Imagine waking up to the expansive view of terraced, morning sun lit green rice patties from your lanai in Ubud Bali, where the sound of a running stream down below you welcomes you to a fresh new morning as the birds chirp happily. This was my morning every day of this past week. Heavenly.
At first I was mesmerized by the beauty and culture of Ubud that flooded my day to day experience - the countless Hindu temples with intricate sculptures of other worldly beings, and Balinese facades of masterful craftsmanship every couple yards.
Underneath these sensory experiences, the lesson I learned that was most valuable is that of human connection and the empathetic sense of caring that comes with that, and it’s utmost importance to our individual and collective happiness.
My reason for going all the way to Ubud was to take the NLP Practitioner Training from Global NLP’s founder and teacher, Nicole Schneider. Nicole is a masterful teacher-- her words are purposeful, her presence impactful and her compassion, huge.
It goes without saying that I highly recommend this course even if you don’t know what NLP is. If you simply want to be a better human being, learn deeply about yourself, become authentic based on knowing yourself, and learn how to communicate empathetically with others, you’ll get this and more out of the course.
Nicole has the sharpness and effectiveness of a Zen master when it came to teaching the NLP techniques and concepts. And when it comes to being a human being, she has a heart like that of the Dalai Lama. Her willingness to be vulnerable and real, to befriend us, her students, to be present with us in a humble and genuine way was truly a blessing and a gift. She connected and cared for each and every one of us on a deep level.
There were about twenty of us gathered from all around the world and of all different walks of life. It was an amazing collection of curious, open students who I spent the week with, and who followed the lead of our teacher in being vulnerable and authentic, even with practical strangers.
I was fortunate enough to take this training with one of my best friends of 15 years, Angela Maki. Maki and I spent all our time together recounting our experiences of the course and enjoying the serenity of our rice paddy view from the the hotel room we shared every morning after our yoga practice.
Through the exercises we learned and practiced in the NLP course, I learned things about Maki I didn’t know before, and mostly I got to know her heart from the deeper unconscious level of my own mind and heart. It was a newfound soul connection perhaps, which is probably what true intimacy is all about among friends, family or a loved one. I realized my heart has so much more capacity to connect with and care for a dear best friend as well as new people in my life.
I also discovered I had some disconnected relationships back in Hawaii, where I call home, and in all the years prior on my life journey. I can recount the many relationships that broke down, where I lost my connection and caring. I got too caught up in myself, I lost the ability to truly empathize in those situations. I saw that my closing up and shutting down is a learned defense mechanism that serves to protect me. It’s an outdated strategy though, and I’m willing to let go of it for the higher purpose of true connection.
I can see a brighter future now, where I can learn how to deal with conflict which is part of life, in a truly more empathetic, caring and connective way. It’s the bigger view of life, the expanded view, kind of like the vast bright green rice paddy vista I enjoyed each morning in Ubud!
This week in Bali, I experienced and felt in my heart of hearts that we are all truly connected, with all beings in fact, and this made me feel I can do better in my “real” life back home. And that I can forgive myself for the past when I was only doing the best I knew how at the time.
I believe that what life really boils down to is the connections we create and how much we care for our own hearts and the hearts of others.
Have you been looking to deepen your relationships? If so, here are a some key questions to consider and things you can do to practice being more mindful and how to connect and care from your heart:
Firstly with yourself - are you kind to yourself? Are you taking time out to see what it is you need and then fulfilling your needs in a healthy way? Do something nice for yourself which shows that you care for you.
Friends and family - have you checked in and asked how your family members are and shown your gratitude for them- or those who you consider family? Are you taking inspired action in showing you care for your friends by doing something nice, saying something nice or simply sending a positive message in some form to a friend? Even if these relationships may be difficult at times, it can be a blessing to hear from a friend or family member you love. So be that friend this week and call someone you love to say something nice and listen to them with an open heart.
Special loved one - if you have a special someone how have you been connecting and caring for that person? How have you been actively caring for the connection you have together? Are you able to be kind and empathetic towards them and be the first to extend the olive branch when there are conflicts? Perhaps be the one to foster more connection and caring based on love and giving, without any expectations or motivation for return this week with your honey.
Community - as a whole are you feeling connected with your community? And what about your greater community, not just your immediate tribe and comfort zone--how about those that you live amongst in your city or town, who don’t necessarily feel familiar? Are you able to offer a smile, a helping hand, or inquire as to how a neighbor is actually feeling? Perhaps you can do something like that this week and then dream bigger to seeing how you are really part of the global community and how connected you are with each and every human being on this planet.
We are all one, connected, and our hearts flourish as we care deeply for one another. Let us be the change we wish to see in the world (a saying often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi), fostering this connection, caring and love together!
Om Swasti Astu.
Blessings of peace and health in Indonesian.
May you be happy,
May you be at peace and
May you be healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit.
With love (from Brisbane Australia, on my 10 hour layover!),