The end of the high school year took place last week. My first year as a teacher has come to an end and there are many lessons to be learned. For starters, I need to do a better job planning and managing my classroom. To be an effective teacher is draining and it isn’t an easy job. Yeah, I get to enjoy the perks of holidays and summer breaks, but once I’m in the classroom, it’s all about making sense of a lot of information at one time; student’s responses; gestures; attentiveness; interests; understanding; etc. It’s tiring because you really have to be in the PRESENT and connect with students (which most of us know aren’t very stable since they are teenagers!).
As mentioned in my previous post, HERE, I had been learning Jiu Jitsu during the school year and now have experimented with another endeavor during my summer break. People either love it or hate it. I have grown to be indifferent to it and learned to keep an open mind (as there are positives and negatives to everything). After the first week, I must say that my conditioning level has improved. What made me do it? My lovely wife! At 5:30 in the morning! For starters, I don’t like to do conditioning work. When you are in a group and have a coach to hold you accountable (and a hot wife cheering you on), it’s a heck of a lot easier to finish and to push your self.
So this past week, I had attended 4 CrossFit workouts for conditioning work (1 of those emphasized strength) and during the afternoon I would perform my 20-minute strength training (alternating between deadlifts/press and bench/bent over rows). During the day, it’s training the incoming freshmen and preparing their bodies for the rigors of football. I’m doing a handful of one-on-one personal training and started my group training sessions with my school staff.
A helpful tip that I learned from Pavel Tsatsouline is that he recommends working on the grip and midsection (aka ‘core’) to improve the quality of strength. I took his advice and have been working on my grip strength through the use of Captains of Crunch Hand Grippers. Ideally, I try to do about 60-70% of the reps I normally could do (so if I can do about 10, I perform 6-7 reps) every 15-30 minutes (or when I can remember). For my ‘core,’ I perform standing planks and tense my core (to include every muscle from the neck down) for about 10s every chance I get. Sounds simple right? Try it out and remember the emphasis is to train the nervous system; your ability to recruit and use your muscles. For me, I feel a significant difference in my lifts with little training time.
Another life hack I have been implementing is the use of meditation. I often think that the word often gets associated to some random nonsensical act rather than what it is intended for. One thing about me is that I love learning from others, especially those that have achieved a high level of success in their respective field(s). I would say that about 70-80% of these people practice the art of meditation. My lovely wife introduced it to me and challenged me to try it out (that’s one of infinite reasons I love her, she challenges me to get better). After starting it up for a few weeks, I noticed that my focus becomes clearer; more relaxed with less worrying about tasks I can’t control; more energy; and being more proactive in getting things done. All you basically need to do is to find a quiet room, sit, focus on your breathing, and clear your mind of all thoughts. If a thought happens to come across your mind, acknowledge it, push it aside, and re-focus on your breathing (breathing through your belly, aka diaphragmatic breathing). An app that I use is Calm. The first 7 days is free and I never purchased it but use it for the background noise.
Having to create a curriculum for my high school’s at-risk (of failing) students, a question that I have been attempting to answer is:
How do I shift student’s motivation towards academic success?
Just thinking about this answer, I couldn’t help but notice all the distractions we now have compared to when I was growing up. With each passing decade, there are countless more activities to do in order to keep ourselves ‘busy’. We tend to lose connection to ourselves: the mind, body, and spirit.
When I speak of the mind, I’m referring to who we truly are. Our passions and interests. Our inner voice. I’m a believer that the mind is much more powerful than the capabilities of the body itself. Our subconscious has more to do with shaping who we are than we might imagine.
The body is a vehicle to carry us through the journey during our lifetime and we need to make sure it’s running on all cylinders! It constantly sends us information, but often times, we choose not to listen. It is often said that the body has the capabilities to heal itself.
The spirit is our connection to other people and the world we interact with. The source of energy that flows from within, to others, and our natural surroundings.
The mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. With all of our distractions, we simply neglect these components and tend to lose touch with who we truly are. Rather than looking outwards to find fulfillment, I propose that we must look inwards. Mindfulness is about getting in touch with our inner selves. It’s about being in the PRESENT. It’s about being fully aware of all the stimulus around us; from the noise, smell, heat or cold, our pain or aches, our thoughts, etc.
So I have been practicing being more mindful; being more aware of my morning routines and the transitions between my activities to spur creative thoughts. Each day I eliminate any negative energy and try to focus on what makes me happy and what I need to accomplish.