by Barrie Risman
I truly enjoyed receiving and reading all the comments from my last blog post, “True Confession”. Isn’t that social media at its best? It gives us a platform to share our ideas, our stories, our questions, and to engage in dialogue with others. In short, it gives us the ability to connect instantly and intentionally.
My insightful friend Oscar shared:
“We now have a tool that can easily take us away from ourselves and that can leave us with the illusion of not being alone. I think the ability to be alone and be OK is a complex state that many people have not been able to achieve. Like many other escapes, the internet can leave us with an illusion of intimacy, but I do also think that it’s been a helpful tool for many to try to genuinely connect and relieve their anxieties.”
Aptly, I re-connected with Oscar after his vacation via this blog post and his comment. I did not actually see him until days later, even though our offices are next door to each other.
I agree that the connection afforded through social media can be valuable and satisfying. I love being able to know what my friends in Mumbai, Kuwait and Bologna are up to, hear their stories, read their inspirations, see their photos. And, yet, for all its power of connection, social media disconnects us in important ways. The time and energy we spend on it take us away from our breath, our bodies, the elemental world, time, and what is happening outside of our windows and perhaps right in our homes.
Yoga practice connects us back – to our breath, our muscles, bones, skin, the earth, water, and sky alive within us, and to our own awareness. In the process, we become available to experience OUR reality. In many ways this requires more effort and courage than sharing one’s ideas on social media. We might find all kinds of things when we choose to plug in to ourselves. Yet is there another more worthy, lasting or important place of connection?
Our practices strengthen our ability to be alone with ourselves in ways that reveal the richness (and, yes, also the complexities) of our inner life. As we unravel the layers of ourselves with our awareness– the body, breath, and mind – we might eventually touch an underlying sense of joy, contentment or peace. Or, we might uncover a deep sense of trust in the perfection of our own lives at this very moment. We might connect to one of the many profoundly expansive and real emanations of our deepest selves that the tradition teaches are available to us. And these, yoga tells us, are definitely the most essential connections to be nurtured.