As I continue with the monthly theme of community and connection, the first place to start is connecting with ourself. Looking inward, tapping into our own rhythm of breath and movement, observing our emotions and responses, and taking care of ourselves first in order to every other connection in our community more wholesome and complete. This practice isn't easy and can sometimes feel selfish, scary, or vulnerable - and while it may feel that way at first, over time you will experience the reward of truly belonging to yourself and the power that holds. I am no pro at any of these things, but do have a daily self-care routine that helps me be a better person for myself and for everyone in my life. This routine has evolved over time, can change based on how much time I have, and is a melding of the help of many teachers, role models, and mentors.
One of those teachers and role models, who I have been following and reading for years now, is Brené Brown and her recent book, Braving the Wilderness, was especially helpful for me to find perspective and guidelines for trust, belonging and connection. This quote sums it up pretty well for me:
"Belonging so fully to yourself that you're willing to stand alone is a wilderness - an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. The wilderness can often feel unholy because we can't control it, or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into that vastness or not. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it's the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand."
Bring this bravery into practice by getting outside for a walk alone with no music, connecting to yourself and your surroundings; see where your mind goes, notice how it feels to walk in silence, and especially notice how you feel the rest of the day. It doesn't matter if the walk is 5 minutes or an hour, just get some fresh air, walk, and let your mind be free.
Another simple tool is to take a break during the day at any point to pause and connect with your breath for 3 rounds. Sit or stand tall with whatever support you need, place your hands on your chest, abdomen or lap, and take 3 complete breaths without any sense of rush or urgency. When a thought or other distraction appears, simply return to your breath - dogs barking, kids yelling, co-workers talking, whatever it is, just pause and tap into your breath. After 3 rounds, return to your day and again notice how your mindset, mood, or physical tension may have changed.
What else can you do to to be so fully yourself, to truly belong, and stand in your own wilderness?
Good luck connecting to yourself this week, it might feel untamed and unpredictable, but it can also be breathtaking and brave. Soak in the paradox, and if you want to read about finding balance with these paradoxes of life, read more here. Finally always remember, it's a practice with no judgement from yourself or others.