Transparency

I walked into an LA yoga studio yesterday, a big corporate place, and struck-up a conversation with a young woman named Sarah. She was kind, with a gentle face – giving me the impression that I had walked into more than just a studio, but a community. I was grateful for this, because when she asked me the question “are you from the area?” I was left with two options – to be completely transparent, or to skirt around the question… in this instance, I chose transparency.

It was to be my first outside yoga class in four months. Physically, I was weaker than I had been; emotionally, I was a little worn-down. I was in the perfect position to approach the class as an expert-beginner. I had experience, but not in this body. I knew confidence and mental strength, but we had been apart for some time. It was my first class outside of Monte Nido Vista, a residential treatment home, and EDCC, a day program in LA, that I would be taking. I can hardly begin to describe the anxiety that I felt when the teacher first walked into the room. Something told me that he would know I hadn’t practiced in some time.

As far as my conversation with Sarah goes, I told her everything. A complete stranger, and I chose to open up about everything. What surprised me the most was how well she received my story and how touched she was that I shared. She opened up about having gone through some rough patches in her own life as well. It was as if we were close friends, just catching up on our time apart. And I felt stronger in the process – I owned who I am and where I am going in my life. I didn’t put up any kind of facade, and I was rewarded with a rich experience.

I believe that there is something so powerful about being transparent – an untapped connection, a new experience, an opportunity for growth… we far too often hide from our own lives and from other’s, creating a stigma around struggle and an unrelenting drive for success. If we could meet one another with transparency we could open a new gateway of expectation, one that relies more on honesty than competition.

Being Seen

It’s incredible, the feeling of being seen. Not only seen, but heard too. In times of uncertainty and struggle one of the most touching actions from another is hearing that they see you, and that they care. No intervention needed, just a caring witness, someone who knows and acknowledges how hard you are trying.

These are the moments that catch me and stick with me the most. It happened when I was young and on the cross country team, one of my coaches took the time to acknowledge how hard I was trying. He hardly knew just how much I was going through at home, but he could still see how hard I was trying.

It happened when I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s office, recounting my tory and remarking that I was “just fine.” She didn’t down-play anything, she knew just how hard I was pushing myself. It happened when I answered the question “how are you doing?” with a common “good,” and my friend asked “really?”

It happened again just two days ago. I was pulled out of a process group at Monte Nido – I had been struggling periodically throughout the day – and Kate asked me “what’s up?” My mood had dropped and I felt depressed. I was still showing up, as if nothing had happened; but my motivation was fickle and my eyes told a story, a story of struggle. Kate remarked that my words told her I was fine but my face told her otherwise, and she couldn’t have been more correct. She saw me. I was hurting on the inside, and she wanted me to know that she care, and that she saw me.

As humans, we need more moments like these. Moments of raw connection – not problem-solving or berating – but simply moments of witnessing and showing up for others. We push ourselves so hard, and move so quickly in today’s society; it can be challenging to slow down and face the truth of one’s efforts. We need to start taking the time to witness our true emotions, and show compassion for ourselves and others in the process.

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