We are connected in more ways than we really need these days, thanks to technology and social media. For me, keeping up with family abroad has never been easier thanks to FaceTime. But what about when we lose that connection? When the Wi-Fi goes down or is too slow? Or you lose your phone or leave it at home and have to spend a day without it? We feel lost, panicked, frustrated, angry …
But what about your connection with yourself?
For some bizarre reason we now dedicate more time to what other people are doing than to ourselves!
We’ve lost the ability to be with our self without some device to distract us. We no longer know how to sit still and just be. Most of us can’t even watch TV without dual-screening!
I have social media accounts, mainly for my business these days, but even I have found of late the negative pull - I started to compare myself to my peers and the need to compete in case I get left behind. Twitter I find unbearable some days – it seems to be the platform that gives people permission to be mean under the label of ‘freedom of speech’.
In my line of work, I see and hear other people’s stories, their journeys, their trauma, their pain and whilst this is what humbles me in my work and allows me to connect with my clients, I also have to remember to connect with myself. To tune in and understand what I need, what my body needs, not what social media tells me I need.
The mind and the body are connected in more ways then we’ll probably ever truly understand, well not in our lifetime anyway. We cry when we feel sad, we laugh when we feel happy … these are physical reactions to a thought. So, if your thoughts are caught up in comparing or competing with others, this will only create a negative effect on your body. An inner turmoil that may present as nausea, anxiety or a restless night’s sleep perhaps?
Have your heard of the vagus nerve?
It is essentially a long nerve that runs from your brain stem to your heart, lungs and gut, connecting to them through motor and sensory fibres. It then branches out to other organs such as your tongue, kidneys, reproductive system and liver. The vagus nerve controls our unconscious body functions, including heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. It is vital to our health, and being connected to all of our internal organs, the management and processing of emotions happens via the vagus nerve!
That ‘gut feeling’ some of us have? It’s probably the vagus nerve!
And if it’s not working properly you may see conditions such as obesity, anxiety, difficulty swallowing, digestive issues, migraines and tinnitus.
So, how do we connect back with our self (and our vagus nerve)?
Learn to breathe
Our breath is probably the single most effective way to ‘pause’ and bring connection back to ourselves because let’s be honest if we didn’t breathe we wouldn’t be here!
But by breath, I mean deep, belly-rising breaths not short, shallow breathing from the chest. For when we slow the breath we can slow our mind and our body.
I encourage you try Yoga with Adriene’s Connection video – it is perfect to wind down too at the end of a long day, or for me a great way to start my day balanced, calm and connected. This also activates the vagus nerve that connects your heart to your blood pressure and heart rate.
Another way to practice breathing is to make the in-breath shorter than the out-breath – so breathe in for the count of 5 and out for the count of 8. Put one hand on your heart and one on your belly, and allow the belly to rise first, not the chest.
I honestly wished I’d be introduced to mediation decades ago when I was going through my anxiety and panic. It can be done anywhere at any time, and it just allows you pause and connect back in with yourself again.
I have raved about the Calm app before, but it is my favourite. I even used to ‘plug in’ on my commute and meditate after work. No-one knows, or cares, on the tube and they just think you’re asleep anyway!
There are then lots to choose from on YouTube or find yourself a local group to go to. Grab a friend and try a crystal bowl sound meditation or a gong bath?
I have attended several of Carly Grace’s workshops and would highly recommend them when she is in town, or if you live in Essex, then get yourself to Lotus Intuitives mediation classes on a Tuesday evening – Nina is a exceptional therapist and you are guaranteed to walk out feeling calmer and more connected.