It seems we are in the middle of a new epidemic, one rooted in feelings of loneliness and isolation. Up to 47 percent of Americans report feeling lonely, double the number from a decade ago. When Cigna and Ipsos surveyed 20,000 U.S. adults 18 and older, 40 percent reported feeling alone and 47 percent said they felt left out.
What’s going on here? Why are so many of us disconnected from others, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation? Where does this disconnect originate?
Social media isn’t the culprit, and neither is the workplace, although they certainly play a role. In truth, the disconnect stems from within ourselves. When we’re not connected with our self, we will feel disconnected from others. Think about it like your Wi-Fi—when the router is not working, the whole network goes down and nobody can connect.
To connect with others, you must be connected with yourself and to do that, you need to know how to bring all seven layers of your existence into alignment. That’s right, you don’t just exist at one level! You are made up of seven distinct layers, each one more subtle and powerful than the next: body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego, and self.
Through breathwork and meditation, you can bring harmony to these seven layers and restore your connection to yourself. When you do this, it fosters a resilient mindset that is capable of countering those feelings of loneliness and isolation. You will be back in your center with a genuine smile and be capable of truly connecting with others.
We’ll look at the practice of reconnecting with yourself in a moment, but first, let’s take a closer look at the seven layers and see how each one affects your day-to-day life.
The seven layers of our existence
Each layer of your existence is more subtle—and consequently stronger—than the one before it. Some examples are obvious. Without breath, our body dies. Without a positive mindset, we struggle to overcome negative emotions. However, with some layers, the distinction is less obvious.
For example, which is more powerful: the intellect or the memory? It’s easy to say the intellect because that’s where many of us live throughout the day. However, when the intellect says that a certain behavior is the right choice, our memory can override that and keep us from acting that way. If we know it’s smart to be friendly and social with people at networking events, but then we remember that the last time we tried that we were excluded from conversations and felt rejected, guess what happens?
That’s right, we don’t do what our intellect tells us is the right move. After all, our memory is linked with our emotions, so when the memory exerts itself in situations where our emotions could be affected, we almost always follow its lead.
Then there’s the ego. A healthy use of ego is to pump ourselves up to face a challenge. Ego also brings more ease into our relationships. When we don’t feel connected with the self, we aren’t able to maintain interpersonal relationships.
When all seven layers of our existence are in harmony, negative emotions and feelings of isolation and loneliness do not arise and our perception is clear.
Increasing self-confidence and resilience
Once you recognize the presence and power of these seven layers of existence, you can understand why happiness is an inward experience. For many of us, we only choose to turn inward when a major life event happens: we lose a loved one, get fired from our job, or go through a divorce. It’s then that we get quiet, self-reflect, and spend time trying to pull the scattered pieces of ourselves together.
Breathwork and meditation is like putting on your spiritual armor each morning. By doing this, you’ve increased your self-confidence and capacity to face whatever the day may bring: difficult personalities, challenging situations, or things not going the way you anticipate. You’ll be able to handle these setbacks more skillfully and not let them affect your wellbeing. In other words, you’re more resilient.
With your mind in the present moment, you’ll feel more connected to yourself and to others. Your creativity and communication will improve. The way you move through your day will reflect your true nature: joy, friendliness, and a sense of belonging with yourself and others.
How breathwork and meditation affect the seven layers
The thread that binds these layers together is breathwork and meditation. It allows us to live with a healthier, disease-free body, and enjoy breath that is free of quiver because our mind is not shaky. Breathwork and meditation nurture an inhibition-free intellect, and allows us to be our authentic self instead of an unnatural version.
Breathwork and meditation create a trauma-free memory. Instead of steering clear of situations or actions because of what happened in the past, you now have self-confidence that you can manage your mind and your emotions. Nobody gets the remote control to your state of mind. Instead, you’re steering the ship.
Our egos will expand to include everyone, not just us. We won’t attach the word “my” to terms like family, life, needs, or wants. Remember, your true nature is connection to others and being of service to others. It’s a natural expression of joy.
Return to your true nature
The end result is a soul that is free from sorrow. It’s all possible when you start the day at the highest level of existence, which is the self.
You are not your anxiety. You are not your isolation or loneliness.
In fact, you are not any of those negative emotions.
You are resilient. You are peace. You are joy.
It all comes back to managing the mind and emotions through breathwork and meditation, to bring the seven layers of existence into harmony. Those feelings of loneliness and isolation will dissolve when your prana, or life energy, goes up. You’re cleansing your consciousness every day, just like you brush your teeth or take a shower. It’s so simple, yet it’s so profound. It’s odd that nobody taught us this growing up, so many of us don’t learn about it until we’re drowning in negativity.
The good news is that we have a way back to our true nature. When we feel connected to the self, we’re able to spread that love and connection to others. That’s the beauty of doing this work: you’ll want to share the joy you feel with others. When you do that, all the other stuff—the anxiety, loneliness, and isolation—begins to melt away.
Patti Montella is an international speaker, inner transformation coach and author of the bestselling book, Becoming Unshakeable. She built a thriving career on the cutting-edge of travel technology before leaving it all behind to dedicate her life to uplifting society. The skills she sharpened in the business world have served her well as an international speaker and inner transformation coach who’s taught tens of thousands of people worldwide—from CEOs and government leaders to royalty and college students—over the past twenty-five years. Through her work in key leadership roles with the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values, Patti has become an internationally recognized happiness expert and a powerful agent of change.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.