For months, probably years, I have been wanting connection. Connection to others, to myself, to nature. Saying this, acknowledging this, becoming aware of this need is a wonderful first step. But I wanted more. I wanted a deeper connecting. As with everything, I had to begin with myself.
Connection happens in the quiet moments when we are able to tune out the chattering voices in our heads and move into the deeper, wider space inside. It takes patience to find this space and practice to be able to stay there. And yet, it takes very little action on our part to begin.
Every morning I sit outside with my bowl of bran cereal dotted with dried cranberries and I begin my day with noticing. I notice my thoughts, the sky, the smell of the eucalyptus leaf mulch that covers my dirt yard. I sip my coffee and delight in the fat yellow cat claw blossoms strewn on the ground from last night’s wind.
I watch the birds in my yard, but it isn’t until I notice their individual stripes and colorations, learn their names, that I connect with them. And when I write about them, sketch them, feed them, I am bringing them INTO myself, creating an even deeper connection with them. And when I share the stories, the words I’ve written, I am bringing them OUT of myself, into the world and that is a deeper connection still.
Find a quiet space, preferably outside, or looking outside. Nature provides a shortcut to this place of connection. Sit in this quiet space for fifteen minutes and just notice. If you begin to hear voices in your head saying you’re too busy for this sitting still, that there are a million more productive things you should be doing, take a breath. Acknowledge that you are taking this time, this short but precious time, and that you can tend to all of that stuff later.
What colors do you see?
What does the air feel like?
Do you notice any shadows and light?
How many shades of green can you see in the grass?
What do the clouds look like, floating by?
How many different bird songs can you hear around you?
The more often you are able to connect in this way, the quieter your mind will become and the larger the space inside of you will become, making you more connected to what you truly desire.
Most of us can’t do “nothing” for five minutes, much less fifteen. So here is a focused activity you can try:
I ask my students to keep a Book of Observations. I used to call it a Journal of Observations but the word “journal” conjured too many bad connotations: that journaling meant writing about how you FEEL!!! This is exactly NOT that.
A Book of Observations is a place to record what you notice, where you study a thing every day, where you pay attention to the details of your life. It could be the light in your living room at sunset, the growth of a plant, where your neighbors park their cars every evening.
You can write in your book, affix daily photographs or drawings, or paste in things you find in your daily noticings. In some way, make it a place to collect the observations of what you really pay attention to in your daily life.
Taking time to notice the world outside of yourself begins to create space inside of yourself where the real connecting begins.