Though sometimes in the chaos of life we may not always see and recognise it, there is an inherent and always present need within us for balance. Physiologically we may hear it as "homeostasis" or perhaps we may acknowledge the term "equanimity"; yet, I can discern within myself, there is a huge difference between what I know to the knowing within me.
And so, when it comes to truly knowing what my human connection needs are , and when I need them, and on top of that then acting on those needs in an honourable and respectful manner - there has to be a real intention and attention within me.
For example, how do I discern the difference between needing time alone to process and reflect on strong emotions or moods, or time with friends to do the same?
Strangely, yet most wisely, it is the ancient traditions that have recognised this long before science caught up. Albeit, science did catch up and now evidence shows that both time with friends, and time in solitude, are as valuable as each other.
As we mentioned last week, simplicity and time in meditative reflection allows us to compassionately connect with our true essence. Solitude gives us a place to attune to our hearts intention, to reconnect to the inherent balance that our bodies provide us with, without the effect of others bio-magnetic communication impeding personal equanimity.
Conversely, we also see that time together has a magnitude of positive effects on holistic well-being. Recent studies have shown that being social is not just about fun, firstly it is great for your gut! Spending time together has the capacity to promote a larger diversity of microbiomes within the body (read more about microbiomes here). This attributes to longevity in life by creating a more balanced internal system - that is right! Diversity within and with friends, builds not only life longevity but a life of full potential and well-being.
What does this mean for you and me?
What this means is that while intentional time in solitude is vital for our health, so to is time with others.
Strong relationship, attuned connection, and the ability to be vulnerable and honest with friends in all aspects of the human condition is, quite often, what is needed by our imbalanced hearts.
It is nothing less than human than to be in a state of confusion, and so, when we are within these states of imbalance, what is needed is the ability to recognise and take action on our inherent need to connect with friends.
Psychiatrist Bessel Van der Kolk, who specialises in healing trauma, has extensively researched and continuously proven that when we spend time with friends in joyous vulnerability, such as dancing, singing, sharing and laughing, we begin to facilitate a space of psychological safety. This may not at first seem important, yet when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in joy we open opportunities to be vulnerable with others in pain - and this is what is needed for true internal balance. We cultivate space for a natural healing of the brain and body (read the ABC interview with Bessel Van der Kolk here).
Furthermore, we know that with equanimity comes resilience. Bonnie Badenoch, trauma therapist and author, iterates that it is not wise to experience trauma on our own, that there is immense value in our pain being witnessed, heard, and validated:
Something hurtful or painful happens, and if we're left alone with it, what happens is it begins to recede into the background, taking with it the tension in our muscles, the tension in our bellies, the rapid heartbeat, and all of these kinds of things, and begins to store them away because they haven't been held.
If instead when something painful or frightening happens, I have access to my friend, let's say, and I can say, "This thing really scared me," and she can listen to me really deeply while I share this, what I notice is that as I share it—and maybe I need to share it a bunch of times—my system gradually begins to settle, and what just happens integrates now through—is integrated into my narrative of the day and all that, and it doesn't have any of the residual pieces to it, because together we have been with this and it has settled. I feel settled, and I feel my body relax, and then the trauma won't embed as a trauma. But if I'm stuck with it on my own, and I don't have that support, it's a very good chance that it will embed as a trauma, which then can be touched and awakened later on. (source)
Many of us feel that we do not want to burden another with our pain, however pain is a reality of this life - just as joy is. And as we have just acknowledged, balance is imperative.
If you struggle to find connection, to find a place of understanding and belonging, we would love to offer you that connection.
Next weekend brings about a retreat specifically designated to the healing of trauma, while next month we are holding a retreat designed to awaken the potential within (see details below).
At the same time we would love to extend our welcome for you to join us throughout the year in a multiplicity of ways: