I traveled to New Orleans a few weeks ago. I knew I had truly arrived when our Lyft driver said "How ya doing, Miss Bonnie?" I had made a lunch reservation and when we arrived I was greeted with "Welcome, Miss Bonnie." On a shuttle bus to Mardi Gras World the driver asked if this was my first time in New Orleans. When I said it was my second, he replied "Welcome Home."
New Orleans is a great place to travel to. The food, music, warm weather, welcoming people make it so special. Being there feels like getting a big hug.
But I want to tap into something deeper. The importance of social connection. Not just because it makes us feel good -- although this is important. But because it makes us healthier.
Here's what the experts have to say:
Here is "Miss Bonnie's" take on all this:
One of the reasons that I love Eastern Medicine is because of its emphasis on connection. In the 5 element/5 organ system that we use no one organ/element exists on its own. The energy of the liver feeds the heart, the heart energy feeds the spleen, the spleen energy feeds the lungs, the lung energy feeds the kidneys, the kidney energy feeds the liver. The cycle is completed and begins again.
As people we may feel isolated, but we never exist in true isolation.
With you in spirit…
February is almost here, and I’m thinking about Valentine’s Day! For me it’s a day not just about romantic love, but about all forms of love and how love is expressed.
I want to share with you an exercise that I've done over the past month. It's called "Where Does Love Live?" Each night I wrote a sentence or two about where love lives that day. It's been a great way to check in about what I'm doing, thinking and feeling.
Here are notes from my first few days writing about where love lives.
12/21 On a dark night, driving on the highway from Massachusetts to Cleveland, remembering my first road trip with Dan 14 years ago. (We met carpooling to Bethel, Maine for a ski trip & we’ve been together ever since.)
12/22 Sitting between my tall, beautiful nieces on the way to lunch at Stone Oven. Watching the way they connect with each other.
12/23 Staying at my mother-in-law’s condo. Being able to relax, read, study...no responsibility.
I'm realizing how often I jump from task to task without reflecting on what truly brings me joy. Don't get me wrong, I live a good life -- I love my work, my husband, my home. But it's easy to get into routines and wake up day after day thinking that there is a little something missing.
By reflecting on where my heart is at the end of each day, I feel a kind of awakening. I get the realization of what is working in my life, as well as where I want to be heading. You may too!
Roses and chocolate may be symbols of love, but why not look into you heart and see what it has to say. You may be surprised.
If you try this exercise, feel free to share your thoughts with me.
Sending loving and healing energy…
What started out as an idea for a pre-Thanksgiving newsletter turned into a gratitude practice. It was one of those “aha” moments when I realized that I needed to follow the advice I was giving.
And so I started a gratitude list. I suggesting that you do this as well. It’s a powerful exercise in becoming aware of the connections that exist between you and the rest of the world.
Be true to the essence of the holiday. Give thanks...
1) Love yourself fully
The Concept: What does this mean? Do the things that make you feel whole and complete. Find more of the moments that give you complete joy. Take time to smell the roses, watch beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and fill your life with laughter.
The Practice: Give yourself a day just for you. Wake up when you want to, fill your time with activities that make you smile, eat your favorite foods, spend time with a cherished friend. If circumstances don't allow you to take time off at the moment, then plan your perfect day. Write down the most fun way to spend 24 hours. (Then when you do have time, you have a plan of what to do.)
2) Take Life a Little Less Seriously
The Concept: It's easy to fill life with worry and get caught up with things that are really not that important. Over time, this is hard on the nervous system. Let go of worries.
The Practice: It you find yourself thinking about something over and over again, step back and ask yourself if this is something important to your life. If it is, take a moment to act in a way that will reduce stress. Write down a message or intention that will make you feel better. If it's not, just let it go. Either way, picture your worry in the shape of a balloon to which you are holding on tight. Then let it go. Watch it float off into space.
3) Honor Your Feelings, All of Them
The Concept: Feelings are a way that your body speaks to you and a way of shining light on what is most relevant in your life. It's easy to push feelings away--those things that gnaw at your gut. It's also easy to become completely immersed in feelings. There is a third way, a way to honor your feelings without being ransacked by them.
The Practice: Set time at the end of each day to invite your feelings in. Feelings generally live somewhere in your body; perhaps a tightness in your back or chest, or butterflies in your stomach. Take time to acknowledge these. What are they telling you? Give your feelings a little attention. Draw a picture or journal about what you are feeling. Make sure that you give yourself a set amount of time for this. It's as if you are inviting your feelings in for tea.
Treating yourself with love, kindness and compassion will transform your life in unimaginable ways. Find love on Valentine's Day and on each day of the year!
Bonnie Diamond, Licensed Acupuncturist