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Giving a precious gift

Good’s wellness columnist and expert Rachel Grunwell has an important reminder for the holiday season and the most important gift of all. 

Words Rachel Grunwell. Illustration UNA studios

Life tends to be on a speed setting. We multi-task, infrequently stop to catch our breath and focus our attention on digital devices rather than the people we love.

We are increasingly disconnected and believe that “busy” is okay.

Please stop, and take stock on how much time you give to those who matter: your partner, your family, those friends who help to lift you higher.

For more health and wellness advice from Rachel Grunwell, click here

Seek out these loved ones, unglue your fingertips from your phone and give them the most valuable “gift” you can: your presence.

Give your time and your wholehearted and full attention. Understand them and let them know: I hear you. I see you. I “get” where you are at. I love you unconditionally.

When we authentically connect then we can serve those we love even better.

And you know those staunchly “independent types”? Well, they need this stuff even more; I know because I’m one.

Authentic connection is at the heart of great communities and it’s a powerful weapon we need to use more to fight the alarming rates of depression. Let’s wield this tool more often.

Hug another human – don’t reserve this for only special or celebratory times, because when you wrap your arms around someone your heart soars. It’s magic.

It’s a “soul” kind of thing, but actually a “brain thing” – so my 11-year-old son Zach tells me.

His class at Auckland’s Mt Eden Normal Intermediate has been studying the topic, love.

Zach chatted to me about dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and oxytocin… and told me about what these chemicals do, including, in his words, to “help us to feel safe” and “feel the pleasure of love”.

His understanding of “chemical love” blew me away.

I then told him my definition of aroha was him. In those magic moments when he was born, I felt the electricity of love ripple through my veins and I couldn’t stop tears from flowing… My joy and love for him never fades. 

I spent some time with an amazing yogi recently who inspired me on this topic. Kelly Watt, who recently opened True Food and Yoga, an Auckland wellness centre with an incredible restaurant, is passionate about this topic as a yogi and as a mum. She enforces digital-free Sundays regularly.

“We have a 1970s Sunday so we go for bike rides with the kids and we have a Sunday roast.”

These Sunday rituals are all about connection. “We are all on a buzz and electrified during the week but at least on a Sunday we can be together.”

Watt says the “ceremony of tea” is also important to family life because you “sit, take time, savour the tea and those around you…”

She believes strongly in the power of touch through massage and reiki to restore emotional wellbeing.

“We’re all in these personas… but the power of touch takes away all of that,” she explains.

And yoga helps her to be still, reflect and to have “penny drop moments”. 

She recounts a saying: “When the ocean is still you can see clearly the bottom of the ocean, the treasures. As with the mind, when we are still through contemplation or meditation, you reap the treasures – living from this calm state of mind, the opposite of auto pilot, going and doing, a constant rushing, modern day dilemma…”

So these holidays, I hope we all remember to give more presence to those we are lucky enough to have in our lives.

Celebrate them today.

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