Reflections on Resilience

performance anxiety

Testing, testing! In my role as an educator, it is most certainly during test-taking situations that student anxiety increases to distracting and limiting levels. Blocked by adrenaline power surges inappropriate for the situation and streaming negative self-talk, it is no wonder students are unable to effectively show what they know. But students in academic assessment situations are not the only ones who experience a nervousness that impairs performance. An important job interview. Presenting a cutting-edge proposal.  Initiating a difficult conversation. Speaking in public. Even going on a first date!  A little adrenaline goes a long way but too much can ...
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want not, get not

Deep down to your very core, what is it that you truly desire? Peace and solitude? Fame and fortune? Love and acceptance? Fun and distraction? Freedom from any pain or discomfort? Competence and efficiency? Knowing you are warmly valued by another? To make a difference in your world? Appreciation for what you produce and share? Camaraderie and affection? Acceptance of what “is”? All of the above? Do you even know?  Are you willing to do a few experiments to find out?     Experiment #1: Grab a friend. Sit across from each other. Breathe deeply and set the intention to ...
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medication/meditation

  Medication? The casual statement over dinner was not tossed into the centre of the table as a controversial conversation starter. To the one saying the words, it was a matter of fact and as practical as leftovers. “There’s no way we are meant to make it through this life without self-medicating.” Resistance bubbled up from somewhere deep inside of me. Wait! That can’t be right. Can it? And what does she mean by ‘self-medicating”? Does she think, like me, that self-medicating refers to anything that significantly distracts or numbs us to the way things really are? To take the ...
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a mindful student’s guide to managing stress

Mid-term mania is sweeping through high school hallways like a mid-autumn tropical storm. Research shows that the adolescent brain is not quite done ‘baking’ yet and is very much still in the developmental stage, so teens cope with stress much differently than adults.  Add an over-commitment to activities in and out of the classroom, teacher and parental expectations for consistently self-regulated behaviour and the increasing pressure on teens to figure out their future plans and you’ve got the makings of the perfect storm. Fear not, oh overwhelmed adolescent!   Not only does it get better as you get older, there ...
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ideal conditions

ideal february   It was unseasonably warm. A clear sky gently sheltered a light dusting of snow on a path in a secluded wooded area. Under these ideal conditions, a fellow introvert and I dressed lightly and put on our cross-country skis to enjoy the solitude, together. It seemed as if nothing could make the experience any better. Gratitude was abundant. Relating to each other was easy and the mood was light and carefree.   a less than ideal february   Two weeks later on a different ski trail, in a distant place, the conditions were much less than ideal. ...
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withholding judgment (revisited)

  In a small exam room, I was overseeing a group of students who, due to any number of physical or cognitive challenges, were being assessed in a smaller, quieter space away from the large auditorium of exam writers. Some of the student behaviour I witnessed was completely expected and predictable for this demographic of students.  Forgetting pencils, rulers and calculators. Despite reminders, forgetting to turn off their phones, or not taking hats and jackets off.  Forgetting that they were not to view their exam before formal instructions were given to do so. All of these instances occurred even though ...
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withholding judgement

here comes the judge This is, by far, the most challenging part of my practice, currently. And my life.  Since forever. My reaction is often swift, heavy-handed and, in my own distorted mind, is completely justified because it is based solely on principle. The principle according to me.   i had hoped practice would help My yoga/ meditation practice shines a glaring light on this ingrained, reactionary habit. When I sit, the judgments come. When I don’t sit, they also come. When I label my thoughts, the judgments come. When I watch my breath…well, you get it. Then when I ...
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the red light of gratitude

  I’m well-acquainted with the incredible physical and mental health benefits of gratitude.  It’s a genuine game changer. So why do I ‘forget’ to do it?  Same reason I ‘forget’ to drink enough water or to get up close and personal with my yoga mat.  It’s one of those habits that is apparently not too hard to break. I’ve used gratitude journals before and, during the summer months when I have more time off work, that method works very well.  But not so well during the other ten months. Recently, I’ve started practicing red light gratitude moments.  It’s as easy ...
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decaying gracefully

November. The birth-month of the colour grey. The dim season that reminds us, in cool hushed tones, that all things decay then pass. Because our seemingly fool-proof escape plan includes the perfect hibernation scenario, we forget.  Surely we will be one of the ones who succeeds to see yet another spring.  It will not happen to us so we sleep even while awake and make plans of the forever kind. Wake up! The gift of the November grey is the necessary reminder that we too will pass and we know not the time or place. We all pass. The gift ...
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not alone even in solitude

  When November Comes Long days tented under gloomy skies, wet leaves beneath our feet and the cooler temperatures all forecasting an even darker season yet to come can weigh on even the most optimistic person. Hope can turn to apathy as quickly as a burnt red maple leaf can be tossed by the wind to reveal a paler, less vibrant underside. This is also the season of preparing to put gardens to sleep and to acknowledge that new emergent growth will not happen for a long, long while. And that some of the richest, most significant growth will surely ...
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