How many of your 400 Facebook friends have you had a good meaty conversation with in the past year? How many of those have you met up with? And how many of those would you consider to be someone you could call on if you really needed them?
I watched a Ted Talk recently on the importance of connection when it comes to treating addiction. It explored the fact that, rather than employing isolation by cutting loved ones off or promoting rehab facilities, we should be connecting with them and gifting them with unconditional love. When people aren’t connected to love and support what is ever going to help them to beat their addictions?
We all innately crave connection to those around us. So, when we consider this, how backwards is it that we have come to believe that isolating those that are struggling is going to support them with getting well?
The importance of connection for a human being should never be understated.
If we were to consider it from an evolutionary perspective, we were built to live in packs and communities. To band together and face obstacles, whether they were woolly mammoths or sabre tooth tigers. If we hadn’t stayed connected, as a species we would never have survived.
Granted, we no longer come across woolly mammoths on our way to work. We do however come across stressful deadlines, marriage break ups and mental and emotional pains.
I’m sure that when the likes of email, txt and Facebook where invented, the aim of the game was to bring people together. To make communication fast and to enable us to connect with loved ones and business partners with ease. However, in an age where technology is everywhere, we have become increasingly distant from each other. Travel is cheaper than it has ever been, yet face to face communication is dwindling. I would love to ask Zuckerberg if the current connection crisis that is looming over us as I write this piece is something that he had envisaged. Steve Jobs, a name most people will recognise as being the creator of Apple had his head clued on. After studying Zen Buddhism in India as a young adult, Jobs incorporated his new-found awareness and knowledge into everything he created at Apple. Looking closely at Google these days you can still see his influence and the importance he placed on not just improving our connection to ourselves but also to those around us.
Even when we are in close proximity with others, some of us lack the social skills or confidence to connect OR we feel so out of tune with others. There isn’t the connection there that pulls us close in together. The experience of loneliness even while being a part of a social group is alarming.
Where does this sense of loneliness and isolation come from? It comes from a disconnection with ourselves.
You see, time spent by ourselves doesn’t equate to time spent learning about ourselves. You can’t sit and watch TV for two hours and gain an increased understanding of why you function the way you do. For some reason, we have come to believe that “chilling out” in front of the TV is time spent resting and rejuvenating – I can assure you, given research on the area – it’s not. The best way that you can connect with your true wants and needs is through just being WITH yourself. Without environmental distractions such as TV, wine, work and video games. Being connected to ourselves means that we are nurturing our mind-body connection. It means that we are becoming increasingly aware of what our body is telling us we need, to look after ourselves. And through the simple act of actually freakin stopping every now and again and tuning in, we notice how things affects us. A gift that we can then apply when connecting with others.
By practicing just being with ourselves, mindfulness and meditation then allows us to become connected to something bigger than ourselves. We become increasingly aware of what our body is telling us we need, to look after ourselves. And through the simple act of actually freakin stopping every now and again and tuning in, we notice how things affect us. A gift that we can apply when connecting with others.
By knowing how love feels in our mind and our body, we can become proficient in then assisting those around us in feeling it.
How can we give love, passion, or forgiveness if we aren’t connected to that feeling ourselves? You can therefore see how fostering this connection with ourselves has a roll-on effect in regard to our relationship with others.
Nurturing our mind and body connection helps our bodies to feel a lot less claustrophobic. Withdrawal can be a helpful short term strategy – it is rarely a good long term one. I’m sure you have experienced a time where the pain of betrayal was so searing, that all you wanted to do is hide away, eat chocolate, drink wine and cry yourself to sleep with a backdrop of Netflix – great in the short term – not so helpful in the long term. A better option is connecting by listening to what your mind and body need, and doing that.
I would love for this piece to spark some thought for you as a reader. Life isn’t a matter of work, play, eat, rest, work, play, eat – you get my drift. Life is solely about connection and it’s something that we don’t seem to put enough emphasis on. Well sometimes we do, but it’s a half-hearted connection that stems from various wants and needs as opposed to fostering a sense of deep and meaningful connection.
The best way to start REALLY connecting with others is to make your contact face to face as much as possible.
Communication through email, txt etc is really just an assault on our social brain. Text can be so easily misconstrued and doesn’t provide us with the connection that our being craves. When you spend time with others, do so while adopting a mindful approach. Check out of your constant stream of thoughts and actually listen to what their needs and desires are. Make that eye contact and allow space for just being with them, rather than filling up all your time doing things with them. Sit in the sun, go for a walk, enjoy a coffee together. Listen and watch rather than spending all of your time talking. Ask them what they need, ask how you can be there for them. You will never regret this – cause you know, karma…
And most importantly, prioritise fostering your connection with yourself.
Try turning the TV off earlier than you generally would and sit with yourself for 5-20 minutes. Just sit and notice what comes up for you. What clues is your body sending you? What do you need to do to look after you? Just stop and listen.
Here’s a link to some body scans by Mindful. There is a couple of different options, so you can pick from a 3 minute one or run with a 30 minute meditation. By stopping and going through a body scan you are in essence connecting with yourself. It’s also a great site in general so if you have some time, check it out!
When we are given 1400 minutes every day, spending 5 of those on yourself seems doable right? Have a go exploring this. Let me know what you have started doing differently lately to foster a sense of connection and what beaut things have come from this.
Until next time!
About Victoria Hood
Victoria has been working in the mental health and addiction field over the past 7 years since leaving University with an honours degree in Psychology. During her time spent working in addiction, Victoria was introduced to the practice of mindfulness. Since this time Victoria has become extremely passionate about incorporating mindfulness into both her professional and her family life.
Victoria has an honours degree in Psychology from the University of Canterbury. She is a Life Coach, Mindfulness Coach, Mindfulness Practitioner in schools and is a passionate holistic health and well-being advocate and facilitator of mindfulness based workshops.
More about Victoria…
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