The smell of lemons. The sunset over the city. The sound of my parents’ laughter. The colors of plums.
These are just a few of the links of one of my clients. Links are those momentary, sensory experiences that link us to joy, to feelings of peace, safety, delight, connection, and abundance.
Your particular set of links is part of your sacred self. No two people share the same collection. For each of us, our links comprise an incredible set of gifts—easily accessible experiences that bring us into the states of being we long for.
Here are a few of my links: babies’ shining eyes, curling up with a good book and light blanket, my first sight of my husband’s face at the end of the day, the open feeling of tree pose in yoga, the out of the blue arrival of great idea when I least expect it, the taste of fresh tomatoes with olive oil, the feeling I get lounging in our empty living room after we’ve held a dinner party and we know everyone had a great time, and perhaps my favorite: the quality and intensity of the silent air of early morning.
Links offer us an immediate connection back to the fundamental goodness of life. They give us access to the peace and perfection of the present moment. They do all of this through our senses.
We know our links because of the feelings of safety, home, beauty, bliss, and love they evoke in us. We know them because when we experience them, we feel something stirring deep within us. Links are touchstones to the blessings and abundance of life.
Here are a few examples of people talking about their links:
Beautiful buildings and interiors are links for me. They calm me down, and yet at the same time they inspire me. Sometimes, I’ll just go into a bookstore and look at images of architecture and interior design for half an hour, and when I walk out, I feel renewed, and satisfied, like I’ve just had a great meal. Sometimes I’ll go into the lobby of a hotel or office building and just sit for a few minutes and take it in. I walk out feeling so much more peaceful, kind of feeling like myself again.
It sounds silly – but the feeling of hot water running over my hands when I wash the dishes is a link for me. A sense of relaxation just washes over me, and I instantly feel this simple connection to my body, to everything. For a minute if feels like time stops, and my home even looks different to me at the moment.
The taste of espresso and the ritual of drinking it are links for me. Having a cappuccino in the morning – appreciating the foam, the taste, the shape of the cup –every part of it—I just love it. I start to take deep breaths. I also reconnect to Italy, one of my favorite places and another link for me. And there is a part of the ritual that is about taking care of myself. I get reconnected and ready for the day.
Links give us a kind of homecoming to all the things we want to come home to – the beauty of the world, the abundance of life, the simple facts of our breath and our bodies.
Links provide an accessible first step towards more joy in our lives. Noticing and embracing links doesn’t require major lifestyle changes, dramatic decisions or even facing down our fears.
Links have two quite amazing qualities:
1) They are abundantly available. Most people find that the experiences on their lists of links are available to them on a very regular basis. They are usually very simple, inexpensive—if not free—experiences.
2) Because they are everyday things, links are present even in the most difficult of circumstances. When we mourn, when we are ill, when we face oppression or experience tragedy, links are still available to us. When the big picture is difficult, small moments with links can lift us up and also ground us.
Step 1: Identify Links
Over the course of the week, create a list of your links. Go for at least fifty. As my good friend Amy says, the most important ideas are the ones that come after the first time you say, “I’m done, there’s nothing more to put on the list.” Go for a second round after you hit that “I’m done” point. Then go for a third round after that. On your list, note the links that show up in your life this week, as well as some of your favorite links from all time. Here are some ideas to jumpstart your thinking:
- Write a list of links for each of the fives senses – links of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
- Write a list of links for each season—links of summer, fall, winter and spring.
- Write a list of links that show up in each of your favorite colors.
- Write a list of links related to family and friends.
- Write a list of places that are links for you.
- Write a list of the books, music, art, films, or people that are links for you.
Step 2: Pay Attention: Despite the fact that links are abundantly available, many of us don’t experience very many of them day to day. That is mostly because we run around too busy or too distracted to experience the links right there in our lives.
To increase the number of link experiences in our lives, we don’t need to change anything external about our lives, we just need to pay better attention to the links that are already present. That means savoring their tastes, pausing to look at scenes that inspire or relax you. It means listening intently to the sounds that move you and feeling the textures that delight you.
In a culture of multi-tasking, beeping and buzzing, dramatic headlines and lots of noise, we’ve lost much of our ability to focus, to pay attention. So this will take practice. When you encounter a link, bring your full attention to it. Your attention will wander—perhaps furiously and frantically at first. That’s okay! In fact, that is very normal. When it wanders, simply bring your attention back to your experience of the link in the present moment.
Step 3: Bring More Links Into Your Life: After you identify your links, you can select some easy ways to bring into your daily life more of the sights and sounds and tastes and smells that are links for you.
Step 4: Re-experience Links:. At the end of the day, take just a few minutes to think back upon the links you experienced during the day. You’ll find that as you recall them, you can reconnect to the joy and peace that they bring you once again.
Step 5: Watch Out For: Be aware of any internal voices getting in the way of you more fully experiencing your links. Common negative comments that you might hear in your head are: “I don’t have time today/this week/right now.” (I promise you this is never true. You always have enough time to experience links.) or “Its not important in light of….” or even, “I don’t deserve this.”