This month, my writings will focus around the theme of Strength, in honour of my newest (and first permanent!) course: An Email Course for Inner Strength.
I invite you to reconsider strength as a concept, but also as you relate to it in your everyday life. Do you consider yourself to be a strong, weak or neither – or does it depend on the situation? What if I tell you that, you have an immense amount of inner strength? This month, we’ll explore how you can find it.
Can I practice being strong?
Yes and no. Inner strength isn’t something we can really practice directly – at least in my opinion, real strength isn’t. Instead, strength is a quality that shines through as a result of making space for it… in other ways.
Strength is presence
To me, the epitome of strength is presence. Last week I talked about how you can find strength by being present with your own emotions. This week, I want to talk about how you can find strength by being present with others.
As a point of comparison, think of an absent or absent-minded person. Do they give off the impression of strength? (I’m not judging here. I sometimes am the absent-minded person!)
A present person is best able to act in the moment – they’re not reacting. They pause. They’re not elsewhere, they’re here. They’re not overwhelmed by all the other things going on in their lives or that day, they’re here with you.
So if you can’t practice strength directly, do you practice presence? Yes, or if the term connection vibes with you better, practice connection. Practice showing up and paying attention. Presence breeds connection. It’s inevitable.
Presence is connection
Strong and present people aren’t technically here but on their cellphones: they interact with the moment. They are so present, that they’re synchronizing their every movement with the present moment. Their actions and thoughts and everything about them in that moment is perfectly aligned and intertwined. They’re not thinking about how hungry they are (they’ve already eaten) nor are they worried about what’s going on at work (they’ll tackle it when they’re at work). Right now, they’re with you: present in and connected to you and this very moment.
True presence is a gift. And from it flows the gift of connection.
Think about it, what is more important in this life, if not connection? Which of us, after leaving this earth, would boast that we managed to stay disconnected for our lifetime? Don’t we hope instead that after we’re gone, the people we’ve connected with – however briefly – will keep our memory alive?
To demonstrate how big a gift connection is, today I found myself thinking about someone I’d really like to see again. Let’s call him Mikko. In the summer of 2013, my friend came over and brought his brother, Mikko. Together, we did a bit of baking. Then the guys left, and I basically haven’t seen Mikko since.
Yet today, I wished I could see him again because Mikko’s presence was exactly the kind of presence I refer to in this post. Someone who gifts his presence to the people he meets. He was there with us in the moment, paying attention to every detail and showing up entirely as himself.
This is a really beautiful thing to notice, and a great feeling to experience. If nothing else, just the fact that I remember how nice it was to spend time with my two friends, on a seemingly non-eventful visit, four years after it happened is a testament to the strength of presence, and how powerfully it can warm our hearts and remain in our memories.
They say you’ll forget what someone did or said, but you’ll remember how it made you feel. I don’t remember much of what Mikko did, said nor do I remember what we baked, but I do remember the feeling I was left with that day!
Connection is an ongoing practice
Over the past few years, I’ve been working on strengthening my sense of connection: to myself, to those around, and to the present moment. I’ve dabbled in art and dance, I journal from time to time, and I’ve gradually built up a daily practice of meditating and/or doing yoga.
When I show up at work, at home, with friends, and as a stranger on the street, I aim to be present – sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but the intention is always there. I engage and look for connection (mostly because the theme of connection has been one of my biggest challenges since moving abroad). Though I’m often humbled by how much work this takes and how often I am challenged by it, I do notice it’s working. Things are shifting.
In an email course for Inner Strength, the second theme we explore is connection. We look at developing a practice of connecting on many levels (with yourself, others, nature…) Ultimately, the goal is to build a practice (a combination of things!) that works for you.
Presence doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s your natural state.
In an Email Course for Inner Strength, we spend 6 days on the theme of connection: working on the outside and within. You’ll be guided with writing prompts or simple exercises to help you explore and personalize your own unique connection practice.
Inner strength is a key ingredient to actively creating the life you love abroad!