Connection is a word I have thinking about more and more in recent months. As I prepared to share a bit of my Humanitou story at a PechaKucha event last fall, I recognized that that one word — connection — summarizes what Humanitou is about.

Then I started noticing it’s what my life has become about beyond the Humanitou conversations project. My work in yoga and art is about connecting within and without (with others).

When I walk in the woods, I do it with intention I refer to as trail yoga, because I’m not only focusing on breath and movement of my body, but I’m paying attention to how I connect with the earth as I do it.

In those moments, I also slow down, even stop, and just observe. I look for details in nature to connect with, to look closely at, to feel, even to taste. (I recently tasted mud just to feel the gritty earthiness on my tongue, as if a child again, full of uninhibited curiosity.)

That, in turn, leads me to collect natural items that spark something special for me. I take them home to photograph them as part of an ongoing art project. And so the cycle of connection continues.

And my sensitivity to the word and the concept are heightened. Brené Brown, the well-known researcher, refers to “connection” repeatedly in her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.”

She also explained what she has learned about the correlation of vulnerability and connection. Here are several powerful quotes followed by four common findings of people who feel and live as though they are worthy beings.

“Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about.” (3:20 mark in video)

“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.” (5:30)

“People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.” (7:20)

“The one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection.” (7:35)

“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, and our struggle for worthiness. But it also is the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” (12:45)

“When we numb shame, fear, disappointment [e.g. with beer, ice cream, shopping], you can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other emotions. We cannot selectively numb. When we numb those, we numb joy, gratitude, happiness.

“And then we are miserable and are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable. The cycle of shame and numbing continues.” (15:50)

“This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen, to love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee … to practice gratitude and joy … to believe that we’re enough.

“When we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ we stop screaming and we start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” (19:10)

Four Common Findings of the Self-Worthy
  1. Whole-heartedness
  2. Courage to be imperfect
  3. Self-compassion
  4. Connection as a result of authenticity

“They are willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they are.” (9:30)

It’s all doable. The work begins within. It’s difficult, and it takes a shake-up of much we have been conditioned to hold true. But it’s all doable.

 

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