Posted by: ginalazenby | March 11, 2019

Do you feel a deep need for connection? 

These were the qualities experienced at our last Conscious Cafe Skipton event where we talk about … belonging.

Loneliness …  this is often something which people can be very reluctant, and even feel ashamed, to admit to and yet, nine million people in the UK, 14% of the population, are estimated to feel lonely at some point. This is not only affecting their quality of life but their health too. Social isolation of any kind is now clearly being linked to life-threatening diseases.

Loneliness is now actually seen as being lethal. According to a report cited at a presentation I streamed from the Wisdom 2.0 Summit in California this month, scientific research has proven this. It is now even considered as dangerous as smoking!  It was also pointed out at this American event that the UK now has a Government Minister for Loneliness (from April 2018). This is part of the legacy of Jo Cox, the Yorkshire MP who was murdered, and who championed a Commission for Loneliness prior to her death. Taking up the Commission recommendation for appointing a dedicated Ministry, the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of the sad reality of modern life and the need to address the loneliness of people who have suffered loss, or have no-one with whom to talk or share their thoughts and experiences. 

British MP Tracey Crouch is now the world’s first Minister for Loneliness but it looks likely that other countries will follow the UK example with the news from a study cited in the Harvard Business Review that said loneliness and isolation is a “growing health epidemic …. associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” 

Loneliness was a subject that a group of us shortlisted for discussion for the next season of Conscious Cafe Skipton events when we gathered last summer for a planning meeting.  The idea of the Conscious Cafe community itself was borne out of a need for deeper connection. Founder Judy Piatkus, set up the original London community after selling her publishing company as she missed the more conscious conversations that she had enjoyed at work, particularly with her community of authors. That initiative has been running from 2011 and since then more than a dozen satellite groups have set up around the UK and even as far as Geneva and Singapore. Their growing popularity reflects our need, not only to be in community with others, but to seek meaningful connection.

It was this need for conversations that matter that drove me to start a Conscious Cafe community in Skipton in 2017. I was newly arrived in the Dales market town …. I’d lived in the area part-time since 1996, still with a base in London .. but when I moved here full-time in November 2015, I realised that I barely knew anybody as most of my circle were still back in London. I certainly did not know how to reach what I felt was “my tribe” .. people who were interested in personal growth, conscious living, leading a purposeful and values-driven life that would make a difference in the world. It didn’t mean that these folks weren’t local to me, I just did not know how to reach them.  

Starting Conscious Cafe Skipton has enabled me to find others seeking a deeper connection through conscious conversation, compassionate sharing and powerful listening. We have met monthly since the summer of 2017 and folks as far afield as York, Preston and Huddersfield have found their way to us, particularly when the topic for debate had special resonance.  We all do what we need to do to find others who want what we want, people with whom we can truly be our authentic selves. What is that you do to strengthen your connection with others to relieve any isolation, disconnection or loneliness that you have experienced at any time?

The latest conversation that Conscious Cafe Skipton took on was the issue of loneliness and isolation with an event called “A Sense of Belonging” in late February. To read a report on what we talked about see the next blog post.

Conscious Cafe Skipton has a facebook page, a MeetUp group and posts events on Eventbrite. 

The next event is on March 26th and we have a speaker, Malcolm Stern, talking about the skills needed for modern relationships.

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