This past weekend in the alignment class at the yoga teacher training, we practiced seeing and being seen.
We got split into buddy pairs. The first exercise was to stand in front of each other in tadasana (mountain pose) and look at each other. Then we took turns to touch each other gently around the alignment points. Then, in turns, one person, the “lookee”, stood still, another, the “looker”, was guided to observe the lookee, from all four sides, from feet up, mostly looking, with gentle feeling touch here and there.
When they said they’d pair us up, I had an idea whom I would pick: a woman next to whom I sat in a couple of teacher training sessions, practiced next to in the class right before this session, chatted with quite a bit during the breaks.
But they split us in pairs alphabetically.
I wouldn’t have chosen you. For one, you were sitting on the other end of the room. Next, I’ve met you and you were warm and pleasant, but you seemed so different. I didn’t reflect off you, and so I didn’t see you.
We stand still and grounded facing each other quietly. We both smile broadly out of strength and warmth. We look into each other’s eyes. Your eyes are the earth, mine are the air and the water. My body is a wisp, yours is all muscle on a solid frame. Like the earth, like a home.
The teacher prompts us to think how we want to be seen.
I recall the first time I did a similar exercise, looking into the stranger’s eyes (in a mindfulness class). It was OK, I liked that. I don’t remember feeling much. My partner back then shared, unprompted and concerned, that she sensed a lot of sadness and loneliness in me.
I’ve faced sadness and loneliness since and have grown through them since, filled them. Somewhat. Now you are in front of me, and I want to present you with light and strength. So I dig into the roots and breathe from them up into the belly and the heart, to open and to shine.
The teacher suggests we communicate to each other something, maybe what we need from each other. We are still not speaking. What do I need from you? And what do you ask of me?
Oh yes. I know what I need. Now how about you? I look at you as I hold out my request and the question: what do you need from me?
After a while… I know what you need. Maybe wrongly. It’s unexpected, but yes, I’ll try. Perhaps, I’ll ask you about that later, as we get to know each other better. Until then, I won’t tell.
Meanwhile, here is what I asked of you (silently):
Tell me I am doing a good job. Know how I struggle. Stay with me when I do. Don’t let me sabotage myself. Be the earth for me.
That was two minutes.