“Only if you are able to be conscious without thought can you use your mind creatively,and the easiest way to enter that state is through your body.”
-Eckhart Tolle, Opening quote, Meditations from the Mat
Day 331 – Eckert Tolle is a revolutionary. If you haven’t read anything by him or about him, I highly recommend his readings. At 30 I bought a book in a hippy shop with quotes from “zen masters” or such and he had several quotes in their from his first (and then, recently) published book, The Power of Now. His words struck me, but at that point in my life I was thinking about the only spiritual path I knew and I began reading the bible from beginning to end, meanwhile collecting yoga videos, more books (Deepok Chopra, BVS Iyengar, books on christianity, etc.)–much to Fred’s chagrin.
As I am a book collector and I am sort of hoarder, any purging and even giving away to charity of my belongings is very hard for me. I was brought up in a home where books were valued, prized, revered, and I remember my sister-in-law (then, one of my best friends) getting me yelled at when she tore some pages out of an economics book for a class research project. The book was a discarded book and hers to do with what she wanted, but I got the “lecture” about it (and I think she did, too). Now, married to my brother, they both are quite minimalist–and I certainly appreciate that–yet, I still have so many books!
In today’s reading, Rolf explains how dhyana practiced first on the mat through asana, and then through pranayama and meditation, have informed his teaching. Through expanding his awareness to include information coming to him from his mind, he can focus on the information also coming from his whole body. He describes this as such, writing: “Through the power of repetition and unwavering attention, I have come to know ever-increasing number of paths to understanding. I go down the wrong path and I am blocked. I do this again, but this time my attention registers the faint impulse that has led me here before, and this impulse now becomes a road sign.”
Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to redo my formal evaluation. Just like purging my home of my “prized possessions,” accepting and reflecting upon failed teaching moments is difficult. I am filled with fear, sadness, and anger, but I am grateful for the chance to redo. I have excuses, of course–I only had a few days to prepare and no time to prepare my classroom; I am overconfident in my teaching skills; I hold a constant theme and momentum in my planning with great expectations as an English language arts teacher (in that particular class); I fall short sometimes because it is a wearing and soul-wrenching process. Nonetheless, as Rolf places it, “The clarity and stillness of dhyana compresses time and speeds our development, but our growth depends on our willingness to let go, to have faith…Insight must be matched with faith.”
Teaching, like parenting, is not for sissies and cry-babies. Teachers know it will be tough and that they will be under examination, sometimes its a “gotcha!” and sometimes it truly is for the betterment of our students and our teaching. As with all endeavors academic in nature, I am always wanting the “A,” which is the “innovating.” I don’t want to be labeled “developing.” It wouldn’t be so bad if I had ever gotten that label, but to have it threatened anew is entirely different. This makes me wonder what my students think being labeled “struggling” or “special ed” or “disabled” by our school system. So, it is that kind of class I want to cultivate–the one where insight is matched by faith, the one where the inner land field is a reflection of the classroom culture and it is matched with faith, the ability to let go of what we are: hoarder, nonreader, angsty teenager, disgruntled and tired teacher.