Under the veil of night, Post-it love messages and poetry rocks adorn random doorsteps to be found in the morning by unknown residents. Another evening, a dear friend & I thoroughly enjoyed slinking into the drama section of a neighborhood video store to leave this gift behind.
Since Aug. 5th I’ve been on a personal 40 Day Journey and each day I am taking a step in the direction of growth in five specific areas in my life. One of these daily steps is to share love anonymously with a random member of the community. Hands down, this has been the most joyful part of my journey thus far! Each day, I have busted out my colorful markers and pens, scoured my house and the surrounding environment for special items to share and gotten crafty creating small packages of love to anonymously leave around the community for someone to find.
At first I chose not to share this particular step in my journey publicly because the joy of dancing in my creative fire and imaging someone delightedly stumbling upon my anonymous gift was treasure enough. Truly, each day as I take this step, I feel like a kindergartener at sunrise on Christmas morning still in my long fuzzy footie-pajamas rushing under the twinkling tree to see what gifts have appeared over night. The only difference is, now the excitement and childlike wonder is in the giving.
So why am breaking the anonymity silence? The answer is simple: mirror neurons. When I am teaching a yoga class and I notice a student particularly struggling with their breath (forgetting to breath, jagged breathing etc.) I often walk next to them and take a moment to align my breath with theirs and then shift to a more subtle, steady breath. More often than not, their breath follows suit without me saying a word. Our brains are hard-wired for mimicry and whether we are conscious of it or not, we are learning from, engaging with and neurologically mirroring each others behaviors, thoughts, and emotions all the time. We are highly complex social animals that are neurologically built to observe, learn from, connect and empathize with the lived experience of those around us.
When we are inspired by what we see people doing around us, we often feel the resulting pleasurable emotions as if we have taken this action ourselves. Just think of how you respond when you watch your favorite sports icon make a game-changing slam dunk at the last pivotal moment, or score that winning touch down — even if you were only watching it on television. Better yet, remember how you’ve felt when you watched a child you adore successfully attempt to do something for the very first time. If you could see your reaction through a video camera, most likely you were rapt with attention, visually mimicking their emotions and flooded with love upon their achievement. Your body stores its own memories of you having lived this experience and your neurons are firing signals as if you were doing this action yourself! Joy, excitement, relief, pride, awe. All of it = a greater experience of love. So for this, I am sharing this step and inviting you to walk with me either by feeling my own joy as I write about it here or by finding fun and playful ways to anonymously give love all over your community.
Lead by example. Give love like it’s all you’re here to do today. (Pssst… I’ve got a secret for you: it is! Pass it on.) Imagine the waterfall effect if it became the norm to find a parking citation envelope on your windshield with a love note inside instead of a ticket. “Took longer than you thought? We’ve all been there. I went ahead and paid your ticket just because I KNOW you are awesome. Whoever you are, have a great day!” How might it turn your day around to be grumpy and rushed at the grocery store check-out and to have the clerk say “Hey, I see you’re having a tough time. An anonymous customer bought this cookie and asked me give it to you with love.” This doesn’t have to cost a dime either. We can decorate rocks, shells, leaves, (whatever your imagination can divine) with heart-warming quotes or favorite poems and wrap them up with care and color to be found by passers-by on window-sills, bathroom sinks, hospital waiting rooms and coffee shop tables. We can notice someone looking for a parking space behind us and choose to drive past that prime spot and give it to them. That’s what I’m up to. I could say it’s an act of giving love with no need for return but that is a fallacy. The return is in the giving.
Fun ways to anonymously give some love:
- Leave movie tickets on a chair at a restaurant – How ’bout dinner AND a movie!
- Collect overhanging flowers in your neighborhood & leave them tied in a bow on a random doorstep
- Gift wrap your favorite used book with a love note and leave it on a park bench
- Hang healthy homemade bird treats in a neighborhood tree
- Leave a mixed CD with a friendly note at a gas station bay or rest stop
- Leave bubbles & sidewalk chalk at a local playground
- Make a hygiene care package (toothpaste, toothbrush, tissue, soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, socks, a pen and a small journal) at a local bus/train station or under freeway overpasses
Wanna join me? http://artemisiashine.com/40steps
Think mirror neurons are cool and want to learn more?: Check this out!
ps. MC Yogi knows what’s up!