When considering existential well-being, there are four dimensions of well-being that must be given attention, with none given more or less than the others. This is the basis of balance.
Physical Social Psychological Spiritual
In the context of creating meaningful connections, one must first be well-connected to oneself; or in balance.
As we go through life, we experience our bodies as our first connection to the physical world, and by extension experience our physical surroundings (the material) through the connection with our bodies.
Our bodies alert us to sensations like pain, in which we must then make a conscious decision on how to respond to it. Is the pain such that it requires attention, and if so how much, and for how long? Perhaps you might feel warm or cold. Does the temperature require attention, and if so, how much or to what degree?
Our bodies are our way of settling into the physical existence, adapting to our material surroundings.
When we are connecting to others, we must take into consideration their own existential experience of the physical. Are they in pain? Are they comfortable? Are they adapted to their material or environmental surroundings? If you should discover they are in pain, then acknowledge the pain exists, and then decide together if the pain requires further consideration or if the person can let it go and make room for other things. The meaningfulness of this is in the friendly care and recognition – empathy.
Moving on to the social dimension: In this dimension we use the body or physical experience as the jumping off point to social interaction. Human beings, by nature, are social creatures. We do not only want the company of others, we require it for survival. We need the sensation of touch and communication.
Physical social interaction is fast taking a backseat to the more ambiguous social media interactions that we have with others. However, we are also seeing the backlash of this in society through the prevalence of negativity, and in some areas death cultures.
The social dimension requires a sense of being fully present in the here and now. Shaking hands with someone as a greeting provides tangible evidence for both parties that a physical connection has been made. In other words, “I see you and recognize your presence”. [Western culture’s physical and social version of Namaste].
Listening and being fully attentive to the person in front of you, or on the other end of a phone falls within the social dimension. Modern culture moves very quickly and attention spans have been reduced significantly in only the last 30 years. To make a meaningful social connection one must be fully attentive to the words and non-verbal ques of the person with whom one is interacting. It requires the occasional stating back that not only has one heard, but one understands what the other has expressed and vice versa.
The social dimension spurs the psychological responses of both parties experiencing the social interaction. This is where it gets tricky in modern society, and where anxiety leaps out of a person who is not in balance. The fear of disappointment or rejection plays a significant role in the process. However, as Dr. Viktor Frankl has said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Our psychological responses neurological experience a pause before they actually happen. It is in that pause that we have the power to decide what our psychological response is going to be. This is the most powerful tool we have to stave off anger, frustration, and even resentment.
The meaningful connection on a psychological or emotional level comes in the recognition that each is responding to the same stimuli from their own frame of reference. Respecting the frame of reference of others, assists us in understanding each other, and reduces the likelihood of our interactions being the catalyst for negativity.
This leads us to the final connection, the spiritual dimension. We are not talking about an enigmatic spirit world, or ethereal dimension. We are talking about the individual spiritual dimension, in which we must make the leap on our own, from our frame of reference and understanding. The spiritual dimension of a person is the foundation or deepening of the physical, psychological and social dimensions of the same.
Consciously connecting from a spiritual point of view means that we take the time to purposefully connect with our “source”, or what it is that we view as “something greater than ourselves.” This is something that is personal and not often shared with others, even in the context of participating in a house of worship or sacred space.
When we are well balanced, and in connection with ourselves first, we have the greatest opportunity to make and maintain meaningful connections with others.