Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Feeling Lonely, Unfulfilled in Your Relationships? Ways to Deepen Your Connection to Others

In a world of billions, many of us feel lonely.  In our own households and work places, surrounded by people, we feel separate and removed.  The social part of us is now believed to be an innate, survival mechanism that is incredibly important in mental health and physical health.  Yes, it is true that people with good social connections and enough intimacy and support, get sick less.  Mainly because it is
stressful to feel alone.  It is stressful to feel like there is no one at your side, supporting you, comforting you, laughing and sharing with you.  Stress equates to lower immune system function among many other systems that get turned down when stress hormones are floating around in our bodies.  So, it is in our best interests to cultivate stronger connections with others for both physical and mental health reasons.

While it is true that others in our world can cause feelings that contribute to our feeling lonely and unsupported, loneliness is basically an internal concept that requires internal work and healing.  Some of the work might be external, but the internal work is most important for feeling connected to others, because asking for, no, requiring what you need in relationships and being vulnerable emotionally is your job.  And, being strong enough to be vulnerable and be strong means you need to start with self.  Here's how:

Breathe:  If you visualize someone who is disconnected, alone, standing off as a wallflower in a crowded room, notice the posture.  The posture is closed, hunched forward.  This kind of posture limits the breath, because the muscles and structures that allow us to breathe are squashed by the closed off posture.
Try it.  Hunch over, breathe as full a breath as possible and exhale it out.  Now, sit upright and breathe as full a breath as possible.  Much better!  Pay attention to your breathing posture throughout the day.  Improved breath will link to improved mood, improved mood will link to improved breath and both will mean more confidence and self-assurance! This is your first step in creating the internal change needed for your external connections.

Meditate:  Loving-kindness meditation can take many forms as far as words go.  The true Buddhist wording of the script can be intimidating to those not studying Buddhism.  However, there are other more secular phrases available as in this example and guide:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77MgkADxcyk  The benefit of choosing this meditation is that it begins with self, before moving on to others.  The compassion and love begins with self.  If you can create a strong, compassionate connection to self, then moving on to others is less daunting and more genuine.  The connections you create with others are real and fulfilling when you begin with self.

Relax:  When you settle in to relax, how about adding some compassion?  Lie down comfortably in a relaxed pose. Then, as you relax each area of the body, say, "I love and appreciate this area of my body."  If this feels weird, do it anyway!  We are very capable of sending messages of disgust, rejection, and displeasure to parts of our bodies.  Time to improve on the positive side, with feelings of appreciation and acceptance.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy:  What messages are sending in your mind throughout the day?  Are they encouraging you to make connections?  Are these messages empowering?  Are the messages kind?  If the patterns of thought you engage in during the day continue to make you feel lonely and disconnected from others, or make you feel unable to set the boundaries and requirements for more fulfilling relationships, then it is time to change them.

Think of these discouraging and disempowering thoughts as recordings that have power behind them.  Each time one comes up, disempower it by creating good posture, take a good breath (see above) and say a new message/thought.  Every time you do this, you begin the process of weakening those recorded thoughts and you change them to healthier thoughts that will help you to create better connections with those around you.

Power Pose:  Goddess pose is a variation on Temple pose.  The power of the pose
is very evident.  Start with the legs and add the arms last.  Your feet are turned out about 45 degrees.  Your knees are going to be bent directly over your ankles, so place your feet at a width that feels do-able.  Hold your pelvis straight up and down.  You do this by tilting the tailbone straight to the floor.  Now, lift the low abdominal muscles.  This lift feels like what you do when you have to urinate (lovely yoga language, eh?), but you stop the flow of urine and hold.  This muscle is your power source!  Now. place your hands palms together in front of your heart and slowly open them out to the position pictured, still holding strong in the lower abdominal region.  As you hold, add the affirmation given below.

Affirmation:  "I am strongly connected to and compassionate with myself and with others."

Chant:  Use this chant to deepen your connection to all - self and others.  "Ham-sa" Pronounced as "Hum-sah"  It is not always necessary to say it out loud, but the benefits of sound make it worthwhile to so.

Find deeper connections by practicing the above 7 skills as often as possible.  You have to train the mind and body into new patterns!  Contact me with comments or questions: tammysytsma@circleofstoneswellness.com  OR check out the services on my website for info. about individual sessions and group sessions offered.  circleofstoneswellness.com

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