes you most comfortable.

I don’t do this often. I try to keep it fresh and feeling real. But when I finish this conversation, I almost always come away with new knowledge about myself, an insight, a subconscious limiting belief revealed.

And that is always worth the effort.

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While the word last usually means the thing at the very end, it can also mean that which endures. The phrase “built to last,” however, has an alternate meaning. A “last” is a metal or wooden form which shoes are built onto. It is the same shape and size of whatever kind of shoe you want to make. Having a shoe which is built to last means it was constructed according to a tried and tested uniform plan–“up to specs” an old friend of mine is apt to say. A shoe like that, it follows, would indeed last a long time, and so goes the etymology.

We have a spiritual side which is meant to last. It endures. It outlasts the body it now inhabits, yet we spend far more time caring for the vessel than that which the vessel contains. These bodies do need care and feeding, and misusing and abusing our bodies is a high form of waste. But while I may love riding my bike, going to the gym, and watching my image in the mirror approach that form I wish for, I must not neglect the person who is riding along inside this container of flesh and bone.

I cannot work out every day and not rest my muscles. I cannot study non-stop and not rest my brain. Likewise, I cannot observe, feel, evaluate, seek, and everything else my soul craves without a regular reprieve. I must get away and empty myself and just enjoy existing. Some days I let my mind wander and enjoy where it takes me, and other times I impose a little discipline and focus on the silence. Peace, guidance, assurance, confidence, and many other good feelings abound when I take responsibility for my thoughts and just BE.

I enjoy the satisfaction of unapologetically being myself and loving it. And the effect it has on my interactions with my students is invaluable. My students are always welcome to just be themselves as well. And don’t you think that is the ultimate show of respect? My students do.

I want them to know that they are “built to last.”

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