Monday, March 24, 2014

Planet We

Loneliness can be hazardous to your health. 
Really. I just heard about a study that revealed how loneliness raises your cortisol level. That dastardly stress hormone is higher in the morning in lonely people as if in preparation for another day of assault. I found this fascinating. In a culture where loneliness is considered a weakness, something to be gotten over, I hadn’t realized that feeling like you don’t belong or are on the perimeter of a group actually alters the brain and places it on high alert, a state that after prolonged activity can result in compromised immunity and fragmented sleep. 

While we are wired to be aware of physical danger it was a revelation for me to view loneliness as a threat to one’s social body. In the old days, in a village if one felt lonely you could simply wander down the road and drop in on a neighbor. Today we try to ignore it or fill the hole with substances or TV. And sadly when this becomes chronic you are literally getting wired repeatedly to guard against people in the name of self-preservation.

 Loneliness then leads to continued isolation and that state leads to dis-ease. Think of a school of fish. It is always safer for the fish in the middle, surrounded by others. Those on the outside are more likely to be eaten by predators and are in far more danger. So too with us, swimming on the edge of the social perimeter, feeling like an outsider leads to an activated brain that makes the body more susceptible to disease.

Who would have thought that the need to belong is actually an evolutionary force? 

Here is where it gets tricky. If the need to belong requires us giving up parts of ourselves in order to fit, we are going against our nature. This too will have disastrous consequences. Yes I am waving my banner again. The marriage of togetherness AND autonomy is without a doubt my current curriculum and I get the opportunity to flex this muscle and grow it every time I meet a new person or in my current situation read…man. 

 Yup another interesting internet connection has arisen and I am challenged with each exchange as to what information I share. I usually default to sharing everything but find this time I am doing more listening than talking. And the talking I am doing is vulnerable and real. There is no strategy to tone down parts of myself to fit with him and at the same time I have no agenda to get him to open up to me. Feels kind of freeing actually. Perhaps my evolution has brought me to swimming for the sheer joy of it and not making my experience of belonging dependent upon his acceptance. I accept me…that is enough. 

Although I must say when I ask him if he is interested in personal growth and he says” I am interested in you, that’s the same thing,”it sure makes me smile. Lets face it, we all need each other. Independence may be cool but for me, what's behind door number three is calling. I need to put what I know about interdependence into practice. I am holding out for the Divine Merger and it may not look at all like I have pictured. That is the mystery.

If I had a current soundtrack it would be

Branded by being real AND connected::

Authentically Yours,

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