We all want to connect. Those who don't, or say they don't, are often just afraid of the closeness connection brings. Connection is very important in this age of isolation, uncertainty and insecurity.While we're communicating more than ever these days over time, space and distance, mainly by electronic means, we're lonelier than ever.
So, how do we really connect?
It may be a cliche', but everything starts with the Self, which means that we have to connect with ourselves if we hope to make real contact with others and the world in general. Self awareness is where it begins, learning to communicate with our inner world and understanding our feelings, behaviours, motives, desires, and all the things that make up our emotional and psychological lives. To gain this, we need to forgive and release the past, live in the present, trust the future. Therapy is often necessary for this process, but there are also many healing techniques that can facilitate it, for instance, meditation, yoga, tai chi, rebirthing, reiki and kinesiology.
The main prerequisite is the desire to live an interior life, recognising the spiritual reality of our human existence. Even the simple act of spending daily time alone quietens the spirit and allows insights, peace, mental rest, communion. Journalising is also an effective tool.
Communication is the single most vital life skill because it has multiple functions, speech being only one. In fact, 85 per cent of all human communication is, in fact, non-verbal. We say a lot when we say nothing. There is body language, vibes, auras and all manner of unconscious behaviours which give away our true feelings. Those who are expert at reading non-verbal behaviour can see things we are unaware of showing. A simple example is when two people are in agreement, their bodies reflect each other's identically; on the other hand, two people who are out of agreement will sit facing away from each other. Body language is made up of many components - eye contact, physical carriage, tone of voice, movement, use of arms/hands, gestures. A smile is a universal sign of friendship. It says, hey, I'm here on this planet with you and, for this one moment in time, we're connecting. In this way, there are no strangers.
When it comes to the spoken word, communication is a two way process. It's not just talking, it's also about listening. Listening is a skill as much as speaking. To truly connect, we require time, quiet, presence, focus. Person-to-person conversation is almost becoming obsolete with the use of email, phones, texting and now Twitter. But there's no substitute for sitting down with someone and engaging in a personal exchange, whether heated, friendly, warm, animated or quiet. Silence is another form of non-verbal communication and it can offer wonderful connection. When sitting with a loved one, whether partner, friend or relative, maybe holding hands, smiling, sitting close, gazing at each other or looking ahead together, closeness is palpable.
Still, words themselves are one of the chief ways we humans have to communicate. We connect through poetry, books, music lyrics, words of love, prayer, jokes, stories. Let us try to always make our words count for something good.
Intimacy comes in many forms. There's also false and true intimacy, the former bringing only superficial joy, the latter many layers of satisfaction.
Sex is one type of intimacy and may seem an obvious way to connect, but not if it's only a physical activity. Bodies join together to share closeness and if minds and hearts join in, there's real communication. Sex is as much a spiritual experience as a sharing of passion, pleasure and love. For those lucky enough to know all of these, true intimacy follows. By choice or by circumstance, there are many who live without physical intimacy. But sexuality is part of our birthright, as natural as breathing, so we're always sexual, whether we're celibate or making love with another or pleasuring ourselves. It's all connection.
There are also many other ways to be intimate. We are intimate when we laugh with another, hold a hand, sit in silence with a friend in pain, when we hug, cry together, talk about our troubles and feelings, joys and aspirations. Let us never limit ourselves by only opening ourselves up to experiences and people we feel comfortable with. Intimacy is a gift available to every person, just for the taking. Fear is what stops us reaching out. Friendship is one of life's greatest gifts and offers a daily opportunity for connection.
Of course, love is the greatest connection. Again, it is not reserved to a handful of relationships or a small circle of people. It is all around us in the trees and the wind, in smiles, laughter, sunshine and rain, in children and in the old; best of all, we each carry it inside us in limitless amounts so we literally can never be without it. To connect with ourselves is to connect with love, as is communing with strangers and loved ones alike. Once we do this, we overflow with the joy of just being alive. To connect with the lifeforce? What better life path is there?
Connecting with the divine is not about churches or ceremony, nor about religion or divisions. There can be no connection where there is separatism of any kind. We all belong to one family and come from the same light, thus, we are all children of the Universe. To return to the light, it is not necessary to die but it is necessary to truly live, to be fully alive, yes, to pray but prayer can be a thought, a dream, silence or simply an act of kindness. Some people's lives are a constant prayer and that's the best kind of connection. Just feeling love is a prayer, or as the Bhagwan said, "When we choose joy, all is meditation."
Connecting with nature is my personal favourite. Whatever God means to you, I have always known, since being a small child, that you wouldn't find him in any church but out in the wind, under the stars and on the face of the moon. I am never happier than when I'm outdoors, walking along the river, swimming in the ocean, sitting in the sun. When my time on Earth draws to a close, that will be what I regret leaving most. But I believe that, in dying, we become the very stars in the heavens - so what is there to regret?
Along the same lines, relationship with animals is a beautiful, spiritual connection. Just stroking an animal's coat lowers stress levels in humans. It's part of the concept that we are all one family on this planet. Anything that reminds us of that is a good thing.
I've had four close bereavements in the past 18 months and I have connected with the spirits of these beloved ones. Each of these deaths touched my life in a special way and left me a gift. Connection doesn't have to be tangible - in fact, it often isn't. It comes in whispers and shadows, and can only be heard with the heart. Even in grief, we connect because our hearts open in a particularly sensitive way.
I get a lot of letters asking me about spirits appearing in dreams. My close friend who died last year visits me often and I believe it's more than just my conjuring her up out of missing her. There's no definitive proof that spirits can visit dreamers; it's a matter for personal belief. However you commune with spirits is fine. I have absolutely no doubt that spirits are all around us as I've had many encounters that cannot be explained in any logical way. Thankfully, I do not see or hear "ghosts" but sense their presence very powerfully.
I hope you agree that connection is readily available to us in many forms. My special message that I leave you with is this:be a lover of lifeconnect with peopletrustlose all fear.
Without these elements, whatever connection you manage to achieve will be hollow and empty.