Why Relate: Some Thoughts on the Vital Necessity of Cultivating our Capacity to Connect

Reconnection is one of the strongest driving forces behind the work that is Making Love with God. That innate and undeniable longing to reconnect – to ourselves, to each other, and perhaps to something more than us. The call, in other words, to relationship.

Relationship being a very particular thing to dedicate one’s life to, I do a fair amount of reflecting on the driving force behind what I do. With this year’s Initiation Training beginning in under two weeks, a training with reconnection beating at its very heart, I wanted to share three reasons* why I believe that creatively cultivating our capacity to connect is so very, vitally, relevant – now, and always.

*Each reason represents one of the weekends that make up the Initiation training – Making Love with Self, Making Love with Other, and Making Love with God.

 

“Listen to yourself, and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” – Maya Angelou

Deep listening, or Listening In as I tend to think of it, is something that I find myself teaching again and again – in psychosexual coaching sessions, as well as in workshops.

Most of us are not taught how to hear, let alone trust, ourselves. When we first come into the world, we are reliant on the benevolent guidance of others for our survival. As we grow older, we often end up in professional, cultural, or even romantic or familial environments, where it suits others for us to keep listening outwards, rather than inwards. And yet I believe the capacity to Listen In is one of the first and fundamental steps towards integration, self-acceptance, and, yes, building lasting, committed relationship with the self.

Practicing this kind of relating, this quality of listening, gives us access to a deeper understanding of ourselves, the whys and wherefores of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It also crucially grants us access to our inner guidance, our intuition and instincts, our No edges and our Yes passions. Listening in, we find we already know the next road to take towards a life we can actually savour, and towards a self we genuinely enjoy being in relationship with.

In cultivating our capacity to relate to ourselves, to listen, we allow for the possibility that what we hear within is indeed divine, that our inner compass is pointing steadfastly to the true north of our souls – that we are, in short, someone worth listening to.

 

“We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection), is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” – Brene Brown

We have created a very work-focused culture in the West, and yet evidence increasingly suggests that the moments or experiences in life that we really ascribe meaning to are primarily relational. The few rituals that we have left as a culture – birthdays, weddings, football matches – are about sharing an experience with other people; the songs, we sing and stories we tell about relationship vastly outnumber other subjects; and the narratives told by people on their death beds inevitably point to the value of times spent with those we love, over time spent striving for professional goals.

But relationship is also a privilege, and it is a skill. Not all of us are born into healthy relationship, and all too few of us are gifted with the language, the experience of being heard and learning to listen, and skills like presence, compassion, and kindness when growing up – or indeed in our adult connections.

And so, if relationship is what gives our lives meaning, then learning to relate to others – and mastering doing so whilst continuing to relate lovingly to ourselves – is not a luxury, but a vital skill for a life well lived.

 

“Just as lovers seek for union, we are apt, when we fall in love with our world, to fall into oneness with it as well.” Joanna Macy

I believe the necessity for relationship stretches beyond our individual desires and pleasure. In developing our capacity to connect, we develop our capacity to be vulnerable, and to be present to and notice the vulnerability of others. In short, we develop our capacity to feel, and to feel for and with other living beings. This ability to feel is one that many of us have been subconsciously numbing for some time now; we are, after all, so very busy, and we are being bombarded from all sides with so many reminders of atrocities that we feel powerless to change.

“Our hope is that if we keep all the distractedness going, we will not have to look at who we are, we will not have to feel what we feel, we will not have to see what we see. “ – Judy Lief

And yet, in re-awakening our ability to be touched emotionally, we open up the door to remembering that we are all already and always in relationship – that we are part of a whole, on whose well-being we depend, and whose survival we have the power to actively engage with.

“The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness there can be no healing. And this… lies in our forgetfulness of the sacred nature of creation, which is also our own sacred nature.” – Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Creatively, tenaciously, and ongoingly cultivating our capacity to be in connection, to nurture relationship – with ourselves, each other, and our world – will lead us not only to a life well lived and deeply felt – but to a life that is sustainable. A life that can be passed on, with love and with pride, to those who come after us.

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