I spent Saturday evening at a fundraiser for the North Shore Restorative Justice Society. The event was put on to raise money for their Circles in Schools program, “a strength-based program that gives our children and youth the skills to transform conflict, heal relationships, and create stronger communities themselves.” One of the speakers at the event was a young man who had been involved in a restorative circle at his high school for over a year. He spoke of the support he received from the group and how it empowered him to be more comfortable in his own skin and to give back to his community by learning skills to facilitate circles on his own. It was a very moving, honest, and inspiring speech. Before leaving the podium, he left the audience with a question to think and talk about. He asked, “What is your favourite feeling?” The rest of the evening was filled with activity and did not leave attendees with much time to discuss answers, but mine came to me almost instantly. My favourite feeling is connection.
Connection can be a hard feeling to describe because it is not always felt when it is “supposed” to be felt. I’m sure many people have had the experience of talking to someone until they’re blue in the face without feeling that they’ve been heard or understood. You may have also been in situations where you’ve been surrounded by people but felt completely alone. You might have walked through scenery but not felt like you were fully there. Feeling connected is not solely reserved for person-to- person interactions. We can also feel connected to our environment, animals, books, music, art, and ourselves. When connection is absent, we may feel alone or lost.
Practicing mindfulness can open up space in ourselves to allow a sense of connection. Here are a few ways to invite connection back in to your life if you are missing it.
- The next time you go for a walk, try taking the time to be curious about everything you see. Right now, the leaves are falling in heaps. Try to really watch them falling as they break away from branches. What colours are they? Are they whole, or are they broken? Do they make sounds as you step over them? Asking these sorts of questions can help you escape the flurrying thoughts that may be going through your mind and preventing you from connecting to your environment.
- Find a network or meet-up group in your area. Take a chance and attend. You may find that being around people who are experiencing similar life events and feelings as yours will allow you to feel connected.
- Find some animals. This one may seem like a strange suggestion, but if you are an animal lover, it can do wonders for your mood. My favourite local spot is the Ambleside Seawall. There is a dog park near the golf course where you can sit and watch the dogs play with one another and, if you’re lucky, pet some puppies! When I was there yesterday I saw three and pet one. It made me smile to see the innocence and joy of the dogs playing and I felt more connected to my surroundings when I left.
What is your favourite feeling? When do you feel most connected? We’d love to hear from you!
Words by Cassandra Van Dyck