I turned to the woman who was randomly next to me. I thought of her face as serious, I thought of her as reserved, I thought of her as uncertain. First impression.
We were told to hold our hands up to each other without touching. (Picture us saying “stop” to each other with both hands.) We were told to hold our hands close enough so that we could feel the life force of the other and when our hands were an inch or so apart I actually startled because I could so easily feel her energy in my hands. Our surprised eyes met and then glanced away. We were strangers, after all.
As the music started and with no words, one of us was to lead slow movements with our hands and body position while the other mirrored the movements. Anyone watching us should not be able to guess who was the image.
I had been studying for 100 delightful hours with a group of women and 1 man as we completed “Let Your Yoga Dance” teacher training at Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I had come to love my classmates and teachers and any one of them I could have looked deeply and continuously into their eyes for any length of time because of the devoted teaching of Megha Nancy Buttenheim. But here we were, just after graduation, in the Main Hall of Kripalu at the public “Noon Dance.” After playing in a puppy pile of love all week this felt different.
I was relieved to hear, “Look into your partners third eye, between the eyebrows. Sometimes it is awkward to look someone in the eye.” We had glanced again at each other shyly but it was not a glance we could hold. So we began safely studying each other’s foreheads. The music surrounded us.
As she was more of a “guest” than I, I politely waited for her to move first. She did not move. In my head I painted her as “grim”. So I slowly started moving my hands up and to the right. Ever…so…slowly. Our hands continued to move and at the speed of a tortoise in the sun I tilted my head to the right. She did not follow, for she was my image… she was truly with me. She was a lazy tortoise, too.
At some point our eyes met and held without effort. I cannot tell you when that moment was, and yet when I became aware of it I felt richness. In mutual acknowledgement our hands moved to our hearts. They rested a moment. We saw each other. Our faces had softened. My first impression was erased and I saw her warmth and beauty.
She became the leader and I was her image and my heart felt happy, as she was bolder with her movements. As the music peaked we both lead and followed at the same time. The song came to an end.
We held our gaze, my four-minute friend and I.
Suddenly our hands went up to our hearts again. We shared the gentlest of tiny smiles with closed lips.
Only our eyes truly spoke, and they danced as our bodies had. We nodded tiny royal nods of respect.
We stepped back from each other, not sharing a word. We parted. Yet today I hold the essence of her so fondly. As a gift to myself I have locked my moment with her forever into my life by journaling about her. I hope she carries a part of me as well.
Keep your heart open for delightful strangers.