Being And Belonging

“We belong to the light.”  -Pat Benatar

Vine Deloria Jr. once said, “Be related, somehow, to everyone you know.” Saint Francis expressed similar sentiments in his “Canticle of Creation” in naming the world through the bonds of common kinship like “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon.” We’re all connected, of course, linked together by common ancestors, geographies, beliefs, and practices, and yet, how often and easy it is to forget. How often do we fail to remember that we are not alone. How quick we are to retreat into isolation, suppression, or displacement. How soon we give up on ourselves in our moments of struggle. How much we despair in our times of suffering. There’s no magic fairy dust to sprinkle the pain away, though. There’s no pill to take, despite what all the pharmaceutical commercials may say. Answers can be hard to come by when we feel the isolation and aloneness of pain, grief, depression, all the low-frequency works. There’s no “snap out of it” or “but you have so much to be grateful for” when we’re in this emotional space. 

Circle of Courage™ philosophy and practice speaks to four universal needs all humans share in order to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. These common needs are belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. The idea is that the developing person needs a space of supporting adults where he or she can fail and stumble, live and learn. If we’re getting yelled at when we mess up, if the seeds of self-loathing are what’s getting planted when we fall, then we’ll never become the masters of our own domain. We can’t get really good at anything unless we fail at it a bunch first. But if we can become those masters, if we can learn what it feels like to be great at something (anything), then we can begin to learn what freedom means and to assert some independence. And when we have that freedom, when we have learned these lessons, then it’s our responsibility to give back, to be generous to the community that supported us, that mentored us, that allowed us to complete the circle. This is the role of the tribe—to be there to nourish the next generation. 

Whether we’re working and serving in pediatric or geriatric spaces (or anywhere in-between), part of what we’re looking for in creating a plan of care is where the breaks are in the circle. And my friends, my brothers, and sisters, the place where the cracks almost always seem to appear are in those sites of (or lack of) belonging

We’ve said it a million times—humans need humanity. We need attachments. We need significance. We need each other. We need to belong. We are relational beings on a search for others—for love and friendship, for the bonds that endure. 

We go on the hunt in an external reality for that which we can only find within internal landscapes. We put on masks to fit in. We don the veil to cover what we’re afraid others might see. 

It’s hard to find belonging with others when we struggle with being inside ourselves. 

We have to watch out for #1 to avoid stepping in #2. First and foremost, we have to feel good. This doesn’t make you naïve or selfish. It makes you healthy. Feeling well is at the core of being well. It’s a practice, this breathing and being and connecting with others, but it’s also science. It’s the majesty of your nervous system, the vagus nerve, and the parasympathetic response. When we breathe mindfully, when we unite with others intentionally, we activate the ventral vagal social engagement system. We create opportunities to be curious and open, to experience joy, to be grounded and present, and to just be. When we feel these good vibrations, we put our defenses down, we lighten up, we have more fun. And we also have more resistance to infection and a greater immune response, a release of oxytocin, that mystical neuromodulator involved in social bonding that allows for our immobility without fear, which is the key to more rest and recuperation, to feeling it, and even better, the great multiplier, feeling it with others

If creating is a magical act, then co-creating is maybe the most mystical experience of all. Breathing together, being together, holding, sharing space together—it’s a beautiful thing. Feel it. Be it. And then open your eyes and look around at all the other marvelous creatures of this world, great and small, dancing, circling, roaring, howling, twirling in the wind, beating their hearts and chests with you in divine light as One.

Partner Yoga Tips

  • Practice a mindful connection where each partner feels a sense of safety, predictability, and control within the poses and the environment.
  • Focus on having fun with movement and don’t worry about perfection. Evolve, find progress, and go easy on yourself.
  • Have fun, laugh, breathe together, use body language, and communicate with your partner through touch, breath, look, words, song, or smiles.
  • The most important thing when practicing the more complicated partner yoga poses is to listen to your body. Only do what feels safe and comfortable to both partners.

I am love, I am joy, I am peace, I am light. I have a beautiful light inside my heart that was given to me when I was born. And because of that light, I am not afraid of anything or anyone.

Co-written By Ryan Allen and Meghan Nelson of Lumin Therapy. 

Lumin Therapy, LLC, is an integrative healthcare and education provider devoted to helping individuals, families, teams, and organizations build resilience and accelerate transformation. Its co-founders, Dr. Ryan Allen and Dr. Meghan Nelson bring their more than 40 years of experience working and serving pediatric to geriatric populations in a variety of settings, including schools, home health, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and outpatient clinics, to co-create spaces of therapeutic care and well-being for their clients and community.

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