Whether you’re just starting your journey to become more authentically connected to yourself, others and the world around you…or you’re already at an advanced stage of self-actualization, one simple technique offers the best way to take stock of how consciously and intentionally you are living your life. It’s easy to do, and easy to remember: just pause for a moment and ask yourself:
“Am I feeling connected right now?”
This simple question has the power to unlock a world of information about your relationships –whether it be your relationship to yourself, your body, your food, your kids, or to your work. Asking that question across a variety of contexts can shed a wealth of information about how consciously or unconsciously you experience each day. It can also show you golden opportunities to plug back into awareness and connection.
You don’t have to have a perfect understanding of what connection or disconnection mean and feel like in order to benefit from asking yourself this question – you’ll come up with your own sense of that. The following tips, though, will help you maximize the benefits of asking this question.
Cultivate an insatiable curiosity about getting to know yourself. Take an interest in finding out how connected to others you feel when you are in their presence…or do you find your mind is elsewhere? Explore how connected you feel to yourself when you’re alone – is your head in the past or future, do you feel a sense of unease, or are you engaging in numbing behaviors like surfing the web or TV channels? Are you performing your tasks like an automaton with zero sense of purpose?
Rinse and repeat.
Ask yourself the question many, many times. Once or twice a day is just not enough to notice patterns or draw conclusions. In order to really get a sense of things, try to check in with yourself every hour of your waking day if you can remember to do so – or any time you shift to a new activity. The more you ask the question, the more you reap the rewards.
It’s crucial to bring a neutral, open-minded, non-judgmental stance to this inquiry process. Don’t be disappointed if your answer over and over is, “No…I don’t feel connected.” These discoveries are golden nuggets of opportunity for you to improve your sense of aliveness.
Don’t look for solutions right away. Just answer the question, observe your answer, and allow the insights and the answers to flow to you organically in their own sweet time. Don’t get bogged down insisting on answers or solutions. Patience is your friend in this process, and the more you can tolerate “not knowing,” the more open you stay…and the more likely the answers will emerge to you in good time. You are not looking for quick fixes or instant mood changes – you’re looking to gather data, and notice patterns (like wow, it’s interesting how I often don’t feel connected to myself or others when I am visiting with my in-laws).
Have faith in the power of the inquiry process.
Notice how the question IS the intervention – just by asking the question, you are increasing your awareness and setting an intention to become more connected. Without doing anything else, your heightened awareness from asking the question throughout the day will start to influence your decisions and behaviors. Pretty soon your compass will start to point you in the direction of more connected experiences. You may come to learn, for example, that you feel more connected to yourself when you go out for a quick walk around the block, and less connected to yourself when you are rushing around.
Go deep in one area.
If questioning every aspect of your life seems too broad, start by focusing on one domain of your life that you are especially curious about, or where you might be having issues.
When I first started examining the connection and disconnection in my life, I focused on my relationship with my kids. I had always considered myself a good, dutiful mother and if anyone had asked me, I would have immediately said, “Of course I am deeply connected to my kids!” But deep down, I had a nagging sense that I wasn’t as close with them as I could be. So I started out asking the question “Am I feeling connected to my kids right now?” After just one day, it became clear that my answer was “no” way more often than I’d hoped. This made me even more curious and determined to put the clues together on what promoted connection or disconnection between me and my boys. Before long, I could easily see how to break through moments of disconnection.
For example: I noticed driving to and from school was a typical time of disconnection, where our energy was flat and not much was happening in the way of conversation, eye contact or closeness. So I experimented with walking and biking with them to school a couple of times a week. On those mornings, we smiled and laughed more, talked and shared more deeply, and overall, just felt like we were having a more lighthearted and connected experience. The increased time and effort it took was well worth it for the chance to start off our day with a more bonded, connected feeling.
I never would have noticed this opportunity for more connection if I hadn’t been on the hunt for it, asking the question. Many moments of disconnection in our day are subtle, and don’t often register consciously. They just get lost in the minutia of the day. Asking yourself whether or not you feel connected invites you to remember, reflect, and act on what matters the most.