Tuesday, 15 May 2018

What is calm?

 I used to go to yoga classes at the gym fairly regularly and I found the shivasana part at the end of the class challenging.  Shivasana is corpse pose - you lay flat on your mat on your back, arms just out from your sides, palms up and you breathe slowly while the teacher talks you through a relaxation exercise.  You scan your body, part by part, and release any tension.  The lights are usually dim and the music, if any, is quiet.  I struggled with shivasana.  I would lay there and think about all the things I needed to do when I left the gym, and go over an argument I had with one of my kids, or think about a challenge I was dealing with at work.  Then I'd force myself back to my body and a few seconds later I was busy 'monkey mind' again. I forced myself to stay on the mat, even though some people left before shivasana.
After a long time, maybe a couple of months of yoga class, I was lying there on my mat at the end of class one day and the instructor said, 'when you're ready, move your wrists. When you're ready, move your ankles...' This is the beginning of the end of shivasana - then you slowly return to sitting position and do some breathing but the class is ending.  And as i was laying there, I thought "I'm not ready! I don't want to move yet."  I was so relaxed.  I think that's when I realized, 'This is what calm feels like."

In self-reg, our goal is to help students (and teachers and parents) to get to a place where they are calm, alert and ready to learn. Students can't learn if their limbic alarm is kindled. No one can learn if they are in a state of fight, flight or freeze. But how can we support people in being calm, alert and ready to learn if they don't know what calm feels like? If they can't recognize what it is to feel calm?

In today's hyperkinetic, multitasking, always connected society, where many of us reach for our phones the moment we feel the slightest twinge of boredom, how do learn what calm feels like? How do we help students recognize what it feels like to be calm?

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