THE THREE PILLARS OF CONNECTION YOU TO NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO NOW
Lately, I’ve been thinking about connection versus isolation. Although we live in a world that is “more connected than ever” many people actually feel lonelier.
Did you know that loneliness and isolation are deadlier than obesity when it comes to health risk factors? And lack of connection is a contributing factor to addiction and addictive behavior.
Last week I hosted a webinar on “Yoga for Addiction Recovery” so this topic is fresh in my mind. If you think that you don’t qualify as an “addict” I encourage you to broaden your definition beyond drug and alcohol addiction. Addiction can include things like technology addiction, retail therapy, or binge watching Netflix.
In a nutshell: true connection matters more than ever, and your life and health depend on it.
In thinking about what makes us feel truly connected, I want to point out three core areas, which, if out of balance, have the potential to make us feel disconnected and disheartened. If any of these areas aren’t being tended to, I believe you will feel isolated or tempted to engage in addictive behavior.
So here they are, my top three areas to nurture if you want to feel more connected and live a healthier life.
1) Connect to People (and pets, plants, and all living creatures)
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? If you are a yoga or wellness professional, it’s likely that one of the reasons you chose your career is because you like connecting with people and want to help them live a healthier, happier life.
We all know that loving relationships, fun with friends, and playtime with pets feels good. So why does it seem so hard to prioritize this sometimes? Or maybe you are prioritizing it but the interactions you’re having don’t feel fulfilling.
Here’s what I’ve noticed: If you treat every interaction you have as an opportunity to connect, your heart will be fuller at the end of the day.
- Slow down. Make eye contact. Listen. Whether you are thanking a store clerk or having a conversation with a loved one, BE PRESENT. Don’t think about what you will say next or where you have to be in five minutes. When we stop, look, and listen we connect from the heart.
- Remember that we are already connected. Whether someone is a stranger or a relative, we are all part of the same family. We rent space on this precious planet for only a heartbeat or two in the grand scheme of things. If you think of yourself as separate from others, that’s exactly how you’ll feel.
- Get it on the calendar. If you are craving more connection with your peeps, keep it simple. Pick up the phone, reach out to someone today, and schedule time to be with a special someone. Repeat often.
2) Connect to Your Purpose
In yoga we call this your dharma; it’s your path, passion, and purpose all rolled into one. It’s the reason you were put on this planet. If your dharma is unfulfilled it’s believed that the entire cosmic order will suffer.
I’ve long known that my dharma is to support and inspire others. Whether it’s through sharing yoga or helping someone grow their business, I feel like I am doing what I’m meant to be doing.
Again, research shows that purpose isn’t simply a “nice to have,” it’s also a predictor of health. People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, handle pain better, have better relationships, and are at lower risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
My hunch is that many of you have found your dharma in the health and wellness industry, and your task now is to fully thrive in your career. That said, your purpose doesn’t have to be your career – it can be a hobby or other pursuit that you spend ample time nurturing.
The hashtag I use for this on social media is #serveandsucceed, and that’s what I wish for you – that serving others and connecting to your purpose will be a pathway to success.
Here are some tips in this area:
- Remember that there isn’t one right way to manifest your dharma. If you like to support and inspire others, as I do, you could be a yoga teacher, a high school teacher, a psychotherapist, or a health coach. You could also volunteer at a local literacy program. All of these would connect you to your purpose.
- Don’t isolate yourself! While many of us prioritize personal connections to friends and family, we often don’t make time to connect to a professional support system in the same way. This is crucial for our sanity and success. Networking groups, masterminds, Facebook groups, and business coaches (like me!) are all great ways to lessen the stress of feeling like you have to go it alone.
- Save some for yourself. If you are a health, wellness, or fitness professional, it’s entirely possible that you are living a life of purpose and yet feeling burnt out. You must keep your own tank full if you want to be able to serve others from a place of joy and enthusiasm! If you have a hard time finding the balance between self-care and running your business, it’s definitely time to slow down and regroup. If you aren’t sure how to make a shift in this area, I’d be happy to talk to you and see if coaching might be a good solution for you (you can learn more about that here).
3) Connect to the Sacred
This might be the most important connection of all, the connection to something greater than our small selves.
For some, Connection to the divine is found in a synagogue or church. For others, it’s in the beauty of a national forest. Whether it’s prayer or pranayama, there are many ways to tap into the universal source that connects all beings across eternity.
When we lose our connection to the sacred nature of our existence, addictive or destructive behaviors are much more likely to rear their head. We get trapped in the mundane ups and downs of our daily existence (which, to be fair, can be quite harrowing), and can feel adrift, rudderless.
For me, yoga, meditation, journaling, and time in nature all remind me that there is more to my existence than my physical body and incessant thoughts.
The key here is that we have to practice remembering this on a regular basis or risk getting disconnected in this realm of our life.
