Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Butterfly Effect

butterfly effectn(Physics / General Physics) the idea, used in chaos theory, that a very small difference in the initial state of a physical system can make a significant difference to the state at some later time
[from the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world might ultimately cause a hurricane in another part of the world

Today in class, I had the good fortune of experiencing the Butterfly Effect in full force. Heat cranked up, we flowed seamlessly from Sun A to Sun B, building an internal fire akin to Mount Vesuvius. Sweat pouring out, cleansing, detoxifying, we launched into our third flow. As we hit our first Chaturanga, I felt a breeze. That didn't seem right - we were still building our fire so the fans wouldn't be on......Where was that breeze coming from?

Then I saw it. In front of me was the temporary wall dividing my classroom from the next. Near the bottom, there was a small gap where it looked like a cap fell off the bottom edge of that partition. The hole was probably only an inch or two square, opening to the ground. I could see a shadow moving slightly on the other side - a class must have just begun in that room and there was someone directly on the other side of the wall from me. This anonymous person's actions were stimulating the cooler air, which gave it the freedom to rush into the hotter Hot Vinyasa room through the tiny opening. 

Chaturanga again, I closed my eyes and felt this cool air blowing over my sweat-soaked face. It felt delicious. It felt magical. It became my secret little motivator during an intense third flow. I usually rush through Chaturanga, which is not my favorite pose. But today, I relished it. I worked hard the rest of the flow, but when it came time to float my face so close to this amazing breeze I closed my eyes and held it like I never had before. I went deeper just to hold onto this feeling a moment longer before giving in to transition again. Mmmm.....

That tiny opening connected me to whomever was on the other side of that wall. Their actions changed my practice in a way they will never know. A simple raising of their arms in a completely different room took my practice to a new level - one where I actually looked forward to Chaturanga. And they had no idea. 

This happens on a daily basis. Our actions affect others in ways we could never know. Although we may never know the true effect of our words and actions, it is pretty interesting to just give it some thought. Who might benefit or be hurt from something you do? If you give a smile to the grocery store cashier, maybe her day will be brightened and she will go home and play ball with her son, which will lay the foundation for a professional baseball career in 10 years. Or if you snap at the cashier, maybe her negativity will snowball throughout the day and by the time she gets home she is stressed and yells at her son and he has had enough so he packs a bag and hitches a ride out of town and ends up on the side of a milk carton, never to be heard from again. 

Be mindful that your words and actions never stop with you. We are all affected because we are all connected. 

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