Intention vs Expectation.

I have recently come to better understand the meaning of intention versus expectation. In yoga we practice a mantra of living a whole hearted life. To me this means living from you heart, and allowing your mind to be a reflection of your heart. It is in the heart that true intention lies. Intentions are rooted in the center of our being, close to the pureness or truth that we seek in introspection. They are personal to us and our own unique creation.

When we allow presence, our intentions become clearer.

In contrast, an expectation is something that we might think up, that is often linked to the external world. An expectation is something that we cannot control, as it does not lie within us, but is rather a worldly object that lies outside of us. We decide that this external object is to behave or operate in a certain way, and therefore create an expectation. While expectations may be thought up and unique to our own thinking minds, they are not often rooted in the pureness of our inner light.

How does this play out in our lives?

Today is a new day (and time to reclaim my life). Instead of living in a world of suffering, driven mainly by expectations, I choose to live in a world of wonder and joy, driven by intentions. Of course much of my wonderment is in the “next step” for my career. But really, this is a rather silly fixation (on some made-up expectation). For what do any of us really know about the “next step” in our journey in this life? All we know is the present moment. This is where we will find intentions, true clarity.

I seek for my thinking mind to be a reflection of my heart and true intentions. This mirrors the natural world in which the light of the moon reflects the light of the sun. In order to see light in this world we must be light in this world.

Breathe into being.

Listen.
What do you hear in this moment? The quiet sound of your child breathing. The hum of the dishwasher. The breeze through the window. The echo of a voice from another room.

Watch.
What do you see in this moment? A dimly lit room of familiar objects. The soft round features of a young child. Your body at ease.

Notice.
Now go beyond the visual. As the watcher we train ourselves to observe thought, emotion, feeling, sensation. What do you notice? A calm presence. An intense jealousy. An overwhelming fear of missing out. A train of thoughts so fast it’d be difficult to transcribe.

Breathe into being.
Now practice being. Be in it. All of it. Not good, not bad. Just there.

Be the calm awareness that witnesses it all.

This is the essence of being “the watcher.”

Always learning.

One thing I like about myself is that I am always learning. This sentiment reflects a positive self affirmation that I am currently working to integrate into my inner voice or self talk (i.e., with each personal attack that I inflict upon my psyche, I immediately follow it with a positive one).

As a lifelong learner I allow myself to treat each experience (good, bad, ugly, past, present, future) as a tool for learning. Of course, in my practice of mindfulness I work to focus only on those in the present moment. However, I remind myself, again and again, that I am human. This means that my thinking mind will reflect upon the past and imagine the future. I use these moments as tools or teachers.

I am committed to lifelong learning. I like this about myself.
It means that I have a growth mindset. It means that I am open to change.
It means I am committed to being the best possible version of myself.

I’m curious; what inspires your positive self affirmations?

I practice.

This is a story of good and evil. It reflects a little of what I did well today, and also a little of what I can improve upon. Triggered by a seemingly innocuous event (an email, of course), I drew on my evolving practice of mindful awareness.

I allowed.
When I swelled with feeling, emotion, and sensation, I allowed it to be. I sat with it.

I judged.
When I sat in my state of full emotion, I let my logical thinking mind take over. I started to connect dots and explain the root of emotion by past events. The sensory overload kept pushing me over my edge.

I let go.*
I eased my grip. I smiled. I loosened my jaw muscles (*not completely, but it’s a start…).

I attacked.
I filled my mind with non-sense thoughts by attacking my self worth.

I watched.
I practiced a mindful state. I listened to the sounds in the room, those that were closest to my physical body. I took in the visual stimuli next to me and by gazing out the window. I closed my eyes and was aware of my emotional state.

I breathed.
I began to find calm.

This is the practice: Allow. Let Go. Watch. Breathe. Repeat.

 

Postscript.
I am human, and I am not alone.
The in and out nature of clarity and cloudiness is natural. I have learned, however, that I need not live in a state of judgement and attack for prolonged periods of time. This realization reflects concentrated practice in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. I am learning to make it through these cycles more quickly and with greater ease. I am thankful for my many teachers both on and off my yoga mat.

A cycle of change.

(Written March 31, 2016.)

We experience change in cycles, especially in nature. The changing of the seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall – is a cycle of change. We usually enjoy and embrace the change of seasons and come to express this change in different ways. In springtime, for instance, we purge our clutter and clean out the closets. We open the windows and breathe in fresh air.

