This week we’ll talk about connection. I love this topic because it has a lot of different layers to it. it has a lot of different aspects to it. I want to look at three main aspects with you today, and they’re almost like three sides of the same coin. My coins have three sides for now, just roll with it. So, 1) connection can be the connection that we have with ourselves, 2) it can be the connection that we have with others, and 3) it can be the connection that we have with the world at large.
These three aspects influence each other, and we can cultivate each of them individually. They will all improve the others as well. I’ll just start right here with what’s my connection with myself? To be able to feel connected, the first part is to ask whether I am really present. Am I present in my body, do I notice what is physically going on inside of me, do I notice what emotions are passing through me? What thoughts am I running right now? What are the choices that I’m making about all of those thoughts and perceptions? I can place a hand on my heart as a physical reminder to be right here with myself.
The second part, connecting with others, that is our relation to the people that we love, the ones that are really dear to us. Those are often the ones we think about first when we talk about connection with others – the ones that we want to get more intimate with. It also refers to my colleagues though, to people that I randomly spend time with during the day, to the person at the grocery checkout, to anybody who I’m passing in the street. There is a subtle quality to those little connections that can make an incredible shift in your day and so it’s worth cultivating a little bit of that.
And then the connection to the world at large: How do I perceive myself within the context of the world at large? Within where I am in the world, where I am in my life, where I am physically located, where am I really at home.
My sense of being at home is threefold: The first home is just rooted within myself. If I can feel at home within myself, then I’m not going to get thrown off as easily by what the people around me do and by where I am physically in the world, so that’s the first home.
The second home are my loved ones, the ones that are really close to me, the ones that I want to hold dear.
The third home can then be a physical location, a house, an apartment, a tent, a city, a country, whatever you want to call your home on planet Earth.
What I find hugely beneficial for cultivating connection with all three of these, to myself, to others, and the world at large, is the concept of loving kindness.
This comes out of the Buddhist tradition, and I just did a beautiful retreat this weekend with one of my teachers, with Carina, on loving kindness. The four types of how we can open our heart are metta, which is the word for loving kindness, karuna, which is compassion, upeka, which is equanimity, and mudita, which is joy. We can cultivate all of those individually by ourselves, but also in relation to others. A beautiful practice for metta, for loving kindness, that I used to do for months on end and then at some point I fell off the wagon, and this beautiful meditation retreat reminded me of picking that back up again, is to wish myself well and to wish others well.
It’s very easy to just dismiss that as a “well, of course I wish myself and others well”, but having that as a dedicated practice is a really beautiful thing. It can have a lot of effect to turn that into a ritual.
At the end of my morning meditation, I take a couple of extra minutes and say “may I be well, may I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be at ease”, and then I wish that onto others as well, picking specific people, for example somebody who is really dear to my heart: “may they be well, may they be happy, may they feel peaceful and at ease”.
Then I pick a neutral person, maybe somebody who I often buy the groceries from, or the mail person, or a colleague that I barely know.
And then the same for a person that I’m currently struggling with in my life. Can I wish them well, to be happy, at ease and at peace? And then finally the world at large: “may we all be happy, may we be peaceful and at ease, may we feel joy”.
As you go through this process, as you repeat that for yourself, you will feel it welling up inside yourself.
That is one way of elevating your own vibration. The way how we relate to ourselves always influences how we relate with the world, so when I am in a good place, then I can also be there for others. I can be in a good place for the world, and good things will come of that. We know that it’s hard to make good decisions when we are not in a good place, so let’s put ourselves in a good place, and loving-kindness is a beautiful way of getting there.
Another beautiful concept that relates to being in this higher state of vibration, being in a good place myself, is the concept of flow. So, you will notice that if I’m at ease, those work tasks go a lot easier. I’m not going to get upset as easily with the world, and opportunities will open themselves up to me simply because I’m actually present enough and in a good state (not caught up in some random story in my head), and I will actually notice when they pop up. I will see the little things, I will be able to appreciate and enjoy the little things, and I will notice the opportunities coming my way. All the beauty in every single day I see.
I won’t pretend that that’s easy. Sorry, it’s gonna be work every day and we gotta be at it all day, because we tend to forget so easily. We just tend to get caught up in that old habit of following a train of thought. I’ve been doing this practice for over 20 years, and while I love to relate with it with ease, and tell myself “hey, this is easy, I can do this no problem”, and that self-talk, that affirmation to myself, will make it easier, I still have to actively engage in it every day. And that’s okay. That’s part of being human. That’s what we’re here to learn. That’s what we are on this planet for. Can we cultivate joy? Can we cultivate to be loved, to embody love, and to just be the shining light in the world? Can we do that a little bit every day, and then more of every day over time?
Sometimes, I have the feeling that it never gets quite as easy as I would like it to be. However, we do get better at it. There are some people who walk this earth, who are so good at it that they always seem to be in this blissful state, where they’re just radiating light and peace and joy. You are around them and you just feel that sigh of relief in your chest, and you want to be around this teacher all the time, because it always feels good to stay in their presence.
It’s because they have dedicatedly every day done practices to get to that state, and to be in that state, so let’s cultivate a little bit more of that every single day. That connection to ourselves that nourishes the connection to the ones around us and to the world at large. In the end, all of those are three sides of the same coin, because deep down we are all one. The more we can cultivate that loving kindness, the more we will feel that.