The last meeting of Semester One.
I had plans.
Tea and a communal drawing.
I planned that one pupil would volunteer to lie down on a large piece of bristol board so that we could sketch the outline of his upper body. I imagined that then we’d have a group colouring session in which we’d all take turns drawing the areas of the body. Perhaps chakras, perhaps not.
This was not to be. The pupils assured me that if J hadn’t been sick that day, he would have happily volunteered to be sketched, but alas with his absence, the body sketch remained a dream.
And so we began with tea. One pot was filled with lemon grass and mint. The other with ‘Sheba’ and lemon grass.
I introduced the final meditation: on the taste of figs. I brought out a plate of dried figs.
I guided them. “First, examine them visually, then select one. Pick it up. Look at the colours, the form. Sense the texture, the size, the shape with your fingers. Now, smell the fig. When you’re ready, bite into it. Feel the fig on your teeth, your tongue.
What do you feel? What do you taste? Notice it before you swallow.
If you don’t like it, you can put it back.”
Our task was to notice: pleasant or unpleasant and all the components that went into that experience.
Apparently only I like figs. All the figs minus one bite, returned to the plate. I ate mine after class!
Then, we went into a Semester review.
What was your favourite exercise?
M: I loved colouring
R: I liked drinking tea
Me: Did you enjoy the relaxation exercises lying down on the mats?
I got 4 yes-es and 1 no. The ‘no’ was because of a distinct distrust of the cleanliness of the mats.
Me: If you had brought your own sheet to cover the mat?
Me: If you had brought your own yoga mat?
Note: When we, as teacher-students in our training course for Safat HaKeshev, were told to lie down on cushions or on the floor, we never worried or fussed. Perhaps it was because we trusted the space. Perhaps this was because living our lives in the real world, where absolute sterility doesn’t exist, it was a non-issue. Perhaps it was because we knew that we were lying down for a multitude of good reasons. We trusted our teacher and knew that each exercise brought us closer to our own inner calm as well as an experiential understanding of what worked for us. When we shared afterwards with the group, we learned how others responded. Each exercise was more than worth doing.
Thus, each activity I bring to my grade 8 students widens my understanding of how this age group responds. Whether I hear an ‘Ah’ or ‘Ew’, all are valid. My task is to reflect back to them and offer them a chance to experience their response, to linger within it, not just run the other way.
After the first few cups of tea, we dealt with the all important topic of who I’ll allow into the group during the upcoming semester. I assured them that I had made it known that our enrollment number was limited due to the size of our Relaxation Room. I also told them that in the end, it was not my decision but rather up to the Official Grade 8 Workshop Administration! Nonetheless, this exclusivity of who would be in the group continues to intrigue them.
Our final collective activity was inspired by R’s fascination with the paper cut-out art on the wall of the Relaxation Room. We agreed we’d work on cut-outs and make a group poster.