Mental Training by Rich VanHuizen

I am customizing my personal mental training program…
This is what I just wrote to start my rough copy:

20 minutes per day

Purpose:
To be fully prepared for the moment when it comes, so that when the moment comes, there is no reaction; there is only the natural response.
Mindful to always respond with awareness: to be fully in tune with the things around me.

Then I began to think of the moments that I’ve had with significant people in my life such as relationships, past and current teammates, and Brian O’Reilly.
Brian was my coach when I started to make a big transition in my life.  When I began to look at things through a different lens.
The rough copy of my mental training program above reflects this transition that began in 2004.

Brian and I have studied the brain and relationships, we’ve also done workshops and role-plays.  The most impactful thing that I’ve learned through all of our moments together is the value of being prepared.

When I am un-loving, I am not preparing.  If I am not constantly watching myself and my own behaviours (preparing), I will be mean to the people around me.  When I am mean to the people around me I am not realizing that my unpreparedness shows itself when the shit hits the fan.  When I am unloving (gossiping about, criticizing, judging) and that person calls me out on it, I look like a fool.  I look like a fool because the truth revealed itself and the truth is that the damage to the relationship is my doing.

When I live my life prepared, I am constantly watching myself.  I am constantly responding to situations.  For instance, if I see an injustice, I speak up and share my truth about it.  I am constantly doing this when I see the value of being prepared.  Then, when the shit hits the fan, the truth, once again, reveals itself.

This way of living is extremely rewarding.
I often fail to live this way because I think that living this way is draining.  To be prepared to address every drama and injustice in your life each and every moment seems like a heavy task.  It seems draining.  Yet, when you do it, when I do it, we notice how energizing it is.  How energizing and rewarding it is to constantly speak the truth!!  Yet I am lazy.  My preparedness falls away because I simply blame others for my unhappiness.
What does preparedness look like to me?  Committing each day to bring an expectation to speak the truth with love in every moment.

I’d like to share how this life training has impacted my daily life.
I am in teacher’s college.  In my Grade 6 practicum placement I decided to use the community circle as a teaching tool (a community circle is where you move the desks out of the way and make a circle with the students and my chair, I am just one of 28).  I use the circle most often when I sense that there is a shift in energy in the classroom and there is unhappiness in the group.  We get in the circle and we just talk.  I do my best to build an environment in which the kids feel safe to say whatever they want.  I do this with my demeanor and by being honest myself.  I talk about what I’ve noticed in the classroom (such as bullying), and then I share how I have been a bully to a particular person in the past week or that day and I share the story of what happened.  I share what I did wrong, why I did it, and how I wish I had handled it.  The presence of honesty is so natural and so relieving to the kids that it simply and naturally paves the way for incredibly honest conversations.  The kids open right up and share and share and share and it does incredible things to the level of trust in the classroom.

I couldn’t do this if I wasn’t prepared.  I couldn’t do this if, when students in my classroom are disruptive, I shut them down and used anger to deal with my ineffectiveness as a teacher (aren’t they being disruptive because the teacher is b-o-r-i-n-g?  When was the last time you sat through a conference or a workshop for your job that was boring and you chose to sit quietly and attentively?  We expect our kids to do that from 9:00 to 3:30 every day? I digress).  I couldn’t do this if I wasn’t aware and awake to the needs of all of my kids every day.  If I didn’t pay close attention to the mood of my students and the things they said to each other and the feelings of loneliness and pain that my students had.  I couldn’t do this if teaching was simply a means to tell the kids what they needed to hear to meet my curriculum expectations and get a paycheck.  Having these types of rewarding conversations with my students in the community circle began with having individual community circles with my students in the hallway, on the playground, while helping them with their work, while listening to why their homework isn’t done.  It began with being prepared – prepared every day to respond to situations and speak to injustices.

When I am effectively doing this what am I doing?  Choosing love over judgment in each moment.  This requires preparation.

Rich VanHuizen
Beach Volleyball
http://www.richvanhuizen.com

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