Class Relax

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Paying Attention – with a twist

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We began with a short breathing meditation.

Then I opened:
“Do you remember what we spoke about last week?”

Um, we did a meditation.

It was TUZA?

We listened to the singing bowl.

We had to answer 3 questions.

“Yes, we did. We were talking about ‘paying attention’. We read a quote stating that you can’t really listen to anybody while doing something else.”

They remembered.

“Then, we divided into pairs and we listened to our partner speak about a time when someone wasn’t really listening to them. Do you remember?”


“Today, I invite you to share if you’d like, how you felt during a time when you wanted to share something and the person wasn’t really paying attention.”

I offered our talking piece to the first girl. A spoke about how it’s discouraging when a friend doesn’t really pay attention, but on the other hand, she, herself, finds it hard to really pay attention all the time.

Now, our talking piece is a lovely soft crocheted ball stuffed with loosely packed sand. She passed it over to R who wanted to comment.  R agreed with A and added that it all depends. If the person is talking about something interesting, then it’s easier to pay attention. Or if it’s a good  friend speaking then she’ll pay attention.  But if not, it’s a lot harder.

She pummeled the little talking piece on her knee while she finished and to my dismay, the sand started to leak. (an unfortunate development being I love that little ball for its comfort value)

Another A wanted to comment, but I needed to take the talking piece out of circulation..

“Please pass me the ball.”  I mirrored what had been said so far, asking them if that was what they’d intended. Meanwhile I selected  a different talking piece: a red foam rubber ball which also doubles as a clown nose.  I passed the piece to A.


The other A was quite sure of what she wanted to say. She began by informing us that she was going to say something that she’d never told anyone before. Then she promptly put on the red nose. This, clearly, was her ally to proceed.  A few girls laughed and she, herself, giggled but didn’t hesitate and went on to speak about a boy who’d let her down in a massive betrayal of her trust and how awful she felt.

Someone else wanted to speak. Again, the red nose was put in position and this time, the girl spoke of how a good friend had spread a secret even though she’d been sworn to secrecy.

Another girl wanted to speak and say that she didn’t trust the people in the room and so there were many things she wouldn’t be saying. Certain things were only for certain friends’ ears.


The nose.

The magic of the nose.

Girls were sharing their true thoughts and they were eager to do so.

Once upon a time, I’d conducted a women’s creative drama group. We used masks

(more specifically a specially-made papier mache monkey mask  similar to this 1680fc9c9fb36bbbee17c1200e797068)

This mask was license to share, to purge, to release secrets and feelings that had been silent due to lack of an accepted venue for their expression.

How wonderful it had been back then to be able to express! And to embellish!  

The red nose offered a similar protection. One small item to disguise one’s everyday image offered license to share.

Tea Time

Soon it was time for tea and discussion. A few girls organized the preparation and then we spoke about tea: where it came from, how it came to our room, how the actual cup of tea was made, and how we might appreciate the warmth in our hand, the scent of the tea and the taste.

I suddenly felt the presence of a  teaching moment. I took the talking piece and waited for their attention:

“We have an opportunity here to pay attention to the moments of our lives, to value the fact that here in this room we are safe to do so, to pay attention to ourselves, to others. Here, we can be quiet enough to listen and to notice when we aren’t paying attention. This place is unusual and rare. Take advantage of these sessions of ours, for they are unlike any other classes you take in school. “

If the girls heard me? I don’t know.

But the atmosphere was such that the feelings were good.

Homework: Their task was to listen to someone they didn’t like. Someone who is generally hard to listen to. Pay attention to what happens as they make the effort to listen.

Had they heard me? They had! Would they do it? To be seen!


Happy New Year to all. May we pay attention to the beautiful things among us, and appreciate the love that is offered as it’s offered, in whichever form.

“We can’t control the waves, but we can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn


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