One time I was traveling and I was at a bus stop in Kyoto, and the lady in front of me turned around and started talking to me. At first she said one short sentence, so I smiled. But then she continued on, and I smiled and nodded. And the longer she talked, the more I felt it would be inappropriate to tell her I understood nothing at all. So I carried on, and while she talked, I made sure to smile and nod at what I thought were the right moments. That was our conversation. I didn't understand a word that she said, but there was an exchange nonetheless.
The focus of the month is "Someone to Talk to". Though we know the importance of words in communicating, it is not just words that make the conversation. It is also our presence, the attention that we pay, and our feedback that make other people feel heard. As yoga asana practitioners, we are very well aware of the importance of one's presence. How other people practice inadvertently affects us, and us them.
Often in a yoga class, we come into the gesture of namaskar in which we bring our palms to touch in front of our chest. This is a symbol of the union of opposites, and it can be a good reminder that none of us are really separate. This very gesture, this basic intention, can then be the foundation of our practice-- to speak to the other even without words, to acknowledge their presence and appreciate them, to see the world not as a world of strangers but as a world of connected beings.
At the end of the day, it is not so much the words but the connection, the feeling that we are not alone in the world, that makes us feel we are part of each other. Whether we are riding a bus to work or traveling in a foreign country, speaking to the guard in our building or the toddler at the park, that "conversation" can be made simply by seeing the other as present, and we give what we can and what we have, and we talk to each other in the language of mutual acceptance.