In my class in the Language of Attentiveness, I’ve got a core of interested, curious teens. Most of them are fascinated by techniques of how to relax, how to disconnect from outside events and how to listen to their bodies.
Some, however, can not refrain from the impulsive curiousity that prevents them from working with attention. They have urgent questions, the need to pummel the one beside them, fascination at watching everyone else, endless opportunities to escape the self-study that comprises our core work.
What to do with those who cannot self-pause, but who giggle, babble or even jump up to tickle another student who’s lying down to participate in guided imagery?
Well, there’s one school of thought. This I call the Doron Lavie school of thought. Doron is my esteemed T’ai Chi / Chi Cong teacher. No matter who is chatting, he is focused on the cutta, on the movements we are doing. Not even a blink of the eye. He is in the movement we are doing.
If someone asks a question after the cutta or in the break, he’ll answer. He’ll offer information given by a sensei, or Master teacher who teaches in Japan or another location. He is patient and thoughtful. The Doron Lavie method.
I’ve tried this. I don’t consider tossing out pupils who giggle or interrupt. I choose to remind the group of the task and of the instructions: whether to refrain from talking or to sit quietly. I offer the option of writing down whatever is on their mind if a question pops up and they need to express it.
I do not want negativity in the room. This is the Doron ambience that works so well in the T’ai Chi sessions, Tuesday nights on Kibbutz Nir Oz. (If you’re in the area, contact me!)
This school of thought is clearly best exemplified by Doron, himself, or with students who seriously want to study. It finds particular success amongst pupils possessing the self-discipline to honor another’s personal space, or who can delay a question about where Doron was born or what he likes to do in his spare time.
Those who jump onto another’s mat or who simply must ask their question at that very second, do not respond well to the Doron Lavie method. As a result, the group suffers.
The other school of thought is to stop all work and physically remove those who are disturbing their classmates. This past Monday, this method was implemented. After 3 chances when the offenders promised to control themselves, but did not, they were sent out and instructed to return after 10 minutes.
We continued, happily engaged in relaxation when, after 5 minutes, the door opened and the 3 re-entered. I looked at them and held out 5 fingers and whispered that we need 5 more minutes. They responded loudly that they wanted to come back in and they wouldn’t bother us! All exhuberant and mood-busting.
Maintaining a quiet vibe, I re-signalled that they needed to leave and to wait 5 minutes. Believe it or not, the girls lying down on their mattresses were quite still, their eyes closed. Holding on to the non-negative mood of the body scan, I insisted that they leave and they finally did.
We continued. We shared what was experienced in our relaxation, and it was requested to deepen the relaxed state by experiencing the vibration of the Singing Bowl when placed on backs or bellies.
This was very cool. The bowl was placed on N’s back when lo and behold in barged the 3 girls demanding to be heard as they boisterously promised to be quiet.
This time I asked them if they wanted to join in the relaxation. They said they didn’t, they’d sit at the side. They said they wouldn’t bother us, just sit. I, as the teacher, was not interested in further opportunities for those not working to interfere with the calm feeling of those who were.
The two sides: the girls who wanted a safe environment for getting into relaxation and the others who were making them nervous.
The bottom line was clear. This was no time for such dichotomy of behaviour. Only at the discussion stage would such a polarity be positive. We could then discuss our differences towards the work at hand. We could discuss intention and what happens. We could discuss differences in attitude.
But during relaxation, the atmosphere needs to be quiet, safe, offering every chance for securely entering the zone of meditation.
So, what to do with gigglers who aren’t sensitive to the needs of the group. Gigglers who don’t quietly dismiss themselves till they can rejoin the group quietly?
Feel free to add your comments!