Almost all businesses have a mission statement. This is a statement that the company uses to guide their day-to-day operations. If something is ever in question, you refer to the mission statement and first ask, “are we fulfilling this?”
Truth be told, Ignite Yoga did not have a mission statement until recently. Certainly, there have been threads of importance that we’ve woven into our tapestry, but not an official statement that guides us daily. It took a lot of thought to claim, “this is who we are!”, and after months of deliberation and brainstorming, we instated two principles into our mission:
We connect individuals back to themselves to cause the realization of their intrinsic value.
We connect people to people to uphold the value of human connection.
There’s a special word that shows up three times in our mission. THREE. That’s a lot, which means it must be important—and it is.
The word is “connect” or “connection.”
Brené Brown, researcher of shame and vulnerability, defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.“
If we don’t offer an opportunity to connect to yourself or your fellow yogis on a daily basis, we are not doing our job. Connection is our innate human need, and if we don’t have it, we have what we want the least—feeling alone.
There are many things that bring us together as humans. Often it’s via a common denominator such as your knitting club, card club, kids in school together, church softball team, or you simply drive the same car as another person. I had a friend with a Jeep Wrangler and she’d give a little wave when passing another Wrangler. The Jeep Cherokees, Laredos, or any other model did not receive this wave, only the Wranglers.
These moments of commonality are the first step in cultivating human connection, but being in a group and having connection are not the same thing. Connection happens in the moments that actually create a sense of togetherness. I’ve sang in choirs for years but never had the same sense of belonging as I did when singing (yelling?) Sweet Caroline with my girlfriends in college. It’s not the singing, it’s the shared experience of loving everything about the moment that brings you closer. There’s absolutely no judgement, no matter how loud or off-key you are, only acceptance.
It takes a lot of courage to be committed to connection, both with yourself and especially with others. It’s the thing we desire the most, but often in the moments that create the most connection, we back away—it feels too scary. Recently I attended a funeral of a close friend and overheard a conversation: A woman was sharing how she didn’t visit (said friend) prior to her passing because she wanted to hold on to her memory of how she knew her. Our friend had grown very sick from stage four cancer and her outside appearance had transformed, her physical strength had diminished, and her voice became feeble, but she was still there. In her final week, I spoke with her on the phone and she expressed how visitors raised her spirits and took her mind off “things.” When I heard this friend of many years had chosen not to visit, my heart broke. It broke for both women. One too scared to experience the vulnerability that comes in our most difficult times, and our friend, who longed for that connection in her final days.
Moments like this show up all over our lives. They range from gut-wrenching, sloppy, sob-on-the-floor tears to taking the initiative to speak to someone that is desperate to be seen. We avoid the difficult to stay in the comfort. It’s nice there. We don’t have to risk too much, shine too much, or be messy. We don’t have to have the tough conversations that include phrases like, “I was wrong,” “I messed up,” or “I know you’re struggling, I have no words, but I can be here and sit.” But when we do take that chance and are willing to get into the difficult, both with ourselves and others, the reward is great. We move a little closer to what we desire most.
The depth of our lives is rewarded with moments of great joy. When you show up in tough times, you build trust. With trust, you build friendships and relationships that will span the rest of your life. You’ll have rich memories and no regrets. You’ll be available to enjoy your life because, along the way, you’ve faced what’s in front of you. If I could imagine anything for the future, it’s people present and connected, willing to stay the course in difficult times to reap the beauty of the joyous times, to hold space for others to be themselves, even when “theirself” is different than you. It’s a mission, not yet a reality. But perhaps, if a richer fuller life is something you desire, you’ll join us on this mission to become more connected to ourselves and others.
CONNECTION: the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.