Art in Action: 6 Ways to Strengthen the Connective Tissue of Life

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Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

What if our whole understanding of the world was off? What if we put a lot of attention on the separate parts, in particular powerful individuals and companies and countries but we were missing the bigger picture? What if we are throwing away the connective tissue?

As in the body, our lives are not just about the separate parts and people floating in isolation. Our lives are about connection. Just as we can make different choices in our bodies by bringing awareness to the web of connective tissue that supports us, we can also make different choices in our days by bringing awareness to the web of connections that holds us up.

There are countless ways of exploring connection in the world. Here are 6 to play with (and I’d love to hear others!):

  1. Self to Sensation

How do you know you need to go to the bathroom? You can feel it, right? How do you know it’s time to eat? You can feel it … but sometimes I eat because it’s time to eat or I don’t stop eating even though I’m no longer hungry. We are conditioned to ignore or override physical sensation. Today, experiment with pausing to see what you feel several times and listening for the details of sensation. Instead of dissociating, what would happen if you connected to the sensations you feel?

2. Self to Mind

The other day, my husband made an off-hand comment that sent me into a tailspin. I was tangled up in a story of thoughts about what he’d said and that thought-tangle was physically painful. Somewhere in the mess of it, I realized that it was my story that felt so terrible. When I got curious about the thought pattern I was trapped in, I connected differently to what he said. You are not your thoughts and your thoughts aren’t necessarily true. Connect to them with curiosity.

3. Self to Emotions

Emotions are called feelings for a reason. Everybody’s had a gut response, or been heart-broken, or felt the stomach clench of upsetting news. Emotions create sensations and noticing those sensations is a direct way of creating emotional connection with yourself. For example, I know that when my throat feels tight that I’m not saying something that I need to say. Connect to your emotional self by connecting to the feeling of feelings.

4. Self to Another

Connecting to others may seem like the most obvious of life’s connective tissue, but how much are you actually connecting? It’s easy to be distracted by the busy-ness and stress of life (not to mention all the binging and bonging screens and devices!) and not give your full attention to someone you’re with. I often find myself in a conversation and instead of listening deeply, I’m thinking about what I will say next, how what they are saying relates to me or how I can help. Experiment with softening your ears and only listening to another person. Relax the reaction to jump in with a story or idea or help. Perhaps paradoxically, saying less can be connecting more.

5. Self to Nature

Put your hands in the dirt or your feet in the sand. Listen to the gurgle of a stream or breathe in the fragrance of honeysuckle. Connecting with nature can be simultaneously relaxing and energizing. A friend’s favorite insomnia cure is walking barefoot in the grass. Another relieves anxiety by swimming underwater. Watching the sky is a great perspective-opener for me. Connecting with nature is really connecting with a part of ourselves. What would happen if you let yourself connect deeply with the natural world around you…even if that’s appreciating your salad at lunch?

6. Self to Spirit

Ever get an insight or idea that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time? Ever get a spacious, indefinable feeling that something larger than you is at work? Spirit doesn’t mean religious (although for some people, the two are closely related). Connecting to spirit is about connecting to that which is greater than yourself and that can happen anywhere, anytime, doing anything with anybody. What would happen if you intentionally connected with spirit?


Our electronic, social-networked, interwebs world may seem connected. But clicking “like” isn’t connection. Words and pictures and videos can touch us and resonate but there is a difference between reading about a hug and actually getting one. (Writer, Melissa Sarno, wrote beautifully about this recently.)

How do you strengthen the web of connection in your life? Jump in and share in the comments below or send me an email (sjmnia@gmail.com) or have an in-person conversation with someone about connection! After all, connection is what life is all about.

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4 comments
  1. Lori Raphael said:

    Thank you, Susan. Wonderful insight as usual.

    • You are so welcome Lori. This is a subject — both in the body and in life — that is near and dear to me. I had a realization recently that everything I do– in my practice, my teaching, my writing, my art — at its core is about promoting connection. So yay. Thank you for reading.

  2. I love this. Obviously, I’m thinking a lot about connection, lately, and I want to think more about meaningful connections. And thank you for the shout out. xo

    • Of course, my friend! You do such good work and it was pretty cool that we were writing about the same thing this week! ❤

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