On the Mat: I often like to start each class with greetings. We take a look around the room, to our left and our right, in front and behind, and exchange a smile and a “hello” with the people around us. Some people hug, others high-five. I believe that smiles and laughter unite us.
When we see our expression or emotion reflected back in the face of someone we don’t know, suddenly we know we are alike. Somehow, this knowledge–however unconscious–of our shared human nature, makes us more open to others, no matter how different they may seem. If we’ve shared a smile with the person on the mat beside us, it seems we’re less likely to get annoyed if they unwittingly “invade our space” or accidentally bump us during the flow.
Off the Mat: What if we stopped assuming others are judging us? What if we took the risk and gave that person walking down the street a smile? What if we did this with the person in the car behind ours, riding our bumper? Maybe they’d think we’re loony ;). Or maybe they’d see we’re alike, relax, and send a smile right back.