Nurturing Loving Connections

The most valuable thing we can do to create positive change is to nurture our connections: with our loved ones, with our children, with ourselves, and with our global community and Mother Earth. This journey we are on is asking us to connect back to our roots, realize what is good for us, and act on for some great ways to reflect and nourish the most important things in our lives.

Nurturing Our Relationships

Imago Relationship Therapy is a technique developed by two Ph.D. psychiatrists (and a married couple) in the 1980s. It hinges around “intentional dialogue,” which focuses on healing conflict via the cultivation of true connection/communication and the development of empathy which allows love to thrive. The quality of our relationships is a huge factor in our immune health, so try this 4-step tool with your partner or loved ones and see your well-being improve.

4 Steps of Intentional Dialogue

1. Request dialogue and Share/Listen
      • If you can’t talk right away, set a time for a conversation (needs to be within 24 hours at a time when both parties can be fully present)
      • Partner A: the partner who is doing the sharing; their responsibility is to keep it brief and share from a place of vulnerability/deepest self. This is not the time to go into EVERYTHING...we still have to do our personal work on our own!
      • Partner B: the partner who is doing the listening without interrupting
    2. Reflect or Correct/Reflect
        • Partner B reflects back what they heard (without paraphrasing) and asks if they heard and understood correctly 
        • Partner A confirms or denies, and then B can correct/reflect if needed
        • B asks if there is more; if and when the answer is no, B thanks A
      3. Validation
          • Ok, Partner B: Even if everything A said is opposite to what you feel or believe, you now are getting inside of A's perspective and saying it makes total sense
          • This is the part a lot of people find tricky because our natural inclination can be to defend or share our OWN perspective...but hang in there and really put yourself in your partner’s world
        4. Empathy
            • Here is the juicy center: B dives deeper into A’s perspective and talks about WHY it makes total sense
            • This step is where the barriers get broken down and real relational growth and understanding happens

              Mama Pro-Tip → Empathy is extra important when there is a hurt or trigger in the relationship, because the natural reaction is to want to explain/justify, but that does zero healing because then it's just 2 people trying to be understood without understanding the other (the argument becomes both partners saying "I need you to hear me" into a void)

              Nurturing Our Children 

              Here’s some great news: protecting our children's mental and physical well-being is pretty easy, and (no surprise here) it starts with us taking care of ourselves. If we create a safe environment at home then they will feel safe...this means being authentic with our kids and regulating our own nervous systems. The #1 tool here is pleasure; when we are in a state of pleasure we cannot be in a state of stress! Next time you or your kiddos are experiencing overwhelm, try these three techniques.

              Grounding → simply put, connecting with the ground. Ideally this is done standing barefoot on bare earth; we have antioxidant receptors in the soles of our feet so when they are in contact with dirt and grass it is revitalizing for our whole system. Start your morning standing outside for 5 minutes, let kids squish their toes into the mud of your garden, or even sit with your back against a tree trunk and “plug in” to the energy Mama Nature is gifting you.

              Orienting → ask yourself this simple question: “Am I in danger right now?” Most of the time the answer is no, at which point you can calm a fear response by orienting yourself within your surroundings. Keep a soft gaze and use your neck to slowly look around your space. Notice what you see without judgment; this brings you into the here and now and out of “what if” land. The neck and spine will signal your central nervous system that you’re safe...this is an easy one to do with your family (even little kids can grasp this concept; tell them to move their necks like giraffes and to move slowly like sloths!)

              Resourcing → find something that is pleasurable in the immediate (or at least something pleasant/neutral if you are in a trauma state and feeling like nothing will calm you); for example, birds chirping outside an open window or sipping warm tea. Notice and be with the sensations you experience...that is a resource that will bring you back into yourself, your present, your safety. Once you feel calm, the pleasant/neutral sensations can start to feel pleasurable. A great resource for kiddos: wrap them up in a blanket. Safe, comforting, cozy (plus bonus snuggle time).

              Nurturing Our World

              It is no secret that there is a HUGE connection between our health and our planet’s health. The way we eat is causing ecosystem destruction and climate change, and has led to the rise of CAFOs, higher carbon impact, and disease spread to humans. For more information on this, check out this article from The Nation on wildlife habitat destruction and how it’s closely related to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

              Thankfully, the daily choices we make in terms of how we nourish ourselves and our families can create positive changes as well. Mother Nature bounces back when we live in ways that are harmonious with her...from a dietary standpoint, this means choosing regenerative plant-based foods that are grown biodynamically and without chemicals. It also means buying local whenever possible (hello, food co-ops and farmers’ markets!)...not only do you support small businesses but you also get foods higher in nutrients. Healthier diets also mean fewer underlying conditions, which mean fewer comorbidities that make us more susceptible to disease.

              Additional Resources 

              Getting the Love You Want → written by the husband-and-wife team behind Imago Relationship Therapy, this is a great companion to practicing your intentional dialogue

              Animal Vegetable Miracle → part memoir and part investigative journalism, this book on sustainable agriculture and living more in harmony with the land is a super engaging read

              Making Sense of Vaccine Concerns → Ivy’s interview with pediatrician Dr. Pejman Katiraei

              Staying Nourished from the Inside Out → a guided meditation and talk from Ivy Joeva via Nourishment is Needed

              Mamas, It’s Time to Meditate! → new to meditation, or just want to explore more options? Check out our AMMA musings to get started!

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