Break the Fourth Wall


A few years ago after teaching a corporate yoga class, I came to the realization that I hadn’t truly connected with a group of students. I didn’t realize how disconnected my students and I were until our last class of the year, when several of us chatted outside of the fitness center after class. After those several minutes, I left my students wondering what had kept us so disconnected for so long.

After leaving the building, I realized what a mistake I had been making in not connecting with these students on a deeper level sooner. But beyond this class, I realized that there have been hundreds of missed opportunities in my lifetime to have deeper connections with other people.

Now, obviously, we cannot go for a walk and stop and chat with every other person out walking; it would defeat the purpose of walking. Nor could we stop and chat with every person at the movie theater, the grocery store and other drivers lined up alongside us at red lights. That sort of outreach would be a bit overboard.

But think of the people you come in contact with that you could offer a friendly word to and don’t. Imagine being invited to a party where the guests range from good friends to complete strangers. Do you spend the evening surrounded by your good friends? Do you chat with the strangers? Do you make an effort to connect with everyone in the room? Do you avoid going to the party altogether?

In the times where you don’t bond with others, what is it that is blocking that connection? Do you feel like you don’t have anything valuable or worthwhile to say? Are you waiting for the other person to say something first? Do you feel like you don’t want to bother the other person?

Realize that a compliment or a friendly word can completely change the course of someone’s day or someone’s life. Ignoring someone or having the mindset of “minding your own business” will leave some people taking it personally and feeling bad about themselves or about you. It will leave everyone with a general feeling of separation and disconnect.

On a sociological level, millions of people are walking around with this general disconnect, which often appears as disinterest – in others and in their work and in their lives. They’ll find some interest in complaining, in their past, in their future, in being addicted to their misery and in believing that the grass is greener elsewhere.

The true disinterest lies not within other people, things and situations, but typically lies within ourselves. Because most of us aren’t totally in love with ourselves and the artwork that we are, we cannot be truly in love with anything. We will not be on fire for making people comfortable or happy or making others laugh, because we don’t feel worthy enough to be the person who does that. It ends up being a constant dissatisfaction, discontent and search for external pleasure.

One solution to this is to realize that the fourth wall, a term used to describe the imaginary wall between someone on stage and an audience, lies not between you and others, but within you. Most of us begin erecting this wall, brick by brick, at birth. Every time we are hurt by someone, we add another brick until we develop a mighty fortress within ourselves. We have become a society where we need things to be fast paced to distract us from the risk of internal reflection. We look for pleasure and support from external sources, because we think our contentment is dependent on other people and situations.

Instead, it is time that we realize we can be content every moment of every day regardless of what is happening around us. True contentment comes from your depth. It is not subject to bad weather, bad health or bad news.

By cultivating this contentment, we gain a deeper connection to ourselves, as well as everything and everyone. Soon enough, that disconnect and disinterest will disappear along with that imaginary fourth wall.

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