Episode 3: Belonging

Episode Summary

This weeks episode is all about Belonging. We all want to have the feeling that we belong, but often we don’t feel it. I look at how I have struggled in this area. And share the main strategy that helped me find a sense of Belonging.

Episode Notes

As humans we want to belong to something and in our belonging, feel a sense of value from that also. There are loads of ways that we feel we do or don’t belong but we all need this feeling of belonging, we all need to feel loved and we’re always looking to stay in environments that give us this feeling.

Thank you for listening and have a listen to this last weeks episode: How To Cope With Feeling Overwhelmed 

…Until next time

Keith Horan at The Mindfulness Community 


You’re listening to Keith in the mindfulness community. With your host, Keith Horan. We’re talking about mindfulness and self compassion, how it can help you with stress, and anxiety and feeling overwhelmed and just bring about more peace of thanks for being here! 

Welcome to Episode Three, which is all about belonging.

I’ll talk about why I think this is so important this feeling of belonging, and the ways that I’ve struggled with this. And I’ll share the strategy that I’ve used to sort of bring about a feeling of belonging and how it’s worked for me. And somewhere in the middle of this episode, we’ll drop into a short practice, where we settle into the breath for a minute or two.
Hey, there, it’s a nice cold day here in Galway, I’m enjoying the view of the countryside. And I’m just starting to warm up from from the call swim I had about an hour ago. So the sea is pretty cold here, it’s down about six degrees, which is something like 43 degrees Fahrenheit. And, yeah, I swim with two good friends Damien and Marcus. And I get so much from the sea. Like time in nature, this sort of benefits of the coldness of the sea of the water. Some exercise not too much, but a little exercise, and, and mostly connection, like time with good friends, doing something we enjoy. I’m really lucky that where I live, there’s a good bunch of us that meet up to swim. And it’s been really important even during the lockdown. So it varies on how many of us can meet at any one time. But it’s been a really nice way to see people. Today was unusual in that I was swimming with the two guys, our group is like, I don’t know, 80 or 90%. Women. So yeah, it was a bit different this morning to be with the guys. And so we were like running in kind of not really swimming, jumping around a bit of chatting, but a diving under the water. And and then on the way back out one of the lads, Marcus said, just because it’s lads just said, you know, let’s do 20 push ups. So we all ended up on the sand, doing our push ups or trying to do 20 push ups. And so it was a really nice experience. I mentioning all of this, because it’s kind of at the heart of today’s topic. This connection I have with the swimmers is new, I didn’t really know these people two years ago. So I’m looking at what changed, like what allowed me to connect with these people. And what stopped me in the past, how did that change come about and really, it’s all about a feeling of belonging. 

So we’re to start with belonging, there’s loads of ways that we feel we belong or feel we don’t belong on a sort of bigger society level. There’s ways that people have been excluded, like groups of people excluded, so they have no feeling of belonging based on maybe race or gender, or religion. And then into the individual level, on a personal level. Like we all need this feeling of belonging, we all need to feel loved. And we’re always looking for us. And then jumping to the even more personal level, in my own case, I can see a tendency in myself to feel that I don’t belong. And I think from that came about a tendency to sort of hold back from making deep lasting friendships. So maybe I’ll share why I think this came about for me and and you can see if it relates to your life, or maybe for people that you care about. So in my case, I think it’s because it’s pretty straightforward. Like we moved around a lot. My parents emigrated from Ireland to Canada. So I was actually born in Canada and lived there for four or five years in two different places there and and then they move back to to Ireland and we lived in two different places in near Dublin. And then we moved to cork And, and we lived in two different places in Cork. And the second one was a place that became somewhere that I started had my teenage years, which was sort of steady. But you know, I’d been in all these different places up to the age of 10, I’d been living in all these different places. So I’m guessing that that kind of led to a feeling of maybe always being an outsider, you arrive. And, yeah, that feeling that other people know each other. Whereas you’ve to sort of break in that kind of thing. And for some reason, that pattern even continued further, like, the secondary school I went to was, like, not where all my primary school friends went to, it was a different school, and it was a great school, but it was just a little bit further away. So that kind of separated me again. And, and then even like later, I can see I moved from cork to Galway, and again, you’re like moving into a new place. And, and so somewhere along the line, I picked up this feeling of, of like not not really being connected to the place or the people or feeling like somehow I didn’t fully belong. And looking back, I can see that I was I was sort of passive about friendships, a little bit guarded, maybe didn’t, didn’t realise, like, you got to put an effort in and, and make these friendships happen. And I often had this really interesting idea that these aren’t my type of people, like somehow that was in my head, like, these aren’t my type of people. But I wonder whether it was really more about me feeling that I’m not their type of person, whether it was more about me sort of excluding myself. So can you relate to this to a feeling of sometimes not belonging, or maybe often having a feeling of not belonging, this has been with me for years, but actually changed fairly dramatically about two years ago. So I’ll share what made or maybe what allowed that change to happen. But first, let’s do a really short practice.

Let’s just drop into the breathing for a minute or two. So nothing special. Just starting to notice your breathing, maybe at the stomach is a good place to start. And it’s just kind of noticing the rise of the stomach and the in breath, the fall of the stomach and the outbreak. And you’re not trying to change anything, your breathing is fine, however it is. And if you’re finding it difficult to notice the breathing, maybe placing one hand at the stomach. It just gives us sort of more tangible sense of the breath coming in and out. And the movement as you breathe. It’s fine if you get distracted, but just kind of coming back to notice the movement as you breathe in and out. Just for this short time having nothing else to do just for the last moment, really dropping into the breathing, just kind of resting in your own breathing and then letting go of the practice.

