This morning, as I sent a “have not tty in 4ever” text to one of my closest friends, who happens to live an hour or so away from me, a sad thought crossed my mind: “I have forgotten how to harvest, care for and grow successful human relationships!”
What’s more, looking at the text messages that were sent to me by this same friend, I realized that we (as in humans as a whole) have all forgotten how to do this. How to maintain, care for and grow a truly meaningful relationship with those closest to us, and those who have the potential of becoming closer still.
How did we get like this? When did we replace meaningful conversation with emoticons and word abbreviations? Was it because of Facebook? Were we doomed with the advent of text messaging?
Why have we allowed our world to revolve around machines, rather than people? And why did it suddenly become more meaningful to “check-in” or “like” something rather than experiencing things, together, in the moment?
Why is it suddenly more crucial for us to have a billion friends whom we never talk to, don’t know anything substantial about, or even care for rather than having one or two really close friends? I know all about you and you know me better than I know myself people in our lives?
As a yogi, I have learned that every time I step on my mat I get a new chance to cultivate my practice. I get the opportunity to refine my breath, refocus on the ever-elusive bandhas and really connect to every single muscle, tendon and ligament in my body at a deeper level.
Slowly, I’m learning that the practice is a living, breathing thing, and that from time to time, I will feel stiff, muddled, confused, angry and emotional. While other times, I will feel as light as a feather, stronger and more stable than a mountain, and swear I had an out of body experience whilst in Sirsasana.
I have realized that there is no true “advanced” or “super master” yogi because we all spend day-in and day-out harnessing our practice, making it come to life, finding refuge and repose in the stillness and the quieting of the mind.
We all injure ourselves from time to time and find we must refine, nay, start our practice from scratch. We all learn something new every second of every day-both on and off the mat.
We learn from our selves, those around us,the sages before us—the challenges and blessing that surround us on a moment-to-moment basis.
In short, we have all embarked on a never ending journey. A blessing that we see as practice precisely because we are never done learning from it, harnessing it or watching it grow with in and around us.
So, how is it that we can put all this love, focus and effort into our journeys, but lack the awareness—the commitment—the love to grow our relationships?
Have we become so self-centered, that, even when we realize our practice makes us better communicators (e.g: allowing our inversions to teach us that we have a chance to see things as they truly are, instead of how we perceive them to be) we chose not to have meaningful relationships, but rather short exchanges of meaningless information with those whom we claim to love so dearly?
Are we really wasting all our openness to grace on texting?
Did we really spend all that time on our mats, back-bending, grounding down, realigning and cleansing our bodies, minds and spirits, getting our hearts to open so that we could forgive and love more readily just to throw all our effort away in a one sentence conversation that may or may not take place once, maybe twice per week or month?!
This cannot be!
How many hours have we spent breathing and letting go of our egos on the mat? And what for? So that we don’t get green with envy when another yogi is able to go deeper, for longer or in a fancier manner than we can? So that we may remain injury free? So that there is nothing but the practice and the breath left…so we are able to live every moment as it is?
Sure! But what about allowing that ego’s death to serve another purpose?
What if we took all that we learn on our mats, the killing of the ego, the opening to grace, the inversion of our points of views, the prana, the healing, the cleansing and the ability to let go of attachments…off the mat?
What if we remembered that all human relationships are also a practice?
What if we took a moment to acknowledge the fact that, just as our pinchamayurasana will not magically appear, but needs to be harnessed daily—over a long period of time. Our human relationships need to be cared for, harnessed on a daily basis in order for them to grow and bloom as they are meant to.
What if we acknowledged that a simple “how ru?” text once every few days is not a real connection?!
What if we put ourselves upside down for a while and considered that human relationships were once stronger, and more beautiful because we spent time on them! We nourished and cared for them, and we took the time to put some real effort into making them work.
As hard as you work to get those pesky bandhas to respond when you are trying to jump through, so should you put some effort into making a real connection with those around you.
If we saw that all our friendships are part of our “practice,” would we devote more time and work into them?
Would we be able to pick up the phone and—dare I say something crazy—talk!?!
(Yes people, those lips and that tongue of yours are meant for more than little snide comments directed at your TV sets when Honey Boo-Boo’s “show” comes on. They are also meant for more than a smirk when you type “lol” on your keyboard or smart phone.)
What if we all took time to actually leave our houses, go for a picnic and talk to our friends and family about life—about things that have nothing to do with television shows, the latest FaceBook updates, who we are following on Twiter or Tumblr, etc?
I can tell you from personal experience the times I have taken all my work off the mat into my marriage or my family relationships, I have been in awe at how incredibly connected, loved and complete I have felt.
I am able to catch myself falling into old habits and resentments. I am not perfect and, yes, sometimes I do succumb to these habits and see things clearly. I am able to disconnect from everything else and devote my attention, love and effort to the task at hand at that moment (talking to, listening to, spending time with whomever is with me at that very moment) and it has made a world of difference in my marriage and my relationship with my family.
So why stop there?
Why have I not put some of this work into my friendships as well?
Have I felt texting and “liking” and “sharing” have been cyber-connection enough? Not really.
But I have been prideful. I have resented the seldom texts and the lack of meaningful conversations—as a childish response, I have decided to reciprocate in the same manner in which I have been “wronged.”
This has now created a vicious circle that only I can break.
From now on, whether it is reciprocated or not, my “texts” will be seldom, or at least carry some actual meaning and my phone will be calling yours—you know, that thing you use to browse the web, update Facebook, take pictures and video, etc. Yup, that magic box can be used to talk to an actual human being! Who knew… ahem… and I will be asking when we can meet to actually interact face-to-face.
Radical, I know, but you know something? I think it is worth it.
I think my practice needs to seep even deeper into my life—I will put more effort into my relationships until a time comes when we can all connect in a meaningful manner once again.
Falling in love with yoga was Sapha Arias‘s destiny from the second she stepped onto her mat for the first time in 2008. From this moment on, Sapha began to study as much as she could about yoga, researching and reading endlessly. In this search for knowledge and growth, she realized her practice was more than just asana; it was a direct route to self-discovery and connectivity to every aspect of her self. It was at this point that Sapha began a deeper journey into the heart of yoga and the ability to open up to grace. Feeling joyous about having found the gift of yoga, Sapha feels deeply called to share this practice, and its many lessons with others, and completes her 200 hr yoga teacher certification with Lex Gillan at The Yoga Institute of Houston Texas in 2011. Sapha is now a vinyasa yoga teacher at Cherry Blossom Yoga in Spring TX, Houston Yoga & Ayurvedic Wellness Center in Cypress TX and Lifetima lake Houston in Humble TX. She remains forever the seeker and the student of this practice and wants nothing more than to share the gift of yoga and all its lessons with the world.
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Assistant Ed: Lacy Rae Ramunno
Ed: Bryonie Wise