Feeling connection is a core human need. To experience and nurture ‘oneness’ and belonging is pretty hard in the uncertainty of the world right now. To feel valued, heard and accepted without judgement is a trial for the every day, let alone now- when we crave the security of tribe and being ‘enough’. So how do we find it? How do we arm ourselves with REAL connection when we can’t even leave our homes or fly to Italy?
First, perhaps we should establish exactly what connection is and what it can do for us.
We’re inherently very social beings. As much as I love introverting with my animals, listening to podcasts or curling up with a good book and finishing in a dribbly cheeked sleep I DO understand that after I HAVE connected with someone or something I feel a sense of comfort and inclusion. Connection is the joining of two or more things to establish a relationship. Real connection has the power to heal traumas of loneliness and isolation- ongoing tragedies of today’s digital, Covid ridden world. To create authentic connection location is not as important as recognising WHO or WHAT is connecting. I say ‘what’ because I believe it’s not only vital to our well being to connect with family, friends and our tribe but also to nature, the animal world and Spirit.
Empathy and listening are key elements to connection. To not only hear but listen and put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a free gift you can give someone every day. To ‘show up’ wholeheartedly and without distraction or judgement is what forges affiliation. No- you may not always agree and you may challenge thinking and present opinions but empathy promotes space for trying to understand and acceptance of the person giving you their time and story.
So right now- while we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, confined to homes, regions and countries, how DO you connect? Where can you find a sense of belonging?
Embrace all the ways.
We’re extremely lucky in having so many avenues to reach out and connect in the ‘ever shrinking’ world. Even if we can’t sit masked face to masked face with a coffee (or something stronger), we can FaceTime, Zoom, Tweet, Insta DM or Snap. I think it’s one of the positive outcomes of social media. You can still limit the rubbish on your feed and into your mind and use all these means to connect. Gone are the days when you would have a pen pal and wait six weeks for a letter. Now you can reach out and make friends across the world in real time. I’ve made some beautiful connections through social media and when I have my moments of wanting to ‘give it all up’ and live in a cabin in the woods with some dogs and maybe Cillian Murphy, it is THESE people and their vibe of acceptance and genuine interest in me which keeps me going. They’re authentic connections and we learn from each other- culturally, emotionally and mentally. So I say EMBRACE ALL THE WAYS.
One thing I love about this global pandemic apart from Mother Nature taking a big breath and gathering some strength to put up with us again is that some of the elemental traditions are creeping back in to our lives. We’re allowing time for family dinners back at the table. In our house, whoever has the sauce bottle in front of them (either tomato or BBQ) ‘has the floor’. It is their turn to speak. We play board games and do jigsaw puzzles and we go camping and we hang out like families should. What better time to either adhere to traditions of our parents’ era or create some new ones? What an easy way to connect? These traditions don’t have to stop with the sauce bottle. Start hiking as a family, build something together, write a book, revamp your home, revamp your relationships, learn a language as a family, start a business……do it together.
I believe connection to nature is one of the easiest and instantly gratifying. But sadly it is also perhaps one of the first to get pushed to the side in lieu of that show on Netflix or because it’s too cold, too dark, too wet.
What better way to ground yourself than stepping in to nature each day? Even just for a few minutes. Go for the walk, listen to the sounds of the breeze in the trees, the lapping or the falling of water, the hidden high and low animals, the wind. It’s all magic for the taking and promotes gratitude worth returning. I dare you to take off your shoes and feel the earth below your feet. Ground yourself. Breath in the fresh air. Let your mind wander to the sounds around you and feel the sun on your cheeks. ‘It’s been alive longer than us and it’s there to teach, to nurture and to breathe life back in to those open to it.
I make time for nature every day. Whether it’s time in the hills with my horse, a walk or hike, a trip to the parklands with the dogs or just sitting outside to see how many different bird sounds I can hear.
Next time you’re out, take the time to sit on that park bench, rock, grass. Let Mother Nature whisper sweet nothings in to your ear so that your stresses, worries, fears and busyness can take a back seat for just a moment of free connection.
Embrace the animals.
You knew this was coming from me right?
I lose count of how many times I say I love dogs more than humans so it’s only fitting for me to mention the animal kingdom here! As I’ve mentioned- empathy is a key element to connection. What better source for this good stuff than from a dog? Or is it just mine?
Better than diamonds, the love and understanding from an animal is valuable beyond measure. As the saying goes,
“Sit with animals quietly and they will show you their hearts. Sit with them kindly and they will help you locate yours.”
Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, cows, birds……take your pick! Give them your time and they will give you their love with all your emotions, hardships, excitement, quietness and mood. A much more long lasting reward than likes on Insta!
Embrace your energy.
It’s only been in recent years I’ve started learning and openly accepting the power of energy and WOW- so much to discover! You can dive as shallow as ‘The Secret’ or as deep as Stoicism, Buddhism and the like but either way one point rings true. To be in charge of your own energy is an absolute gift for connection. To share it, accept it and hold it is a superpower we ALL have. Self love, wellness, friendship, happiness, acceptance, self esteem, empathy, kindness- ALL rely on energy. And without all these things, all these feelings and space for healing, health and growth where would we stand? We would stand with the sauce bottle. Motionless, cold and…. motionless.
The world may be closed but our minds and hearts are not. Let them be open. Connection is the exchange of energy between one thing and another while you’re paying attention. This energy can create trust, forge friendship, inspire change and deepen any moment. Guard and cherish it. Save it only for those who value it.
Spirit, Higher Self, Energy, call it whatever sits well with you but get to know it. It will always be with you and when you’re struggling or tired or when you just aren’t where you want to be, you can still rely on your Spirit. You may even have beautiful people in your life who can share it with you or who might give you some of theirs. By the same token, when your Spirit is soaring high- share it. Connect with who or what will listen and enjoy the experience with you.
I’ve learnt to preserve my energy (I like to use ‘Spirit’) for the moments and people precious to me. I won’t say ‘without’ guilt but let’s just say I’m getting better at protecting it from those who use and abuse my energy- at THEIR convenience. It’s a process and it’s sometimes heart breaking to consciously stop giving my time but if I trust my feelings and have faith that what I’m putting out in to the world is good and kind and valuable, then that energy will return to me to be recycled again.
So how will you connect today?
PS- It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged. Global pandemic etc. but thank you for reading my half decent writing ramble. If it has connected with you, feel free to comment.