What feeds us as humans and provides the basis for meaning in life is our connections. Our health on all levels, our identity and our sense of value and purpose is all intertwined with how connected we feel. In these times, the foundational importance of our connections has become increasingly clear, on both a personal and a collective level, and, placing greater focus on the health of our connections is the only way we, individually and as a culture, can move forward into a healthier society, with greater wellness on all levels.
As humans, we are meant to be connected with others. We understand who we are largely in the context of how we are connected to and seen by others. Our identity, the labels we give ourselves and our sense of value is often based on the reflections of, or relationship to, those around us. I am a mother, I am a friend, I am kind, I serve and help my community. These are all reflections of how our lives are intertwined with the lives of those around us. As social beings, we need our people to not only show us who we are, but to make our lives feel meaningful, hold us within the context of our community and engage us in learning about how to interact with others, navigate social norms, customs and disagreements. Though it is rarer now than in times past, it used to be that our community helped us to see and know our roles, thereby allowing us to feel our value within the tribe. Feeling this sense of purpose, clarity and value fundamentally changes our relationship to life, and provides a greater sense of meaning, fulfillment, and worth. These are powerful affirmations in a time where we often feel unseen, undervalued and without purpose. How much unhappiness, loneliness, low self-esteem and self-injury could be alleviated if this was our experience of life?
In addition to connection with other humans, we also often don’t recognize the significance of our relationship to the earth. As beings who have evolved on this planet and, until recent times, have had a deep and intimate connection to it, we need a relationship to nature to be whole, healthy and balanced, within ourselves, and as a global culture. Throughout our history, people who lived on the land had an intimate understanding of their interrelationship with the earth and all of life. They were directly connected to the sources of their food and water and interacted daily with their environment in meaningful ways. They had a direct and significant relationship with the land they were on, with the plants and animals that surrounded them, and with the natural elements that made up their environment. Being immersed in the natural world and striving to live in harmony with it afforded a continual sense of honor, awe, gratitude and beauty that we have largely lost. Today, as we live out our lives mainly indoors, cover great distances in short periods of time and buy our food from the grocery store, our connections are lost, and with them, the significance of our relationships to what we eat, to the land and to the environment. Lettuce from a grocery store shelf has lost all the meaning and context that lettuce from our garden might hold. Nurturing the land has a much different feeling of importance when you directly see and experience your life being nurtured by it. Missing out on these connections has allowed us to distance ourselves from the effects of our consumption and lifestyles and keeps us insulated from the consequences of our actions. This disconnection has stolen meaning and purpose from our lives, as we no longer have a relationship with the very things that sustain us and give us life.
As spiritual beings, our connections to the non-physical realms also has great importance for our health, balance and sense of meaning and purpose in life. Spirit is what imbues the physical realm with significance, allows us to see the big picture, and places us within the context of a much more expansive story. One of the benefits of connecting with nature is gaining a sense of the spiritual power that the natural world possesses. Traditional cultures often recognized and honored the spirit in all things, whether rocks, waterways, animals or mountains. Viewing nature in this light drops us into a space of honor and respect and changes how we relate to and treat the things that surround us. Understanding our own spiritual nature contributes greatly to our sense of meaning as well, giving us purpose and a larger sense of our reason for being. Coming from this point of view, we can understand our lives from a whole different vantage point, and are likely to feel more positivity, acceptance and gratitude for what we experience. Being connected into the spiritual realm also gives us a greater sense of being supported and the reassurance that we are not alone as we travel through life. Through our relationship to spirit, our lives are infused with inspiration, wisdom, understanding, deep meaning and incredible soul growth, allowing us to step up into a greater life path and a new level of being.
The ways we are connected, to people, to nature and to spirit, has great implications for how we experience life. In a time where disconnection, divisiveness, isolation, depression, anxiety and disillusionment run rampant, strengthening and nurturing connections is a way to reframe our approach to health and wellness, on both the individual and cultural level. Though in ways we are more connected now than at any time in history, the ways in which we are connecting have lost depth and meaning, creating a superficial sense of relationship that fools us into thinking our needs are being met. Clearly, this is not the case for most of us, and a reexamination of our relationships at all levels is needed for true fulfillment to be possible. Creating greater connection will undoubtedly change your experience of life, while also aiding you in seeing the significance of our interconnection and viewing yourself as being embedded within the great web of life. This point of view has the power to change not only your experience, but, as others catch on, the future of our world as well.
Here are some of my favorite ways to nurture connection:
-Make time for 1-on-1. Plan dates, phone calls or special outings with people you love, especially the immediate ones: partner, kids, dear friends. Focus on developing relationships with people who bring positivity and joy into life.
-Use ceremony. This is a way to connect on all levels at once: connecting with people on a deeper level than in the day-to-day, connecting with the earth and calling in spirit.
-Make time to have quiet and go within. Strengthen your relationship with yourself, your higher knowing and guidance. This is an invaluable practice, even just for a few minutes at a time.
-Get out in nature: walk, hike, bike, swim, camp, or just be. Observe what’s around you, breathe deeply and connect.
-Build/ connect with community: offer and ask for support from those around you, start a meet-up, connect with someone new and find people with shared visions, goals or interests.
-Connect with your food: start a garden, buy from local farmers, go hunting or raise animals.
-Sit with a plant or tree. Open up to it and feel its energy.
-Tune in to the seasons, moon cycles and rhythms of nature. Bring awareness to where in the cycle you are, notice the subtle signs that things are shifting (check out my ebook for a much deeper dive into this).
May you experience deep connection, true fulfillment and expansive health in your life!
With love and blessings.