Monday, February 22, 2016

Lethargic, chaotic or focused?

In my yoga class yesterday the teacher spoke to us about the mind.  She told us that there are only really 3 states of mind, lethargic, chaotic or focused.  The lethargic mind is one that is vague, bored, dull and lazy - the mind of the couch potato that lacks direction.  The chaotic mind is a stream of thoughts flooding the mind and generally being very distracted.  Often we are not simply one mind or the other, but swing between them - it seems we have very little control over our mind!  The aim of yoga, she told us, is that we become more focused and aware - something she referred to as being "consciously awake".  This also seems to be the aim of mindfulness, which seems to be catching on in schools.

Our school counsellor has been trying out some mindfulness apps with students, and today I decided to take a look at those apps myself.  Many of them have a free series of introductory exercises, for around 10 days or so.  I thought I'd have a go at these and then write a blog post about whether I thought it could be beneficial to buy the paid app.  The apps I've downloaded so far are:
  • Stop, Breathe & Think
  • Headspace
  • Pranayama Universal Breathing
I'm interested to know if anyone uses these apps, in particular with students, and if so what impact has been noticed on students' work or behaviour.

Another thing, of course, I've thought about is how the 3 states of mind relate to teaching.  I can think of times in my own career where I was lethargic - basically following a text book.  At other times I think I was fairly chaotic, following students' questions down every rabbit hole.  Now I hope that most of the time I'm focused.  And yet, thinking about this also calls to mind a quotation for a reading we did at last Tuesday's faculty meeting.  I don't want to be so focused that I'm not flexible:
All good teachers must be flexible and responsive to their students’ needs. In simple terms, it sometimes means that we need to be able to change on the fly - such as when they already know the chosen teaching point or if it is not appropriate for them at that time. This is crucial as every moment we spend with the child is a learning moment. Our inability to be flexible makes us an ineffective teacher. 
Photo Credit: DeeAshley via Compfight cc

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