I got to the park about a half hour early. Laid out my mat and radio and started stretching. Almost immediately, 3 high school students came and sat right by where I was at. They were dressed all in black, one with a Mohawk, all with piercings and cigarettes hanging out of their mouth. Your typical rebellious teens. I am embarrassed to admit, I immediately judged them. My first thought was "keep an eye on my mp3 player".
Since they sat so close to where I was, I decided to extend an invite to them, letting them know a free yoga class was going to start soon and they were welcome to join. To my surprise, they were like "maybe we will", but I didn't really expect it. They kinda sauntered to the other side of the park and I figured my invitation scared them away.
I had a few people show up to class (thanks for coming, girls!) and we got started. A few minutes into class, the teens came back. To my surprise, 2 of them got down on the ground and joined in! They continued to follow my instructions. Not mocking or making fun, but really putting in an effort. I was floored. One of them only stayed about half way through class then got up to greet another teen that had wandered in. But the other one stayed the entire class. I couldn't believe how much he was trying (and actually accomplishing).
After class, the one who had stayed came up to talk to me. He asked when I would be doing it again, because he had really enjoyed it and would like to do more yoga. Without access to a computer, he gave me his cell phone number and I promised to text him the next time I was going to teach a class in the park. I felt completely ashamed that I had judged them so harshly just 60 minutes before. After talking to him you could tell he was a good kid just being a typical teen. A few piercings, shaved sides of head and black clothes do not make a bad person. It taught me how much further I still have to go on this journey.
Since then, I have been very conscious as to mentally note when I judge someone. I want to stop labeling people in my head. I want to have a completely open mind when I meet someone, to see who they are on the inside without any preconceived notions based on their appearance or things I have heard previously. This is a tough lesson, but one I believe will pay off immensely. Connecting with another being is the most important thing in this world. And by stopping my judgments, I increase the amount of people available for me to sincerely connect with. Can't wait to teach my next class and see if they show up again!