When we evoke this energy of gratitude at first we associate with the memory or thought of something – but actually when you let the memory or thought fall away, the energy of gratitude remains – because it’s not actually connected to any one thing.
At a personal level the feeling we observe is the release of dopamine, activating our pleasure or reward centre in the brain. It’s the pleasure sensation that the brain receives when dopamine levels are elevated that motivates us to proactively take action. So simply put, we do something that makes us feel good, we are motivated to repeat this action, so that there is more feel good.
The tricky thing is that when we place our dependence on things outside of ourselves to trigger that reward centre – relying entirely on the outer world to feel good…we forget so much about ourselves and leave ourself open to crazy highs and lows.
But neuroscience is now showing that actually just the act of looking for something to be grateful for…is enough to trigger the neurotransmitters in our reward centre…giving us a little boost of dopamine. And the amazing science of neuroplasticity shows that when we repeat the activation of these neurons…new pathways are formed…effectively changing our brain chemistry. So the more we evoke the energy of gratitude, or look for gratitude – the more we support this change in chemistry – and the more gratitude we observe…and this gratitude has absolutely nothing to do with anything in our outer world.
Reality is I’m no neuroscientist and maybe my rational mind hasn’t fully wrapped it’s head around the scientific part of this all yet…but I know how I feel and I know that when I take 30 seconds to tune in to the energy of gratitude…I feel abundant and it’s as if my entire world shifts with the blink of an eye….and the more often I tune in…the more abundant I feel and the more aware I am of how the universe is conspiring WITH ME every single step of the way.
…sound like woo woo…give it a try and see how you feel…go on I dare you 😉
Today I’m especially grateful for words…and music…and the combination of the two together – amazing lyrics and sacred sounds….brings an instant awareness to the sacred tremor of the Heart.
I’m loving on this beautiful artist right now. Infinite love and gratitude <3
Shhhh…listen, can you hear it…can you feel it…..
There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!
At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face into mine,
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.
The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.
I looked into the eyes of a baby, only here in this physical form for 1 short year…and his eyes…well there really are no words to describe the depth, openness and love that stared back at me. I found myself mesmerised, lost in a deep ocean of blue. He had no fear, no contraction, no hesitation to just look at every inch of my face inquisitively. And I found myself mirroring him, staring back with admiration, love and curiosity. And I wondered how is it that we lose this?
This experience was more than a year ago but it’s one that has stayed with me and comes again and again as a reminder to look at life with curiosity, through the eyes of a child. It often gets me thinking about How do we return to this, our natural state? How do we unlearn the barriers and protections that we’ve built up over the years? The behaviours that keep us from connecting deeply with each other. Because after all isn’t humanity hard wired for connection? Aren’t so many of the problems we have these days around mental health and addiction now being linked back to loneliness….or better known as lack of real connection.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection ~Johann Hari
With so many lost in their world of smartphones and social media…it’s become perfectly normal to post our life experiences for all to see in the virtual world…but then avoid making eye contact with people we pass in the street, or on the bus or train. So the question is…where did the Human Connection go and how do we get it back?
Two weeks ago the Liberators International suggested one answer….you use the one thing everyone is engaged in..social media…to create a Facebook event and you invite humanity to participate in the Worlds Biggest Eye Contact Experiment. The concept was simple they said “Let’s share a minutes eye contact with strangers in public to rebuild our sense of shared humanity in cities all over the world!”
More than 100,000 people signed on to attend the event in 143 cities all over the world and the organisers say the video piece they’re putting together is “by far the most incredible and inspiring experience we’ve ever created. We are so deeply humbled by the coronation and intelligence shown by the people from all edges of the globe.”
I decided to go along to the event in Busselton, I knew it would be smaller than the city event but I was curious to see what it would be like in my home country..and in a rural area. It was small and intimate and inspiring to meet those involved in organising the event locally and to hear their stories of why they were there.
I saw such beauty, such sadness, such raw authenticity, I saw love and I saw uncertainty, I saw hesitation and I listened to story after story of how nervous people had been to come along to the event…wondering what it would be like. I listened to one guy ask, so whats the point of the experiment? The answer..human connection…and he incredulously asked…what? connection just with the eyes??!! as he sat down to try it for himself.
Truth is it was a challenging experience for me as I watched people walk past, look at the sign but not slow down so desperate to not make eye contact. Respecting this may not appeal to everyone, what touched me deeply were the people who not only avoided the eye contact, but then began to joke with their friends, laughing about the experiment as they walked away. I felt my barriers want to go back up, to protect myself. But then I wondered what am I protecting myself against? Is that not the whole point of this experiment…to allow ourselves to be seen..and to see…and to reflect a little on what is it that stops us from connecting with others?
I realised that somewhere inside i was feeling shame, even though really my heart was just deeply sad that not everyone could understand why the need for human connection was so important. Anyway I looked around and saw the others sitting in circle hearts open…unwavering and instantly I realised how important it was that we…I….take part in the things that feel important, if not me, who? and if not now, when?
So feeling full of inspiration I decided it was time to research humanity a little more and I drove 3 hours back to Perth just in time to participate in the experiment in the Perth CBD….and the contrast was incredible.
So many people, so many observers, so many people sitting looking into each others eyes…when I arrived there wasn’t even an empty cushion…I pinched myself…was this really happening in the city that I grew up in?
I had had so many judgements about how closed hearted people in Perth could be but eye after eye that I looked into all the misperceptions fell away. Again I listened to story after story of people facing their fears to come and feel the connection – I felt such overwhelming joy at how this real life experiment showed the alchemy of love melting fear.
