The breath cycles in, inspiring muscles to awaken, animate and engage as the pulse and circulatory system accelerate, resulting in a gentle warming of the skin.
The sudden intake of breath activates the diaphragm to dynamically draw downward, making the lungs and chest actively expand as blood diligently ushers oxygen into each cell, fueling an intoxicating wave of energetic intensity to flood the body.
Muscles instantly utilize this fuel; tensing, contracting, pulling and pushing until the last iota of breath is squeezed into each lung, resulting in a climax of physical exertion as they tense strenuously, nearly to the brink of collapse.
It is at this moment of grandiose culmination where the momentous fanfare of physical effort is affectionately intercepted; the lifted breath then carries this wave of intensity out of the body, instantly releasing the muscles of high vibrational tension.
Lungs empty as the diaphragm relaxes and floats upward, allowing muscles to unwind, soften and melt into a gentle repose.
The breath cycles out.
This moment of tranquility is instantly broken as the breath ignites like a car engine, cycling in and stirring up the physical memory of muscles straining at their peak performance.
The breath cycles in again and the skin grows hot.
A loud voice penetrates the thick layer of concentration blanketing the room, causing dedicated muscles to slow and hesitantly fall out of sync with the thumping cadence of music playing over large speakers. Heads raise and eyes are drawn away from the tasks at hand as mass focus is drawn towards the commanding sound.
The voice dissipates and fades into the background noise, releasing focus back to the meditative current of music thumping harmoniously and effortlessly with the tense and release of muscles.
The breath cycles in…
The voice erupts again, sailing confidently over all other sound and piercing every action. Mass attention is again drawn outward, causing the harmonious alliance of muscle and meter to lose contact once more as eyes look up, straining to locate the origins of the disruptive sound. Eyes methodically dart to every corner of the room, inspecting faces for signs of activity until they unanimously settle on their source.
The sound is traced to a man bobbing up and down enthusiastically on a cardio machine, looking particularly joyful in a sea of disenchanted faces punching their obligatory time clocks during the completion of their daily workouts. The eyes watch nervously as a woman with dark hair tied loosely in a ponytail walks near him. Immediately the joyous man looks directly at her as she approaches, instantly engaging her as she reaches his immediate vicinity.
“Hello! How are you?” The man says loudly.
The woman’s entire body jolts in surprise as his words make contact with her eardrums, nearly making her lose balance. Without so much as a turn of her head in acknowledgement, she responds to him with a nervous, awkward smile and quickly continues marching confidently in the direction of the women’s locker room.
“I hope you enjoy yourself!” He says, smiling, his body bouncing up and down in time with each vigorous stride.
More people pass by and one by one each receive the same exuberant, heartfelt greeting.
“Hello! How are you?” he says to a large man walking by.
“Wonderful” the man responds in a rather detached manner. “How are you?”
“I’m doing quite well!” He answers happily.
“That’s great. Goodbye now.” Says the large man impatiently, dismissing and then promptly walking away from the man on the cardio machine.
Unphased by the large man’s coarse demeanor, the man on the cardio machine smiles largely and calls out after the man; “I hope you enjoy yourself!”
The large man is gone.
The conversations continue as one by one, he engages, greets and warmly wishes each person a day filled with personal joy, all the while keeping his message completely genuine and sincere. Unlike the cheerful continuity of his message, the degree of responses he receives varies dramatically; some smile awkwardly and continue walking while others politely respond with a quick vocal acknowledgement and disengage just as quickly. There are those who ignore him with all five senses completely, diligently rejecting his thoughtful gift and among the vast sea of spectators there are only two who stop, connect and sincerely return his considerate gesture and warm wishes.
Nevertheless, regardless of the type of response he receives the joyous man smiles compassionately and ends the interaction devotedly with the same phrase, “I hope you enjoy yourself!”
Across the room a hand crafted note is smoothly folded in half and tucked delicately under one arm as Nike encased feet walk effortlessly towards the exercise arena.
“Hello there! How are you? You have a very beautiful smile!” says the man on the cardio machine.
“Hello there, thank you so much for saying so. That is so kind of you! I am doing very well today, thank you for asking. How are you today?”