I talked about self compassion in the last episode. But here’s a quick recap. So self compassion is all about treating ourselves with the same kindness that we choose a good friend. So it’s something we already know how to do. Like we already do this type of activity for others. And it’s about learning and getting the habit of treating ourselves in the same way. And there’s two really effective ways of kind of practising more kindness towards ourselves. And that’s using tone and touch. So let’s start with Touch, touch, or sometimes what’s called soothing touch, or supportive touch. This is where like, if someone falls, you’d, you know, rope their shoulder, or if your friend is sad, or it’s the type of natural touch that humans have evolved, to give each other to be sort of supportive to each other. And then we can apply the same touch towards ourselves, like placing a hand at the heart, or at the stomach, or on your shoulder, or just holding your hands together in a certain way. And this gives us a sort of, yeah, it shows we’re treating ourselves with kindness, and it gives us the same impact that it would give another person if we did it for them. And then tone if we’re speaking to a friend who’s struggling, we tend to speak in encouraging supportive way, we often find that we use these things called soft vocalisations like, that sort of sound. So they’re things we looked at in the last episode. But the extra step this time is that with tone with speaking towards ourselves, we can also introduce phrases that are really supportive to us. And it’s one of these phrases, that was the key to helping me sort of fall into this new sense of belonging, there are traditional sort of kind or loving phrases that we often use in meditation. So I’ll give an example of these, like, here’s some that I would use intend to teach, like, may I be well, may I be happy? May I be healthy? May I have peace of mind. And in a meditation practice, we can sort of direct those phrases towards ourselves or towards people we care about, or even towards, you know, everybody at once. And then some people really like to kind of refine those phrases and make them personal, make them work better for each of our own needs. And in future episodes, we’ll take a look at that. But for now, I’m just going to jump into one phrase that, that I discovered a few years ago around belonging, it’s really simple. And I found it really helpful. So here’s the phrase that I repeat to myself, me, I know that I belong. That’s it. So even maybe adding like the soothing touch with just that simple phrase, may I know that I belong. And I’ve been using this for about two years. And it’s been really powerful for me. So I don’t think it’s, you know, changing the people around me. And I don’t think it’s changing the circumstances. But it’s causing a sort of internal shift in me, that sort of allowed me to see possibilities that I couldn’t before. Like, I’ll give you a few examples. I was at a conference about maybe 18 months ago. And it was something I travelled to, I didn’t know anyone there. And I had that feeling like it’s the first night. It’s where you get to meet everyone and greet people and do all that stuff. And I remember being in a hotel room and just feeling apprehensive, like, I’d rather not have to do this. And they just sort of sat down and went through the phrase, it was pretty new at the time for me relatively new. I just kind of sat down in the bed and thought me I know that I belong. And even as I was walking down to the conference, I am,

I was thinking that in my head. And I just found something had shifted. Like, I found myself really interested in people, I found myself having conversations more easily. And actually, that weekend, I ended up meeting a few people who’ve become really good friends to this day. And then back to the swimming group. That’s really important. And these are people I missed, like four or five times a week, I guess. But two years ago, I didn’t know them at all. And actually it was my wife had started swimming with some people, but I kind of had a feeling well, it’s mostly women and it’s not really my group and I don’t really know any of them. And again, I had that sort of well, you know if I’m doing this May I know that I belong? Well, why couldn’t I join in, and I found myself just going to a few of the swims and just meeting people. And it just kind of naturally grew from there next time, you know, I’m going for a swim. And I find myself going for breakfast afterwards with friends, and I got to really know people and really connect with them. And even jumping back to this morning swim, you know, something like that might have happened before. But what I’m finding is I’m really noticing it, I’m really appreciating it. I’m even acknowledging I’m saying like, thanks so much for meeting lads. I’m seeing myself making an effort and, and seeing it work. So again, how would you use a phrase like this, so the phrases May I know that I belong. So if you have a meditation practice, which I think is a great idea, you can just drop it in somewhere there. Or you can deliberately pause at some stage during the day and even add the soothing touch gesture, and just repeat the phrase just two or three times in your mind, or whisper it out loud if no one’s there. And it’s especially nice to do it as you’re about to go into a situation where you have that feeling like, I don’t really know these people, I don’t really belong, I’m uncomfortable. I wish I wasn’t, you know, all that stuff is coming up. just repeating that phrase, it’s like, it’s like putting on armour, you know, you’re sort of ready for the situation. How does all of this work, then? You know, I’m not really sure. What I found for myself is that I started to kind of get out of my own way, I became more open to connecting with people. I found it easier to see the other person. I became better at taking the chances at friendship when they came up. I’m I’m still not great at it, but I’m better at it. And I think it It helped me to let go of my habit of sort of excluding myself. So I hope you already feel that you belong. And if not, then I’d invite you to roll that phrase around like a prayer and just see what happens. So thanks for listening, and take care. You can find today’s show notes and more great resources at Keith horan.com. And I’d be delighted if you leave a quick rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. This helps us in reaching people and growing the show. Thanks so much for listening

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