At one point during the day one beautiful lady said to me how nervous she was about just sitting in silence, so we chatted a little, and she said to me, don’t look too hard in there, I’m a bit messed up. My heart melted and I shared with her my little secret…so am I, and then I told her what I believe strongly..that these parts of us we think are messy are just waiting for us to let them be seen and loved so that we can feel our completeness again.
For me the entire experience bought up big questions like how am I choosing to show up in every moment. How willing am I to allow myself to be seen completely, how willing am I to not censor who I am, to be authentic?
We so badly long for human connection, and yet at the same time we’re so terribly afraid of what may happen if people look at us too closely, that they may indeed see it all and judge us. But what would happen if we stopped trying to keep parts of us secret, what if we let go of the fear of being shamed for not being perfect? What if judgements were also just another way to protect ourselves…what are we protecting ourselves against…connection? What if we put our energy into loving and trusting one another instead of hiding, judging and shaming?
One of my favourite shame and vulnerability researchers and story tellers, Brene Brown, talks about shame as a silent epidemic.
“I think shame is lethal,” she says. “I think shame is deadly. And I think we are swimming in it deep.” She explains that feelings of shame can quietly marinate over a lifetime. “Here’s the bottom line with shame,” she says. “The less you talk about it, the more you got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.”
The antidote she says is empathy. By sharing shame with someone who can express empathy, the painful feeling cannot survive.
“Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I’m alone.”
To me the experiment showed the absolute power and medicine available through human connection, and how it all comes down to seeing with our hearts, not with our minds. From the mind judgements, stories and perceptions are formed, from the heart it’s impossible to not see the beauty and vulnerability of another human being standing before you.
So what’s the point of an event like this? You spend a few hours looking into strangers eyes and then what? Well asides from the obvious benefit of feeling really relaxed, open and joyful…I think about how many people participated in just the 2 events I went to that day, and I think of the other 138+ events held all over the world. I think about the 100,000+ people that got behind the events…and I think about how many people they may talk to about their experience. I think about how many people may be inspired to simply try a little harder to make eye contact with strangers, or to hold eye contact with their loved ones just a little longer…now they’ve felt the sweetness of the heart…will they be tempted to try it again.
So I guess the question is not so much how do we return to the innocence of the child..but more like WHO, is prepared to return to that innocence, unashamed of our longing for human connection, to see and be seen…
if not you, who? and if not now, when? Be the change you want to see.
Don’t try to change anyone else, just recognise that your heart knows things your mind can’t understand…and let the HeArt SEEEEEEEEE and be seen.
Go on I dare you, make eye contact with a stranger…or next time you find yourself in conflict with a loved one… look into their eyes for a little longer than you normally would and see what the experience feels like for you. Can you love and honour the inner child in all of us just longing for human connection….
Deeply humbled by this human experience called life…I see you <3
So how many lifetimes ago did this journey begin? That I can’t tell you…but it is one that a few years ago I never imagined was possible and now I know is called LIFE! Today I choose a life of love, sunrises, travel, nature, meditation, yoga and sacred relationships. How did I get here? Grace…following my bliss and walking through doors I never knew existed 🙂
“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. And the life that you ought to be living, is the one you ARE living.” Joseph Campbell
Four years ago I found myself wondering why, with a life that seemed to tick all the right boxes – husband, house, corporate career and plans for a family….was I still restless & looking for ‘something more’?? Intuition and longing saw me walk away from an 11 year relationship to start what began as a 2 month vacation and quickly became the Journey that continues today.
I’ve traded my house for a backpack and my corporate career to teach mediation and yoga. When border guards ask me in which country I am a resident…I have a little trouble answering and when people ask me how long have you been travelling for…I giggle and answer…well it depends on your definition of travel.
Today I know home is where the heart is and no matter where I am the sun will be rising. I’ve been blessed with so many incredible sunrises and sunsets but beyond these breathtaking moments this journey has become about feeling the sun rise within me…and recognising this light as the light that shines within us all, connecting us. Some call it God, others the Self, I like to call it LOVE 🙂 This is what gets me out of bed each morning, the knowledge that our TRUE NATURE IS LOVE, radiant and shining like a million suns.
“Love can transform the hardest heart into the heart of a saint. It is love that brings meaning to our lives. The path of love goes right through the middle of every heart. No one is locked out. No one is turned away. No one is unworthy. The love that lives within each and every being is Bhagavan, it is Ram, Buddha, Nature, the Atman, the Great Goddess, the Self, the One. It is who we are – our own True Nature, radiant and shining like a million suns.”~ Krishna Das
This doesn’t mean life is always easy, the reality is we’re all faced with challenges – especially when it comes to maintaining relationships with friends and lovers. But as you begin to look at life as it really is, and people as they really are – not just the stories that we tell or the thoughts that we lose ourselves in…you realise this life is exactly what we create. Our relationships are simply mirrors of aspects of ourselves often reflecting those parts of us that we can not see or are not yet willing to embrace.
When we begin to see things as they really are we can develop gratitude for the challenges and see them for the great opportunities they are – to learn, love, grow and let go.
Embracing this journey of the unknown I start this blog in the hope that I can share with you some of the inspiration, beauty, challenges and lessons shared with me along the way. And I hope it inspires you to take a deep breath, feel this moment exactly as it is and to see all that you have, and all that you are. Beauty, light and love…PURE LOVE.
“Today, just for the day, be honest about the light that you are, the beauty of YOU, shines like a million suns”
Mostly I just want to share with you the message that life is to be lived and loved and we have the choice in each and every moment to live with an open heart and to experience all of this crazy beautiful life exactly as it is.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing..I wish you a day full of beauty and openness and eternal sunrising.
From my heart to yours ♥ ♥ ♥