Connection is something I think about regularly (I should get out more, noted). But seriously, there’s a saying in the recovery world: If the disease is disconnection, the solution, the healing, the recovery, HAS to be in connection. Even if you are not a person who identifies as an addict, or someone who has a diagnosis, even if you’re just an everyday human walking through the stress of living in the world without a “label,” connection is still the antidote to whatever ails you.
As we experience a collective “distancing” together, the irony is not lost on me, and I find myself contemplating connection. Today I took a walk. Granted, it happens to be a gorgeous Saturday, after a lot of gray days lately, but it’s not the first of its kind, and I walk a lot in my neighborhood. I noticed more people out walking, with dogs, with babies, on bikes, sitting on their porches than perhaps I’ve seen all year. It occurred to me that there are hidden blessings in everything we are prevented from “doing” right now, so that we might reengage elsewhere. Then I noticed something else. More people out than usual, but crossing the street to keep their distance, looking down to avoid eye contact, slowing down or speeding up to ensure a “safe space,” from everyone else. I found myself instinctually doing the same things and it felt heavy in my steps, sad from a very primal place.
I reminded myself that whole hearted living is about connection (see Brene Brown if this phrase is new to you). This thing we are here to do on the planet, isn’t based in isolation. Just look around. We aren’t alone. In fact, there are quite a lot of us, and there just has to be a reason for that. I believe our highest purpose is to be of service to one another, you can take that or leave it depending on your belief system. But whatever you believe, I encourage you to take a moment during this challenging and historic time to consider how you would like to approach connection. I’ve long been taught by healers wiser than me, that what happens at a physical level is simply a reflection and manifestation of what needs to be cleared at an emotional level. If you buy that theory, the entire planet is “clearing” a lot of stuff. What changes will we see in our health care systems, our information dissemination, our larger structures and traditions? That all remains to be seen, but in the mean-time most people are feeling tremendous anxiety, disorientation, and, yes, disconnected.
I want to offer you a few suggestions of actions you can take, to increase connection, with yourself and your fellows. Anxiety is about the future. How will I pay my bills? What will happen to my business? How will I keep my kids entertained for that long? What do you mean I can’t get my eyelashes done? If I’m floating in the unknown, what I need is something that feels solid. So let’s talk about grounding and opportunities for reaching out.
Grounding. Literally, of the ground. Put your hands in the Earth (garden, play with some sand, breathe in time with the breeze under a tree. Walk consciously. Feel every step. If you’ve never tried walking meditation this is a great time to investigate it, as you don’t need much space and you’re mindfulness and stability will increase exponentially. Google Walking Meditation and have at it. If you are just out taking a walk, make eye contact, smile, wave. Stop and smell something or mindfully observe wildlife, the view, the sounds of nature. Lie on your floor, or outdoors, and systematically tighten and release different areas of the body with in concert with your breath. Communicate with your own body.
Make an “It could be worse” list. I feel like I might just smack the next person who suggests that to me (so I’m suggesting it to you?) But, alas, it can be helpful to write down what blessings are being revealed in the wake of these circumstances. The Grand Opening for the new HOPE Studio has been postponed. In addition to now having more time to get everything ready I’ve also realized how narrow my priorities had become in the hustle of the preparation and the deadline. Here’s an easy exercise that will help. Draw two squares inside of each other (like a box within a box). Make it big enough that you can write in it and on the smaller one write out how things look to you right now. Don’t be shy, and don’t sugar coat it, this is for you, be real. You might write something like this: “This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s not fair. I’m afraid, and broke, and cranky!” Now, with your magic wand (otherwise known as your pen) write around the edges of the other box, the larger FRAME. Give yourself the evolved perspective (fake it if you have to). “Everything happens as it should, I just may not know all of the moving parts yet. No one ever said anything would be fair, I’m luckier than most. It’s OK and quite normal to be afraid, this is how we grow.” Congratulations, you have just practiced the skill of Re-Framing.
As people have reached out to me, checking on my well-being, I’ve felt truly touched. I’ve thought to myself, “Wow, that person has a family of their own, yet they are taking the time to make sure we are ok.” Send a text to someone personally (not a group text, not a Corona Virus update that you think they NEED to see, not an emoji hug), or even pick up the actual phone. Don’t just reach out to the most obvious person you feel obligated to contact, make an effort with someone who might not be expecting it.
One of the bonus moments of more time is that “to do” list we never get to. Surprise, you’re on a stay- cation. Use it! I recently learned about a Guided Imagery website called Insight Timer. Here’s the link:
No time like the present to get more present. Self-connection is a practice. Like driving, exercising, cooking, or studying for an exam, energy follows intention. Intend to grow your relationship with a calmer you that knows deep down, this too shall pass, but not without hidden gifts. Will you look back on the Spring of 2020 with fond memories of the season of cancellations and closures? Probably not, but don’t miss the miracles that are being laid at your feet. The trick is, you’ll have to ground yourself to find them.