Today during my yoga and meditation practice, I reflected on the in-permanence and cycle of change. It was partly prompted by the state of my career journey, but also by the beauty found in the change in weather. (Note that I’m inspired to tell this story, as I love learning how the practice plays out both on and off the yoga mat.)

Upon arriving at yoga I stepped out of the car into a rain and light hail storm. Take cover; watch out! Once safe inside the warm and quiet studio, the rain took somewhat of a back seat as I breathed in the calm and arrived to my perch overlooking the prairie. I was no longer getting pelted with precipitation, and could now enjoy the cleansing nature of rain from a safe haven. While practicing I focused my visual attention on the beauty of the chaotic birdbath sitting atop a stone covered balcony and sanctuary of Buddha statues, rocks, and succulent planters, just above the prairie. The water droplets were hitting the birdbath and invoking a quite tumultuous basin of water. I found joy and beauty in the sheer unrest and unease of the moving water. After the rain soon passed, a most beautiful transformation occurred. Mist from the ground filled the prairie and field of grass just beyond it. The water vapor rose into the sky, creating a wispy, fog like mist that clouded the air like a light smoke. The water was evaporating just as soon as it had landed and was cycling back into the atmosphere. I found so much beauty in this transformation, just as one can find beauty in the cycles of practicing yoga. Breathe in, breathe out, up, down, breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

The short-lived transformation of water from rain and hail to a wandering fog mist made me smile. Transitions between phases are impermanent. This is part of their beauty. It is a skill to see and BE IN the transition just as we are IN the state. By this I mean, we get wet by the rain and look to the sky again once the storm has passed. However, in between, we might be lucky enough to see the literal transition between rain and clear sky.

One way to describe my career journey right now is that I’m on the verge of a transition to a yet undetermined next step. One way to experience this is to enjoy the rain while I’m in it. Sing and dance; splash in the puddles. Another way to experience this is to acknowledge that it’s raining, while anticipating the mist. Can it rain through a foggy mist? In this latter way, there is a great struggle to enjoy each state for what it is. Moreover, given that the next step in my career path is yet undetermined, the stage of foggy mist has nowhere to vanish to. It must just BE. It is in this that I find uncertainty and discombobulating feelings. It is from this place that I seek calm and a sense of balance.

An addiction to multitasking.

(Written March 31, 2016)

Here is a mere glimpse of “The multitasking mind”… In some moments (more often than not, these days), I find myself constantly urging to multitask.

Mid-bite of red lentils – I should be reading something – doesn’t everyone eat and work at the same time?…
About to take a drink of water – wasn’t I going to get something in the kitchen? – I better check…
I notice my recent project on the table (birth announcements for #baby2) – wait, didn’t I just decide that after yoga and meditation I would journal then come home and write as a reflection – I better not start that project until I journal…

Every where I turn, I seem to be faced with something else that I’m not currently doing that somehow I convince myself I should be doing. 

Why can’t I BE sometimes. Simply be in the presence of THIS moment.

The fan is running, the world inside and out is quiet (#baby2 is napping on #parent2 ‘s chest). Yet my mind is constantly on. The inner voice of how I’m not good enough or this moment is not good enough.

It nearly brings me to tears when I start to buy in and BELIEVE the sentiment:
You are enough.
You are good enough.

I break myself down more than I build myself up, and this is an addiction or habit that must be broken.

I often get trapped in my addiction to multitasking that I lose sight of the beauty of the present moment. Some of my favorite #mantras (i.e., “mind tools”) are:

I am breathing. I hear myself breathe. I feel the breath entering my body and moving through me.

I close my eyes and listen and sense. This is what I hear. This is what I feel. This moment. Now.

If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. So enjoy THIS for what it is.

With these, I leave this journal reflection in peace. Not to say that I won’t be multitasking – as I have my project, my water, and my phone near at hand and a whole host of activities that await. How about joining the #family for a nap? Endless possibilities.

I am the creator of my own experience. I have the power to affect change. Have the strength to live true to your awareness.

Crafting an identity.

Like you, I wear several hats. In my professional identity it has become increasingly important to specify what that hat looks like, and how I look when I’m wearing it. This way, others will recognize me and come to know me through my work.

In my (somewhat futile) attempts to publish first and sole-author manuscripts in peer-reviewed top-ranked research journals (i.e., reject, reject, reject), I am learning important lessons that continue to inform my practice as a writer, and shape what I do.

1. Don’t back down. Keep knocking at the door. These failures are lessons to teach me to be a better writer, and damn it, if it were easy what fun would it be? My daily writing practice supports my ambition to achieve these goals. I have 3+ active research manuscripts in progress and will keep stepping up to the plate.

