How to help

I went to a yoga class this evening that was part of my one free week of unlimited classes. I’m still sore from the first class on Friday, and tonight I felt pretty limited. What was odd tonight, for me, was that I wasn’t entirely interested in how the other people in the class were, compared to my level of ability. I haven’t really done yoga for more than a few weeks at a time with years between those phases, but nevertheless, I see competition wherever I am– even when I’m aware I cannot be that good at yoga as I’ve hardly done it. However, tonight I was more considerate of my physical needs than my emotional needs. I let the instructor help me without getting mad at myself for not doing it correctly in the first place. I adjusted as I felt necessary, for myself. Then I thought, “These people don’t care about that. They’re here to improve their own health, not to compete with everyone or anyone else.” I saw the class from a different perspective. For a few moments, from time to time, I realized the instructor was there to help her students do what they wanted to do with their class. She was there to help and to guide (and eventually collect some sort of pay, as that place is spendy).
What I took away from that class, beside feeling generally fat, was that that class was a collection of people in one space at one time concerned about their welfare as well as that of their classmates. The instructor especially was very gracious.
The class led me to consider a group of high schoolers I saw today for a music therapy session I provided. I’d met these kids one time last week, and won’t be seeing them again. What these particular kids have in common, apart from being students at the same high school, is that they each have experienced familial loss in the recent past. Some of the kids have lost loved ones to homicide and gang violence. I enjoyed them last week, but was anxious about leading a group today. They were great today, as I expected. Most of them were engaged in the experience– songwriting with words associated to loss, grief, and memory– and all of them had input. But what I found most fascinating was that when one or two of the students tried to agitate the group or move it off course, I wasn’t so much the one to collect focus as much as two other kids. Soon, the group would become cohesive again and we’d progress in the experience. I admired that quality about the group. Each student responded in some way to one another, and most of it really was positive. Not all of them knew each other’s names, and I am led to believe the only “class” they have in common is the grief group, but regardless, each student responded to and encouraged the whole of the group. They wanted to help. They wanted and needed direction, which I could definitely improve in doing, but once that was provided, they were on board.
Some of them are struggling with violence in their everyday existence. I am sure there are gang members in that school. A lot of them are trying to fend for themselves, I imagine, and some of them don’t catch a break. But I really felt that the students in that particular group, dealing with that specific kind of death and loss, truly wanted to be helpful people in some respect. They just might not know how to do it.

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