Sitting in a chair for many months writing my first book created some uniquely unpleasant aches and pains in my previously pain-free body. Those aches and pains were part of what led me to sit cross-legged on the floor in Blue Nectar Yoga Studio on one of the inaugural mornings of 2019. Yoga regulars set up blocks at the front of their mats. Others folded Mexican-style blankets into makeshift meditation cushions.
The teacher and studio owner, Jane Bahneman, walked into the room, radiating a level of positivity and good humor that would have been sufficient to power our small, semi-suburban town if someone had hooked her up to an emotional energy converter. She smiled broadly.
“Before we begin,” she said, “turn to the people next to you and say, ‘Hi.'”
My fellow yogis–the class was packed–seemed to have no problem following her recommendation. I, on the other hand, froze. Saying “hi” to people I didn’t know seemed like a slippery slope. Anything could happen. It opened the door to something potentially… unexpected. Like connection and conversation. Or you might notice that the person you were looking at was another actual person. And who knew what that could lead to?
A “hi-less” life is an impoverished life, indeed.
I turned and looked at the woman sitting next to me. We were around the same age. She had dark, shoulder-length hair and deep, brown eyes, with creases at the corners.
“Hi,” she said, her smile broadening to reveal the unique contours of her teeth.
“Hi.” I smiled back.
It wasn’t hard to do. The process of greeting another human being I’d never met before reacquainted me with a part of myself I’d forgotten existed. This part of me seemed to have once had no trouble at all feeling connected to others, whether I knew them or not.
We held each other’s gaze for another moment before turning to face the front of the room and await further yoga instructions. I felt more comfortable and “in my body” than I had before our greeting. I decided to begin cultivating a willingness to connect with others in situations where I usually kept my blinders on. Because a willingness to connect to other members of the human race–the majority of whom we don’t know–is a relational superpower worth cultivating.
“I like to begin class that way,” our teacher said as she lowered herself onto her mat. “It’s the lost art of saying ‘hi’ and it’s a good thing to practice.”
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