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Friday, April 2, 2010

Yoga For Bullies

Had I known how to express Yoga in Kindergarten when I witnessed my first case of bullying, I would have had all eight or so of those little snot-nosed meanies drop and give me 10 Chaturangas, a full blown Ustrasana, and then a mighty Vrksasana while they all held hands and beamed love from their heart chakras towards the six year old they were tormenting. I remember this little boy like it was yesterday. This poor boy smelled like urine, was always dirty, and never said anything. I remember walking into the school to get a drink of water and around the water fountain was a mob of children standing around the water fountain while this poor, very smelly, and very sad little boy towerd above everyone on the stepping stool in order to reach the water spout. He looked so exposed and so vacant. As I walked in all I heard was,"No one will EVER be your friend!" I felt a jolt in my heart and then I heard a voice in my head say,"Don't do it, don't do it, they'll make fun of you too." Then out of my throat chakra I loudly exclaimed,"I"LL BE YOUR FRIEND!" I'm not really sure what happened after that, maybe I just blocked it out of my memory, but I do remember feeling complete compassion for this boy and was insanely proud of myself for doing the "right thing" at the expense of my own Elementary School Experience.

The bullying experience and suicide of Phoebe Prince is one I can relate to, so much so, I've taken myself back to the 8th grade and re-lived the experience in my mind, my heart still remembers the pain, and I still wonder where the compassion was in these people? Like Phoebe, I was the new girl, 15, and popular with the boys. I was called names (yes, even whore and slut just like Phoebe), stolen from, threatened, egged and Oh My the rumors were XXX rated! I'm not really sure how I made it to school each day, except that I had a few really close friends who loved to laugh (laughter makes everything better, it's the Universal band-aid). I would go home every day and cry, not understanding how anyone could treat another person so horribly. I'm not even sure I ever told my parents what was going on, as they had worries of their own. I do remember falling in-love with Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe) around this time and would listen to the original Candle in the Wind song from Elton John's 1973 Album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Maybe the fact that Norma Jean (That's who she is to me) committed suicide kept me from "going there". I also thought a lot about the little boy from Kindergarten and wondered how horrible things must be for him if it was this bad for me? Surely there were people who had it worse? At least I had friends I could laugh with. At least I felt compassion in my heart, even for my bullies. I did not know it then, but I was already living the philosophy of yoga, the best I could at age 15,and it carried me through. I did not start practicing asana until age 20, but yoga philosophy was already intertwined in my spirit.

Compassion is the expression of the deep understanding that we are all connected and that we belong to each other. Bullying comes in many forms and adults do it just as much as children do, only adults are usually much more subtle and easily rationalize their behavior. I won't even read Gossip Magazines anymore, because, as I mentioned in my recent entry about gossip, it's also a form of bullying.

So, for Phoebe Prince:


Dr. Jay SW said...

Being friendless and bullied was, unfortunately, a rather major part of my development...and I must confess to having spent an awful lot of adult energy thinking about how I might have reacted differently...and these fantasies have tended to be far more Dirty Harry than Gandhi. In more thoughtful, compassionate moments, I realize that the bullies we were invariably bullied themselves--and, in fact, I could get awfully nasty, myself, unable to control the pent up rage. I was, at least, safe from them at home, though. Nowadays, no doubt, kids like me are going on-line, no doubt trying to find the friends they don't have at school--which might be nice, but would also mean they're likely be bullied by the kids at school in their own bedrooms.

The biggest problem, I think, is that there are still adults--parents as well as teachers, administrators, and even some psychologists--who see bullying as a healthy part of childhood...and thinking about those grown-up bullies makes a yogic attitude almost impossible for me...

T said...


Oh girl... you and me go WAAAAYYYY back. Me too. I did the same thing.

I love you.

Emma said...

i think the bullied in turn bully, and all become so. how's that for a crappy ass cycle?

Mandy said...

great heart-felt post, being a kid is so much harder than we "adults" give it credit...almost like we forget...i really cringe at anyone treating my sensitive and kind daughter negatively and hope that even when upset she has been brought up with the tools to work through each problem in a peaceful and mature way...and know that she can be open at home about it.

Tim said...

This post brought back many memories I have of being bullied. Being quite the geek when I was a kid, I was always a target. Unfortunately this sort of thing is still tolerated and accepted as normal. I don't think the bullied necessarily turn into bullies themselves. They often try to help others from suffering the same fate.

R. Ramesh said...

Compassion is the expression of the deep understanding that we are all connected - well said...cheers and wishes