Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Opportunity to Create Change

I was ecstatic last week when I was approached by my Assistant Principal and asked to submit a proposal to our Parents Advisory Committee for a "Yoga" option to be offered next year at our school. I am affectionately teased quite often by my colleagues because of my espousing of Yoga and Buddhist ideas, compounded by the fact that I am a vegetarian. I think that they think it rather novel that a 6'1", 210 lb former Prison Guard who played professional and international Rugby could be the fluffy fellow that I am. I used to get the gears big time in high school, playing for the school Football team while fronting in a Punk Rock band. Even my students will comment "how can you be this creative Art teacher who's all nice, and then be a drill sergeant of a Rugby coach?"

I must say, I have often struggled with the dualistic nature of being in both the Artistic and gentle side of things on one half of the coin, while on the other side having a reputation as being the "big guy" when things go to hell in a hand-basket. I think the latter is a curse and something I've always been self-conscious of as I have never been a violent or aggressive individual in the slightest. In fact, I am usually off the wall, taking few things seriously and tend to be known more for my humour than anything else – heck, I write poetry and do Yoga!

Right, Yoga. I have digressed.

So, for the past couple of years, when we've been doing our planning as a staff for the next school year, I have written down that I would like to offer a "Yoga and Holistic Living" course. Given the inner city demographic of where I teach, and the high number of special needs students, I have often thought that such an option would be invaluable (in fact I have done some of this stuff with my special needs kids with amazing results!). Anyway, I think my Administrators figured that I was hamming it up (funny for a vegetarian, but pork was the meal the Buddha ate before he died…), and it was not until this past week that they asked me to officially put something down.

…So, what follows is what I slapped down in a matter of 20 minutes during my prep in a rather giddy frame of mind. For a first draft, rough proposal, I am happy with it. The reason that I have decided to publish this outline here is to simply allow others to view it, give me feedback and, ultimately, to inspire them to take this idea and spread it around within their communities and schools.
My idea is based on my observations of children today. They are raised in a high speed culture, fast food, energy drinks, etc. ADHD is on the rise for a plethora of reasons, and growing up today is a bit more dangerous than when I was a wee lad with all the drugs, gangs, etc. They are trying to find themselves and gain acceptance. They need ways to express themselves in a positive way, and to accept/understand their feelings. Further to this, we all know that metacognition definitely helps us out in our learning, and relationships (a reciprocal tandem of understanding ourselves and others) are the key to happiness and success.

At the end of the day, life does not come with an instruction manual. If we can offer these ideas and habituate a daily practice, who knows what the results could be… I'd love to find out!
So, here it goes….

Yoga and Positive Living Half Year Option
Created by Ed Meers BA, BEd.

The purpose of the Yoga and Positive Living half year option is to introduce students to a combination of skills that will assist them in:

• Developing a sense of self awareness
• Understand how our thought processes work and influence the way we perceive the world
• Examine peaceful conflict resolution skills and awareness of others
• Learn a number of stress management and focusing techniques that students can practice every day

There will be three central components of this course:

1. An introduction to the theory and practice of Yoga
2. Examination of how our brain/mind works based on both Eastern Philosophies and Western Psychological Research
3. An introduction to meditation practice, visualisation techniques and stress reduction exercises

Students will be assessed based on:

• Written assignments and projects reflecting the teachings from class
• Participation in class activities
• Misc. other things including maintaining of journals, etc.

Course requirements:

• Access to both a classroom and larger space such as the small gym
• Preferably set up as a double block
• Approximately 25-30 Yoga mats, depending on the number of students enrolled

Course outline:

In the beginning, this course will start off heavier on the theory side of things, examining ideas from both Psychology and Eastern Philosophy as they relate to how our minds work. Some asana (Yoga positions) and meditation practice.
As the course progresses, students will move more into a practical application of teachings and develop them through doing.

Throughout the semester we will have guest speakers from the community come in to speak with students about a number of related issues.

Please note that this is NOT a course of a religious nature. While aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions will be discussed, it will not be done so in a manner that would be offensive to any faith and is not intended to convert students!

About Mr. Meers, course designer and Instructor:

• Possess extensive formal and informal training in Philosophy and Psychology, in addition to being a School Teacher for several years
• Over a decade of Yoga training and many years of Martial Arts training
• Extensive study of Buddhism who has a daily Yoga and Meditation practice, in addition to having published several articles on-line in this field
Former Hostage and Crisis Negotiator with Corrections Canada


  • At 8:45 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Okay Ed, I like the yoga idea, but that's the second time you've suggested the Buddha died from eating bad pork and it's just not true. If you look at Thich Nhat Hahns' Old Path White Clouds he clearly states that this was mistranslated. The text most likely read Truffles, according to Thich. Not to say that the Buddah never ate meat. He believed in taking what was given in the spirit in which it was offered when he and his monks went out to beg for food. But it was never a personal choice of his to eat flesh. Just sayin...


  • At 9:16 p.m. , Blogger Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

    Based on some of the stuff that I've been reading/viewing, it indicates that the vegetarian component of Buddhism was not added until after Buddha died. I originally saw this on a documentary about the Buddha's life and have since found references supporting the "pork" premise.

    For example: "When the Buddha and his disciples arrived at Pava, the son of the village goldsmith, whose name was Cunda, invited the party to a meal called sukaramaddava, or "boar's delight". Some scholars believe it was a special delicious dish of mushrooms, while others believe it to be a dish of wild boar's flesh."

    A second example of this is: "The Dīgha Nikāya records that before the Buddha passed away he ate a meal given to him by a blacksmith named Cunda. This meal consisted of a preparation called sūkara maddava which can be translated as 'pig's delight' (D.II,127). There has been a great deal of speculation as to what this meal consisted of. Some say that it was a pork dish, which is quite possible as the Buddha was not a vegetarian and did not advocate vegetarianism. One of the more bizarre theories and one that has gained wide acceptance is that it was a type of truffle or mushroom. Early European scholars of Buddhism theorized that as the French use trained pigs to find truffles, the 'pig's delight' mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures might be a variety of truffle or mushroom. This theory is based on the false premise that what is so of the French countryside must have been so in ancient India. In fact, truffles do not grow in India and the use of trained pigs to find them even in France is a recent practice. Thus the theory that the Buddha's last meal was mushrooms or truffles is without any foundation. All we can say is that sūkara maddava was some kind of preparation, the contents of which have long ago been forgotten."

    So, while not definative, I would beg to differ...

  • At 8:13 p.m. , Blogger Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

    Sadly, this course did not gain the approval of the school board as it did not meet specific curriculum requirements.


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