One of the things I teach is how connection is the starting point for the creation of a human environment, one to the other, and one to oneself, that enables each person to be at their intelligent and creative best.
This is the kind of idea that can roll off the tongue. And when they hear it people will nod, as though this is something they already know. And of course, it is something we already know. We know it in the same way we know it is wise to brush our teeth at least twice a day.
If you would care to stop and think with me about this a while though, I think we could discover something new and extraordinary, as I have been doing during my recent trip to Brazil.
I’m not completely enthusiastic about the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition, above, but let’s start there. I prefer linked to associated. After all, we can be associated, by default, to many things to which we don’t actually feel a particular sense of connection. Association can be loose and tenuous. “Linked” gets a bit closer to it for me. To be linked to something implies something more definite, even more permanent. Certainly less easy to simply break free of. In her paper (The Field), Lynne McTaggart says:
At the very frontier of science new ideas are emerging that challenge everything we believe about how our world works and how we define ourselves. Discoveries are being made that prove what religion has always espoused: that human beings are far more extraordinary than an assemblage of flesh and bones……….. For a number of decades respected scientists in a variety of disciplines all over the world have been carrying out well-designed experiments whose results fly in the face of current biology and physics. Together, these studies offer us copious information about the central organizing force governing our bodies and the rest of the cosmos. What they have discovered is nothing less than astonishing. At our most elemental, we are not a chemical reaction, but an energetic charge. Human beings and all living things are a coalescence of energy in a field of energy connected to every other thing in the world……. There is no ‘me’ and ‘not-me’ duality to our bodies in relation to the universe, but one underlying energy field. This field is responsible for our mind’s highest functions, the information source guiding the growth of our bodies. It is our brain, our heart, our memory – indeed, a blueprint of the world for all time. The field is the force, rather than germs or genes, that finally determines whether we are healthy or ill, the force which must be tapped in order to heal. We are attached and engaged, indivisible from our world, and our only fundamental truth is our relationship with it. ‘The field,’ as Einstein once succinctly put it, ‘is the only reality.
This gets at, more accurately than the OED’s somewhat dry definition, what I want to share in my newsletter this month. We do a simple exercise when we work with Presentations in a Thinking Environment. We begin by stating that: “Connection is what establishes the possibility of a Thinking Environment.” We think through ways of setting up connection, and then ways to sustain it throughout the presentation. We then ask each person to take a turn, to come to the front of the room and to experience connection, before they begin to speak, by making eye contact with each person in their audience, in silence, for one minute.
This is a very long minute! Most participants are convinced something is wrong with my timer! Because what we are inviting people to do is to become conscious, and aware, of something that already exists. And yet, it is something we spend so much of our lives avoiding awareness of. We swerve away from it. It makes us feel uncomfortable.
We are so busy avoiding connection with each other, that we have become largely unaware of doing it.
When did you last stop, and look into your beloved’s eyes, or the eyes of your children? When you greet a friend, how much easier is it to go for the handshake or hug (hugs are good!), as opposed to allowing a moment of silent eye contact in which you recognize, and acknowledge, your inter-connected being with one another before moving into the far easier version of “doing” connection, through language and shared experience?
I’ve always loved playing with eye contact with strangers, whilst walking down the street. I love that moment when a stranger makes eye contact and then realizes that you did not look away. There is a flicker of the eyes, an “oh! I see you moment” and then we pass by. But we have touched each other, and we may linger on for each other for the rest of the day.
And then there is the bewildering flip side of this, the people with whom we have every reason to connect, and with whom we want to connect. But when we try, we experience antipathy of some sort: even when we might admire them. Something is in the field between us. Some philosophies of thought and belief, refer to this as karma. Some unfinished business, resulting from past action, is showing up in the here and now between you and another. Here is a chance to resolve the unresolved.
I have begun to wonder if the unresolved that is wanting to be cleared in these relationships where connection is so challenging, might be whatever untrue limiting assumptions, and behaviour driven there-from, have caused us to act in ways that are damaging to the essential truth of connection.
What if the people around whom I am most challenged, with whom I find it hard to connect, are there to teach me that all is well?