All of us have a deep desire to be connected – to our friends, family, community. As humans, we have a biological need for connection that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental well being and happiness.
Recently I have been exploring the four main keys of connection in my practice and teaching: Closeness, Vulnerability, Depth and Presence.
In this blog posting, I’d like to share some thoughts on the 1st Key – closeness. Closeness is the ability to feel near and dear to others and as importantly, to ourselves. Closeness affirms our worth and sense of inner value. When we are able to feel close to others we feel supported, we feel that we are part of our tribe and that we fit in. This allows us to feel safe to be authentic and without the need to change in any way. When we feel understood, welcomed and recognized, our bodies release Oxytocin (the love hormone) which is deeply, deeply soothing to our nervous system.
Many of us crave more closeness in our lives. Here are a few suggestions on how to open yourself into a greater sense of closeness:
- Touch. As humans we need and crave touch and it is essential to our wellbeing. You can start with some simple self massage, touching the body tenderly and lovingly in appreciation of all that it does for you. Touching others is also very healing – hugs are wonderful! “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” ~ Virginia Satir
- Listen. Holding space through attentive listening can be a very healing tool that fosters intimacy and closeness. Everyone wants to be truly heard. Many times people simply need to vent or express themselves without receiving feedback. Listening wholeheartedly while simply being caring and empathetic can be a powerful way let someone know they are recognized.
- Compassion. You might have heard of something called the inner critic – this is the part of ourselves that doubts, creates fear and often tell us what we ‘should’ do. Instead of feeling closeness within ourselves, we can start to feel constricted and disconnected. When you become aware of your inner critical voice, instead of buying into whatever it is saying, pause and take a breath. Know that you can train yourself to listen more to your inner compassion voice more than to your inner critic.
There are many other ways to explore the quality of closeness. If you feel like you would like more closeness in your life, identify some of your closeness needs and then commit to exploring how you can make more presence for this very important practice. Remember, small steps lead to big changes!