By Stacy Jaramillo
What does it truly take to form and sustain an organic connection in today’s world of Insta selfies, likes on posts, DM’s and other forms of self-assurance on social media? How do we separate the real world from the World Wide Web? Nowadays, it is literally at our fingertips, triggering us with every notification to scratch the itch of instant gratification from our peers. Don’t get me wrong, I am no different when in the privacy or pure boredom of my home, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Though, there is a profound difference, I have found, between the digital world and my real-life connections; and that is the internal abundance received in being understood from those closest to me and the experiences I share in those connections.
People will hear the word communion and think I’m here to “spread the Word of God”, but that is not my mission. My goal is to only speak towards what the words faith and spirituality mean to you in connection to the relationships we create. Communion is defined as “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.” So, by no means rush out to your nearest church to ingest the body and blood of Christ if that is not your full-hearted belief system. Instead, I am talking about finding “your tribe.”
When you are connected to a community with others with whom you share the same values, it is shown to reduce the harmful practices that isolates us the most: addiction/substance abuse, violence, and mental illness. Faith and spirituality does not mean you have to assign yourself to one denomination, religious view point, or restrict yourself to one way of practice. Personally, I practice separate forms of spirituality to achieve the best version of myself. When I realized the profound feeling of being connected to the world itself and what it has to offer, it gave me a greater need to practice empathy and understand those around me.
When a person such as myself with a genetic and familial background of addiction and mental illness, most would prophesy a dimmer outlook. Looking at my younger years, I would agree; but when I developed a sharper perspective of my own values AND held myself accountable to those values, I was able to make authentic connections that aligned with mine. Instead of nights out drinking with faux “friends” that led to making selfish and unhealthy choices, I am fulfilled talking on the phone or over dinner with those I can converse openly to for hours about philosophies, beliefs, self-awareness and more. When I personally accepted myself and became more attune to my spirituality, I was able to replenish myself to give more to others and somehow simultaneously receive more in return. I have learned, through my relationships, is that when I align myself with like-minded souls there exists a total communion in our exchanges and interactions.
Which raises the question, “How do you find others who are aligned with yourself?” I, myself, was raised as a non-denominational Christian but still believe in God; I also practice spiritual yoga/meditation that focuses on things such as the Five Elements. As a meld of two very different ideologies, I get how finding “your tribe” can seem daunting.
First, you must know what truly makes grounds you and encourages you to become the best version of yourself. When you take part of communities and activities that enrich your life, you are also more susceptible to interact and engage with others of the same mindset and values. “Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
Second, you must be vulnerable and open in order to access it in others. When I eventually opened up to others about my faith or spirituality, a common comment was “I didn’t’ know you were so spiritual. You aren’t pushy or open about it.” I realized down the road this was because of the stigma of spiritual values that I kept close and private in fear of being judged or misunderstood. In doing this, I closed myself off to multiple relationships; and because I failed to share that intimate part of myself, true intimacy with others remained elusive.
The relationships I have currently nurtured were birthed from being completely naked in my being. My current priority relationship came from one small and brief interaction in which we connected through trauma, Bridget Jones, and an understanding of values. From that single interaction, I found a group of like-minded individuals with whom I have shared values with in spite of our diverse backgrounds. It is these connections, in addition to my other relationships, that continue to feed my belief in connection through a tried and true communion through sharing our intimate selves.
An excerpt from The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved by Matthew Kelly hits the nail on the head:
“…Our legitimate needs as individuals in each of the four aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual…. The important thing to remember about our legitimate need in each of the four areas is that the more our lives are centered upon them the more we will thrive, and the more our relationships are centered upon them the more our relationships will thrive.”
It is in our closest relationships that we bond through emotional, intellectual, and spiritual experiences. Spirituality, the highest form of intimacy, focuses on our need to become the best version of ourselves and how we project that in our relationships to help others do the same. When we share our values, vulnerabilities, and inner selves, we become more open to receiving from others. This leads to more opportunities to expand what we know and have fuller human experiences and meaningful relationships.
- Find what makes you become the best version of yourself. Be solidified in your activities/practices, values, beliefs, and all that gears you to physically, mentally, and spiritually better yourself.
- Find a community or group to attach to. Know not everyone you meet or every community will fit for you but don’t be afraid to explore; you will become more open to learning new things and produce greater odds in finding connections this way.
- When building upon these connections, allow yourself to remain vulnerable and open. Express understanding and give others the opportunity to do the same for you. The most rewarding and strongest bonds are made this way.
- Remember to share your values to create healthy boundaries while showing others who and what you’re about. You are the only you in this world, own it.
Let this serve as a reminder to continue to strive to be the best in all aspects of who you are and to never be afraid to reach out to those around you in order to achieve the best version of yourself. In this life, we are not meant to just live, we are meant to connect and experience with others in order to fully thrive.