Belonging: Being a part of all there is

A mural in Leith, UK. Photo credit to: Jon Zarecki

It’s easy to feel disconnected from the world when you live in a big city where concrete is everywhere you look, there’s a constant rush, loud noises, pollution… 

We need moments of peace and quiet to relax the mind and the body to develop a healthy balance between work and rest. It’s necessary to connect with ourselves, with nature, contemplate it, listen to it, breathe it, to avoid falling into a spiral of stress and anxiety.

In this blog, our Learning and Wellbeing officer at CodeClan, Alexandra Dodu, explores what this feeling of disconnection means and different ways that can help us to feel connected again. 

Childhood: When everything begins

According to Waldorf education, until the age of nine, we experience the world around us as simply an extension of what we consider  “me”.  Around the age of nine, however, our identity starts to “mature” and with it the first step away from the experience of union and into the experience of “I am here, the world is there.” 

Childhood is the time when, more or less, everything begins. This is when our experiences of belonging and separation first take root. At some point, we regard this feeling of separation from each other and from all forms of life as the ‘normal’ way of being. In effect, we practice this feeling of separation so much we become masters of it.

Symptoms of disconnection

Increased levels of worry, anxiety and depression are all symptoms of living in the experience of separation — from the earth, from nature, from life, and from each other. 

However, the physical isolation and instability during the past two years accentuated these symptoms of disconnection. When left to our own devices during lockdown, physically unable to engage with people, work, and participate in activities as we had before, the experience of separation came to the forefront of our lives, and with it, the experience of anxiety or loneliness.

For most of our life, we build an inner fortress to hide behind; intricate, structured identities and social constructs of layers upon layers of protective mechanisms, some more sophisticated than others. Once the fortress walls began to crumble from the forced isolation of the pandemic, we were left feeling vulnerable and afraid. Under such circumstances, how can we feel a sense of belonging? Where is there a chance for us to experience connection, union, and belonging in the midst of these separated chambers we created – between us and everything else

A part of everything 

Belonging is an individual affair — our own affair. It is not related to what others do or do not do for us. It does not come from us being seen or acknowledged; it does not come from being in the ‘right place’ with the ‘right people’ nor does it come from being with your friends, your family, your people. Belonging is not something others ought to make happen for us, either.

Belonging is a natural, inevitable outcome emerging from living in the truth of who we are while acknowledging the interconnectedness of all life. Our heartbeat depends upon our breath. Our breath depends upon the breath of trees.  Seventy percent water, our health depends on the health of the oceans, seas, and rivers. Indeed, our very life force is sustained, day to day, by the quality of the soil under our feet. The richer the soil, the richer our food and the stronger our bodies and minds.  Studies show that children born in the countryside have 80% more supporting bacteria on their skin which becomes their natural health defence mechanism supporting their immune function.

The environment is not something outside of us to be saved. The environment is us.

Belonging is a natural outcome of our experience of union and connection with life in all its forms. When we belong, the whole world gets another chance: the neighbour next door, the stranger begging at the corner, the child on the other side of the earth, the dolphin species on the verge of extinction, the tiny bee on which the future of our food depends.

In ancient India, the main goal of education was to help young people acquire holistic knowledge, maintaining a ‘universal identity or a ‘universal consciousness; for the wise ones knew that if knowledge is to be used towards the wellbeing of all life, there must be an experience of connection and union with all life. In that boundless, universal sense of inclusiveness, they lived lives that were in service to all, where they naturally acted for the benefit of everyone’s wellbeing.

Turning around

There is an innate, human desire to belong. As a species, we have tried so many things to enter that experience of connection: a good job, relationships, hobbies, and entertainment. But we have always done this from a place of lack, from the belief that we are not whole. Has it worked? 

The wise ones of all ancient traditions have been inviting us for thousands of years to turn around and turn inward: closing our eyes for a few minutes every day, sitting quietly with our own self, allowing space for everything that comes up in that silence, in that stillness, or even in that turmoil.

Cultivating the courage to ask for support and investing the time to journey into our inner landscape, to go back to that place we unconsciously left when we were children, we will discover that we belong. The experience that you belong, that you feel at home everywhere you go, no matter to whom you speak, in every place, and even in the eye of the storm — even these are not the greatest things that can happen to you, for in that sense of belonging…

…you will experience that everything belongs to you.

When you experience belonging, you naturally embrace, accept, and include everything and everyone. There won’t be any mental effort required “to include” because you will naturally be in a state of inclusiveness. Seeing yourself in others and others in yourself is the ultimate foundation for wellbeing and such a life flows with ease. In this experience, can there be any space left for feeling inadequate, ‘not enough’, an outsider? Can there be any space left for feeling like a fraud?

Now, imagine a world where everyone experiences they belong. Wouldn’t we all want to live in a world like that?

 

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