Connection equates to quality of life.
The more connected we are with:
- Other people
- Mother Nature
The better we perceive our lives. And since the quality of your life directly correlates to how long you’ll live, how happy you’ll be, and how loving you’ll be, that’s our topic of conversation today.
Connect with other people by any means necessary.
Here are some examples of deep ways to connect with others:
Sharing laughter can build a bond that lasts forever and instantly brings you back to a place of joy every time you think of the other person or spend time together.
Love is an intangible connection we have with another person. Often times, we like to create ‘rules’ surrounding what love can or should be, but that’s using language to represent something meant only for feeling emotion. Love is comfort around another person, and a sense that life is better with them around. Love is a bond you know will never break, even if society says you’re supposed to fall out of love to move on, or if you’re taught love is unidirectional. As an example, consider how much a parent can love multiple children; love is abundant, grows the more you practice, and is multi-directional. It is possible to love every single person — and thing — in this world. In fact, this is one way to describe ‘enlightenment’.
Said to be chemical, this energetic connection between two animals represents present moment at it’s finest. When you are magnetically attracted to another human being, you are experiencing something wonderful; possibly even divine. If you think about it, we are conceived through love, often out of lust, and so lust serves as a reminder of our purity. When we feel lust — provided we direct it and use it responsibly — we tear down all our walls. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable, thereby creating a sacred bond between two people.
Trust can be formed through shared moral views, ethics, and values. It can also be developed through witnessing acts of selflessness or shared experience. We yearn to trust others, because trust is another form of love, in that we are giving ourselves to another person. We are letting go, and by letting go and trusting someone else, we move closer to our true selves.
Connecting with Mother Nature is simple: step outside (away from buildings,
traffic, and other ambient noises) and tap into all five senses:
Look around and admire what you see. Isn’t she beautiful?
Listen to birds chirp, a river run, the ocean crash with each wave, a squirrel scamper on a tree, leaves whistle in the wind, or a fire crack and pop as it burns. Choose any sound of Mother Nature and you’ll find peace, projected outward from a region of your body unlabeled by modern science, but clearly present.
Feel air on your skin, describe it to yourself, and notice what happens to the hairs on your arms or legs, how moist your skin is, or the muscular effort you put forth to hold your stance against a strong wind. Instead of getting lost in your head, take a moment to actually feel your environment, the uneven ground you’re stepping on, and the warmth of the sun.
Take a big whiff. Notice whatever you smell, albeit the ocean, grass, a burning fire, flowers, wet leaves, or even horse manure. Whatever you smell — so long as it came from nature — will be tied to an ancient memory inside your brain, in the most primitive part. Your corpus callosum houses your olfactory system, or your ability to smell. Depending on the source you read, it can be argued ‘smell memory’ starts as early as the womb, or birth at the latest. Your entire life you’ve been recording memory through smell, and when you connect with Mother Nature, you either access old memories — formed during a time of pure love in your life — or you form new memories that will anchor you to this moment.
Is the air dry or moist in your mouth? Do you perceive anything in particular or is clean air all around you? What does that taste like? Even clean air has a taste; like cut grass in a field that was freshly mown, marine animal odor by a coastline, crispness on a fall day, or light-freshness on a spring day with flowers blooming.
Hone in on all five senses, one at a time, and I suspect you’ll be surprised by how drawn you are to repeat this exercise next time you’re outside. The world slows down, so does your nervous system, and you begin to relax. Relaxation comes from connectedness, which is another form of peace.
Connecting with other animals is natural. Even if you don’t consider yourself an “animal lover”, this doesn’t mean you have to walk through life with a wall around you. For instance:
- You can watch a beaver build a damn and be in awe.
- You might see a bird flying in the air and daydream about what this experience would be like.
- You might see a school of fish swimming and think about collective consciousness and how that applies to your life. How is it they swim with the synchronicity they do, dodging anything in their way, but moving rhythmically, together, and all at once?
- Or perhaps you’ll see a dolphin, whale, turtle or manatee gracefully move through the water and get a child-like feeling of being gravity-free and capable of anything.
- You can even connect with an animal every time you take a sip of milk, have a bite of cheese, cook with butter, have an egg, or eat meat. Honor the foods you’re putting in your mouth and your connection with other animals builds.
You see, you don’t have to be outside, have a pet at home, or make an effort to connect with other animals in nature; all you have to do is pay attention when they are around, or be thankful for the meal you’re eating and your position on the food chain. As you build your connection with animals, I suspect you’ll find out you’re not alone, and you never were.
Last, but certainly not least, is your connection with yourself. This is perhaps the most ignored and undervalued aspect of connection. A new and good friend of mine, James Goodin, suggests a great exercise: look in the mirror and say “I love you.” If at first you don’t believe the words you say, or you have trouble saying them, write them on the mirror and read them back to yourself until you believe the words as they leave your mouth.
Your first — and maybe only — duty in life is to learn to love yourself deeply. If you’re anything like me, you might have a tendency to be critical, judgmental, and hard on yourself at times. Well, that doesn’t make any sense, for it’s a misguided method with the intention of self-improvement. Being hard on yourself is not how you get to know yourself better, how you improve upon previous efforts, or how to learn self-respect; conversely, being too easy on yourself is not how you build solid relationships, achieve in aspects of life that mean something to you, or give love in situations that require patience and selflessness.
In actuality, it’s not about being ‘hard’ or ‘easy’. It’s about being self-observant. When you learn to observe your own behaviors, actions, and realizations you’ll grow. Before you know it, you’ll be able to see yourself in a situation, consider multiple opportunities for actions, words, or inactions as they present themselves, and choose accordingly. You’ll be able to move from ‘in the moment,’ to ‘watching the moment’, to ‘choosing the moment’; all in due time.
Practice love. Feel connection. Be loyal to both.
I’m so grateful for you,
Originally published at drkareem.com on January 31, 2017.