- Clarify what “spiritual” means to you. Identify the “when” “where” and “what” so you understand your unique formula for dipping your toe into cosmic consciousness. Some people feel closest to God while playing the guitar, and others only feel that way by attending weekly sermons. There is no right way here, only your way.
- Let your practice bless your life. You’re on the right path if your practice ripples out into all areas of your life. You should be able to apply the principles of your spiritual practice in any situation, and carry them in your heart at all time.
- Practice gratitude daily. This simple act of appreciating the abundance in your life will connect you to the joy of your divine nature. I highly recommend starting and ending your day with a big “thank you”!
Leave a comment:
What do you feel most connected to in your life right now? Where do you feel isolated? I’d love to enhance OUR connection by sharing our stories below.
Fantastic! I loved this article Thank you for sharing! NAMASTE!
Thanks for reading Mark(o)!
Wow!! Long story short, after trying to find who I am in my 53 years, teaching yoga for 20 of them..I was invited to sit in on your yoga for addiction webinar during a week of doors opening wide & God prompting me that I have arrived..I am currently applying for yoga therapy school that starts in 2 days! These words of encouragement are just what I need to hear tonight confirming my desicion! Thank you for helping open my eyes so I can see! Namaste!
Debbie – I love what you shared. I would say your comment made my day, and that would be true IF the Cubs hadn’t won the world series. So how about, your share was a close second 😉 I’m so happy for you!
Great post. In our fast-paced, technology-driven secular world, yours is an important reminder that we all need to acknowledge and seek out …. that something else, whatever it may be. Thank you, K
Thanks for your comments Kelly, and you are so on target! I find that if we don’t make an effort to seek out meaningful connection, the default in our current culture is toward disconnection.
Dear Laura : thanks for
connecting with me.
Your advices inspire me too
seek mu dharma which since my husband left me,
I havem’t been able to fimd.
My two sons left home too, both to pursue their careers. I live in Mexico and I’m not a yoga practicer only occasionally. I feel lost and isolated often though I love to talk to people and listen to others. .
Mely – remember that you are loved, even if you feel alone. Remember that your dharma is already within you, even if you feel uncertain. I believe a regular yoga practice can help us get rid of the “gunk” that prevents us from experiencing our inner light . . . so I encourage you to keep practicing as much as you can, and remember that this too, shall, pass. xo
Hi Mely! I live in Guadalajara…love Laura´s post and her hosting webinars. So inspiring! And this post is central to so many concerns my friends and I have these days. Here´s to connecting! If you want, please contact me…I´m Jude Wallesen, 54, Yoga Teacher for 30 years (I´m listed in YA), psycotherapist, copyeditor, and in the midst of my own career change.
Thanks Judy!! So glad you’re part of our community 🙂
Perfect timing. I am building some webinars and getting ready to do my first online class in January. My focus has been to get through a “how to course” and now working with a virtual assistant on content etc. all my work these days on the computer is pulling me away from what I am really good at……. being with live humans in sessions, and speaking engagements and doing workshops, retreats. My numbers are dropping as I shift my focus a little and I am feeling a little pulled and overwhelmed. I get like this each time I push my comfort zone and move into something new. I am doing daily practice and a fair amount of outdoor time…..I think it is a discomfort with a twinge of fear and doubt. This is a very honest comment and it helps to know it is my process and there is nothing to fix, more of a settling into my choices and being brave to move all the way through and not give up at the earliest sign of discomfort. I know I am not alone…I just feel like that.
Sybil I love your comment, your honesty, your willingness to be a bit vulnerable. And I relate to everything you wrote. It sounds like you are going through an awesome “growth spurt” – and I know that what you end up creating on the other end will be spectacular! Hang in there!
It is so great to see your smiling face and shining heart. Everyday I’m settling my monkey mind and trying to prioritize what feeds me and my family. It is so great to see you continue to serve others as you model supporting and nurturing yourself first.
Thanks for sharing.
Oh Kim . . . you are very sweet, but there’s a good chance you may be overestimating me. Still, we are all trying our best 🙂 So great to hear from you!!
awesome post and reminder of the importance of true connection in this increasingly virtual digital world. and nice to see that mindfulness was mentioned when connecting to people as it seems an all too common practice to limit our people-interactions to a gratuitous “fine thanks.” loneliness and isolation do lead to addictive behaviors, but they are also major factors in depression and suicide. gotta go call my buddy, thanks!
I appreciate your comments Rob, they are very thoughtful! <3
Thats really inspiring and so much easier than we think!
Thanks for putting it so clear.
Thank you Mariana! It really is easier than we think 🙂
So wonderful Laura, and such important reminders. Happy to be in your community, and have you be such a special, meaningful part of mine! Love you, Bari
Bari – thanks for you comment and being the amazing person that you are! You live your life as a lesson in true connection . . . an inspiration to all who know you! xo
This is such a helpful and informative article. Great job and thank you !
Thank YOU, Heather, for making the time to read and comment! xo
Very nice piece Laura! Thank you!
Thanks for making the time to read, Susan! 🙂