“I’m doing GREAT today! Is this for me? Thank you! I love you and I hope you enjoy yourself!” he says delightedly, smiling greatly and graciously accepts the note.
“I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day also. I love you too.”
The man on the cardio machine, note firmly in hand, wipes the accumulated sweat off his brow and steps off the cardio machine.
Heads lift from activities and mass focus is drawn to the man standing in the middle of the exercise arena as he opens the note and begins to brightly read it aloud as he takes in the words for the first time;
"If more people greeted each other the way you do..." He pauses, and then continues reading, "... the world would be a better place. Thank you for your teachings."
The man stands, note in hand, smiling ear to ear.
The breath cycles out as overextending muscles eagerly powering heavy machinery slowly melt around him, coming gentle into stillness.
Heads are raised, eyes are open and all focus is on him.
I believe we are all born with the beautiful ability to be our true present selves in every given moment; even in the face of the unknown. A gift thought to be long forgotten, I have been witnessing more and more individuals truly awakening to the understanding and utilization of this power in an unconditional form.
Animals connect with this power and understanding of life more than anyone; experiencing life in terms of the present with a respect for, but not an overwhelming focus on past lessons. Not experiencing the present situation from a past or (possible) future experience and existing fully within the present moment and situation. Not fearing or expecting, just existing, putting sensory understanding into action and letting all new information unfold for the first time in a brand new experience with equal respect for past lessons.
Many humans by contrast, are exceedingly good at seeing new interactions through the veil of past experience, going beyond respect for the lessons learned to a level of deep dwelling and embodiment of past emotion and trauma. Although being able to reflect on past experiences in order to help protect us from future hurt is an excellent protection mechanism, too much reliance on this mechanism can cause overthinking and fear around future experiences; continual fear of painful things reoccurring or worse, the fear of the unknown and not being in control.
For most, even bad past experiences are easier to swallow than the dreaded unknown and the complete loss of control because quite simply, familiarity (to a good OR bad situation) is much more comforting than complete loss of control. In these cases quite often those old memories pop up out of the subconscious to create both a reminder to avoid such situations and likewise seduce us into relying on a safe, familiar buffer that we already recognize and have complete control over. This buffer is very palatable to the conscious as we already know how we’ve reacted in those past situations, thus determining the outcome of the situation instead of letting it unfold naturally into unchartered territory. No unknown, no uncalculated emotions or fears and no unchangeable event that we have no control over; just repetition of a mind/body pattern.
This whole interaction is of course, taking place silently in our minds.
This can leave even the warmest of gestures seemingly like an unbearable, uncomfortable situation void of all control, prompting to the surface old reactions and defense mechanisms for some and a brand new, open hearted adventure alternatively for others. The former looking beyond the simplicity of a gesture to see ten different overlays of responses, insecurities, past traumas and uncomfortable situations piled high on top of the words of a stranger. In a very real sense, by covering up the unknown and making it tangible through identifying it as past experience, the mind is limiting something that has the potential to be limitless and also richly abundant.
For a handful of humans and most non-humans, the lessons learned from the past are extracted from experiences that quite simply, don't exist anymore. They graciously accept the substance of the lesson and leave the defense mechanisms attached to the original event behind, avoiding the possibility of replaying the trauma needlessly over and over again in their consciousness, while simultaneously utilizing the lesson.
A being primed to experience and face the unknown with a toolbox of useful lessons ready to be opened if need be, rather than instantly reliving the trauma of past experiences and then choosing to avoid the future of the unknown altogether.
By engaging us in spontaneous interactions, these individuals prompt us to face our deep rooted insecurities built up by past trauma, clicking on our awareness like a light switch, jumpstarting the process of identifying and shedding fear. When you are faced with fear and limitation you are immediately being challenged to change, because it is in this moment of feeling discord that you are capable of moving it. This awareness of experiencing challenge and strife is essential to truly understanding how to acknowledge and honor yourself and others in the present moment.
When you are faced with fear and limitation, you are being immediately challenged to see the gift that it can truly be -
And when the fear is gone all that is left is the limitless, abundant gesture of the unknown.