I believe in the power of human connection. We are unique from other sentient beings in many ways, but the most profound difference is our ability to connect with others. We not only connect with other humans, but we can connect with anything. We have an innate desire and a need to be connected, to belong, to be in harmony with our surroundings. Our capacity for connection is transformative and magical!
For me, there are two characteristics or qualities that determine the value and sustainability of any connection. First, the connection must be mindful. Our ability to connect comes from a deep place of mindfulness. Second, our connections must be meaningful. They must bring value to our lives. Without these two elements, connection is temporary. While there is nothing inherently wrong with connections that come and pass, those that last and bring true joy to our lives are mindful and meaningful.
Mindful connection comes from knowing who we are as unique beings and our own sense of self-value. A mindful connection must be rooted in self-love for without it, the energy to sustain the connection is lost. A connection with another is enabled first and foremost by connection to our authentic self. We cannot offer to another what we do not possess ourselves. Mindful connection also requires our sensitivity to another. Empathy is one aspect, but the mindful connection is deeper; it is inherently spiritual. When we are mindfully connected to another, we know it within our spirits. The term “kindred spirit” describes the depth of a mindful connection. And this mindfulness isn’t a one-time event. There is an energy that continually flows in a relationship that is rooted through a mindful connection.
The second critical aspect of human connection is meaningfulness. A connection brings value to both beings on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean equally at all times. We all know of instances where what we give is disproportional to what we may be presently receiving. We can give to another in their time of need without expectation of quid pro quo. Authentic relationships don’t keep score. Think, for instance, of the connection you may have with your favorite pet. Your experience in that relationship could be different than your pet’s experience, yet both are meaningful because of the value in the connection.
Does every connection have to be both mindful and meaningful? At some level, I say yes. Not every connection requires deep transparency and spiritual energy, but connection doesn’t exist without a degree of mindfulness and meaning. Otherwise, there is no need for the connection. Connection can be shallow and context dependent, yet it still requires mindfulness (the purpose for connection) and value (meaningful) to both beings. Otherwise, there is either no need for connection in the first place, or the “perceived” connection might be experienced as manipulation.
As we approach the holiday season, we are reminded of important life connections. This is a time to reflect on the quality of our relationships. If a connection is important to you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I being authentic in this relationship? If not, what can I to do to bring more of myself into the connection?
- Am I being mindful of my own feelings and needs as well as the other? Am I sensitive (and connected) enough to know for sure?
- What meaning does this connection have for me? You might consider sharing that meaning with the other and expressing gratitude for the relationship.
True connection can transform our lives. Unfortunately, we often take our deepest connections for granted. Each connection must be nurtured and each will continually evolve over time. We must be prepared to change with our connections if we hope to sustain, strengthen, and grow ourselves. We can take a lesson from the way our brains work – neural paths are strengthened with exercise. Human connections are likewise made stronger and enduring the more they are attended to; it’s the nature and gift of what it means to be human.