Author: Jack K '20
For many students, including myself, Urban can often feel like a full-time job that can be hard to walk away from. Even after school ends, Urban continues to bring new challenges home with you, such as essays, projects and studying, which can make it seem impracticable to find time for yourself. However, I have learned that this does not always have to be the case. After two years of attending Urban, I finally learned that while there will be times when it is best to go home and work, mentally, working around the clock day in and day out will never be sustainable for 12 weeks. As my advisor told me, "It is impossible to sprint a marathon, which is why you must pace yourself by taking time for yourself throughout the trimester." Taking time for yourself can be many things. For some, it's running, for others, it's going to the gym, and for me, it's biking. Being able to channel your energy in another way outside of Urban is a healthy way in which you can find a balance between your school and personal life, which, for many, can be hard to implement into their lives at first try. I know my frosh and sophomore self would think something this sounds crazy, asking, "why would you want to waste time on yourself when you can finish up your work?" However, my argument now is, there will always be more work, but there won't always be more time, which is why rewarding yourself during the week is a good way for you to continue to have stamina throughout the trimester (marathon), while also taking advantage of your limited time in High School. Urban is and always will be a challenging environment that demands a lot of U, but Urban also wants U to be U, which is why letting yourself take a moment to tap into your passion is the best way to be a happy, confident, and prepared throughout your short time as a student at The Urban School.
Author: William D '20
If you’re like me, you procrastinate and/or have anxiety. In my years of procrastinating, I’ve learned a few things about how to admit I’m human and be ok with my procrastination habits occasionally, while still getting things done. Here are the procrastination strategies:
Anxiety is more difficult to deal with. I haven’t found a way of completely eliminating it, but I have a few strategies to make it more bearable:
Not only do I find it relaxing to focus on my breathing, but watching the gif itself also helps.
If you are interested in how procrastination and anxiety work together to make people miserable, check out this ted talk.
Author: Robert C '20
Hi all. If any of you guys want to relieve some stress or just love to watch dope videos about food, I strongly recommend Bon Appetit's youtube channel. They do a bunch of random videos that provide an appealing array of enticing cooking videos with chefs that have a lot of personalities. For example, they recreated Lucky Charms with common healthy cooking ingredients. This has helped me relax and take my mind off school as well as learn more about how to cook. Here is a link to a video of a chef making Skittles!
Throughout my growing up, whenever I got too anxious for my mother to handle she would storm out of the room and shout “just go meditate!” in a feeble attempt to calm me down. As one might expect, this didn’t make me very eager to look into the transformative effects the practice could have on my life.
I was certainly not unique in being opposed to – and intimidated by – the concept of setting time aside to sit and do nothing but pay attention to my breath every day. With anxiety being the primary driving force behind productivity in high school, it’s easy for the brain to rationalize that meditation is a “waste of time” and that we have “better stuff to do.” But – if you are someone who spends a good chunk of time every day playing video games or scrolling through Instagram, what makes meditation any more unproductive? Odds are, your resistance to meditation is discomfort disguised as practicality.
A meditation session can be however long you want it to be. It can be as short as one minute (during the minute of silence) or as long as ten months (check this out). The most common practice, and easiest to start off with, is just sitting silently and paying full attention to your breath. I find that it helps to mentally say “bu” on the inhale, and “dah” on the exhale to draw my attention in more fully. This is so that my inner voice has less room to jump in and assault me with seemingly urgent thoughts. The primary purpose of meditation is to give us a pause from our neurotic thinking patterns and relax into the simple joy of being present and alive. Once we focus our consciousness on our breath rather than our thoughts, we make room for peace and warmth to come in.
As soon as you get comfortable and silent before meditating, your neurotic inner voice will start generating all kinds of thoughts to fight against your practice. “I’m so uncomfortable… this isn’t doing anything… I don’t see any thoughts in here… my time would be much better spent doing my math recycle… I’ll just meditate later.” It can be extremely challenging not to act on these thoughts at first – just know that they are not you. You are the one who observes these thoughts passing before you. You are the silent and knowing awareness of the thoughts who has the ability to choose whether or not to associate with them.
You may be thinking, “What do you mean? How can there be a distinction between me and my thoughts? There’s no one but me in here…” That is your internal voice – and if you pay too much attention to it you lose your awareness of who you are. Your being aware is not contingent on the existence of these thoughts. The thought of awareness without these thoughts may be scary, but it is indescribably liberating. Just think: when you are skiing or participating in some sort of fast-paced activity where there is no time for abstract thinking, it is pure bliss and flow. These activities draw you out of your patterns of thoughts and mental abstraction and force you into the reality of the present moment with only awareness. Just imagine if you could live your life with that much presence!
If you really watch what your internal voice has to say about the world, you’ll notice that it constantly feels vulnerable and threatened, and therefore lives in a state of fear and want – unless it feels good about itself based on external circumstances. Just think about it – that needy voice has led you around your whole life! What would it be like to be conscious apart from that voice’s demands? Have the courage to just be in your body and bypass your brain. Try to feel what it feels like to be alive and relax into that feeling. The feeling of being you and not your thoughts. Relax into the calming rhythm of your breath.
That is the purpose of meditation – to separate us from our panicked brains that seem to have problems with everything, and instead relax into our true being. Our true being accepts all – and therefore has no problems. It helps us see that life is not as complex and cruel as our brains make it out to be. If you are willing to explore this by starting a daily practice, I recommend meditating for five minutes in the morning or evening, and slowly expanding that time as you become more comfortable with longer sits.
There is so much more to being alive than pursuing the needs of our neurotic thought patterns. Mentally understanding this does not reveal the truth of it, you have to feel the beauty and warmth in consciousness. Have the courage to experience the joy of being for yourself.
P.S. If you’d like more resources to delve deeper into becoming more conscious and present, I’ve found that the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is an amazing resource. Additionally, the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland holds a free teen meditation event every Wednesday at 7pm titled Teen Sangha. Feel free to email me if you have any questions, want book recommendations, want to carpool to EBMC on Wednesdays, or just want to talk!