I was in class on Saturday morning and it was just the teacher, me and one other person. Someone new eventually showed up, late. Having someone come in late to yoga is very unusual, and this was even more so because she was developmentally disabled. She appears to have Downs Syndrome. 45 seconds worth of disruption, no biggie. During the class it was a little different mood. Some of that was, I’m sure, because of the people that were missing.
Towards the end of class New Persons transportation arrived. The driver came into the class while we were enmeshed in a pose, and starting talking. Again, 45 seconds of disruption. No biggie, just kind of one more thing.
Towards the end, as we all relaxed in corpse pose (it is what it sounds like) New Person was very agitated because she was concerned her driver wouldn’t wait. Another 45 seconds of disruption as she voiced these concerns.
While I lay there in smooth calmness hearing fidgeting and such, I was thinking about how horrible this much feel for the new person who couldn’t possibly relax because she would be worried about the driver not waiting. Instead of happily zoning out and consciously working on achieving calmness I was becoming more and more anxious about the anxiety that the New Person much feel. I swear it was palpable in the room.
Class ended, eyes opened, and lo and behold, she was gone! She must have left as soon as we all closed our eyes, and I didn’t noticed.
That’s when it started occurring to me, that my empathy really only served me. It didn’t help her, it didn’t change the situation, it only gave me something to think about. She didn’t need my sympathy, nor my help. She took care of her anxiety by herself by leaving. Thereby robbing me of my chance to be visibly empathetic.
I think I will be more aware of this in the future and try not to let myself start down that path.