I have been reflecting a lot on the idea that we are all connected. I understand it from an intellectual point of view – all that is on this physical plane came from a single star that burst many years ago; at the quantum level, everything consist of vibrating particles and all that is around us consists of the same core particles that are just present in slightly different ratios; we are connected to other creatures through a mutual capacity to feel pain and pleasure. But yet, what does this really mean? This idea of unity and connection is so abstract that while I can understand it on the surface level, I have trouble internalizing it on a deeper level. If we’re all connected then why are we so different? And more importantly, why is there so much disconnect between people, between living things in general and why is there so much pain? Add in the layer of inanimate objects and now my head really starts to swim. I’m not sure at all to be honest… but while at the beach last weekend my friend showed me a way to transcend trying to intellectually grasp how we are all connected to everything. She showed me a way to feel what it means.
There is a form of Zen meditation that teaches you to sit, quiet your mind by focusing on your breath, and then to attend to all of the sensations and sounds around you, without becoming fixated on any one. You feel your chest breathing, the cool air around your skin, then hear the faint singing of the birds. Your eyes are closed and so you are in a gap of visual nothingness. We create the divide between “ourselves” and everything else through how our eyes process the stimuli before them, and by the way we compartmentalize everything we encounter. But not when we close our eyes and just take in all that’s around us. Then we are bombarded by a million stimuli and if we can sit through the overwhelming nature of it all we are elevated to a plane where everything melds into a flow of what is.
This is an intense meditation. I can’t always quiet my mind enough to just sit and feel, especially if my mind is racing from the every day. But it takes me to a whole other dimension of peace and connection when I can tap into it. There’s also another way that I have found to get a glimpse of this feeling of connection. As you are falling asleep and that feeling of calm starts to overtake you, start to listen to all of the sounds around you. When you start to think about what you’re hearing, just move onto another sound. Then maybe tap into the different sensations in your body and the feelings on your skin. The key is to shift your awareness the moment you begin to rationalize (think) about it. Try it. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing it right. You’ll notice what it does to your dreams.