I'm sitting at the Breaking New Grounds Cafe in Portsmouth, fresh out of teaching two yoga classes today at Yoga by Donation. It is a yoga studio in Portsmouth, NH that lives on donations, which means people, regardless of their means, can take a yoga class and make a donation within their means. The first class was at 7:30am. I met a new student, who used to live in Alexandria Virginia (the city where mumu and I got married :). The second class was at 12pm. I had the nice surprise of meeting 15 lovely men and women from the Great Bay Services. We had a fun-filled class, some of it was classical yoga, some was pure giggling but overall a fun activity for everyone. The students had a number of different developmental disabilities. But all of them were present in the room regardless of whether they could do the poses or not. And if they couldn't, they just picked it up with the next pose. You could see that they really really worked hard. No complaining, no visible ego.
At the end of the class, the lovely lady who brought them in asked me if I had ever taught adults with DD before. I haven't but I thought of all the adults that I worked with. One adult walking out of my class after one pose. Other ones rolling their eyes with impatience or some other ones reflecting their anger with their bodies towards me. I said no but I would prefer these adults to some of my previous students without a doubt! She then asked if I'd be interested in working with them. Then one of the students asked if they would see me again. I said yes, I hope so. I may end up volunteering some time to Great Bay Services to teach yoga there. Isn't life filled with wonderful coincidences? I had no idea who would come to my class today. Definitely very pleasantly surprised :)
In my morning class, we talked about mantras, choosing a word or a group of words to represent a goal, an intention or the state of your being at any given moment. It's an ancient method adopted by some athletes such as marathon runners and it was shown that repeating a mantra in your head calms down the nervous system by giving you something to focus on rather than your panic. I did panic a little bit in my second class today. Not because I didn't know what to do or didn't feel competent. But because I wanted to give something meaningful to my students and didn't really know what that was. In a child pose while contemplating my next move, I found myself saying 'help me, help me, help me, please help me.'. Then I found myself smiling whenever I met their eyes. Saying words of encouragement, repeating my actions slowly, telling them they looked perfect wherever they are, lifting my arms and legs in a funny way and making them laugh and I kept going, kept going, kept going... And they held my hand and told me it was warm, and they asked my help to be able to lie down and they kept smiling, they kept smiling...
So that's what I did today. How do I know if I made a difference? What does it mean to make a difference? Why am I even here? What is my purpose here? What is it that I am supposed to do here? What is it that I am supposed to find?
The pure truth is I don't know. I wake up every morning and there's this fire inside me that burns, that propels me forward, that makes me buy new yoga books, that tells me to check out that new yoga class, try out that pose, work on my quadriceps, read more on everything, lift my head high when I walk, take my trash and recyclables out, cook food with love, enjoy my meals, enjoy my chocolate croissant :), live a little deeper, love a little deeper, every day, wake up, stand up, lift my chin up and try again.
And that's what I do, and sometimes like today, the questions though, they come up screaming, trying to rip my chest apart and come out in a single burst. I listen and I sigh.