Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.
The following is a story of how my Sunday reminded me to connect with those around me. laugh at myself and appreciate everything that lives in the Social Gap.
I spent my Sunday being reminded of the importance of enjoying the people around you and appreciating the Social part of the Gap that we talked about for the past 3 weeks.
I began my Sunday with a group meditation class. It was my first time going to this class and though I had met the instructors once, I had never met the other attendees. We gathered in, grabbed a cushion and began a series of awkward breathing exercises and slightly embarrassing calisthenics all to the sound of a guru chanting Ohm from the sound system. This was followed by about 20 minutes of seated meditation in which we were guided to think about those around us, those we loved, and those we didn't even know. We directed our thoughts at the others in the room, the people in the city surrounding our room and beyond into other parts of the world. We focused on positivity, on flushing pain and anger, on the human connection that we all share.
When the meditation was over many shared their experiences. For the most part, we came in scattered, lonely, stressed and tired. None of this was readily apparent, we had all maintained the social norm of, "I'm great, thanks." as we had met at the beginning. Now, however, there was a calm that permeated the room. Each person was more likely to make eye contact with others around the circle and to genuinely interact rather than talking at one another. The drop in blood pressure was practically palpable and everyone left smiling - for real.
Immediately following this, I headed over to my regular Acro jam session. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, check this out and prepare for your mind to be blown - yes, that IS us doing crazy things Summer Sunday afternoons in Cheeseman Park...) The first time I tried this, about 8 months ago, I showed my mom a picture of me (see below - yes, that's me) and the first thing out of her mouth was, "You do this with strangers?" My reply was, "Well, they aren't strangers by the time you leave..."
PS- if you are in Denver - check this out and come join us!!! Jen and Austin are incredibly talented innstructors.
There is nothing like Acro. The standard greeting when entering a practice is, "Do you want to play?" and you proceed to do just that. By the end, your gluteus everything, your abs, and all those little muscles between your ribs are screaming at you - and you are howling with laughter. It is impossible to hold a straight face when you are hanging upside down on top of someone else attempting to flip this thing and roll that all supported by a pair of feet. There is sweating and clothing malfunctions and there are moves with names like Ninja Star, the Fruit Rollup, Swimming Mermaid and the Mobuis Strip. When you leave you hug each other, panting and grinning and you can't remember the last time you felt quite so much like you were 5 years old.
There is something that all of the elements of my day have in common.
They all start with awkwardness. With feeling stupid and doing something that you aren't quite sure is a good idea and you are definitely not comfortable with. Everyone sort of looks around shyly at everyone else, gaging if it's really ok to reveal themselves - to entrust them with their energy and intentions, or even further, with their full body weight often supported in poses that can become immediately intimate.
BUT - they all end in connection. Once those walls have been cracked open, one brick removed, one smile shared, one link welded in place between our selves and those around us there is an immediate change in our physiology. We feel calmer, we feel like part of a community, we smile and share and laugh. We believe in the goodness of humanity just a little more readily and we trust in a positive future for all of us just a little bit more easily.
Guess what? This is exactly what we have been talking about for the past 3 weeks in our discussion of the Gap. These are concrete examples of bridging the Social Gap - that space (literally and figuratively) between us and those around us. We talked about how the desire to cross over this gap is innate and how much happier we all are when we find ways to do this.
I am not here to convince you to meditate. I am not here (at least today) to tell you that you should find it within you to pair up with your neighbor and let them suspend you upside down by their feet. But I will tell you that aside from the scientific evidence that these are healthy practices for many different reasons, it is a good idea to challenge yourself in the presence of others. There is a rawness that makes you more susceptible to their energies, more open to connection and in result, more inspired and enthusiastic about life and about the future. In letting yourself be vulnerable around others, you open your eyes to the beauty of their vulnerability and to the importance of working together toward a larger goal (relate this to the Universal Gap here.)
I want to add in a few references for you all that take this even further. One day in my life of expansion and connection does not a well-rounded argument make - and the argument for finding sincere connection with those around you is infinite. So - let me refer you to others, much more convincing than myself.
Of course, there is the ineffable Brené Brown. Her TEDx Talk on Vulnerability and her TED talk on Guilt and Shame have almost 23 million views between the two of them. Her entire point is that in overcoming our fears; fears of others seeing us for who we really are, we open ourselves to connect on a real level and as a result, we feel happier, more optimistic and more supported.
Malcom Gladwell gives a great example of the benefit of bridging the Social gap in his book Outliers when he talks about a small town, Roseto, Pennsylvania. In case you missed this bestselling book (or forgot the details - since it was published alllll the way back in 2011 - so long ago Instagram and Pinterest weren't even invented yet.) Gladwell gives an example of the very concrete importance of community and culture to our health. You can read the chapter here, but in a nutshell, connection with others = a longer, healthier life.
I didn't start my day thinking of the connections I was going to make, I was more focused on scheduling and class location, etc. but as I drove home from my whirlwind of experience, what stayed in my mind were the people I met, the connections, the smiles, the new perspectives and the outright belly laughter at falling on top of one another and the sweaty hugs goodbye with new Facebook friends to facilitate easy invitations for next time.
I wanted to improve my day by getting in touch with myself and instead found it was far more enjoyable to link up with traveling partners and link our collective journeys. Bridging the Gap can be enlightening. It can turn you upside down and make you fall on your face. It is found in unexpected places but it is truly the place where the magic happens.
Go out and find your magic!! Let me know how it goes, how do you bridge the Gap between you and those around you so that you are more vulnerable, more happy and as a result - more you! Share this with those who make your life a better place to be and tell them the difference they make in your everyday. (Words are pretty good at spanning gaps...give it a shot.)
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Have a wonderful week, lovelies. Believe in your unique entelechy and actualize your wonderful.