One of the students who is known for her exotic pets, suggests we visit the science room to see her terrarium and tarantula.
Another student protests: She hates tarantulas. They terrify her.
Why? I ask.
Because it will jump out and kill us all!
Why do you think that?
You've seen the movies.
I suggest it's a story she's telling herself so many times over that it becomes a belief.
She insists it's true.
How does that feel in your body, when you think about tarantulas?
She makes a face and says she hates them.
Notice, when we go to see the tarantula, the sensations it causes in your body.
I'm not going to go see it because if I do I'm going to freak out.
So notice that. Notice the sensations. And then report back.
Study one plant or the tarantula keeping the focus steady and fixed for five minutes, studying all the finest details of the plant or spider.
When back in class, draw everything you can remember.
What did you notice?
I noticed that I couldn't do it.
Because I had to look around. Because she had that spider out, I couldn't concentrate.
How did that feel in your body?
My heart was racing.
I feel tense.
She gestures to her shoulders.
We close our eyes and take five long breaths.
How does that feel in your body? I ask.
Calm, replies one student.
In her head.
But the student who hates tarantulas says she can't do it, breathe like that to five.
Because I can't.
Start with one. The next time you experience a big emotion, remember to notice the sensation in your body. And then take one big breath and notice how that feels. Start there.
She gives the smallest nod.