In the months running up to the main event we have spoken to various inspiring women on topical issues: Marieke Blom, Chief Economist at ING, Wassila Hatchchi, former politician and the founder of Mindvalley Nederland, Maartje Laterveer, journalist and writer. We are finishing off the ‘Let’s Talk’- series with Edine Russel, Editor in Chief of ELLE & HearstLab Scout and a certified Masters of Wisdom and Meditation teacher. She shares her views on how connection with yourself and with others can save us from going mad in these pretty crazy times.
Because of the pandemic we are forced to keep physical distance at different levels – work, family, friends. This has a huge impact on our feeling of connectedness to those around us. Why do you think, is connection important in all fields of society?
It’s the way we’re wired! As human beings we simply need attention and physical contact. If we’re deprived of this for too long it can result in all sorts of unwanted conditions. There are studies that show it makes you prone to depression, or even have a shorter lifespan. It’s not just a matter of social belonging, or social skills, connection is part of our actual being.
How has the pandemic changed the way we look at our (formal and informal) relationships to others?
Through not being able to see each other, to hug or celebrate with each other, or even losing a loved one, we were forced to revaluate our connections. What we took for granted for so long became suddenly tangible. Additionally, the lockdown made us take a step back. To pause. We literally had less distraction and more time to be calm. And when you pause, you quieten your mind and turn inward. Not all the time, but some moments. And when you turn inwards, the stress levels go down and you connect with your inner voice. Your true self. I think we discovered a lot about who we are and the place we want to hold for ourselves and each other.
How do you think we can regain connection?
I had a cynical friend once who used to say: ‘conversations are very often mainly fragments of monologues’.’ Unfortunately, he’s right.
We need to listen better. Listen to each other. Even when you don’t agree. Be present and give attention. Try not to form your answer while the other is talking. Try not to convince. Look at someone, see what colour eyes they have for instance. You don’t always need to come up with a solution. Sometimes there isn’t any. If someone is in pain or despair, just being present is all you need to offer. We also should reconnect with ourselves. Have regular check-ins with yourself. How do you feel, what do you need?
What role does communication play in (re-)connecting with yourself and others?
It’s a simple one, but I always use it. Pay close attention what your intention is. What do you bring to the table? How do you say something? Do you bring love? I don’t mean that in a “woo-woo let’s have a group hug” kind of way, but what quality of energy do you offer in a meeting, with family, in business… Are you lifting the conversation with your words and intention? When you leave the room, have you left a big pile of poo -pardon my French- ? Or have you inspired your company. Do you talk to people the way you want to be talked to? And do you speak to yourself like you would to a dear friend?
There’s a well-known book by Don Miguel Ruiz, called the Four Agreements. One of the agreements is ‘Be impeccable with your word’. It talks about the importance of speaking with integrity, and that’s essential for connecting if you ask me.