A power pylon on a mountainside, with powerlines going in different directions

Core needs

Powerlines diverging

One of my favourite meditations focuses on the core needs every person has for safety, satisfaction, and connection. For me, taking the time to sit quietly and gently remember the importance of these three things in our lives - and how fortunate I am to have these needs met abundantly - is a great way to ground my day. It helps put the multitude of niggling demands, challenges and irritations of my day into perspective.

I find the meditation's description of safety in terms of calmness a little curious but the exercise is aimed at building inner strengths so perhaps working backwards from calmness to imply safety is a good approach for that purpose.

Satisfaction is framed as the inverse of scarcity. Sometimes it's hard for me to differentiate satisfaction and safety in this exercise because in my life scarcity and danger have been so closely intertwined. The main difference for me now is that there is a motivating force to the sense of satisfaction that goes beyond the calmness that comes from feeling safe.

Spending a few minutes appreciating the care that people show me is a great way to finish this exercise. Thinking of connection in terms of how people care for you clearly focuses on one aspect of the idea of connection. There are many other things associated with interpersonal connection but the way connection demonstrates care is a powerful one. And it is in line with the goal of this exercise; concentrating on how our core needs are met. The idea of connection with others that reminds us of our vulnerability probably isn't really meeting a core need...

Which is not to deny that vulnerability is real. On the contrary, it is a fact of life and there is an element of vulnerability in every relationship; every connection we have with another person. That's why things like trust, integrity, and authenticity are so important to us. They are what allow us to invest ourselves in our connections with confidence. They are what allows our connections to be so powerfully strengthening in our lives.

The vulnerability inherent in most connection with others is also why the relationships in which people show their care for us are so precious. These can be one-off interactions, like when a stranger on the street helps you find that CBD address you need to get to. They can be professional relationships, like when the person at the grocery store check-out packs your shopping with cheerful skill. I learned the restorative power of a smile and a nod when passing a stranger on the street during my recovery from an acute trauma. Indeed, the web of caring connectoins that people built around me after my traumatic experience was critical as I worked to incorporate the experience into my life in a healthy way. Remind me to tell you about that some day.

I don't expect that every post on connection here will be quite as personal as this one. But I hope this gives you a sense of where I'm coming from when I work towards building a politics of connection.

Before I go, can I offer an encouragement: Treat the people in your life with care.