In a recent training a skeptic sat in the back of the room. It seemed as though heat was vibrating from her forehead... maybe even smoke from her ears ... she wasn't happy. That person was me!
As our teacher lectured on psychosomatic pain (bodily pain often associated with mental or emotional strain as opposed to bodily injury), I began to cross my arms. She explained that some deep emotion and traumas can manifest in predictable pain patterns. My tension rose. 'How presumptious,' I thought.
Finally, as we got to the topic of those who are withdrawn ... you know classroom loners ... someone else raised her hand and asked my question (yeesh, I lucked out and then immediately felt cowardly for waiting till someone asked the question), "Couldn't that just be someone's personality?"
Tactfully, my teacher tackled hers (and my) clearly, loaded question. We discussed the differences between introversion and loneliness/withdrawal. We even had a spirited discussion about the merits (and potential pitfalls) of physical touch in yoga class - even forced closeness among students. Other teachers raised their hands sharing individual experiences touching, being close and even pissing off students.
Certainly, there is risk in extending touch to my students, or asking them to partner with each other. I can't predict every student's reaction or know each of their personal experiences. But, as a teacher, it's my job to weigh the risk with the reward. Creating a safe space, where kind touch and human closeness can be extended and celebrated is a gift that should be shared! Even if it's awkward, even if it's uncomfortable, I believe we have a duty as human beings to pop the loneliness bubble.
Too many people live lonely, shy away from hugs, resist a conversation, hide from the hard questions. So often we think our "tribe" of people is always folks who agree with you and allow you stay comfortable. I believe a true tribe challenges with love, expresses themselves and even forces a hug - even with the receiver is kicking and screaming.
Maybe it starts with something small, intentionally set yourself up next to the wallflower. If you're a teacher, ask your students to work together. When you're in a new environment, introduce yourself to someone new. Begin to recognize if maybe you're the one running for the bathroom if a teacher asks you to find a partner.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Sweet places my writing has been featured ...
Bend Into Shape
For people who love dogs, yoga, good food and/or great parties ... that covers everyone right?