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Teachers, Find Your Zen

What teacher do you know that can't use some simplicity and focus in his/her life or during his/her teaching day?

Since I started reading The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico I've been working diligently to put his ideas into action. Some of them seem so easy and yet, I allow myself to get caught up in the daily vortex that forces me to lose focus and sometimes even feels like I'm losing my sanity.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to participate in the activities that Tricarico suggests in his book and I highly recommend you give it a try too; I mean, who can't use a little extra calm?

This week's activity is about tapping into what I love. It's a part of the Zen practice.

At the end of each short, but inspiring chapter, Tricarico offers an activity where there are questions or actions to take. The first is about figuring out activities that we can get lost in.

After brainstorming some ideas, there are a few activities that really do transport me into a protective zone where time seems irrelevant and I'm truly at peace.

(Don't judge)

  1. Watching or reading the Harry Potter series. Since I was first transported to the magical wizarding world, I have found myself happily lost there among the trials and tribulations of a young hero. I've connected deeply with the characters and have introduced the world to my son too and it's a great way for us to connect. Whether we are reading together or watching a movie marathon, I can slip into Hogwarts and time just seems to elastic and the troubles of the day or week just melt away.

  2. Interacting on social media. Twitter and Facebook are also a happy place where I can focus on the positive aspects of my career, interacting with the friends I've made all over the world. Being in Twitter chats offers me the opportunity to share and think about the educational issues of the day and really learn from new people.  A lot of time gets lost on Twitter, but at least I'm learning and feeling supported.

  3. Writing. As many of you know, I write a lot. It isn't all for publication though. Since I was a wee lass, writing has been my sanctuary able to verbalize the many challenges I faced and thoughts about the world that often made me feel alienated. I didn't feel very understood Tas a child and my notebook was a non-judgmental space where I could say whatever I wanted without fear of retribution of any kind. For me, writing is a powerful escape where I can sort out challenges, make big decisions, and come to terms with realities. It is one of my gifts and I'm grateful that I have it.

  4. Photography. In addition to writing, I've always loved living behind the lens. Never quite comfortable with being social in big crowds, I easily slip into spaces, able to capture moments without people knowing I'm there. A true observer of life, who could catch a smile, a pensive look, or a laugh which later becomes fodder for my writing. The two work in unison. When my son was born, he quickly became my favorite subject to photograph, carefully documenting every aspect of his life. Sometimes I've wondered if this observational aspect of my life keeps me from actually living, but for me, there is such serenity in looking through the lens and capturing the world as I see it, that it is an expression of how I do truly live in the moment.

  5. Hiking/jogging. There is something about being outside with the chill or heat on my body where I'm completely in tune with myself. I used to run all of the time, but my aging body has made that more challenging. There is something about putting the technology away, listening to the world, or if I'm walking with my son or a friend, engaging in conversation. It's easy to be present in those moments as we are out of our normal environment.

Of all of the activities I spoken of, writing is the only one I'm truly deliberate about. I run to my writing when I need to cool down about the day's events and/or get ideas on paper. At peace with the ever filling page, I'm truly in touch with my emotions and beliefs, minute to minute.

Whether I publish or share those ideas is completely up to me.

What activities do you love doing? Do you make time to do them? How? Please share

*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in November 2015


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