As I write, I am on a train from Bergen to Voss, Norway. The snow has continued late this year in Norway, and it is Friday. So the train is packed with excited Norwegians carrying skis.
Traveling with my friends Ruth Buckingham and Phil Richardson, I’ll be giving a talk on emotional intelligence in Voss, hosted by Kari Bye. Giving talks and workshops in many parts of the world, I’ve encountered a widespread sense of disconnect in people I’ve met. So many feel estranged from the deeper pattern of life on Planet Earth. I find a longing for a life that makes sense at the level of the heart, as well as at the level of the practical challenges that most of us face day-to-day.
There is a primal bond that connects us to the entire pattern of Creation. It connects all living things to each other. It connects us to the very source of life within ourselves. It connects you and me right now. As I see it, this bond is what is at issue for so many people, whether or not they ever thought of it that way. The presence of the primal bond brings a sense of belonging to the circle of life and a sense of belonging in our own life. It brings an abiding assurance through the cycles of life and through all the comings and goings that occur in the human experience.
While there is a conscious component of the primal bond for us as human beings, most of our experience of this bond is known at deeper levels. For instance, through these words you may become consciously aware of my existence. But that alone is a surface thing. The connection between us as human beings carries meaning when we share in an attunement that is felt more than thought about.
Science is giving us evidence of the working of the primal bond. Researchers at a University in Israel have reported that a mother need only smile at her baby for their heartbeats to synchronize.
In Sweden, researchers have found that the heart rates of high school choir members became almost instantly synchronized when they sang together.
It has been well documented by Dr. Larry Dossey and others how our thoughts and feelings generate healing power that impacts others. In his book Healing Words, Dr. Dossey cites dozens of laboratory experiments that show that words of prayer heal.
While scientific research can reassure the skeptical mind that the primal bond is real, of itself, science doesn’t create this bond in personal experience. Learning about it doesn’t make it so for us. Because it operates primarily through the emotional body, something has to happen at a heart level for it to work in the human experience. A feeling dynamic has to be turned on.
For us, as human beings, the primal bond originally forms as infants when our mother embraces us and nurses us, and when our father holds us in his arms. One of my most vivid experiences of raising my daughter, Helena, was holding her close to me while she was crying and fussing, and refusing to go to bed. It didn’t take long, rocking back and forth in the rocking chair, before she felt a deeper peace and closed her eyes. She was attuning with me to an inner sense of belonging and well-being. That’s the primal bond.
Certainly human beings have an ability to disrupt the primal bond. Unlike most of the natural world, which seems to be hardwired at an instinctual level to the circle of life, the human connection is fragile and easily broken by the conscious choices people make.
Ideally, our experience as infants is supposed to strengthen the energetic chords of connection that form the primal bond to a nearly unbreakable point. Often, it doesn’t. Who had the perfect childhood? Most of us come to realize that we received mixed messages growing up—part love, and part chaos, fear and anger. The truth is that most of us had parents for whom the primal bond had frayed significantly. There is no point in blaming them for that. Very likely, their own parents had a similar experience and inflicted it on them.
But what about us? What can we do to allow the primal bond to heal in ourselves? What I’ve learned about the primal bond tells me this: My conscious choices can either strengthen it or get in the way.
I notice that my own human mind can be an arrogant beast—all too ready to take matters into its own hands and rule the world of my existence like a petty tyrant. And I observe that most people’s minds have that same penchant for arrogance. It can forget that nobody made me in charge of the universe, not even this little patch of it. It can forget that there is an already-existing order to Creation that I am a part of.
I am truly happy when I am consciously humble—noticing the level of my own attunement with life at a feeling level, and choosing to nurture that experience. More and more, I pay attention to what creates a feeling of harmony with other people; what magnifies my sense of connection with the landscape around me. Most of all, I’ve learned the importance of expressing from my own deepest core the things that are most meaningful to me.
I’ve learned that emotional intelligence implies a quality of humble conscious thought—a kind of intelligence that leads us into a way of feeling that is healthy and productive. The foundation of emotional intelligence is knowing the primal bond. So what is the thinking that leads you to a greater experience of connection? You might ask, to what?
To everything! To other people, to yourself, to the larger reality of Being that some people call God. My experience is that when I am feeling connected, I am feeling connected to everything.
I love doing workshops that lead people into a deeper experience of the primal bond for themselves. I love seeing people open up, melt, laugh and sigh with relief, just because they are feeling that deeper connection within themselves. And of course, I share that same experience with them in the process.
So…how is your primal bond doing? Are you ready to let whatever has become broken or frayed in your connectedness heal? I believe we all have the opportunity to take a positive step in that direction simply by acknowledging the kindness within us that wants out.
There is a greater love present within you and within me, desiring expression. When we acknowledge it and honor it, we have connected. When we give it voice, it strengthens. When we act on it, it becomes real for us. We have taken our place in the web of life that is formed by the primal bond.