Recently, I taught a week-long yoga class series to a small group of eighth and nineth graders-- 2 1/2 hours every morning! The day before I started I had a conversation with my close friend, Wayne, that looked something like this:
W: You must be excited to work with these kids!
Me: I'm not.
W: Come on. Why not? I bet you're going to love it.
Me: I'm not. I'm doing this strictly for the money.
W: Really? You're going to be great. I bet they'll love you.
Me: I don't care. I'm doing it for the money. Period.
W: Well, I hope you have a transformation around this.
Me: I won't.
Every morning for 1/2 hour before I arrived the kid's main teacher would have a discussion with them about various kinds of mindfulness based concepts. When I walked in on day two they were talking about the practice of gratitude. I sat down with them and joined in the conversation. After each of them spoke out loud three things they were grateful for, I told the story of my gratitude jar:
About a year ago I was having a difficult time in my life. I remembered a powerful quote from Gandhi, "fill your heart with so much love that nothing else fits." In light of that, I created a gratitude jar. Everyday I would write down something I was grateful on a small strip of white paper, roll it into a scroll, swipe glue stick on the edge to seal it, and then drop it into the jar. This jar of gratitude represented a heart with so much gratitude that nothing else would fit.
After I told them that story, we went right into a yoga asana practice. When I got home I called my friend and confessed, "Wayne, I'm eating my words. I love these kids. I'm helping them, and they are helping me to grow." He was pleased. The week with them turned out to be one of those beautifully challenging life changing events.
At the end of week, right before class was over, as a gift, they handed me a glass jar filled with little white scrolls (pictured above.) Each scroll had on it something they were grateful for about yoga and/or my teaching. My eyes filled with tears.