Three Practices for Enhancing Connection

The world is one. Yoga teaches that at the core of our true nature, we are all the same. Yet many people feel disconnected from self and others in daily life. Driving in separate cars, sitting in closed cubicles, and interacting via screens can make life seem full of barriers—but despite these physical boundaries, the hearts, minds, and spirits of humankind are truly interconnected.

How can we increase our felt sense of this universal truth, the interconnectedness of humanity?

The spiritual path of awakening teaches us to enhance connection with self and others through positive thought, speech, and action. Adding intention to daily activities can dramatically increase our sense of interconnectedness—offering a smile, making eye contact, holding the door open for a stranger, pausing to say hello to a neighbor, providing positive encouragement to a coworker, giving a long hug to a loved one. Is there room in your life for more of these simple yet potent practices? When it comes to connecting with intention, a little goes a long way.

If you’re feeling disengaged or divided from others, or if you just want to tune in even more deeply to our essential oneness, explore these powerful practices.

Metta: Loving-Kindness Meditation

The practice of metta has many benefits, including overcoming fear, increasing concentration, and boosting peacefulness. One of the most powerful of those is its ability to enhance connection with self and others through positive thoughts and phrases. Classic metta meditation has several steps—a progressive series of categories to which metta phrases are applied, beginning with kind words to self. For a powerful home practice, try this simplified three-step approach:

1. Take a comfortable meditation seat. Close or soften the eyes.

2. Bring into the mind’s eye the image of yourself—either in the present moment or from any time in your life. Repeat these metta phrases, directing kindness towards self:

  • May I be healthy
  • May I be safe and protected
  • May I be peaceful

3. Bring into the mind’s eye the image of a friend or loved one (or an acquaintance). Repeat these metta phrases, directing kindness toward this other person:

  • May you be healthy
  • May you be safe and protected
  • May you be peaceful

4. Bring into the mind’s eye the image of a group to which you belong (your yoga studio, the Kripalu sangha, everyone in your town, or even the whole world). Repeat these metta phrases, directing kindness towards this group:

  • May we be healthy
  • May we be safe and protected
  • May we be peaceful

5. Take a few minutes to breathe, relax, and reflect upon the interconnectedness of humanity. 

Repeat this sequence as many times as you like. 

Kirtan: Singing Stories and Mantras

There’s something special about singing. One root of the Sanskrit word “kirtan” means “to cut out,” which indicates the power of ecstatic singing to cut through obstacles in the heart and enhance inner peace. Singing songs of joy, triumph, and love uplifts the prana (life-force energy) and enhances connection with others. Some yogic scholars say that in this current era filled with so much chaos, confusion, war, and uncertainty, kirtan is the best remedy for soothing the heart. According to Ayurveda, the heart is the root of both prana and manas (the mind), so singing songs of kindness and elation not only improves energy and thoughts in the singer, but also increases the vitality and enhances the mental state of the listeners.

Want to try? Check the schedule at nearby yoga studios for kirtan events, or join a kirtan-focused weekend retreat for an immersive experience (great for those new to kirtan). For daily practice, download your favorite kirtan music and play it while cooking, commuting, or during yoga sadhana—some of my favorites are David Newman, Wah!, Krishna Das, and Snatam Kaur.

Handwritten Letters

Ever notice how people light up when discovering a letter in the mailbox? With the onslaught of texts, calls, emails, and videos, our culture is losing the beautiful practice of putting pen to paper. Across the miles, the simplicity of sharing a postcard or a pretty piece of stationary with a loved one can increase intimate bonds. I travel regularly, and for years have been in the habit of mailing cards to various friends and family members when I’m on the road. Choosing the right card for each person is a way I can connect from afar—tuning into what I feel they might appreciate at that moment in life, while sharing a bit of my life’s journey with the reader.

Dig out that stationary buried in a desk drawer, brew a cup of tea, find a cozy seat in a quiet location, and write a few letters. To get in the habit of letter writing, keep your notes short and sweet. Writing a long letter can feel daunting, so start with just a paragraph or two; over time, longer messages may flow with ease. The important thing is to write with well wishes in your heart. 

Nourish self and others in thought, speech, and action, and bask in the joy of radiant connection.

Find out about programs with Larissa Hall Carlson at Kripalu.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please email editor@kripalu.org.

Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT 500, MA, former Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, guides retreats, directs trainings, and provides Ayurvedic consultations across the country. larissacarlson.com

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