Connection and Loving Kindness by Clia Tierney, MA
My inbox is inundated these days. Stress management meditation, Zoom yoga, weekly well-being sessions... Each day it seems I am at risk of either completely packing my schedule and calendar with wellness TO DOs or of simply staring at those TO DOs and doing absolutely nothing. I am learning that both are okay. I also realize how privileged I am to have an inbox that allows me to receive this type of content.
As I navigate the new normal of no normal, I find myself returning again and again to the idea of connection. Whether I am taking advantage of my inbox offerings or totally ignoring them, I find the most important question is: Am I connected? How am I connecting to myself? How is my mind, my spirit, my body? Have I connected with others: my family, my friends, my neighbors and community? What about the world and the planet? It seems particularly important during this time of forced collective isolation to stay connected and also to ask ourselves these questions through the lens of loving kindness. Practicing loving kindness is always a good thing but it’s especially important right now as we navigate uncertain times.
These days, I am using the simple practice of taking a pause, breathing fully and kindly connecting to what arises inside. Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach says, “If you can name it, you can tame it,” to describe how labeling our personal internal experiences allows stability in both the calm and the storm. Try pausing by standing or sitting still and taking a few full cycles of breath. Notice or become aware of thoughts, feelings or sensations. Label each one but don’t linger. Make space for both the highs and the lows. End by returning your attention to the breath for a few inhales and exhales. Tara teaches us to put out the welcome mat and invite everything to be present. Through this practice, you can experience more tenderness—and less reactivity—toward yourself.
Through a loving-kindness practice, we can check in by asking, How am I connecting with myself? Am I taking the time that has been gifted to me to let go of or to disconnect from what is not serving me? Am I being kind to myself? This may mean giving yourself permission to do less and allowing yourself some silence and stillness. Maybe it means staying in your PJs all day or loitering in bed longer than you usually would. For me, a supportive practice has been daily journaling. I jot down how I am spending each day, I label my emotions and I answer the question, “What brought me peace today?”
How am I connecting with family and friends? Of course, this looks different for each of us and will ebb and flow depending on many factors. Kind and loving connection at this level may include brief check-ins or long conversations; it may be doing home chores together like cleaning and cooking; maybe you’re playing games or doing puzzles; or it may involve school/education in some way. Technology is being used and explored in a whole new way with calls, texts, FaceTime, virtual meetings, etc.
A few fun ways I have seen technology being used are:
Grandchildren taking turns FaceTiming with their grandparents. This loving contact provides connection and caring, and it has been priceless.
Virtual family meetings/chats to celebrate birthdays, happy hours and book clubs.
Mother-daughter virtual dance parties (this is a favorite of mine!).
Kindly contemplate,“What does connecting to neighbors and community look like?” During this unique time, we are all living through the experience of COVID-19 together in our shared humanity. Each of our circumstances differs radically, yet we are all interconnected in this collective experience. Try to find caring ways to meet each other where we are. My neighbors and I talk in the street six feet apart and chat across our yards more than we ever have. My family and I are boxing and handing out meals at the local Boys and Girls Club, alongside chefs and staff from neighboring restaurants.
You may be questioning how to connect to what is sacred in the universe and our planet. A deeper, kinder connection to the earth can be felt in many ways. As we are being forced to loosen our grasp and attachment to all kinds of material things, habits, patterns and expectations, we have the opportunity to be intentional in our connection to nature. Remember that it is spring! Go outside, take a walk, sit near a window, water a plant or garden. Perhaps try a grounding yoga practice: take off your shoes and feel the ground, whether it’s your home carpet or nature’s carpet of soil and dirt.
A loving-kindness practice is one of the most beneficial routines we all can do at this time. It provides a boost to our immune system while also improving feelings of well-being and gratitude. It begins by connecting us to ourselves and then extends out to global humanity.
Here is the practice:
Take a comfortable seat with no distractions and close your eyes.
Try to soften and relax your mind and body by placing one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly.
Take several deep breaths into both hands.
Say to yourself the following phrases, beginning with “I” in all four sentences, replacing I with “YOU” in the next four sentences and then with “WE” in the final four sentences.
Before opening your eyes, take a few breaths and rest in the positive collective energy you have created.
During this coronavirus roller coaster ride, allow yourself the time and space to connect daily in some way to yourself, another person (family, friend or someone in the wider circle of community) and to the universe. Cultivate this practice of loving kindness—in person or virtually.
Grokker yoga and meditation, cooking, fitness. It’s free this month (April).
Clia Tierney, MA
The owner of Asante Wellness Coaching, Clia coaches clients to move past stuck into possibility, to overcome obstacles and to obtain clarity about their goals. Through the process, personal transformation takes place, resulting in greater well-being, life balance and fulfillment. Clia's professional background and life experiences as a teacher, educational therapist, yogi, wife, mother of teenagers, daughter and sister have fueled her passion for helping women of all ages identify and reduce their stress and struggle so that they can discover their purpose and confidently move forward. firstname.lastname@example.org asantewellnesscoaching.com
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