THE BLOG
04/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

4 Ways To Make Human Connections At Home and Abroad

My name is Jason, and I have not yet been a world traveler. I am embarrassed to say, but just recently, at 36, I ventured the furthest I have ever been out of the country. In the scheme of the world, the city of Tulum, in Mexico is not very far from Los Angeles. Nonetheless, it was profound. Sure, I have had experiences that I would consider other worldly in a spiritual yet grounded sense...but nothing is like being alive and experiencing the world living around you in a totally foreign place.

I got to begin fulfilling my intention to coach internationally with Source Events in the profoundly beautiful and sacred Tulum, Mexico. Source Events is realized through the vision of its owner, Craig Smith, and exists to provide people with inspirational, adventurous, travel experiences that offer opportunities for self-discovery and connection.

Tulum is a small village in Riviera Mexico whose indigenous ancestors are Mayan. I had time to visit one of the 7 Wonders of the New World - the ancient Mayan Pyramids in Chichen Itza, and visit the Mayan ruins on the cliffs in Tulum. What I find most inspiring about the Mayan people is the masterful synergy they had with the elements, nature, and technical sophistication as well as the reverence they brought to their daily existence. The sacred presence of the Mayan culture was palpable. It facilitated an experience of deep reverence in every step I took.

I know that what I experienced came from being in such an awe inspiring environment. But, I also now know what I always knew I was missing. Traveling broadens your awareness of yourself as a citizen of the world, and it binds you to the human experience. At the end of this trip, I asked myself and others, "How do you live every day of your life conscious of your connection to a world much bigger than the one you live in day to day?" I also asked, "How do we intend to take this reverence into our daily existence?"

The first answer that comes forward is obvious. Close my eyes and imagine that I am back at the Caribbean Sea. But of course, particularly in these trying times, not everyone has the resources to travel. So, I want to share some tips to connect with the sense of being part of something much greater than ourselves and that elicit an experience of reverence and gratitude without having to leave our homes.

Create Sacred Space
This simply means that there is a designated spot in your home or outdoors that holds sacred meaning for you. It does not have to be complex or dramatic -- I have a friend who has a very simple table in the corner of her room with a few objects that remind her of her connection to what is greater than her. I had a client just the other day share with me that he considers Griffith Park here in Los Angeles to be his sacred space.

Meditate
Meditation has become a well known way of going on an inward journey to connect with the essence of who we really are. I have a teacher who has said that when he meditates all he does is sit and say, "Hi, I am here, let's love each other." Then he proceeds to sit in silence of 5-20 minutes. One of the things that I have taken away from my reading of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love is the story she tells of the teacher she had in Indonesia. His first meditation lesson to her was, "Sit and smile!" I was delighted when I read this, and have begun to try it on. Later in the book she indicates that at one point he asked if she was smiling with her liver. I have literally allowed this to inform my meditation practice. In my meditation I have begun to practice smiling with all of my organs. Try it; you will be amazed that you can actually smile with your entire being - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Take in Culture
Books, film, music, art are all powerful ways to expand awareness beyond our day to day world. The Kite Runner had a significant impact on my understanding of Afghanistan. I have a client who loves India and has a full collection of Indian film. I also have a friend who is a belly dancer and has begun to expand my awareness of Middle Eastern Culture.

See the True Essence
This is simple. When you look at another human, remember that what you are looking at is a being whose true essence is pure, loving consciousness and that we are all part of the same universal fiber.

Travel is a powerful way to expand consciousness, growth, learning, and to stay connected to others in spirit. However, you don't have to travel per se, to feel at one with humanity. Keep your mind open to change, new ideas, concepts and cultures. Stay in tune with the sacred space you call home, but also know that: outside your door lies a world beyond your imagination. That big amazing world is humanity's home, and you are part of it!

***

To learn more about coaching with Jason visit www.jmannino.com

E-mail Jason for his free e-book: "Mind Your Mind, Manage Your Thoughts" at info@jmannino.com

To learn more about travel with Source Events visit www.sourceevents.com