It seems to be a badge of honor to walk around NYC regardless of what happens, with the look as if nothing happens at all. A look of steel attempting to indicate that we are impenetrable to it all. It is a wall that attempts to keep everything out, and everything locked in. We will continue to lose our connection to our self by only existing fully in small doses or in select situations. If we are forced to walk around with a poker face, then we are forced to gamble with our availability to our emotional body; gambling with whether our experiences or feelings matter, or choosing to construct that wall that negates our very basic humanness. It’s not just about keeping things out but also what we hold in. How available do we feel to be as we are without the insecurity of wondering what people will think? One of my students recently told me that she was feeling ill on a subway and grabbed her stomach and started breathing hard. The lady next to her turned and asked her if she was ok and if she needed a Valium. That is an old paradigm that does not serve our healing, the one that says, “Oh, there’s something wrong with you? Quick, how can we numb it, or hide it.” Most our our grandparents and perhaps our parents as well grew up in a time when everything was private. Family was private. Trauma was private. As many of us live far away from our families we understand the concept of chosen family. The people who we have intimate relationships with. Family is no longer confined to just blood, but our intimacy is growing. We have the opportunity to be vulnerable with more people. Even the way that businesses function today. Companies providing lunch and yoga for its staff. Community means intimacy. The availability to be as you are. That doesn’t mean we start venting all of our problems onto each other, but we become available to see and sit with whatever arises regardless of whom we find ourselves around and hold the space for others to do the same without judgment. If we practice the poker face, we take ourselves out of our relationships. We cannot make room for more joy if we have been concealing our cards of sorrow or shame or anger. In this game we all get to win, but only by putting down our hands and seeing each other’s faces.