What kind of presence are you in the world? How are you impacting those around you just by the energy you bring? I once learned that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Think about this for a moment and ask yourself…Are the people I’m around uplifting? Are they actually enjoying life? Are they happy?
All of our energies and minds are entangled, and we do impact one another. Research out of Harvard and UCSD on social networks proves our happiness is in fact directly related to the happiness of our friends. In fact, our happiness goes up 15% if we have a happy friend. Living within a mile of a happy friend increases your chances of being happy by 25% and living close to happy neighbors increases your chances by 34%. Because we all interconnected (just 6 degrees of separation between everyone in the world), our ability to influence the happiness of others stretches to about 3 degrees. Good news is that sadness and negativity do not spread through social networks as robustly as happiness according to this research, so if you have had a downer few months you aren’t necessarily passing it onto your friends.
Although there is no research (YET) on the power of practicing yoga next to a happy person, I suspect that it does increase our own happiness factor. This might be why we feel “bonded” with our yoga friends in an indescribable way, even if we know very little about their life outside the studio. Somehow breathing and moving together while we purify and balance does something powerful for relationship and community building.
I’m so grateful for the strong community at Heartland, something of which I became acutely aware of in the past few weeks. One of our regular community members, Linda Bolton, went into hospice about 2 weeks ago with pancreatic cancer. Linda was a regular at many afternoon classes, and was a vocal ambassador for yoga in general and Heartland Yoga in particular. She led many people to our community, and every year brought her University students to the studio for a taste of trauma informed yoga, a collaboration she did with Diana Gallegos.
During the week Linda was in hospice, her yoga teachers all put out a mat for Linda in her regular place in the corner with lit candles on it, representing the light that Linda always brought into the studio. This small gesture resulted in powerful connections among students and multiple stories about how Linda positively impacted their life. Linda passed peacefully last Friday. Her memorial service is this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 9th at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville.
If you too were impacted by the positive energy and love that Linda emitted, or just happened to be lucky enough to be on a yoga mat next to her in class, and would like to donate in her memory, here are several links.
* Linda Bolton Memorial Fund, the UI Center for Advancement
* The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
* The Bird House – Hospice Home of Johnson County
Jane Howard wrote, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” I’m certain my happiness quotient went up just being in Linda’s community. Here’s to the power of community and connection….