, a website devoted to thought, culture, and what it means to be human, recently shared some of poet Jane Kenyon’s advice on writing.  As it turns out, her suggestions are also wonderful advice for being a Zen Teacher.

In notes for a writer’s conference lecture in 1991, Kenyon wrote,

“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise.  Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take your phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

Let’s reflect on these a bit:

Be a good steward of your gifts.
  Use your the gifts the universe has given to you wisely. Don’t squander them. They are important and valuable. Make them count.

Protect your time.  No one else has control over your time, but you.  You decided your schedule, your commitments, and your obligations. Have the courage to say, “No,” when you need to.

Feed your inner life.
  Go to a play. Read poetry. Attend a church. Pray. Listen to music.  There are a bajillion different ways to feed your inner life and, especially as teachers who feel we must give our all to our students, our classrooms, and our families, we don’t take advantage of nearly enough of them.

Avoid too much noise. 
Find a place and be still. Be silent. Eliminate the distractions and white noise of the world. And then listen to the ambient sounds around you, but make no noise of your own.

Read good books, have good sentences in your ears.
  This is about communication, about learning how to interact with others in a ways that’s deep and meaningful. Note: You will not get this from Twilight.  And writers and readers know that this is also about the creme brulee/strawberry shortcake, dessert-like scrumptiousness of having beautiful language dripped in your ears and fed into your brain.

Be by yourself as often as you can.  Learn to be comfortable with yourself, by yourself.  When you finally get it down, you will understand the miraculous gift that it is and it will become an addiction.

Walk.  Find ways to reconnect with the earth, body to land.  Park the car and get out of it. Put your feet on the grass.  Wiggle those toes.

Take your phone off the hook.  ‘Nuff said.  (Maybe one more thing, actually:  In this day and age, we might say, “turn your phone off. And your computer. And your tablet. And your internet.  And your Netflix.”  See where this is going?)

Work regular hours.  Find something that you can commit to in your professional, day-to-day life that you love and for which you can generate genuine passion.  If it’s not your job (and even though you’re a teacher, it doesn’t have to be), you can find some other activity that when it’s done, gives you that feeling of sleepy-eyed satisfaction of a job well done and spending your life on something matters.

One final takeaway:  These thoughts are each so powerful that if I wrote this post tomorrow, I’d have entirely different reflections.  So now it’s your turn (See below). TZT


Zen Teacher Action Step:

Reflect on these 10 elements yourself and share your thoughts with me.  What do these elements mean to you? How would they look in your life?  Leave a comment below. Email me. Tweet me. Your choice. But tell me what you think.

I look forward to hearing from you.