Connections: Reaching Out

In this blog I am drawn to writing about our innate need for connections. We are NOT solitary beings. Often times in our modern world, our connections are lacking. Lacking in depth, in emotional value, in the support which is required, and in the basic instinctual desire to know that we are all “one” and part of a much greater Divine. So two perspectives.

First, we were born into this world as helpless, dependent beings. There is no chance to survive without basic nurturing care. We can not feed ourselves. We can not bathe ourselves. We have parents who love us and take good care of us, if we are lucky, or we survive an existence with emotional and maybe physical scars. We learn from the people around us and the environment that we are born into. We do better when we are loved and we do not thrive when love is lacking. (I have read research conducted on children raised in an Eastern European, sterile, orphanage where the babies/children were fed and changed but not held or loved. These children grew up deprived and with serious physical and emotional challenges, different from children who were held and loved.)

We can not thrive without love and connection as an infant. This does NOT disappear as we age. Most people require human interaction, to varying degrees, and the “connections” that go along with these relationships. We continue to learn and gain perspective by communicating with other people and lifeforms (pets, plants, nature.) People often strive for “Deeper Connections” and more intimate relationships. We do not thrive when we feel alone or lonely or separated from the nurturing of friends and family, our “tribe.”

But in our culture, in our modern world, we are often separated by technology and “Judgements” from the people we live around and work around. Have you ever seen people out to dinner with both people on their smart phones, texting, or checking social media, or posting pictures of their meal?… What is this really about? We are not encouraged to put down our technology and be truly “present” with our partner. Many of us have lost the basic skills of verbal and non-verbal communication that were so essential when we were in tribes (and family groups) where our survival was based on interaction and support from the group. Do not get me wrong, I do not want to go back to live in a primitive, life and death struggle to survive but we have lost some of our fundamental skills (and are paying the price.)

Today, we may want to join a community to find human contact. Maybe we wear jerseys of our favorite sports franchise and root for them on Sunday with other fans. Or, we think about going to a “MeetUp” group to hang out with people of similar interests. Or, we go on a “dating” website to find a perfect partner. (Though we still have to meet and do the “Mating Dance” which includes communication and hopefully honesty…) This pursuit is desperate, often unfulfilling, and generally superficial. If so, then it does not satisfy the need to connect deeply. (Our egos and our judgements of the mind are constantly comparing and keeping us separate from other people who are searching for the emotional and spiritual exchanges which form the best connections.)

Secondly, our most important purpose is to support and assist the people we meet on our path through life. Most people floating around unhappily, or at least unsatisfied, are people thinking that their success is defined by how much money they have, or how many toys they have acquired, or how many trips they have taken, or how many MeetUp groups they have joined (but not attended.) People, today, feel that the number of friends they have and how many people respond to their social media posts (about themselves) are important and valued as levels of success. Maybe, it is NOT about “me.”

Think back when you did something “good” for someone else. It probably allowed you to feel good and connected. Get out of your head and back into your heart. Feel good by doing good things for other people! If you want to be loved, you have to go out and give love, unconditionally. If you are giving anything with an expectation that it comes back, then you will be disappointed.

Connections with value are based upon people caring, truly caring, about others and finding the best ways (you can) to support and assist these other souls on their journey. Even the simplest smile or kind word can show the love and respect for the person in front of you who “showed up” to have a place in your world (and your journey.) Yes, you need to work and support yourself, but you can do so with the feeling of loving acceptance for the other pilgrims in life whom you meet along the way. (Easier said than done, but work on this.) Your happiness and joy will come more frequently when you realize that we are “ONE” with all lifeforms and in this life together to grow, to learn from our challenges, and to love the connections which we can create.

Connections, healthy connections, are the most important thing to work on. Your success in life comes not from how much money is in the bank but how many people call you a friend.

Namaste. Your are a Master and it is a great blessing to find these few moments to connect with you. Your sharing of your time and attention as a “witness” is a blessing… Know that you have done good in our world just by being you, even with imperfections and flaws…

Masters of the Journey is a community that supports everyone who are on their path through life and would like to find supportive, hopefully, non-judgemental connections.

