Friday 3 July 2009

Day 11: The ripple effect of stillness in chaos

I was working with a group of teenagers today. I started with one teen, then 15 minutes later two more arrived, so I began. Fifteen minutes later, another two teens arrived. So I started again… Fifteen minutes after that, another teen arrived: at that point we had 10 minutes left, I did not begin again!

Teenagers are great at pushing boundaries. Although that doesn’t always feel so great when I'm trying to work with them. Yesterday, I got to a point where I wondered how I was ever going to get the group to focus on the work in hand and I could feel myself beginning to lose my patience. As my inner dictator was beginning to emerge, I noticed that I was blindly reacting to them. They were in control, not me.

So I took 2 seconds to remember my mantra, ‘care and attention’. In that moment, I felt a little inner stillness… I calmed down. I then changed from reacting to responding, which has a qualitatively different tone. To react is passive and unthinking. To respond is active and reflective. I was inwardly pleased, because I so often forget to recentre when I’m in the middle of an intense situation.

But what surprised was that, a little later, I realised that they had calmed down too. At first I didn't even notice it, until I suddenly realised that they were concentrating on the sheet we were working on. They unconsciously picked up on my inner shift and it affected them too.

Yet another triumph for the 'care and attention' principle!

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