Written Jan 28, 2013, posted Feb 4
Today I met with the group of inmates at the county jail in V-Pod and we began another 6-week course in Pilates, imagery and mind-body techniques for managing stress, anxiety, depression and anger. The 6 women seemed very interested and glad to be there, they are from the general population, not from solitary confinement/lock-down, as was the last group I worked with.
Today's class plan was focused on goal-setting. Judging by what little I can detect about these women and their circumstances, it's pretty unlikely that they have been to a Pilates conference or a yoga retreat. They don't know how to set or reach a goal for wellness or peacefulness.
My classes begin and end with a minute of silent self-inquiry. This is how students can tell if a class made an impact or not. A vague or fleeting sense of "I feel good" isn't nearly good enough to effect a change in habits or thought processes. (Do you remember, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter is asked to recall a really good memory because it will shield him from a hostile creature known as a Dementor. His spell fails and Professor Lupin tells Harry the memory he chose wasn't "nearly good enough".)
It's sort of like that.
If your students never take the time and notice the change in physical experience is really something great, meaningful, helpful, enjoyable, change-making.... then your students are very unlikely to repeat it or stick with it. This is really the only way to block the real-life Dementor "Entropy".