Sharing Wisdom and an Act of Service

In our spiritual community, Masters of the Journey, we practice a “Triad” process. This is a small group sharing of experience and the wisdom gleaned from living through the challenges of life. The purpose of the Triad is to gather three people into a conversation based around the “story” of one participant known as the “storyteller.” We are all “Masters” and have wisdom to share. If you have lived your life and survived to this age, you have learned from experiences and are moving along your “path” on your pilgrimage through this life.

As an example, the “storyteller” may share a story regarding a treasured experience with a personal mentor. It may have been a special college professor or a wise uncle/aunt or supportive coach who offered you some life changing information that set you on an important direction at one of the cross roads of your life. The lesson was a personal one yet it holds wisdom that can be used by other fellow travelers. The willingness of the “storyteller” to share and the active listening by the two other members of the Triad can make this a moment of “service” for all involved.

In the Triad process, the “storyteller” offers an experience which is heard by a focused “witness.” The second member of the Triad quietly and with focused intent, listens to the story. Using strong listening skills including good eye contact and “open” body language seeks to fully experience the story. Little or no verbal feedback is offered unless a clarifying question is required. The “witness” offers appreciation at the end of the 3-5 minute story. It may be appropriate to communicate what the value of this story has been for the witness. (A key is for the “Witness” to not interrupt or offer their own story but to allow the speaker to share their perspective until offered feedback at he completion of their story.)

The third member of the Triad is the “Observer” who focuses on watching both the “Storyteller” and the “Witness.” The “Observer” feels for the connection and rapport between the “Storyteller” and the “Witness.” When the “Observer” offers feedback, she/he may share information regarding the skills of the “Storyteller” to communicate their story and also may give feedback regarding the skills of the “Witness” to fully serve by observing the story. These are skills that carry over into relationships in life beyond the “Triad” process.

The act of witnessing is a powerful act of service. Focused listening and demonstrated “caring” can be therapeutic for the storyteller. In my training as a counselor for children, the theory of psychotherapeutic counseling was often less important that the act of “connecting” with the child. When these children were fully heard, respected, and Loved (Cared about) by the counselor the positive bond was created and the therapy could be effective. Outside of counseling, each of us can be of service by developing our skills to listen more fully, connect with the speaker, and then to share the wisdom of the experience of this sharing. The simple but powerful act of sharing a story and having it fully appreciated by the witness creates moments of learning for both sides of this experience. If you believe that we are actually “one” with all other living beings, then the respect and appreciation for another person’s story is a deep respect for yourself and the Divine Spirit within you (and every other soul.)

Do not take it lightly. Your witnessing of the lesson learned raises the consciousness of all the souls which are participating. Raising consciousness in all is the purpose which we all share. This common bond brings us closer and we can find the connections which offer positive learnings. Treat others with the respect of knowing that they are part of a much larger consciousness and though it may be difficult to see, every person has God within them. We may benefit from the raising of consciousness so we may better “remember” that we are all one and that each one of us is a Master with the wisdom of the Divine Spirit within our souls.

Blessings to you and all the fellow pilgrims you, and serve, along your path.

Namaste.

Masters of the Journey’s website and connections are found at: www.mastersofthejourney.com

The Art of Being Present

What is the advantage in being Present? How do you achieve the state of Presence? In moving along your path in life, when should you strive for “being fully in the Moment?”

Have you ever had the telephone conversation or the face to face meeting with another person who was clearly “somewhere else” and not tracking your communication? In our busy world, this happens all the time. You have to repeat yourself or you feel insecure that you were not fully heard or understood. You have to question your communication partner to “check in” and to know that they were not so distracted that they did not receive your important communication. People clearly have a great deal on their mind and they are being torn away by the invasion of of text messages or other manifestations of interrupting technology. We are so “plugged in” that it is difficult to invest fully in the conversation with the person in front of you or on the other end of the telephone. A client may not feel fully connected with you if you are lost in another thought and this may cause a transaction to go poorly. Your friend or family member may get frustrated with your lack of focus and may lash out at you in frustration. These situations happen all to frequently. Many people do not have the awareness, and then the control, to be able to quiet the distractions and really focus on the present moment and this is sad.

