So much depends on whether we’re awakened by compassion to reach out to each other or lulled into watching snapshots of life stream by in images cast off from satellites. Mark Nepo
Having worn through my ancient Birkenstocks, I had to make my way to Vancouver to purchase a new pair. I don’t usually do malls, but that is where the store was, so I ventured into the underground parking beneath the busyness of the city above and made my way to the shoe store. When I reached the Pacific Mall I felt like I had entered Zombieville, as 90% of the people were walking head down, completely mesmerized by the images on their cell phones! All along the corridor, benches of people were sitting, and gazing into their screens. Who or what were they connecting too? It certainly wasn’t anyone in close proximity to them.
A recent study has found that in the US nearly half the population feels lonely and isolated, with young people in particular experiencing the greatest pain and dissociation. We have become a culture of separation, alienation and divisiveness at a time when we really need to come together to meet the challenges of our time. Of course there are many positive attributes to technology and social media, like connecting people from other cultures and creating global movements. However this is no substitute for face to face, heart to heart communication with other living, breathing, feeling bodies… In this month’s issue we explore the possibility of igniting powerful, compassionate and connected communities through authentic communication!
Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. Rollo May
Authentic communication is the foundation of a cohesive and interconnected community. What does it mean to be in communication with another? Below is a list of 7 communication attributes that can lead us to a deeper connection with others and a more vibrant and cohesive community:
Listening: For the most part we don’t really listen. We listen to see if we agree; or we are busy preparing our rebuttal; or we get distracted and triggered by reminders from the past. To truly listen is to attempt to comprehend not only what another is saying, but to understand the beliefs that are informing their words.
Speaking: Words are the fabric of our reality. They can connect or separate us from each other. When we send out words, are we creating the world in which we exist. Pay attention to the words that come out of your mouth and you will see what you are calling into existence.
Being Embodied: When we attend to another, while at the same time being grounded, breathing, and in our body, we will receive information that goes beyond the words that are being said. Listening and speaking from the body brings us into a heightened state of presence.
Empathy: Having empathy for others, not only allows us to gain greater insight into their beliefs and motivation, it can also help us to tune into our own emotions convictions and conclusions. In order to see things from their perspective we need to notice and restrain our own judgements about them and what they are saying.
Encouragement: Everyone wants to be seen and heard. We all have dreams, desires and longings. By offering encouragement we enhance the others’ feelings of being welcomed, wanted and respected. Focusing our attention on positive possibilities is uplifting and increases connectivity and empowers others.
Authenticity: By being willing to be vulnerable and real with people we encourage them to do the same, which leads to respect, intimacy and closer connection. When we share what’s really going in our lives we create an emotional connection which allows others to do the same.
Forest Bathing: Spending time in nature is essential to our mental, physical and emotional health, which leads to deeper connection, communication and intimacy with others. We need time alone to truly value our time together.
Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein
Currently there is an epidemic of what is being called Nature Deficit Disorder. The average American spends 93% of his or her time indoors. We have lost our connection to the natural world which feeds, supports, inspires, nourishes and gives us immense beauty. We have come to see the natural world as a large box store, filled with resources for us to use at our discretion. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us, which allows us to be more present and authentically self expressed with others. Most importantly nature has essential lessons about life, living and community. The ancient wisdom of the natural world lives in our blood, bones and breath. We only need to open to her teachings.
The biggest obstacle to unity, building healthy communities, and living in a healthy world is our deeply ingrained and habitual belief that we are separate. We see ourselves as separate from our bodies, each other, humanity and Nature. Not only have the mystics and shamans been saying that everything in the universe is connected and impacts everything else, inseparability is now one of the basic tenets of quantum physics. We have approximately 70 trillion cells in our body and each cell contains about 100 trillion atoms (the building blocks of the universe). Each atom contains a neutron, proton and an electrical orbit that creates heat and light that extends to the very edges of the universe. Everything is connected…
I see a world in the future in which we understand that all life is related to us and we treat that life with great humility and respect. David Suzuki
We are not separate. We are an integral part of an alive universe. Every breath we take reaches the outer edges of the universe and every exhale feeds the world soul. We have infinite power to create a world of unity and heal the divisiveness on our planet. It’s going to take us all stepping into our own unique greatness, our distinct genius, to meet the challenges of our time. We invite you to practice the 7 communication steps and to look around and notice all the things that happening to create a world that works for everyone. The news and media thrives on what isn’t working, but if you truly look you will begin to notice all the amazing things that are happening. Let’s work together to build on that… Challenging times call forth the greatness in us all.
With love and gratitude, Michael, Meriel & Buddha Boy Blue