In a lot of spiritual traditions there is often talk of the notion of interconnectedness. This can take many forms, but in simple terms it is a thread of connection, a deep bond, that runs through everything. Over the past few years I have been on a search, seeking ultimately for deep comfort and personal peace but failing to see one key component.
In a recent discussion with someone who has known me fora while, we reminisced about the past, discussed childhood stories and we spoke about our shared friends and family. It was clear that while my upbringing was relatively typical there were situations and instances that perhaps others might have not been through. There were also personalities, within our sphere of contact, that were strong in their own personalities and perhaps even overly dominant. Again, this is typical of a great many people’s upbringings. The point we both came to was that while there was nothing overly dramatic in either of our upbringings there was a glaring fact. In order to have a full and engaged life we could not do this in isolation, in other words to truly grow and evolve we needed to have people around us.
The conclusion we came to was similar, however there were still differences between us. Although we both agreed that people were important to our lives, people had very different effects upon. For me people challenge me, they push against a very defined and somewhat sensitive ego. I find that although I may come across as having quite a clearly defined yet gentle personality, there are elements of me that are rigid and inflexible. Therefore, whenever I am in a situation that I feel either overpowered in or emotionally drained around I tend to step away and with draw. This often manifests in a need for isolation and separation. I have been referred to as not ’needing’ people, and while this may seem like it on the surface this isn’t wholly true.
On the other hand, my friend very much thrives on social interactions. They need to have people around and they fill their time with visits, social engagements and contact. However, this covers an underlying need that perhaps reflects a different view of what interconnection is. They tend to rely upon the need for self-affirmation. Again, a strong EGO structure with its visible to those around and it is skinned with traits of confidence and sociability. However, these mask a fragile wafer thin layer of armouring that covers a soft and tender centre.
The overarching and clear requirement in both cases however, is the need for human interaction. Even though in the former case, I tend to withdraw from over saturated interpersonal situations. There is still a need for people and for their interaction. Human contact, being a form of interconnection, demonstrates that while the ego may well have a sensitive nature and manifest its desire to push things away, underneath there is a deep human need for interconnectedness as it can nurture seeds of personal growth. And even though interconnectedness may well be something that is rejected at times deep, deep down I know that it is essential to healthy human living.
I suppose the key finding for me, from the discussion, was a realisation that we are all connected in some form or other and that even a brief encounter can have an effect on your own trajectory through life. Therefore, while I have, over the past, convinced myself that I don’t need others, that is purely the ego at play and in reality, I DO!
We simply can’t escape from our interconnectedness to the world and this life, and any rejection of it is a rejection of “what is”. Interconnectedness is important to enable us to be who we truly are capable of being. It is important to our own personal growth and if we fail to see the subtle connections that we have going on around us then we fail to see life’s unfolding beauty. Failing to see life manifesting itself will mean that we may fail to see the exit ramp from the same old road that we have been traveling for far too long. A road of our own making and perhaps one born out of poor judgement, ill informed decisions and bad planning.
Having spent 20+ years thinking I was a certain way, and as a result rejecting many of the connections around me, I failed myself to see the exit ramp that could have taken me somewhere new. Having brought present moment awareness to my experiences, including interpersonal relationships, I have been able to see what these connections mean to me and perhaps crucially reflected back to me.
Some of the meetings may be as simple as a small glance from a stranger in a bus stop, and some could be longer e.g. a long conversation with a friend. Whatever it is, it is a connection with another and more importantly it reveals not only the power of interconnection that runs through life and existence but the value it has to support your Own True Nature. What it also does is bring about an understanding that there is a real connection with everything and that it is important that at least two parties are involved. Human interconnection relies upon two sides coming together and as a result socially, emotionally and sometimes physically bonding. It is in this interaction with another that personal and interconnected communication occurs and the value of “other” should not be underestimated.
To reiterate, interconnected relationships require you to be present. The phrase, “it takes two to tango” is quite apt in this instance as it takes you to be present for the full dance of life. Non-judgemental present awareness is essential to interpersonal communication as well as supporting our interconnectedness. This combined with an understanding that we need the feedback of interpersonal contact as well as a reinforcement of our Own True Nature, we should never see interconnectedness as a threat again.
A bonus to all of this is that we can also open up our eyes to even broader view of the world. As we develop interconnectedness skills we also develop a deeper understanding of a connection to the world around us. Some people may feel that connection stops at interpersonal relationships, in other words people see that all there is in the world are people. However, if interconnectedness is developed deeply enough and worked on, there can be a greater understanding and acceptance of the world around you. This could manifest in a deeper awareness of the natural world around you, the environment and our effect on it or even your faith in a creator God. If you are able to see through the EGO and the solid structures that you have created over a lifetime and start to see the threads that run through everything then you see the world from a different perspective.
One practice I have found interesting is to try and be present and ‘connect’ with someone else without layering of expectation or protection. For instance, in taking time to see the knowledgeable and experienced glance of an elderly gentleman at a bus stop or the child like glint in the toddler’s eye then you see will start to see interconnectedness in action. A bond between you and them. It could be your loyal companion staring up that you have an evening wanting some attention, or it could be a work colleague that needs your support. All of these are examples of our interconnection and the fact that you are not alone and that others also need to be seen. In that you can help. Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are part of a much deeper and indeed unexplored world. We often forget that the world around us may well be broken in many aspects however it is being held together by an unbreakable and perhaps limitless force. The force of interconnectedness.
The next time you are either sat on a bus or walking down the street bring your gaze upon someone else’s glance. Clearly don’t stare, but if you catch their eye and give them a small smile, perhaps even the nod of your head and project the notion that I see you, see what happens. In that simple act of recognition, you’re presenting your open palm and a metaphorical hand and you are inviting them to dance. You are inviting them to connect, and for a short time, the power of interconnection is manifest and alive.