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Less than two years ago, most of us had no idea what Zoom was.

And now look at us - masters at creating tropical backgrounds, learning how to look best on camera, not caring about bottoms and figuring out how to unmute ourselves. But even more than that, we've become experts at connecting online, finding ways to be together without being together.

For me, I have loved coaching my individual clients and leading groups on Zoom. I have been pleasantly surprised at how we really can forge intimate relationships with clients, friends and family members while sitting at a desk staring at a screen.

What I have learned is that it is the intention to connect that unlocks the awkwardness, allowing depth and authenticity in any and all interactions.

When we are vulnerable and real, others will be as well, regardless of whether we are in person or online.

The truth is that many of us will continue working online for the foreseeable future.

We may have adapted well but perhaps, on some level, we have forgotten what the other kind of being together was like.

We need reminding.

This week I drove to Reno, Nevada to be part of the Guided Meditation Framework Intensive. Protocols were in place and I felt comfortable being with a small group of like-minded individuals to meditate, learn, grow and connect.

Although there was a moment of awkwardness when I first walked in to the room where the group was gathered, it took one hug to calm and center me.

In that moment, I realized how long it had been since someone other than a family member had hugged me.

Hugs are essential.

Research suggests that a 20 second hug actually releases the hormone oxytocin which can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate and improve your mood.

Include them in your daily routines!

When I opened The Gathering in 2019, it was to bring people together, to encourage slowing down, meditating, walking, reflecting and opening ourselves up to intimacy and togetherness.

Covid definitely put the brakes on my dream but we are coming back.

I am clearer than ever that being with others really does create a magical experience.

The nuanced looks, the laughs, shared meals, a squeeze of a hand, a tap on the shoulder, a lengthy eye to eye moment.

We need to connect; becoming more exposed, more grounded in our bodies, more in touch with our hearts. Empathy comes easily. Love flows freely.

When I created The Gathering, little did I know that the word would become a household term.

When can we Gather?

How can we Gather?

What do we gain by Gathering?

Priya Parker, whose book The Art of Gathering opens a dialogue about all aspects of gathering, has become the voice of what it means to gather in today's changing world. She is helping remake the “how” of coming together — and more importantly, the “why.” Long before the pandemic, she points out, we had fallen into rote forms for staff meetings, birthday parties, conferences, shared meals. Virtual or physical, this time of regathering offers a threshold we can decide to cross with imagination, purpose, and joy.

Setting an intention for all our gatherings is a novel but meaningful concept.

My intention for this and future events at The Gathering is that people slow down, unwind, reflect and recharge and leave feeling calmer, clearer and more connected.

The psychologist Emile Durkheim coined the phrase "collective effervescence" which captures the essence of what I want to create. By sharing/participating in an experience, we can come together and reach an elevated place of connectedness, one of "collective effervescence".

As we move back into in-person gatherings, we are crossing a threshold, which the late poet and philosopher John O'Donohue defines as a line which separates "two territories of spirits."

A threshoId is an invitation, a time to ask oneself: What am I leaving and what am I about to enter?

"To acknowledge and cross a new threshold is always a challenge. It demands courage and a sense of trust in what is emerging."

John O'Donohue

We all have thresholds to cross, some easier than others.

May we cross this and all thresholds with purpose, worthiness, openness and trust.

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