Let me start with a story a blank sheet of paper by the global spiritual teacher Thich Naht Hanh-
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we as humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply ... you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here, the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father—everything is in this sheet of paper. ... The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos. “
This story beautifully captures the essence of interconnectedness of all beings on this planet. We often overlook the fact that what affects one is bound to affect us all even if we are on the other side of the earth. Also, as human beings we are hardwired to naturally live our lives wanting to connect with others, to be loved and to belong. Indeed, we are hardwired for connection. It is what gives us our lives meaning and purpose and makes us feel safe and secure.
Ready to love and be loved
Feeling worthy of being loved is the first step towards really connecting with others as it helps us to understand ourselves better and feel at home with our own self. Unfortunately for many of us, due to our conditioning, we are often led to believe that we have to meet certain conditions to deserve it. This limiting belief cuts us off from those moments of connection that is present all around us because we do not believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.
These moments of connection can be with a child, a stranger, your spouse or to yourself. We miss out on these opportunities because we are not paying attention and are often distracted and usually too preoccupied to notice.
I have written about this topic in more details in my earlier post “How self acceptance can compensate for being ‘NEVER ENOUGH”
In the video I have shared below, I discuss some mistaken beliefs that many people have about real connection and a few ways that you can connect with others even while practising social distancing.
Being available for connection
In order to connect with others, you need to be “available” for any opportunities that come your way. That also means that you need to feel comfortable putting yourself out there, sometimes way beyond your comfort zone. But it all starts with learning to feel at home in your own body, being aware of your own emotions and reactions.
It means becoming curious about your own emotions (including difficult ones) and opening your heart to all that life has to offer you.
It means learning to tune into your thoughts, emotions and feelings without any judgement.
As you practice being present, just as you are, with kindness and compassion, you will find that your authenticity will help you to connect with others in a deep and meaningful manner.
(see my earlier post “EMOTIONS- let them guide you” on this topic)
The way of connection
The role of connection in our life is usually invisible. It has an ebb and flow as we continually connect and disconnect from each other. However, sometimes we can be too distracted to notice that we are hurting and fail to take action if we feel continually disconnected. This can then become a way of life and this disconnection can end up wrecking marriages and families.
Sometimes this disconnection can even be very subtle. Such as looking at your phone while your child is trying to talk to you; texting or chatting on your phone while having dinner with your family; missing the opportunity of really connecting with your family when you meet them after a long day at work.
Maintaining real, deeply personal connections takes time and effort and many of us simply do not prioritise this anymore. For many of us, social media has replaced our true friendships and other relationships and these bonds have been weakened by distraction and busyness. If we are not careful, in our ever-more connected, globalized, mobile world, we risk winding up lonely and disconnected in new and challenging ways. This is even more of an issue in a post COVID19 world where we need to maintain social distancing in order to protect ourselves and our families.
(In the video posted above I have shared with you some tips to remain connected at a time when we are practicing "social distancing aka physical distancing")
Our most meaningful moments occur when we pay attention when we slow down and really tune in to what is happening around us. When you become aware of the pitfalls of disconnection and start focusing on what is important, it benefits you and the people around you. You learn to appreciate the times when they are good and learn to show grace when things do not go your way. No matter how things are, you remain open to the breadth of your life’s experiences, making it both rich and meaningful.
As the astronomer, Carl Sagan had said,
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”