10/28/2013 01:53 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Connecting: As Easy as Turning Off Your Phone

Cell phones. The Internet. Fax machines. Televisions. Airplanes. Dining room tables. Wedding rings. Bedrooms. Surnames. Each of these items serves to connect us in some way... but do they?

How often do you check your email while ignoring the person next to you? How many of your dinners are spent watching TV, rather than conversing with your companion? How often are you on the phone multitasking when you realize you have no idea what the person is even talking about?

When you ask someone "how are you," are you even pausing to hear the answer?

How can it be that the things that connect us are actually the source of some of our biggest disconnections?

Recently I had to travel home for the funeral of my close friend's mom. It is always a traumatic experience to witness pain on that level, and this tragedy made me enormously grateful for the health of both of my parents.

I have always had a close relationship with them, and although I was only able to fly home for one night, my intention was to soak up every minute. But I was disappointed when my realization didn't match theirs.

The death made time a terrifying thought, and I only wanted to have more meaningful conversations with them as a way to connect. But for my parents, connecting can be just sharing the same breathing space.

As a result, we spent our one dinner together watching television rather than talking. For them, TV was the source of connection and a way to process their grief. Which left me asking, "How do we connect anyway?"

Life is chaotic. We all know it. We spend hours each day just trying to catch our breath, and before we know it, it is time to start again. We are conditioned to "succeed," and "advance," learn and grow. But how do we define success? What does it really mean to advance? What really matters to you?

How often do you ask yourself these questions? How often do you stop and just breathe?

I practice holistic medicine, and I work with a multitude of health issues. Although the physical symptoms may differ, I have observed a common root -- people seem to be lacking connection, to each other, to their purpose, to themselves.

They have a job but not one that gives them drive. They are surrounded by people, yet they feel alone. They have a strong voice but it goes unheard. They have friends but not friends who listen. They may have a partner but they feel they are "settling." They want to feel needed but they don't know how to serve.

As a result, these feelings may manifest physically as joint pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, digestive issues and more. They consciously know that there is more to life, but they feel lost and disengaged.

The example above was me, several years ago. I too was feeling extremely disconnected, overworked and imbalanced. But one December morning I had a wake up call. I had spent the day in nature and I felt more alive than I had in three years. I remembered what it felt like to feel connected to something again.

It was from this day and an intense amount of soul searching that I realized that my own happiness blooms when I am surrounded by nature, and when I am giving and relating to others, and when I release judgment.

As a result, I evaluated my own life and decided to create a retreat where women can connect to themselves, to nature and to others again.

How do you connect to others? To yourself? To your own sense of spirituality? In the end, what really matters to you? Is it that email that needs to be read right away, or is it the feeling the person beside you wants to express?

5 Tips to Feel More Connected

1. Volunteer: There is nothing that connects us more than giving to others. This act of kindness is a demonstration that we are all part of the greater picture of life.

2. Breathe: Deep conscious breathing allows us to feel more present, more alive and more connected to our spirit and our purpose.

3: Listen and make eye contact: Listening involves not only being physically present but also emotionally available. When you look someone in the eye, you are giving them your full attention and the space to be heard.

4. Release judgment: The less you judge yourself and others the more you feel connected to the people who surround you.

5. Give connection flexibility: Understand that the definition of connection may vary. For some it may be doing an activity together; for others it may be a deep conversation.

For more by Nicole Glassman, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.