Missing the moment that will never come again is a loss that you can not ever recover!  There are times when you can multi-task but human interaction is very important and should not be short changed by your distracted and disrespectful pursuit of multiple thoughts or activities. Remember when this happened to you and how you felt this lack of respect and consideration! If for no other reason, you will miss out on the most joyful and satisfying moments in life if you are not present!

Achieving the state of “Presence” requires that you reduce internal and, if possible, external distractions. Begin by NOT thinking of your answer or response before your communication partner finishes their statement. Listen! Listen with ALL of your senses. If you require clarification, ask supportive “open ended questions.” Make eye contact. It is rude to not focus your vision upon the person who is speaking. If possible, feel the emotion of what is being said. Use your intuition to read “between the lines.” There are many times when you may need to clear your mind and relax your body to reduce internal distractions and this may benefit from learning how to meditate and to find yourself in the present moment. If you can be present, you will be happier and healthier. Your relationships can improve. You can find interpersonal success more easily.

Being fully present can become more a positive habit if you practice and learn more about what is distracting to you, AND, learn to let this go. Remember, that the respect you show in listening and interacting can be beneficial for personal learning and will improve your relationships. It will even SAVE YOU TIME in the long run. Try it and see for yourself.

If you manage other people or want positive outcomes with your family, learning to be fully present is a mandatory skill and life enhancing experience.

Blessings to you on your path and watch most carefully each foot step on your journey toward consciousness.

More information and support can be found at: www.mastersofthejourney.com and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney

The Power of Connection

People are basically “social creatures.” Since the dawn of human history, one main trait that separated humans from many in the animal kingdom was the need/desire to band together into communities for survival. We learned to hunt in teams. We have learned how to create different roles and expertise that helps the “tribe” survive and thrive. For example, some people: grow food, some prepare food, some build structures, some care and educate the young members, some minister to the health and spiritual needs of individuals, some protect the tribe, etc. There are a very few of us who can survive without any other people or outside assistance and people who do not require the assistance of other people are rare and these individuals seem to be a vanishing breed.

Relationships with other people have become more complicated. In today’s world, we have family relationships, business/work relationships, spiritual relationships, creativity/productivity relationships, educational/mentoring relationships, and many other attachments related to services that require relationships. Family and friends are necessary for most people. Our earliest survival as an infant requires bonding relationships with care-giving family or friends. (Many physical and emotional challenges develop when children are neglected or do not have strong, trusting bonds with their caregivers.) But most of us have developed an even greater requirement for caring relationships that go beyond the need of physical survival. We now have expectations of emotional connections within “committed relationships” that seem emotionally necessary for survival. This may be a dramatic overstatement of survival, but expectations can, and do, get developed into mental and emotional issues that appear to be necessary for quality of life.

For example, our society, or at least advertisers, has created an “emotional need” for us to be “home with family during the ‘Holidays’.” In the United States, that means that you should be lonely or guilty for not being with “loved ones” during Thanksgiving or Christmas Season. Depression rises. Suicides spike after the “holidays.” Substance abuse increases to cope with emotions of “loneliness” or to help us survive time when we are trapped with family that we have successfully avoided all year long. Financial stress increases. Travelling becomes more stressful. So we need to increase our awareness of the potential emotional victimization we can have to these expectations of connection.

Putting the downside of expectations for connection aside, it is time to address a more significant, day to day, reality of connection. Most of us can improve our quality of life and increase our personal productivity by mental or emotional or spiritual connection with another person or with a group of trusted, like minded people. Our physical health improves. (There have been research studies on increased longevity of married men vs. single men, for example.) Our emotional health improves, if we are involved with healthy people in healthy relationships. We thrive spiritually when we can connect with people or institutions that create an open focus of our higher consciousness. Conversely, when we lose a “loved one” we can lose our physical or emotional health. With a “loss,” our source of loving acceptance can be altered or removed leaving us a gaping hole in our emotional support foundation.

