This morning at yoga, while waiting for class to start, I chatted with a woman I recognized. We usually smile or wave, but today we had a brief conversation. I learned about her kids and we shared our silly hangups about growing out short haircuts (I am dealing with that grueling process now). Other women I recognized filtered in, and I exchanged hellos with a few of them, and others smiled at me. I found myself feeling uplifted from simply recognizing a few women as well as being recognized by them. Even though I was only sitting on my mat during these brief interactions with others, I felt like I was out in the world being social. It was a welcomed change from the tunnel of routines and schedules that I occupy most of the day.
There's something exciting, validating, and satisfying about being recognized by others. Who doesn't want to feel known or perceived as likeable? But there's something deeper, I think, about what's behind the pleasure of being recognized. When I spend time with like-minded individuals in my yoga community, I recognize aspects of myself in others. As a mother of two little ones, I can run ragged to the point of not recognizing myself in the mirror. This was especially the case when my girls were infants and I was unbearably sleep deprived. Through casual conversation with like-minded individuals, I recognize in others my own desires, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. I am reminded of topics I enjoy talking about, experiences I had in the past, goals I have for the future. I hear myself laugh and feel myself smiling.
Community offers an opportunity to connect with others who share a common interest, speak the same language, and have a common goal for the period of time you are together. We get out of the house, enjoy a brief reprieve from responsibility, and catch a break from care taking. We break out of our tunnel vision lives—our to-do lists, routines, and schedules. It's amazing how restorative just 10-minutes outside of our tunnels can be!
When we recognize ourselves in others, we are reminded of the various parts of who we are that deserve to be cultivated and celebrated.
Where in your life do you experience this sort of connection with others and yourself? If life feels too full to take time to connect with others in this way, ask yourself what might be gained by giving it a shot. Although it may seem easier to stay in our tunnels, there are consequences for not taking time out to nourish our needs. The cumulative effect of denying ourselves small spaces of time to fill up our tanks some, so to speak, is draining.
Sometimes, getting out of our tunnels is the best thing we can do for ourselves.
If there's a part of you that wants to branch out and join a community (yoga studio, reading group, crafts club, writing group, sports team, etc.) but feels too overwhelmed by daily life to follow through, I would love to hear from you. I know that EXACT feeling! Not only can I relate, but I will help you follow through and find small but consistent ways you can break out of your tunnel and get a little enjoyment in your day.