Wednesday, June 11, 2014

YOU are my soul mate.

You are. Seriously. You're my soul mate. We are all soul mates. And I mean that in the most non woo-woo new agey kind of way.

Think about it. How many people in your life have you connected with on a soul-to-soul level? Maybe you didn't realize it at the time. And maybe (likely) it didn't last forever. Maybe just for a minute while waiting on a very delayed subway train you caught eyes with a stranger and rather than glancing away embarrassedly, you both smiled. Maybe you even exchanged a few words to help the time pass. 


Look back over the course of your life. Remember your "BFF" from 7th grade that helped you get through your first kiss and your first, second, third and fourth crush? How about that lady you bonded and shared magazines with when you were stranded in the airport overnight? Your roommate from sophomore year who witnessed you stumble home wasted, wake up wasted, go to class wasted, and still helped you get your first internship? That entire group of kids in your bunk at camp that one summer when you were REALLY home sick? All soul mates.

All of these "soul mates" share one thing in common. They are people with whom you shared authentic, un-photoshopped, honest human connection. We make soul connections when our heart is open and laid bare. When we are feeling vulnerable and instead of putting up a wall or front, we actually interact with another person from a place of honesty.

Isn't it funny that when you're put in a certain type of situation - a flight delay, an office, a dorm room, a yoga retreat - you end up meeting people with whom you have a strong, deep, meaningful connection and conversation? Maybe you don't keep in touch with these people like you promised you would, but the words and feelings you exchanged with them were more than just small talk. They were moments of soul to soul connection. When they saw you - not your image, your title, or your persona - but REALLY saw you as a human being, going through an experience. They saw you and you saw them and you connected and for a moment- however fleeting - they were your soul mate. 

As a yoga teacher I am blessed to have these kind of interactions several times every single day. When people come to my classes, or I go to theirs, we make a mutual agreement to let our guards down. We see each other try, and fail. Work, and sweat. Inhale, and exhale. I talk to "strangers" in every class about subjects that many people in committed, long-term relationships never discuss with their partners. Love. Faith. Surrender to God. Struggle. Life. Connection. Reeeeal down and dirty no joke subjects. Generally I share something from my own experience. Generally I feel very vulnerable while I do so. 

By doing this repeatedly, I've become more comfortable being open. Less likely to "front" when I'm introduced to a stranger because I feel self-conscious and guarded. I've also become less judgmental. Less likely to size someone up and categorize another human based on their sex, race, size, job, or handbag. Because I open myself up to them - and see them as more than just a label ("banker," "gay," "Gucci shoes," "stay-at-home-mom,") - I make new soul mates every single day. 

We all have the opportunity to practice making soul mates. Here are some good ways to start:

1) Make a list of soul mates you've had through out your life. Mine is pages long. Many of whom I keep in touch with, even more of whom I've only spoken to once. But I remember you - insurance lady I was stranded with in Newark, roommate on my first yoga retreat in Morocco and current Facebook friend, BFFLs from theater camp in sixth grade. You've all touched me and I haven't forgotten you. Remembering these connections reminds us how many souls our souls have connected with in the course of one lifetime. It reminds us how many more amazing people there are still out there to meet. Hopefully, it reminds us that everyone out there is a potential soul mate, if only we give them the chance to show us their soul. 

2) Thank someone (or more than one someone) on the list above. I got to thank one of my yoga mentors today. We live in different cities and haven't seen each other in over a year. When I think of what she taught me and how she helped me grow, my heart is warmed. Why wouldn't I want to share that with her?

3) Give someone a chance to connect. A tourist looking lost on the street (particularly for you New Yorkers!). An elderly person sitting alone on a park bench. The quiet guy on the yoga mat next to you. Your bus driver. We're all desperate for human connection. Ask someone something other than "how you doin?," or if you ask them that question, then WAIT for them to answer and really listen. Ask a follow up question. And another. Tell them you hope they have a great day and look them in the eye when you say it. See the light in them, and let them see the light in you. It's in there. In all of us. 

Ram Dass says, “when we see the Beloved {inherent goodness} in each person, it's like walking through a garden, watching flowers bloom all around us.” I am certainly not as eloquent or enlightened as Ram Dass but I do know what I want my life to be like: a big beautiful blossoming garden of soul mates. The light in me sees, honors and bows down to the light in you. Namaste.