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What Does Connection Feel Like?

Humans are wired for connection. Being connected to other people, pets, nature, and our own self feels good and right. But, how do we know when we are connected? What does connection actually feel like in the body? And, why does knowing this even matter?

Connection is regulating for our nervous system

Some of us were lucky enough to have parents who leaned into connection. They tried to affirm and validate us. They tried to meet our needs. Their presence was calming.

Some of us experienced childhood emotional neglect or abuse. We didn't feel seen and cared for by our caregivers. We felt alone and anxious. As a result, we may struggle to feel connected.

No matter what our experiences have been, we benefit from awareness of what connection feels like in our bodies. When we feel connection in our bodies we know on the deepest level that our connection is true. And when we look inside and don't feel it, we will more clearly understand what we need. 

Noticing the experience of connection

Before I studied emotions, connection was just a concept. If someone had asked me how I knew I was connected to let’s say my boyfriend or parents or sister, I might have said, "I don't know. I just feel it." My awareness was no more than that. And I had no language to describe how my body changed as my level of connectedness shifted.

In 2004, as a new student of AEDP psychotherapy, I had taken to noticing and naming my emotions and the physical sensations inherent in them. AEDP therapists are trained to be authentically connected to others. In order to do that, we must experience connection physically. For only the body tells the truth of our emotions and level of connection. Our thoughts will lie to us to spare us pain, shame, and anxiety. Before I found AEDP, I had never turned my attention to my body. I stayed in my head. I remember the first time I searched for the right words to describe what connection felt like to me. It was strange and challenging at first.

The sensations of connection

For me, I sense a warmth in my heart. My body relaxes. I often release a big sigh at that moment of contact with a deep physical “clicking in” of connection. I sense a string that extends out from my heart to the other person's heart with whom I feel this connection.

Here are some other sensations of connection people have shared with me over the years:

  • Warmth

  • Calmness

  • Relaxation

  • Solidness

  • Excitement

  • Love

  • Tingling

  • Groundedness

  • Love mixed with sadness (for not having had enough connection prior to that moment)

  • A clicking in like a puzzle piece

  • A woven feeling

  • "Like a cuddly blanket"

Naming the sensations in our body connects us to our deepest Self and truths. As we get in touch with the sensations of loving connection, we experience a deep calm. There’s a bio-physical reaction (akin to what happens when we give or get a therapeutic hug) of muscular relaxation along with a release of chemicals, oxytocin and serotonin for example, into the bloodstream that bring calm and joy. We feel closer and more trusting of the person whose connection we truly feel.

A simple exercise: What Does Connection Feel Like?

Take yourself back to a moment in your life when you experienced a connection with someone you deeply love(d). Or, notice in real time your connection with your loved one.

To become aware of our physical sensations, which take much longer to notice than the thoughts quickly bombarding our mind, we must slow down and give ourself time and space. Slow your mind and body down by feeling your feet on the ground and using the technique of grounding and deep belly breathing.

Feel into the connected moment you're having or remembering. Scan your body up and down noticing any subtle changes or sensations in your body that let you know you’re experiencing connection. Ask yourself, What in my body lets me know that I am connected to this other person (or my pet, or this tree, or my God)?

What do you notice? Can you name one or two sensations you’re becoming aware of. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers. You just have to keep your attention in your body as you patiently wait a minute or two for subtle sensations to appear - much like a fog that clears. It could even take several minutes of physical noticing — some of us need lots of time. Soon you will perceive the sensations occurring inside your body. Consider writing down what you notice in a journal so you remember.

This practice of becoming aware of the physical sensations in our body hones our skills of internal perception and naturally makes us more empathic and skillful at tending to our connection with others and ourselves. The more embodied connection we feel, the more we can hold connected experiences inside us. These fill us up, making us feel more solid, secure and confident.

Starting from the moment we are born we rely on our connection with others for nourishment and comfort. While we eventually grow into mature adults who can care for ourselves and get basic needs met, we never outgrow the need for connection.


To learn more about healing and connection, read or listen to It's Not Always Depression.


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