Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


Adding ‘People-Energy’ To Your Life

Here’s what’s been new for me lately — I’ve joined a yoga studio and have started taking classes.  With other people.  It means I’m no longer doing my DVD’s at home by myself.  This is huge for me.  There were various reasons why I hadn’t joined before — time, money, location, other events that were more important at the time — but there was also the excuse that I didn’t want to look stupid in front of anyone.  I know.  This even sounds juvenile to me, as I write it.  But I believe there was a secret part of me who wanted to make sure I was good at it before I let others see what I could do.  Let’s call that my big, fat EGO!  Shall we?  God, it reminds me of when my mother would straighten up the house before the cleaning lady came.  Sheesh!
OK.  So anyway, my first trip down to the studio was stressful because I had a hard time finding the place and it made me later than expected.  I was a bit nervous, anxious, and agitated as I walked into this little ranch-style house which had been converted into 3 separate yoga rooms of various sizes.  But it was quaint and very Bohemian-looking, so I immediately started to relax.  The instructor (and co-owner) Pam was very welcoming and warm and told me not to worry at all about being late.  So I relaxed a little more.  Soon afterwards, I was rolling out my mat and glancing around to check out the other yogis who’d come.  There were 6 of us, ranging from an attractive, professional-looking 50-something woman who had, what I call, “good yoga arms”, to a rumpled 30-something woman who looked like she never left college, to a heavier man who kept joking with Pam and appeared to be new to yoga.  No one was super fit, or skinny, or muscular.  In fact, I was in a room with normal, everyday people who just simply enjoyed doing yoga.  So I found myself wondering what my apprehension had been about.
The class was good and had a nice balance of easy and challenging poses.  Pam used a good part of the time doing meditation, though, helping us all focus on the more mental and spiritual benefits of yoga, as well as the obvious physical ones.  That was something that my home practice had been missing.  Here’s what really hooked me, though — I felt like I belonged there and that I was somehow part of something bigger than myself.  Even if it was just 6 local people and a kind-hearted instructor.  It was the energy and sense of cohesion that was created by simply showing up for an activity we all found important to us.  People say you don’t realize what you’ve been missing until you find it, and this was definitely an Oprah “aha!” moment for me!  
I showed up again for the next class, and felt even more connected.  People knew my name and greeted me.  There were things I could reference from last week, like joking with the hippie, overgrown college woman about her drinking a beer before class, and asking the professional woman how last week’s presentation had gone.  I was more familiar with the routines and didn’t feel at all “lost”.  I also learned a few new tricks on how to hold some of the more challenging poses, which thrilled me!
The lesson here is this — find a place where you truly belong, where people identify with you and can stretch you a little.  Being around like-minded people is important to our psychological well-being.  Two of our existential human needs is to belong somewhere and to grow.  And believe this…you are just as important to them as they are to you.  Your energy, love, talent, traits, and efforts can be very valuable to some people, so it’s not one-sided, by any means.  
I often say that yoga is my religion.  And this experience did sort of make me feel like I’d found the right “church” for me.  Some of you do feel this sense of belonging, reciprocated love, support, and enlightenment from your churches, synagogues, or mosques.  That’s wonderful!  But many clients I see do not have this in their lives.  They tend to live busy yet solitary existences within their immediate family, associating with their co-workers, venturing out occasionally to have dinner with a friend or attend a necessary event of some kind.  But these are fleeting connections, and oftentimes superficial.  I mean, how many people even really know their next door neighbors anymore??
Even if you’re any introvert (like I am), I encourage you to reflect on your values and interests and see if you can find a group out there with which to connect.  There’s a website called www.meetup.com that might be a good place to start.  Take advantage of the support that others can provide for you.  And let yourself be open to others benefiting from yours.  
We tend to forget sometimes that we are interdependent.  As John Donne wroteNo man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”  Find your support group and wrap yourself in it as best you can.  The added dimension is natural therapy for the soul.

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