753rd Week: The Benefits of a Sense of Oneness
Recently, I read an article that described a research project done by a woman in Germany. It was published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin and addressed a subject that I have experienced and promoted for many years. The research looked at the relationship between a person’s sense of greater life satisfaction and a belief in oneness, “…the idea that everything in the world is connected and interdependent.”
Two things struck me about this research. First, that it was published by the American Psychological Association gave me hope that the concept of oneness is becoming more mainstream, or at least on its way to that, and secondly that this belief has a positive impact on people regardless of their religion.
One of the interesting outcomes of the research is that the religious group that had the highest scores around belief in oneness was their Muslim community. I felt buoyed by this finding for a couple of reasons. First, I think it demonstrates that many people have an incorrect idea about Islam and, secondly, that it’s helpful to have assumptions challenged by research and factual information.
The people studied included all religions, as well as atheists. In every group, those who scored high on a belief in oneness also expressed greater life satisfaction. I understand this outcome, as it is my belief in, and experience of, oneness that constantly nourishes me and reminds me that we are never in this world alone and that our well-being is dependent on the contributions of countless life forms, our earth-based kin.
Here’s a link to the article: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-people-oneness-greater-life-satisfaction.html
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to delve more deeply into your relationships with a belief in, and sense of, oneness. You may find that, for you, this belief is most strongly supported in an understanding of our inevitable interdependence with the life around us. You may find it in your belief in, and perhaps your experience of, collective consciousness. Or, you may hold Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept ofinterbeing. With this word, he expresses the inescapable fact that we “inter-are” with everything and everyone on the planet. This verb is Nhat Hanh’s expression of interdependence.
Whatever your experience of oneness, I invite you to cultivate it even more actively this week and then notice the quality of your internal experience when you do so. As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, there’s yet one more opportunity to explore the impact of where you focus your attention, of what you feed yourself, psychologically and spiritually, that it matters where and how you spend your internal time.
As with all these practices, remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise. Curiosity naturally creates an opening to new discoveries even as judgments automatically create constriction. Track your body when you engage curiosity and notice how it softens and orients you to move toward experience and awareness. Then, track your body when you discover that you are caught in judgment and notice the tightening that automatically accompanies it. You may discover that when you gently pat the judgment on the head with your metaphorical hand and then allow it to move on through, your body will naturally shift from constricted to more open.