Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Day 20- Monday on a Tuesday

The first day of the week is the first day of the week, whether it falls on a Monday or a Tuesday, but it is just a little sweeter when it falls on a Tuesday. And a little quieter, at least today, which led to a peaceful, quick and productive day. A pretty nice Tuesday.

I began the morning with my class for LA and everyone was pretty quiet from the start. I guess it had been a big weekend for most because everyone was clearly tired, especially as we started the morning.

We got to our meditation pretty quickly. Before I did, I asked the three boys, Student B and his buddies, if they were okay or if anyone needed to be moved. They assured me that they were good and would be okay sitting together. I indicated that I agreed, if they chose to, they could sit together successfully, and I hoped that they would, but I also let them know that this would be the last time I would be asking them. If I had to talk to them again, next time I would be telling them they had to move and there would be no choice.

Then I started the meditation. Everyone settled in very quickly, most with heads down, though I noticed backs lengthening and straightening as I suggested the prompt. From the first moments the room was silent and it stayed that way throughout the track. Beyond the silence, the room was still. There was no noise at all. No shuffling or fidgeting, no disruptions or disturbances. It was completely silent and totally peaceful.

The 5 minutes and 44 seconds went by quickly, through the prompts and directions, when I suggested inhaling energy and then focus, and exhaling tiredness and then distraction, and into the silence, which lasted about half of the time and in which I joined. It was lovely.

It was the best meditation of the year, which I told them after we finished, as well as how good it felt. For the 2 periods that followed they worked consistently on their demonstrations of learning, through which they have to show me their understanding of the words that commonly appear as errors (your, you're, then, than, etc). They were all pretty focused and on task as they started working on their chosen projects, and even Student B and his buddies wrote a verse of their rap.

The only one who didn't get to work was Student A, but he wasn't bothering anybody, as he had fallen asleep. As we started the meditation, he had put his hand down on his pillow binder as usual, but sometime during the meditation, he had fallen asleep. After the meditation ended, I didn't wake him up.

It is not the first time a student has fallen asleep during a meditation and unless I absolutely must, I try not to wake them up. I figure if anyone falls asleep in those five minutes, and then stays asleep as we get on with the daily work in a room that isn't exactly quiet, then they really need the sleep.

Sometimes I use the opportunity to talk about health, and the importance of sleeping and getting enough sleep, as I did with Student A, during our conversation after he woke up an hour or so later, and we had a chance to talk. I would have also talked about it with my class, had they noticed he was sleeping, but they didn't. It took a long time for anyone to notice, which speaks to how my students are getting used to taking care of themselves and doing what they need to do, and letting others do the same.

After about 45 minutes, Student B noticed that Student A had his head down and was asleep at his seat. He pointed it out to me, as if I might not be aware, and was surprised when I responded, "So?" to the news his was sleeping. I asked Student B if he was taking care of himself and what he needed to be doing and he said he was. I told him that was his main concern and to keep taking care of himself and Student A would do the same. He went back to work, or at least focusing on his group, and didn't bother Student A, who eventually woke up on his own. In our talk, he couldn't tell me why he was so tired, just that he was, but we had a good talk nonetheless. It was a great couple of classes and I am looking forward to their final products in a couple of weeks.

My switch class came to me just before lunch and after gym. They may have been equally tired, but by this point they were less quiet and more fidgety. At some point last week they all caught on to the plasticine as a stress toy, and I can't encourage it for one and not all, especially when I am often playing with it myself. So now, as I tried to explain, we have to achieve the balance between the point of focus and distraction. The intention of the plasticine is to have it in their hands to help them focus, so they have to play with it, without focusing on it. As soon as they turn they focus on it, rolling and building, it becomes a toy, a distraction. It is a very fine line, another they have to learn to manage and navigate in life and one I took the time to point out.

I also told them that using the plasticine during the meditation defeats the purpose, and challenged them as always to put everything away and be as still as possible together with their silence. I told them if they chose to keep the plasticine in their hands that was okay, as long as it didn't become a distraction. Most got the message, put the plasticine and everything else away, and put their heads down as usual. Those who usually sit up did, and my breathers prepared to start, as I began the meditation. Two girls at one table and Student 1 continued fidgeting with their plasticine and the boy who likes to look at me was looking at Student 1 and his creations, but they were pretty quiet.

Within the first 2 or 3 breaths, it was clear that the two girls had not heard a word I had said about using the plasticine during the meditation without focusing on it causing distractions, or perhaps they had not understood. because they immediately went to work on their plasticine as though we were in art class. They started rolling it out on the table, banging it as they did and making too much noise, though any noise would have been too much.

As I continued giving the prompts, I made my way to their table, picked up their plasticine, and went on with the meditation. The girls didn't protest, they just looked at me and then put their heads down too. I went on with the meditation as usual, inhaling focus and exhaling distraction, and joining them for a couple of minutes of quiet breathing at the end. The room was never completely still or silent, but it was peaceful enough, and gave everyone a few moments to breathe, including me.

The rest of the morning and then the afternoon flew by, pretty good for Monday on a Tuesday. Wednesday there will be no meditations as I am away for Yom Kippur. I will be back in the classroom on Thursday and see what is in store.

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