by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
If you have not read it: Part 1
So, as the lights dimmed and we settled on to our mats, our yoga priestess started her spiel.
"There are new faces here, let's introduce ourselves"
Okay, this is standard. I say my name when it's my turn and try to focus on the other names. I am bad with people names (great with dog names though) so I have zero expectation of remembering them.
"So now that we all know each other, I think we should all just take a moment to appreciate that circumstance has brought us together in this space and time."
At this, she smiles a winning smile that could sell a thousand tubes of toothpaste. Okay... that's because the schedule said "Beginner Yoga", so I'm not entirely sold on the serendipity of us all being here together.
And then she started to talk about connection and the importance of it. And this I will consider serendipitous. I am studying the importance of connection and social groups in my Science of Happiness class right now. My ears perk up and I push snarky cynical Carrie back in to her room (which I envision as a dark place full of Nine Inch Nail posters and overly dramatic black eyeliner). And I'm rapt. My brain is buzzing with the science of social interactions merging with yoga and meditation.
"I was just reading the other day you see... about aliens." And everything comes crashing to a halt. Wait... are we talking politics, cause that's uunnncomfortable even in the rather homogenous political landscape I live in. "You see, scientist say that there just has to be life on other planets." I sternly school my face. I think a stray cynical eyebrow may have popped up against my better efforts. It's not that I actually even disagree with the mathematical possibilities of life on other planets, it's just not really where I thought this conversation was going. "We are definitely not alone, not even alone in our universe."
I will admit this derailed me a bit. I am trying, as a skeptical scientist, to be open to these new experiences. A yoga teacher waxing poetic about one day getting to meet space aliens exceeded my capability for open mindedness. I mean, sure, there is likely life but the chance of you meeting a sentient life that you could communicate with... astronomical odds. We can't even communicate fully with all the species on our own planet. My mind starts to race. This was deeply not the point of attending beginner yoga. Sigh. I decide: Okay, whatever- I'll just focus on the workout.
Then we began in earnest. Some breathing exercises helped quiet my head. And then there was some lead meditation. I have to hand it to my yoga priestess, she's got a good knack for led meditation. We were to envision a bowl in the middle of the room. With each exhaled breath we were to place a small piece of ourselves in this bowl, where it could connect with the others in the room. It's a nice image, and I play along.
And then that beautiful, sunny woman kicked my ass. I'm a person who works out, but I know that a new workout will always find a new muscle and a new challenge. I am deeply grateful to those nice older ladies who recommended all the extra equipment, because I am holding on to those yoga blocks like my life depends on it. The physicality is great though, it gets me out of my head even more. Hard to think about the statistical probabilities of space aliens when I am trying not to fall flat on my ass during chair pose.
And then its over. We sit on out mats. We close our eyes. And she leads us through the end of the meditation. Now that we have been in this space together, we breathe the parts of ourselves that have been mingling in the bowl back in to our bodies.
And it is a nice moment of reflection on connection. We have indeed shared this space in time. I have a small social connection with these people now, however small. I cannot say that I am deeply changed by the experience, but every experience you have builds you in to the person you are. I am amused and able to appreciate at least 80% of what my yoga priestess was selling. I'll be back to beginner yoga.... I just hope we don't talk about space aliens.