Our Chanukah session was filled with relaxation and light. That gave me the courage to resume after the break by approaching the subject of refraining from speech. I told the pupils that I’d do a little explaining, but that during the exercises they were to refrain from speaking until I signalled ‘time-to-share’. That set the stage!
This is no easy feat for N who lives life noisily.
When we do our breathing, he makes noises.
When we need to signal the moment that we cease to hear the sound of the Tibetan Singing Bowl, he snaps his fingers again and again.
When it’s his turn to sound the Bowl, he may attempt a few gentle tones but inevitably he’ll clang, causing others to jump.
When we do chi cong warm-ups or other brain gym types of movements to encourage mind awareness, he goes for the excess – the extra jump, the more rambunctious kick. And the commentary to make sure we notice.
And then, when we do a full body scan, he’ll shift and fidget on his mattress until I signal the time to slowly roll onto our sides and then into a seated position. Suddenly then, he’s stone silent, neither moving nor talking, full fledged relaxation.
‘N’, roll onto your side. No response.
But no ‘N’. He’s deeply settled into another plane. This often happens to him.
He can’t seem to fit into the boundaries of the exercises, but uses those guidelines to make his own.
He’s a creative boy, a boy with a good sense of humour, and a caring boy.
He simply doesn’t follow instructions.
What to do?
This particular group of pupils is with me for one semester, only. It’s coming to an end at the end of January. That gives me one month. For that month, I’d like to experiment how to maximize the opportunities to experience mindfulness.
I need to detach from my observation of the one noisy one in favour of allowing the others to express themselves.
I have questions, of course
Without N’s distractions, might some other revolutionary emerge?
Which kids are repressing responses? How will the nature of the group change? Without one person to occupy so much verbal space, which other voices will arise?
Will my creativity flourish without N’s interruptions?
One doesn’t know. Anything’s possible.
We know that the teacher’s response is under a microscope. I look at how Doron Lavie, tai chi teacher, deals with those who talk while we are working. He doesn’t. He doesn’t give them any attention. He continues to concentrate, and so doing provides an example. Some of the adults in the room used to say ‘SHhhh’ to the one causing the disturbance, but that has stopped.
No negative comments are expressed in the room.
This is a powerful tool. I, too, believe in fostering a positive atmosphere. It makes for a freer feeling, a sensation of safety.
Back to the 8th grade session
During our last class, I decided to bring us back to basics. We checked our pulse when we began the session, (base line) and then after physical movement to check the difference.
We saw the difference. We also saw that simply checking our pulse brought us to a more centred place. Homework: to check our pulse at moments of stress or anger.
Is it possible? Who can remember to do such a thing at the very moment of stress? Is it impossible? And what can we learn from that!
Everything brings us back to the lab of learning about ourselves.
And in these days of so much strife in the larger global picture, our best recourse is to try to be in touch with ourselves.
May we all enjoy this last week of 2015.