Are more connected than ever? Through social media where we see an edited, highlight reel of advertisements and products and thought? Does living in larger cities with more people tan ever before crammed into a smaller space really mean more connection? With the leading cause of depression in the developed world being linked to isolation and loneliness it would appear we are more disconnected than ever before.
As a culture, humanity, at least in the western world, has lost sight of the connection between all things. We forgo conversations for text and email, we interact with our phones more than with our neighbors. We treat the systems that give us life, the oceans and forests, as a fuel and sewage system. And we abuse all living creatures, including our own species, using animals for experimentation even when the results have next to no context for human benefits. We act out of racism, discrimination and treat other members of our species with disdain and neglect. We abuse, raise and slaughter million of animals annually for food, while those who do the slaughter suffer from severe depression and mental illness as a result, and as for the animals who are killed they are treated like machines with no compassion or respect for life.
The problems are wide ranging and the impact is even more vast. But to spell doom and gloom is not the answer. The information I touch on is not to sow misery and point a finger, but simply to display the contrast that we all long to see broken. From childhood we harbor feelings of love and compassion. We enjoy stories with a happy ending, we value friendships above all others and believe magic exists in the simplest of things. Those children are still here, it is the longing you feel for connection, that sense of belonging you crave. It is inside all of us. We just need to let them speak. To unshackle them and remove the blinders society places on our heads through education, advertising and media.
If we can reconnect to the earth, reconnect to ourselves and those around us, to all life, we will see an awakening that is unparalleled on this blue planet. Our values would align with our actions, we would see depression fade, pollution fall and cruelty and oppression end. Compassion and love would flourish and with it a new age of consciousness and living.
So how do we reconnect?
For everyone of us it will be a little different as we all have walked our own paths in this life. But I can suggest some guideposts that have worked in my life, and perhaps they will help you find the road again.
1. Spending time in nature - our disconnection with the world around us has arguably had the most wide ranging impacts on climate and life on this planet. From rainforest destruction and oceanic pollution to climate change. However, when we reconnect to nature we see its power and beauty. We earth ourselves, relax and de-stress in the embrace of the forests and under the stars. We all have a place that is special to us, the beach, the forests, the meadows and mountains. Find that connection and rediscover the appreciation for this planet you chose to live on.
2. Spend time with loved ones - Many of us have complicated relationships with our families, they are our greatest friends and are most frustrating companions. Either parent or sibling relationships can be a cause of disconnect. But pause and reflect and try to see why they acted or said what they did from their mind. Was the parent acting from a desire to protect you or shield you from a harsh reality, not realising what you needed was their faith? Was the sibling simply trying to regain some of the parents attention they feel they lost, or did they just want your love? Was the younger brother or sister just trying to be you? Many of us don't talk to our parents about things that matter, prefering to talk about sport, politics, work or the latest episode on television. Try opening a different door, speak of life and love, speak about dreams and adventure, find out who they really are, they are your family, get to know them.
3. Meditation - Reflect on yourself, still your own mind, even just for 5 minutes every day, or as many days as you can. How can we connect with others when we don't even know ourselves.
4. Get creative - As children we all loved to play and create. For some of us it was stories, others loved to paint or colour, some loved music and song, and others acted and dressed up. Let your imagination flow and rediscover those old loves. For by exploring yourself creatively we can find a way to reconnect to the child within us and let them play again.
5. Help someone in need - Giving back is always a step mentioned by successful people but it is also the leading teaching of almost every major religion and spiritual teacher. There is a reason why as children we like stories with hero's who save people or help others. We all want to believe in a world where good triumphs over evil and someone is always looking out for us. Sometimes we have to start by being that hero ourselves, because we start a ripple effect where one good deep builds another, and as others see us helping they too begin to share their time and before you know it the world helps you.
I only hope this helps to spark that reconnection for you. Even if it is only in one area of your life, one step leads to another.