As a yoga teacher I often encounter the same scenario at the start of a yoga class.
Students come in and sit down as far apart from each other as possible. When I am teaching I will often wait till everyone is situated in their comfortable spot and then right before the start of class I have everyone move closer together towards the front. When I do this, the level of discomfort in the room is noticeable. This is, of course, one of the reasons why I do it. After all, one of the many wonderful aspects of yoga is it’s ability to take us beyond our comfort level.
Many people go about their day with minimal contact with other people. They create walls and keep their distance, which hinders them from connecting with others physically, sharing emotional intimacy even with those they are closest to, and also avoiding any kind of contact with strangers.
Recently I have been riding my bike to my office. It is a leisurely, half hour ride through the beautiful tree lined streets of Sacramento. By the 3rd day I started to notice something very interesting: I felt more connected to other people. In any given bike ride people wave to me, say hi to me, smile at me, nod towards me, and sometimes even go out of their way to compliment me on some aspect of my physical appearance, my bike or just the fact that I am obviously commuting on my bike, versus driving to work. One day on my bike ride to and from work I counted almost 30 separate instances of positive communication between myself and others.
How many people do I communicate in this pleasant manner with when I am driving? Zero. As we all know, if there is any communicating with others while we are boxed inside our vehicles it is usually a negative experience!
It is amazing to me how much more elevated my mood is by the time I get to work when I am riding my bike. Partly because of the exercise, but partly because I already started my day with so many pleasent moments with other human beings.
People need to make positive connections with other people in order to be healthy. Loneliness and separation are a major contributing factor to stress and depression which cause dis-ease in our body.
If you find that you are spending your day avoiding contact with other people or are just looking to connect more often, here are a few things you can try in order to start breaking down you barriers:
Strike a up a friendly conversation with the person working the supermarket register.
Spend a day making eye contact with everyone you pass by.
Smile and say hi as you pass someone walking on the sidewalk.
Give your significant other or children a hug everyday (at least 1!).
Sit down next to someone in your yoga class who you haven’t met before and introduce yourself.
Call a friend you don’t normally talk to on the phone and have a chat.
Get off of Facebook and go out to dinner with a friend.
Next time someone invites you to a gathering where you hardly know anyone…go!
If you want an incredible travel experience, I highly recommend you stop sight seeing and start looking for opportunities to engage with the people of the culture.
See if you have any friends who know someone in the country you are visiting and try to meet up with them.
Stay as a guest in someones house by utilizing websites like AirBnB.com.
Live and work with a family through websites like Workaway.info.
(You can often find hosts who are yoga practitioners on both of the above sites!)
Do your best to speak the language even if you feel you are not ready.
The best experiences in life are the ones we share with others. You will find that as you start connecting more with other people that not only will you feel elevated, you will be giving the same gift to others.
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