DAY 85: The Third Cup of Tea

Author: thedancingj /

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family..."
 - Balti proverb **

There are many traditions around the world where the sharing of food and drink is the ritual that turns strangers into friends.  This is just as true in the modern "first world" as it is in the remote mountain town of central Asia.  How many relationships have you developed over cups of coffee, glasses of wine, or lunchtime sandwiches?  Some of my most precious friendships were sealed over pickle spears and potato chips (although "Three Bags of Potato Chips" has not caught on as a proverb or book title yet.)

So what about shared sweat?  What about that strange intimacy that you develop with the stranger who stands next to you as you spill your guts out for 90 minutes, as you tell the story of your life through your movement and your struggle and your sweat?

Sometimes we practice our yoga next to strangers for years, without ever knowing their names.  Sometimes we know the name of everyone in the room.  Regardless, there have been so many people who I felt that I came to know through our shared time in the yoga room.  Sometimes I would never even know them by their first name.  But I knew their body, their breath, their focus.  I read a quote from Emmy once where she said, "If you ever want to get to know someone, bring them to a Bikram yoga class.  By the end of half moon, you'll have found out everything that you'll ever need to know about them."  What a thought!  We are so exposed, all of us nearly-naked together, doing our best.  Sometimes we don't even notice the other people in the room because we are so focused on our own practice (and those days are great).  But we're all on the same boat!

I like that Balti proverb, because it lays out the path from stranger to family.  And I think the yoga works the same way.  At first, we are all just strangers.  Then we come to honor and respect one another.  Eventually, we are bound together by our sweat (thicker than blood) and become like family.  It's strange and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

** This quote is taken from the title of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.  It's a phenomenal book, and if you haven't read it, you should.  It's about this hiker-turned-humanitarian who builds schools for kids, especially girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This guy was just one person, with nothing to his name, and he ended up achieving something huge and important.  Incredible story.


bikramyogachick said...

Oh, what an awesome post! You are so right, we come to "know" each other simply by practicing together. We also become more accepting and accomodating. I will now give and receive sweaty hugs (it's an honor!) and don't care if I'm by the podium and the teacher is splashing me. Moving forward or backward so we don't collide arms during half moon, moving left or right so the person who set up behind me can see. We start to work as one unit, breathing, moving, sweating together! It's awesome!

Anonymous said...

It's true...anytime you connect into that shared energy via food, drink, dance, music, sweat, blood, tears and yes, yoga, you recognize the "oneness" of it all, of us all.

Now I HAVE TO read that book...I've stared at it in bookstores long enough.

Lisa said...

Talk about six degrees of seperation....I live on the other side of the world from you and i just got home from listening to Greg Mortenson talk for two hours.We were very excited that he came to visit .. so inspirational.

aHappyYogi said...

Funny is that I was thinking about TT and that everybody has to do the Half Moon infront of Bikram and that it was a way for him to get to know everybody kind of fast.

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