The Element Space & Wait Time
I had an experience this week in one of my yoga classes interacting with a 10 year old girl that could help you see the value in kids who seem to distract everyone else by taking up a lot of room, making noises and craving attention. An intense desire to constantly get filled up by other people’s energy is one way that having an overabundance of the element Space can manifest. Kids who basically claim the whole space for themselves and need constant input can be tricky for a teacher to manage. A couple of weeks into the session I let this girl know with no fuzzy boundaries that she is better than the behavior she’s been bringing and any actions that were unbecoming of her best self, the girl she is when she feels proud and great, will not be tolerated in the yoga room. If she needed to scream,run or fall down, she could do so outside in a place where I could still see her but the others could not. I continued to fill her up with the truth of what she was doing well like showing up enthusiastically, helping others, holding crow pose, being open to new experiences and each class I pointed at the door less and less. She never did go outside; my non-verbal reminder was enough.
Kids who seem to be in a Space all of their own that the rest of us aren’t occupying at the moment need to be taught how to focus, so one pointed focus was my theme for this week. I taught them to use a drisht, to fix their gaze on a non-moving point that shifted depending on the pose. They all worked through a sequence of intense poses to build one pointed focus and when they struggled I asked them to think about what would be better in their life if they actually knew how have keen focus on one thing at a time. Would anything change at school and at home? This one girl wanted it BAD because she is very familiar with the misery that comes from not being able to pay attention.
Intense focus takes a lot of energy, so by the time they finished the sequence they needed a long Savasana to absorb the benefits of the poses. During Savasana I read the story The Three Questions. It is about a boy seeking answers to the questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? It begins with three different characters giving the boy their opinions and the boy deciding to journey on. He winds up asking a wise turtle for the answers and then doing garden work to help the turtle when all of the sudden a big storm comes along. The boy ends up saving the lives of a mother panda and her baby because he hung around to help the turtle. I won’t tell you the answers to these questions but after Savasana I asked my class how this story related to one pointed focus. Many of the girls had great answers such as the boy had to really focus on where the cries were coming from to find the baby panda or if he hadn’t been able to focus on the garden he wouldn’t have been in the right place to even help the pandas. This one very spacious girl who was still sprawled out lying down raised her hand. She began to talk, then laughed, then started to agree with the others and then backtracked and wiggled around. There was around ten or so seconds of silence, and this is where the concept of “wait time” comes in. To allow someone who is very spacious the time to collect their thoughts is very empowering.
As an instructor of kids who take up a lot of space we often have the urge to contain them – to get them to be in the moment with us- so we jump in and prompt their answers. I held in my heart the knowing that she was going to be able to get it together and that she had something important to contribute to the class. That through this practice, she was filled up enough to give. When she spoke, it was an incredibly profound answer. She said something completely different from what any of the other girls came up with about how the story related to one pointed focus. What she had to say was that the boy at the beginning of the story heard three different answers from three different characters to the questions and none of their answers sat right in his heart. He was focused on finding his own truth and not taking someone else’s opinions to be okay for himself. And so by allowing this very spacious girl the time to gather herself, we were all given wise insight into finding our own Truth.
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