2. My ideas matter. In the face of rejection (a.k.a., learning), I have recognized the power of sharing my ideas through informal writing (hence the blog). These parallel avenues allow me to develop and convey my ideas while exploring a more informal medium. Indeed, my writing about my writing brings clarity to my writing. Novel concept, huh?

3. The sharing of ideas is part of how ideas take shape. It is good (and socially acceptable and expected) that as individuals we convey a presence in both face-to-face, and online media. So I’m doing just that. For my online identity: follow the beauty I see in the world on Instagram. Follow one very small (yet growing) strand of the professional side of my life on ResearchGate or GoogleScholar. Follow my passion for yoga at Perennial Yoga and Meditation by practicing with me, or learning from my teachers and mentors whom I follow on Twitter or Facebook.

4. #progressinpress is now and will continue to be an important part of my work. It means that I am making a difference in the world with my ideas. Many of those ideas are literally in progress and will soon be in press. Ideas take time to grow, but the power of idea ideas lies in it’s potential to change the world.

5. Believe in your own work. I believe that in this grand universe I am part of something larger than myself, and will continue fighting the fight. I work for them. I work for you. Work with me.

6. The work of a writer is never finished. There is always more to write. In a future post, I’ll explore some of the ways I’ve learned to communicate my research to varied audiences, including an elevator speech. Research on students’ learning of mathematics is sexy? Yes. Yes it is. Stay tuned…

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What I do.

In my professional role as a mathematics education researcher, I write, I analyze, I discuss, I critique, I synthesize, I read, I ponder.

I seek to change the world with my ideas.

My work as a researcher is centered on my quest to better understand students’ meaningful learning of mathematics. This guiding motivation is at the core of what I do on a daily basis. Currently (the past three days) this work has centered on representational fluency in solving equations and conceptions of functions.

Representational Fluency

I research students’ meaningful learning of mathematics through investigations of students’ creation and interpretation of multiple representations in solving problems involving linear equations created using paper-and-pencil and computer algebra systems. The activity of working within and translating among graphs, tables, symbols, and words is central to meaning making and understanding of mathematical ideas. To characterize sophistication in students’ representational fluency, it is thus important to be able to model and visualize (1) the number and type of representations students use to solve problems, and (2) the nature of how students use these representations to make progress in solving a problem. Results of an interview study of ninth-grade students’ equation solving with multiple representations created with CAS and paper-and-pencil exemplify some of the rich variation possible in students’ sophistication in representational fluency. This study prompts a prudent reflection on theoretical assumptions about learning in relation to students’ representational processes. What do students “see” in representations? Is the relationship between students’ representational fluency and understanding of core concepts bi-directional and cyclical? If so, what does this look like? Perhaps the interplay of students’ perceptions and conceptions is an important lens to bring to bear.

Conceptions of Functions

Another way I understand students’ learning of mathematics is by analyzing students’ verbalizations and inscriptions in quantitatively rich task situations. These analyses focus on qualitative characterizations of students’ conceptions of functions in solving tasks in the context of a carefully sequenced teaching experiment. Over time, we are crafting a story of how students’ learning builds to robust mathematical conceptions in goal-directed activity of  analyzing functions and change. For example, we are exploring how students’ symbolization of functional relationships (as symbolic rules, e.g., Area=2Height^2 or y=ax^2) may be supported through their coordination of quantities (in the form of  numeric tables and pictoral visualizations of growing rectangles, lengths, heights, and areas).

Another aspect of my work that complements my focus on meaningful student learning is the design and testing of tasks and instruction involving mathematics technology. There is much more to come…

Fearlessness is a choice.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your own consent” – Elanor Roosevelt

I’ve decided I’m no longer afraid. This choice is completely empowering and transformative.

In letting go of the fear I have harbored so close to my heart I am now, once again, a powerful being.

In this moment, I celebrate the beauty of freedom of thought. Of freedom of expressions.

I relish in the beauty of clarity of mind. Clarity in speech. And clarity in intention.

What do you do with an idea?

I’ve recently been reminded of the power of an important lesson from a wonderful children’s story:

What do you do with an idea? You Change the world.

Today in revising my research agenda I found myself having greater clarity. This was helpful in thinking about my writing and analyses projects from which I’m becoming more comfortable. While I regret not taking more time to spend on a particular ~priority~ writing project, I’m also thankful for the other opportunities I’ve had today to learn, reflect, discuss, and write in ways that will hopefully change the world.

Keep the ideas flowing. Give them attention. Play with them. Nurture them and they will grow.

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