Friendship is Just a Mat Away

We are in the middle of what some view as the lonely months. For those who find the holiday season challenging, it can begin as early as December. For many of us, it sets in after the holiday gatherings are done and the decorations are put away. It’s cold. It’s dark. Social events are at a low. Spring is a distant dream. We hole up in our solitude.

Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general of the U.S., speaks of how when he started his tenure he thought he’d be discussing high blood pressure and diabetes as he traveled the country. But in fact, the topic people were most interested in was loneliness. Though we’re all connected by devices these days, able to reach each other at any time, people are feeling lonelier than ever.

The reasons for this are varied, but a big one is a lack of vulnerability. We don’t allow ourselves to open up to others. The special moments of our lives get portrayed on social media. As you scroll through your friends’ or “friends’” vacay, birthday, dining out, going out, fabulous photos, you may experience FOMO (fear of missing out) or envy. “Why wasn’t I invited?” “I never do fun things like that.” “I can’t afford to swim with dolphins in Bali like so-and-so.” Who takes a pic of themselves eating alone in front of the TV? It’s easy to think that our lives should be filled with 3-tiered cakes and specialty cocktails, Broadway musicals, surfing, and gorgeous yoga poses. But even if you’re sharing said fab photos, who are you connecting to? Who is hearing who you really are? Who is taking care of your real self, listening to your real problems, seeing your real soul? I would argue that our projection of who we are and what we do on social media have almost nothing to do with our authentic selves. We’re like the celebrity of the moment, surrounded by screaming, hysterical fans - the human being behind the artifice remains invisible.

We need to be able to share ourselves. As Brene Brown says, we need to surround ourselves with a few people whom we trust enough to call when life is ugly, or drab, or lonely. We need to be able to be ourselves, scars and wounds, no makeup or manly handshakes. Yoga Culture was an attempt at creating a community for people to share in the joys of yoga, to meet other people and to forge human connections. I hope you've been able to have a conversation with another student at the studio. If not, turn to the mat next to you sometime soon and introduce yourself. You never know where it will lead. Reach out. You may find someone who needs you as much as you need them.