In a few days I'm going to be voluntarily delivering an Innate Wellbeing workshop at a homeless shelter. In preparation, I thought it would be good to spend some time at the shelter, acclimatizing myself to the people and the environment. I really had
no idea what thoughts and feelings would present themselves to me while working at the shelter, and so I wanted to find out. I volunteered for several shifts at the drop-in centre where the clients come for coffee and meals and a place to hang out during the
The first shift was a really great experience. I thought I would feel mostly nervous and awkward, but it was unexpectedly a lot of fun. Many of the clients came in with some life behind their eyes and so there were some opportunities
for connection and lighthearted banter and teasing. Other clients came in with some level of pain or lostness or anger or look of desire to just hide away from the world, and so the connection we made through our eyes was more limited, but the connection or
awareness was still there in some way.
This first simple day provided me with further depth of understanding into the saying that "the eyes are the windows to the soul".
The second shift wasn't as much fun in terms
of the opportunity to banter and tease, but was still rewarding in other ways.
We were short-staffed, with only 2 volunteers instead of 3, and the other volunteer had not yet worked the coffee machines. And so I was relegated primarily
to the process of making the coffee and continually refilling the insulated dispensers. I was a bit bummed at having much less ability to interact with the clientele, but even the process of the busy physical work (for a professional couch surfer) was still
very satisfying in the moment.
I did however, have an additional "fly in the ointment" in the form of a regular client, a generally amiable and talkative chap. Along with helping me with my job, he had the need to continually communicate
the better way of doing each part of the coffee making process, followed each and every time by the statement "but this is just a suggestion, you can still do it whatever way you want".
In retrospect, the comedy of the routine was completely
hilarious, and worthy of a Monty Python skit. But in the moment, even with my intellectual awareness that my personal irritation was coming from my creatively insecure flow of thought, and his need to continually politely correct, was coming from his own creatively
insecure flow of thought... it didn't change my thinking. At one moment I even found myself swearing under my breath.
My review of the event now, just makes me laugh hysterically. But at the time, "funny" isn't what was occurring to me.
Overall, the experience so far has been extremely rewarding. I'm relieved that I can see past everyone's eyes to the wellbeing within, no matter what state I or they may be in. That gives me a bit more comfort and confidence in handling whatever
may come up in the workshop.
And equally enlightening is how all of the incredibly "crazy" behaviours I saw in the drop-in centre were actually no different than any of the incredibly crazy behaviours that I see in my day-job working with
professionals or training professionals in the classroom... The professionals just happen to have nicer clothes. But please don't tell any of them that I said this. LOL