In one of the children's courses in GIIS, a boy came up to me and said....this is quite boring! My friends and I were talking during the break and we found the speaker's voice boring and couldn't understand some of the things he said. Why do we have to do this?
This was a tough one to deal with. Looking from the boy's point of view... in a world of "cool" things, techno savvy people, glitz and glamour, listening to an elderly gentleman on a video or audio speaking about some age old practice hardly seems appealing.
However, I am convinced about Goenkaji's teaching, following his instructions have helped me, and I have experienced the truth in his words. For me it is not a blind belief or faith or reverence. Yes, he may not speak like a modern-day motivational leader. But listen to the content of what he says and it makes a lot of sense.
So I said to this boy: I see what you mean....but what I want you to do is to focus on what he has to say. You know, sometimes people may not speak in a way you like or in a "cool" way. But there might be something valuable in what they say. So can you do this exercise? When he speaks just pay attention to what he says--just follow his instructions and if you don't understand come and ask me and I will explain it to you..is that ok with you?
He said ok and went away. I did not have a chance to have this conversation with him again, however he raised his hands to answer a couple of questions I asked when I was conducting the subsequent sessions.
Then, there was this girl who asked: How will this help me when I am studying?
I asked: When you sit down to study...your books are there with you, you are physically present--your body is there with you... but where is your mind?
She smiled a bit sheepishly and said: Oh far away!
I said: And then you hear your mom's/teacher's voice asking you to concentrate?
She said: yes..
I said: And you don't know how to do that?
She said: I try to concentrate but my mind wanders off again!
I said.: When your mind wanders away... where does it wander?
She said: Oh I may be thinking of something that my friend said in school or may be thinking of a game I played or---just thinking of different things... like when will I go to India again.
I said: If you notice what you just told me, your mind goes off into the past or the future.
She nodded her head.
I said: That is the habit pattern of the mind.. it goes off into the past or the future. So now we are training the mind to stay in one place. Tell me, can I ask you "Focus on how you breathed yesterday.. does that make sense to you?"
She said with a little laugh: No..
I said: Can I say "Focus on how you are going to breathe tomorrow?"
more laughter...: No
I said: So you see I can only ask you to observe your breath now... as it enters your nostrils and as it leaves your nostrils. The breath is in the present--that is the truth--you are alive. So focusing on the breath is being with the present moment. So next time you notice your mind wandering away, try focusing on your breath.. the mind will automatically return to the present moment.
She said: Oh! so when I am studying, when my mind wanders away, if I focus on my breath, I come back to the present and I can begin studying again! Oh! I'll do that.