Knowledge is the depth of our being and we get to knowledge through observation-- clear, honest, unbiased observation. --Lee Lozowick
Coeur d'Alene is a small town, roughly 30,000 people-- on a few occasions I get the opportunity to interact with the kids parents from JDC, this week I met a Mom- who recently was released from jail serving 100 days. Her daughter was a runaway and the police came to the mother's residence asking for her daughter-- previous to this conversation the mother did not know her 15 year old daughter was missing. This young child lives with her father through a custody arrangment, her mom has been in and out of jail for years because of drinking and drugs-- of this childs life of 15 years her mom has been incarcerated a total length of time of 6 years. Knowing that I teach yoga at JDC she asked me to relay messages to her child-- one of the boundaries I do not cross at JDC-- the kids have to trust me and if they think I'm sharing their time and words with anyone the yoga will suffer.
As I entered the facility last night, and welcomed the girls onto their mats, the daughter of this Mom, said "Hey aren't you my mom's landlord?" Of which I did not respond-- Instead, I used the theme of the class as a slow sweet teaching of habit. I began the class by asking the girls if they know what habits are-- and one girl said smoking, one said drugs, one said sex (that for another post) and one girl who has been with me for a while said--"Jen I think a habit is defensiveness." So we expanded with defensiveness-- and I asked the girls when they feel they are using defensiveness as a habit-- one girl said, "I was called in to the principles office and I knew I was going to get my assed chewed, I hadn't done anything, but I still knew I was in trouble-- it turned out that I had left my lunch on the bus-- you know what was weird, I wasn't in trouble, but instead of taking my lunch, I immediately denied that it was mine-- that's weird right Jen, like I denied it was mine because I was afraid of getting in trouble."
These kids have been taught since they were little that no matter what they are in trouble-- their parents have patterned for them that they are in trouble-- no matter what-- which I think comes from the fight or flight center they are constantly in --survival mode, therefore they cannot understand a moment when they are not defensive. Imagine living your life in constant fear of everything. Another girl said, "When I was young, we lived in some apartments where the police came all the time-- whenever they would come, my mom would shut the curtains, and tell us to hide in the cupboard-- and stay quiet. Ever since then if a knock comes to my door and even here, I instantly want to hide--- that's what you mean right?"
We talked more about patterned and habits and how the girls feel about things, they really questioned why they feel certain ways. In the practice, we worked the idea of habits and tendencies in poses-- for example, in Tadasana it's easier to stand slumped over because that is a tendency than it is to stand straight which is your given architecture. And when the daughter of the mom wasn't trying, another girl turned to her and said, see that's a habit right- she's afraid to try. I thought this would turn into a bad situation, but the girl not trying stopped, and said "yeah I do that a lot-- why try, I'm going to end up the same way my mom has drunk and with someone who is not my kid"-- and then she stood there, you could actually see her thinking, and she said "but I have a choice, I could try and see what happnes." And she did- she really listened to the asana instructions and she tried every pose to it's fullest-- at the end of yoga after savasana she sat up and looked straight at me and said, thank you ---nothing more nothing less, she walked taller than she did when she came in. She observed her behavior with clear unhonest unbiased observation and she saw herself for the first time a confident, strong young woman.