We must understand this possible situation and learn to manage our levels of self-care to adjust for self-nurturing when we experience a significant loss of love and connection. When aware, we can be better prepared for the situation and hopefully avoid becoming a victim to this circumstance. Losses of connection can happen suddenly or over time. They can be from planned lifestyle changes, like moving or job changes, or from random acts that are beyond our control. Regardless, we benefit from discovering our unique needs and requirements for healthy connections. We will do better when we can know how to reach out and get appropriate, positive support when it is needed.

“No man is an island,” is part of a quote by John Donne in 1624 that can be understood to mean that humans benefit from connections and the loss of any connections may contribute to a reduced quality of life.
Please consider how to develop and maintain “healthy” relationships with relatively “healthy” people or institutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health can benefit from “good” connections.

Note: Connections with family are NOT always healthy. Connections at work are not always healthy. Unfortunately, connections with friends are not always healthy, though you have more control over who you have as friends. Please recognize “healthy” relationship connections and nurture these.

Unconditional Love

Everyone benefits from loving or by being loved. It is human nature to want to “connect” with other people and the exchange of energy, for some people LOVE, is the very best part of the connection. Not everyone admits to needing or wanting love, but people who do claim to not need love are often in denial, for their own reasons.

Pets need love. Most people enjoy their pets because of the exchange of love and devotion that can come from this bond. Babies need love to thrive and survive. Babies need food, water, and a reasonably warm physical environment, but babies will not thrive without human contact and the exchange of a “loving energy.” If you do not believe me, read the studies of children raised in Eastern European orphanages where deprived babies lack physical, mental, and emotional development when raised without quality human contact. My point is that 99% of us require human bonding to thrive and part of this connection is labeled as love.

Getting the love that we need has been one of the complicated human dilemmas. People often strive for love and often can be disappointed, or worse. Timing is everything when it comes to connecting with other people for love. In most families a certain amount of love is exchanged because people connect more easily with other people whom they share genetic material. Parents usually love their own children, in part due the bond of sharing genetic material. But even in this relationship, if the timing is not correct, the bond of familial love can be weak or possibly non-existent. A challenge can exist if you look for, or expect, “unconditional love.”

By definition, “unconditional love” is given unconditionally. This often means, with no strings attached or no expectation connected to the sharing of this loving energy. “Pure Love” can be defined as unconditional. When a mother bonds with her new baby, a hormonal and genetic driven instinct can take over where the mother feels very strongly connected with her young offspring. Not every mother feels this way because, stress, survival, drugs or medications may interfere with this bond. When a mother is too stressed and possibly concerned with her own survival, this distraction can overcome the “chemistry” of maternal bonding. Fathers can also develop a loving connection and bonding with their offspring but this may be more challenging than simple maternal chemistry.

Beyond parental connection, there are a few other opportunities for connecting and developing unconditional love. Children raised with other siblings or people other than parents can develop attachments especially when mutual needs are met by these relationships. There are even times when close friends and “significant others” (life partners) can develop a chemistry that can include forms of unconditional love.

By my definition, “Unconditional Love” is pure connection and the sharing of energy that is given with NO EXPECTATIONs of any return. Thus unconditionally shared. To bask in the light and warmth of unconditional love is healing, nurturing, empowering, and enlightening. For many of us, it seems to be a rare and special experience. For some lucky ones of us, it is not so rare. I believe that most of us are born with an innate knowledge of what unconditional love and pure higher consciousness really is. We know it and can celebrate it when we can stumble upon it, unless we are in a “survival” moment. It is my belief that we can search for this pure form of love and energy, and we can occasionally find it. For me, such a time came when I was in a meditation near sunset and I experienced myself as a molecule of water surrounded by all other living things who were also represented as a molecule of water in a golden river of “life.” I felt the overwhelming feeling of connection and pure acceptance. (As if all other living things could resonate with the same vibration as we shared the movement along the “river of Life.”) This is not a common or even daily experience for me, but it is a feeling and memory that I will never forget. I have also seen this described by people interviewed after having a near death experience (NDE.) Perhaps, this is what “heaven” is like…

My wish is that every conscious living entity will be able to experience this brief, and lasting, feeling of celebrating in a state nirvana and know what is like to be free from fear and hate. Seek and celebrate any interlude you may have with Unconditional Love. Share this when you can… Peace!

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