The Lies We Tell Ourselves

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Even though you try to put people under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them…without trying to control them. – Shunryu Suzuki

I have been attempting to learn meditation skills. I tend to be in my own thoughts too often, and have trouble letting go of fears, anxieties, and nit-picking. I live in a co-op (community living) and after discussing meditation, and misconceptions many people have about meditation, a housemate gave me the book, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.

I haven’t finished it yet, but the quote above from the book really struck me. It was exactly what I have needed to hear.

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Children are not our property, they are not ours to control any more than than we were our parents property or theirs to control. – Richard Bach

This year has had it’s challenges. Which is why I haven’t written a blog post in over a month. Each day I am trucking along, making it through, barely holding on…and then ending the day exhausted and barely able to cook dinner.

This is a place I haven’t been in as a teacher in many years.

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When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

I find myself telling this group of children “No” more often. I am making sure the room is neat and tidy before we transition. I am clearing off my teacher counter multiple times a day. I am introducing projects in a much more directive kind of way. I am running the classroom on a schedule, that doesn’t have much flexibility. I am going from one thing to another, moving the children along with me. I am doing everything I can to give myself some control of this classroom.

I tell myself it’s  because they need it. They need more direction, more order, more leadership. I say they can’t handle having more control over their environment, over their play, over themselves. I convince myself that this is for the good of the children. 

Really, it is about control. It is about my own lack of control – not over them, but over myself.

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Zen is a way of liberation, concerned not with what is good or bad or adventerous, but what is. – Alan Watts

I have spent the first two months of school frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, and worn out. I have responded to that by trying to gain control over them. I thought it would help. It hasn’t. It has made it that much harder.

I have been starting every morning with sun salutations, followed by meditation. I have added quick meditative moments to my day. I have come to the conclusion that these children are who they are, and developmentally are where they are…and I am here, right beside them. I am letting go of my need to try to change them, fix them, alter them. I am meeting them where they are. I am seeing them, for who they are.

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You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.

Introducing meditation to the classroom has had a similar effect for them. They seem to have the same road block as I do right now: feeling a lack of control. It’s as if we are on this journey together, almost. 

As E throws himself on the ground I sit beside him, close my eyes, and start slowly counting. He calms down and joins in until we both get to 5 together, take a big breathe in, and sigh out.

As M starts to scream, I close my eyes, put my hands to heart center and take a breath. I can hear M do the same.

When we are in the process of transitioning to outside I sit down in lotus pose, putting my hands in “cosmic mudra”. Children join in, and I explain to them the hand position.

Others time, I close my eyes and take a few deep breathes, counting to myself, and I open my eyes to find the same amount of chaos as when I closed them. And that is okay too. 

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