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...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Preparing For Another School Year & Coping With 21st Century Life in General - A Yogi & Teacher's Perspective

My Summer has nearly reached its conclusion as I steady and ready myself for a fresh new year of teaching. Over the next month or so my postings will most likely be sparse as I develop my year and unit plans, begin building relationships and setting the tone with my students, and basically try to get a grasp on where my students are at in terms of their grade levels. Teaching special needs is probably one of the most challenging gigs in the teaching profession, especially at the junior high level, and at an inner city school... and I LOVE it!

Despite my passion for teaching, the burnout factor is always looming opportunistically overhead. My students, generally speaking, have horrendous home lives where drugs and abuse are rampant, gangs and violence permeate their community, and poverty is an ever present issue. Inevitably, as their teacher, I also become one of the only "solids", "stability" or "structure" in their lives, and this is oftentimes emotionally draining. I love and truly care about my students, and their success means everything to me. It is especially difficult to leave the school at the end of the day and come home to the demands of my own family - my heart full, mind, weary. Maintaining balance is essential, and, at times, I do wobble.

So, what keeps me going? Yoga and Meditation are key components to my sanity and survival. Having started my practice in the late 1990's, I have learned so much in this area, supplemented by a plethora of readings by a variety of Psychologists, Eastern Philosophers and so on. Despite this, it is easy to allow one's practice to grow stale and I am always looking for new ways to change things up and challenge myself further. Though my Yoga training is rooted in Iyengar style, I do endeavor to get out to different studios now and again to have a change in scenery and add new perspective - Hatha, Moksha, Ashtanga, Yin, etc.. This is vital in any lifelong committment, whether in sport, relationships, career, etc.: vary the journey. So, as I prepare for my classes next week, I am also preparing myself in a holistic manner. Perhaps most crucial to all of this is that I am doing what I love and loving what I do. My career provides me with a mission and a purpose that is significant to me. And, when I do get down, as is bound to happen, the consistent maintaining of a gratitude journal keeps me on track and shakes the lull from my consciousness and negative perceptions.

Of course, teaching is not the only profession that lends itself to burn-out. All professions do. It is so easy to cloud our view of life, obscuring our view of its wonder, struggling under the clamp of the routine clipboard. Though perhaps I'm taking Confucius's words out of context slightly, but "everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it". Such is the case of day to day living. We all need to have to find a healthy release of daily stressors and the often monotonous pace our lives seem to be plodding through at sloth speed. Overcome by fatigue, we are so willing to submit to the couch, television and general apathy toward life. While having such fuddles now and again are nice, just like the occasional piss-up, second slice of cheesecake, or social cigar or cigarette, to make such practices habitual are detrimental to one's physical and psychological well being, and indulgence would make us frail. Again, balance is essential.

Time seems to be our biggest enemy in this whole undertaking. In short, we must make the time - there's no gentler way to say this. At the end of it all, you just require an hour each day as "personal" time. This is sufficient to work out, do Yoga, play an instrument or whatever "your thing" may be. Just make certain that whatever you take on: (a) relieves stress/refreshes you, (b) is enjoyable and (c) is not dependent on others.
Socialisation with friends or getting involved in other activities or clubs are also vital. My wife, for example, does Pet Therapy with our Golden Retriever once a week, and also does a similar therapy with our daughter where they visit people in extended care facilities. For me, I try to get in a couple hours of rock climbing in with a few of my colleagues every week, and have get-togethers in what my missus calls my "man cave" where me and the lads break out the instruments into a bit of a celidh, enjoying a dram or pint (or two...three...) and the odd bowl of fine pipe tobacco. It's all good.

Last but not least, I read and read and read and read. I read blogs and articles on the computer, magazines about the outdoors, Yoga and cycling on the toilet, novels on my sofa, the newspaper at the breakfast table. It's brilliant!

So, in closing, I hope that by sharing this with my readers that you have taken a fragment of an idea away with you, and I welcome you to share your thoughts with me. As summer closes and Autumn is on the horizon, followed shortly by the Canadian Winter, self-preparedness is an integral part of seeing the beauty in all moments and all seasons and realising the sentiments of "carpe diem" expressed by the Cavalier Poets.

Now bring on the new school year!



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