Amongst us was one married couple, other than that, none of the 2 dozen of us had ever set eyes on one another. In Asheville, we spent most waking hours with each other, all in one room, for almost a month. Learning yoga together, practicing adjustments, teaching, and meditation on one another, eating together, crying together, and accidentally falling into one another when a pose went askew.
We called it the “Love Bubble.” We talk online about how much we miss that bubble. We felt safe, accepted, known, cherished, celebrated, and vulnerable in that bubble together. We support each other unconditionally. We delight in each person’s uniqueness. We continue to offer love no matter how grumpy or quiet or strange or jacked up someone acts that day.
It was a little over a week into the love bubble (AKA: Yoga Teacher Training Immersion) when I realized that in all my preparations, all my imaginings what the time in training would be like, of all the fantasies and excitement and wonder about that time, I’d never once given a thought about the other people I would meet there. In retrospect, it was a very strange and short-sighted thing to miss–these people were all up in my business literally and figuratively, day after day. At first, I was determined to keep my head down, just get my reading and writing and learning done, to soak it all up–who needs the other people in the room? I’ll probably never see them again.
I was relieved to realize that for the first time in years (of graduate school and professional life) that though I spent all day with these people, they didn’t have a bunch of their own projections and expectations about how I should behave or what I needed to provide for each of them. It was okay to be grumpy and quiet one day and sit in the corner–it wasn’t an epic disaster that everyone needed to weigh in on before lunchtime. It was just a grumpy day and that was okay, there was space to be grumpy. Or perhaps there’d been an extra cup of coffee, and you were wired; that was okay, too, someone would be up for a laugh or acting silly, or at the very least, no frowns or disapproving stares at your bouncing off the walls.
These sweet people just love each other. Not because we’re particularly attractive, or the most illustrious, or the “best” anything, but because each of us is a precious life. I think I speak for us all when I say that we’d go to the end of the world to hug one another, to be present for one another–to hold a dying hand, or to celebrate a new bit of life.
It was okay to be you in the bubble–who ever you were that particular day, with no expectations based on how you were yesterday and no judgment for what you might do tomorrow. We want the best for one another, we don’t seek permissiveness or destruction or ambivalence; love is not just hugs and fuzziness, but also, for us, looking another in the eye, seeing the whole mess of someone, and saying “I still love you. I want to hold your hand here.”
A week or so ago, I was missing the love bubble. I was in yoga class, teaching, and I wondered to myself, “How can I help these precious students understand the ‘love bubble’?” I knew that my student Mary was struggling with her young-adult children, and I knew that Bob’s job was wearing him down. I realized: the world is a love bubble (or it can be). While I fell in love with those particular 25 people in July, it could have been any student, or any person on a bus, or anyone in the check-out line at the grocery story. Everyone is part of the love bubble–the world is the love bubble–and I think perhaps the answer to our heartache and sorrow, our grief and our anger, is to open our arms wide and tell others–anyone, and everyone–that we have love to spare, just for them, that we want to stand next to them while we look at the mess of their lives and to walk along with them while they heal.