Connection is something I value very deeply and is also one of the values I have weaved into everything we do at Live and Breathe Yoga. I’ve written before about connection and how we can connect on various levels (with ourselves, with others, with the community and with the world) and I wanted to explore self connection a little more deeply. When we connect with ourself we start to see that there is something deep within us that is always there (always has been and always will be), never changing, and perfect just the way it is. It’s called the Purusha in yoga.
For me it feels like an inner stillness that I can tap into at anytime whenever I choose and I am most connected to and aware of it at the end of my yoga practice. That feeling of inner calm, sense of wellbeing and overall ‘okayness’ just holds me. I feel supported and safe.
What does self connection feel like?
Our yoga practice is a powerful tool to help us connect the dots within ourselves and in turn with the outer world – past and present relationships, our experiences, our successes and failures all affect our own self talk, our habitual patterns (samskaras), self beliefs, our values and our dreams. Our practice can help us to reflect, discern and choose which ones of these are helpful and which ones are not.
In order to define what it’s like to feel truly connected to ourself sometimes it’s easier to start first with what it feels like to be disconnected. When I feel disconnected, I feel rushed, overwhelmed, I overthink everything, I procrastinate and feel frustrated and angry. There are a few triggers for my disconnection – lack of sleep, no time for my practice or quiet reflection, too many commitments and poor communication with my husband. It’s taken me years to uncover what sets me off and I am getting better at seeing them coming and having strategies to minimise the effects.
How can I feel more connected?
A few of the strategies I use to bring me back to feeling connected are:
- Yoga practice and meditation
- Stream of consciousness writing or morning pages
- Quiet time at home
- Having a plan
- Saying no to things and setting boundaries
- Not rushing
- Reducing stimulation (noise, light, people)
This list is not exhaustive but when I use these tools I feel calm, energised, hopeful, organised, respected and valued: all of which mean I feel connected to myself.
“Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others” Harriet Goldhor Lerner
Connecting with others is part of it
Upon reading the above quote I realised that connecting with ourselves and connecting with others are not mutually exclusive. By understanding that our thoughts, words and actions not only affect ourselves but also ripple out to our family and friends and the wider community, I understood why I couldn’t look at self connection on it’s own. I truly believe you can’t work on yourself in isolation. Sure, times of solitude and silence can shine a huge light on our inner workings and is necessary to get clarity but if we are just not able to treat others with kindness, compassion and non judgement then what is the point of sitting on a meditation cushion or nailing a handstand? This is a huge reason we have yoga shalas and create sangha (community) because that connection with others is so helpful for our own self connection and belonging to something bigger than ourselves can help us get out of our own way.
I’ve always said that yoga for me is about relationships. It’s not about being bendy. It’s not about fancy posture photos.
It’s not even about being super chilled out and have nothing bother me. It’s about how I treat others and how I treat myself. It’s about feeling part of something more than just myself and being of service to others. It’s about how I model that for my daughter so that she does the same in all her relationships.
It’s about self respect, self compassion and self awareness and in practicing that it’s about respect, compassion and awareness for others around me.
To do that we must reflect. To reflect we must slow down enough to process our interactions, conversations with ourselves and with others, our actions/inaction. This is what I am doing in the above things I listed earlier. I am reflecting and noticing how all the interactions have affected me, firstly during my yoga practice I see how they have been stored in my body and how they affect my breath and my energy levels. Noticing the sensations in my body and not running from/ignoring them is a start. Then comes facing them, sitting with them and watching them pass. We can then start to do that with our thoughts during meditation and I also use the morning pages to allow the thoughts to move on and not get stuck inside my head. Having quiet time at home to de-compress and reduce stimulation is also something I need to often to be able to do to go out in the world and interact with others. And sleep, well it really is everything and if you’ve suffered sleeplessness (I feel your pain) you will know firsthand how lack of sleep can bring about some serious darkness. Although having a baby has pretty much taken away any kind of sleep for me on the flip side it’s allowed me to set rock solid boundaries and say no to way more than I say yes to. If I catch myself rushing it usually means I need to check in with my boundaries and shift gears.
I hope a few of my strategies for connection with myself will be able to help you to reflect and connect within also. I will leave you with a few beautiful quotes by Brene Brown that pretty much say everything way better than I ever could. She talks about belonging in the same way I think about connection.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” Dr Brene Brown.
‘In the absence of love and belonging there is always suffering” Dr Brene Brown
“True belonging is a spiritual practice and it’s about the ability to find sacredness in both being apart of something bigger but also the courage to stand alone” Dr Brene Brown
Here are some questions you might like to think about to help with your own connection reflection?
- What does it feel like when I am disconnected? What sets me off?
- What are some things that I am currently doing that make me feel disconnected to myself?
- What would it feel like to feel connected? What lights me up?
- When have I felt connected in the past and what was I actively doing to feel that way?
- What are some things I can start to modify to bring more connection?
- Who are some people I can connect with that will help me connect with myself better? How can I be of service?
Connect with us below by leaving a comment or even better come and join us for yoga practice in the studio soon.