Class Relax

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Focus and relaxation

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Third Meeting: Exit 2 boys, group of only girls.

Our formal entrance into the large Relaxation Room! Windows, air, space!

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Well, not exactly like the picture, but our new room certainly feels this way to me!

Our group sat in our welcoming circle and it was clear that the two boys were not comfortable, that they had arrived without resolve to stay. One boy, J, announced that there were too many people, that he missed the intimacy of our first semester group. N announced that he was leaving because of his unwillingness to be together with certain of the participants. I guided him out as he turned to emphasize his reason for leaving.  My need to counsel him was far less urgent than my need to deal with the words he’d tossed into the room.

My role is to lead these pupils in the practice of mindfulness, to notice what is taking place within their minds and the feelings that arise and so I repeated this to them after the closing of the door.

Certain issues cannot be solved by magic or by the desire to change others. Each must deal with his or her own varieties of input and narrative. The fact that someone accuses someone else of something is a product of their own issues.

G asked me if a teacher calls her ‘cheeky or rude’, is it because she herself is cheeky or rude?

Aha, someone’s been listening. “It could be, but that doesn’t give you a license to behave rudely to her!”

We began with a survey of the homework. Who had managed to notice 20 breaths each morning? A few had. They said that it went okay. One used my reminders on What’s App. One girl said that she started to do the exercise, then got interrupted by someone speaking to her and didn’t go back to it.

“Yes, isn’t that how it is. We resolve to do something, then something happens and we forget or lose track or lose our intention.

It’s not easy to come back, yet that’s what we need to practice. How to come back to our intention even after we’re distracted.”

We began by breathing for the count of 5, using our fingers. They all succeeded. We went to 10. No problem.

I asked them how was it when they sat in a group with others doing the same?

“It’s easier,” someone said.

“Yes, it’s easier when we feel the support of others.”

I told them that we were going to try an exercise in couples. They needed to grab a mat, find a place on the floor. One was to lie down on her back. The other was to sit beside her and simply watch her stomach – the rise and fall as she breathed. If they chose, they could lightly place a hand on her belly. It was up to them. We’d do it for 2 minutes.  Afterwards they’d share how it was and then we’d switch positions.

woman-lying-down-relaxing

And off they went. Two minutes of quiet, then sharing. Then they switched. One girl didn’t want to lie down, she observed from the sidelines.  Another girl started giggling as soon as it was her turn to breathe and be observed by her friend.

The others looked over but then went back to the exercise.

The couples shared and then we came back to the group.

“Who wants to share?”

M, the giggly girl wanted to say something. “I started to laugh because T was watching me and it seemed so strange!”.

“How was it for you, T?”

“She was laughing, so I just watched her. I thought maybe she’d stop.”

“It is strange to be watched”, I agreed.  “When in life do we have the opportunity to simply breathe and have a friend watch over us?

Did anyone find it helpful? “

“Yes, it was good. I could concentrate better.” A few nodded.

And so, we came back to the circle. To ourselves. This time, we used the Tibetan Singing Bowl to focus on the sound. I suggested that there might be noises from outside and that was okay, they were to notice them and then come back to listening to the Singing Bowl.

And so it was. Noises from outside. Apparently the 9th grade building has a bustling lobby during classtime.

They shared. Some girls were quite mellow. They weren’t bothered by the noises.

Then, O asked for ‘Relaxation’. She was excited by the notion that we could finally have space to lie down in this new space.

I led them through a short Body Scan. Most of the girls were perfectly still for the 8 minutes that remained of our time together. Towards the end, I indicated that at the signal, they were to slowly roll onto their sides, resting. I signalled, then after a minute or so, I led them through the transition to sitting. I told them they’d soon get up, put away the mats, tie their shoes and quietly leave the room.

Their homework: They were to write me privately in What’s App: “What did you learn today? “

What had I learned? I learned that gentle peacefulness can last more than a few seconds in this workshop. The nature of this group was yet to be determined. Surely some of the pupils would feel freer to show their personalities.

Looking forward to out next class and our first Tea Ceremony. Have a good, safe week.

jill bads coloured page

Teapot! by Jill Badonsky

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