A student rushes in late. She hasn’t been to class for a couple of weeks, says she’s frazzled and overwhelmed.
I’m teaching a class about moving with resistance. The class unfolds and so do her feelings and I notice the lesson that started without her was hers. She and this class begin a dance and she follows its lead.
We first follow the conservative approach to a pose. Where is the resistance? Where does it begin and what compensates for that? We revisit this and each subsequent pose in a seated, non-traditional flow. Spine follows a rolling pelvis, limbs follow, then pull to coax the spine to lengthen again, rocking, twisting, yielding, falling, breathing our way in and out of the forms. We hold each one a final time sitting with lingering resistance till that resistance plays out. Now where is the resistance? What has changed?
And I ask the class, how can you know what you’re dealing with if you don’t confront the conflict first? You can’t ignore it but if you force your will carelessly it may result in stress moving to a less obvious place. Go in and out of the knot to find a graceful way forward.
My student suddenly says, “It seems like people are just mean these days. What’s going on?” She tells us about bees that surround a single wasp to kill it by vibration. She says she feels like the wasp.
Another student says, “When people are mean or rude, just let them have their way and ignore them.” I weigh in that ignoring people who are vibrating you to death won’t save you but make your death passive. Ignoring antagonism works when the issue is not personal but otherwise it causes passive aggression which will make you sick anyway. You need to meet the resistance and find a way to deal with it. The first student cries out that as a school director it is her job is to manage people and it seems like she constantly has to placate people who she would rather deal with otherwise. It is making her sick.
Their bodies continue the conversation without words and I offer a final consideration as they began savasana: Notice anything that calls your attention. Tension calls attention. Give it energy. Describe it in every word you can find until it is satisfied. When something is crying for attention it will not go away by ignoring it. It will go away when it is addressed. Defining and describing it will make it obvious. Then it will lose its power. Then you can move on.
That student later called to say she’d had an epiphany after class and had made some decisions that left her with a peaceful mind. I imagined the quiet after the vibration of the bees slowed and disappeared. And I felt her relief, grateful to be part of it. I hope to remember this lesson for another time and I mark it here for posterity.