One of my favorite words is the Zulu word ubuntu—the essence of being human, which translates to “I am because we are.” Ubuntu speaks to the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks to our interconnectedness. You can’t be a human being all by yourself, and when you have this quality—ubuntu—you are known for your generosity. “When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
We are wired for togetherness, for interpersonal interactions. Our body, mind and spirit display palpable signs of distress when we suffer from a lack of connection with other people. In this incredible age of digital connectivity, we can be seduced by the (un) realness of our “likes” amongst our hundreds and sometimes thousands of “friends” through the many platforms which make us feel like we belong and that we are included. It’s a strange paradox that during this era of such über-connection many of us feel anxious, overly burdened, depressed and disconnected. I have been creating a daily series called “Morning Moments” as an offering and invitation to be—to be together, to be seen by others, to be connected.
I’m delighted to share three simple and accessible consciousness hacks…may they serve you well.
CONSCIOUSNESS HACK No. 1: Smile and make eye contact.
When you pass by a stranger, make eye contact and smile. Focus on creating a bright, cheerful smile and offer it to someone in passing, or try a loving smile toward a close friend or loved one; this is an easy way to deepen your connection. Making eye contact and choosing to be completely present with people cultivates a level of trust and safety that allows others to open up to you even more. You never know when a heartfelt smile or making eye contact will come at just the right time and have the positive effect that person may need.
When you smile, your brain basically has a party, as it releases over 100 neuropeptides that affect pretty much everything that influences your body, brain and behavior to help moderate stress, support mood imbalances and aid with sleep. Your brain also releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, when a smile flashes across your face. These brain chemicals aid in calming your nervous system by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
Dopamine gives the brain energy, motivation, a rush—and is necessary for habit change. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive, euphoric feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Serotonin can be thought of as the confidence molecule.
CONSCIOUSNESS HACK No. 2: Schedule quality time.
In today’s world, there’s a bigger emphasis on running around and getting things done than there is on making time to connect with others. If you have a weekly calendar, look it over and schedule a night out with a friend or your partner. Making this time might surprise you, after you see how connecting with others shifts the quality of your relationships.
CONSCIOUSNESS HACK No. 3: Communicate consciously.
Take the time to listen to others. Sometimes you might hear another person speak, but you don’t really listen to what they say. When you listen, are you already formulating your response? Do you cut them off with your own experiences? When you can listen from your heart, you’re able to make yourself present while someone else is speaking. When we feel heard, we deepen our connection to others.
The relationships we create need open and conscious communication. Great communication asks that you show up in the conversation and stay present. When you can share your deep feelings, while searching for help from that person to meet your needs, it provides everyone with an opportunity to practice conscious communication.; donnadcruz.com; sleepbeditations.com