Community is one of the most valuable aspects of a full, spiritual life. The people we surround ourselves with can support us in our growth and transformation and can help us live as our highest selves.
As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on your relationship to community. Do you have a community you can lean into during this time, or is it a time for you to prioritize making and nurturing new connections?
When I was younger, I was a very solo person. Although I had friends, I always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere that I was always outside looking in. I was not a happy joiner of groups. But all of that changed when I was recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in my mid-20’s. For the first time in my life, I needed community. In fact, I really couldn’t have survived without it! The people I met in my recovery programs, meditations groups, the Unity Church, and elsewhere became an essential part of my healing and my ability to stay clean and sober. I found my people and we shared a common purpose. Being with others in a spiritual program as well as sharing a common understanding of suffering and a desire to live a better life, helping one another. That changed me forever.
Today, community is my lifeblood. I’ve learned that having a community doesn’t mean we all have to be alike –– it simply means finding a group of people who share a common purpose. People who have some similar interests and values.
Community is the balm to a flourishing spiritual life.
As the year comes to a close, it’s always a great time to lean into community. Community reminds us we are not alone. For many of us, ( in the northern hemisphere) these months mean colder weather and shorter days. Sometimes this comes with an inclination to spend more time alone or indoors.
During these times, it’s important to honor your desire to go inward, but also to stay connected to the people in your life. Too much isolation can be challenging and can actually be a hindrance to your spiritual growth and groundedness.
In the guidebook from my Wisdom of The Oracle deck, it says, “In a community, everyone has an important function and feels “I matter.” Membership in the group provides a sense of belonging, of family, and of purpose that comes from working together for the greater fulfillment of all.”
Just as I learned in the early days of recovery and my spiritual path – connection, accountability, and support are an essential part of our personal growth journeys! Community can help us stay on track with our spiritual practices and can give us a sense of purpose and belonging.
Growing up, my father taught me that in Serbian folklore, there is a long-held belief that the Slavic people are descended from wolves. I don’t believe this to be literally true, but the sentiment, the metaphor of it lives with me. Like wolves, we are pack animals. We are healthiest and happiest when we are surrounded by our people. We work together for the “we” not just for ourselves.
In the last two years, we’ve all had much more experience than usual with isolation. What many of us have discovered is that we can’t afford to be too isolated. The toll is too high. Now more than ever, we see the value of our relationships, connections, and community.
Sometimes finding community can feel like a challenge. Often, the root of this challenge is thinking that finding a community where you fit means finding one where you “fit in” and are similar to everyone else.
I learned early on in my recovery journey and my spiritual journey that community isn’t about everyone being the same. It’s not about being in an echo chamber or narrow silo where everyone is the same saying the same things discounting others. It’s about finding a group of people who share the desire for connection with one another and who put the wellbeing of all at the core of the community values. It’s about finding a group of people we feel good in and celebrating all of our differences. Within these spaces, we can learn about ourselves and we can grow and broaden our perspectives. We’re never going to evolve into our highest selves in a vacuum! Being around a diverse community gives us endless opportunities to open our minds and hearts.
Many years ago I was involved with the Hard Rock Cafe when they sold one of my early meditation CDs in Los Angeles. I always remember a sign they had hanging on the wall that said, “Unity In Diversity.”
This message has stuck with me after all these years. The feeling of connectedness we all crave comes from the complexity of people celebrating all of the things that make us different.
The division present in our world today can be so painful. We’re all exposed to algorithms that show us more of the same things – more people just like us. So many of us are ending up in polarized communities.
The way we find meaningful connections that feed us and help us grow is by finding something common we all care about. This can be our desire to live a Spirit-led life and our commitment to our spiritual practices, our desire for personal growth, a cause or a topic we care about… the list goes on! We humans need connection and the more reasons we look for to be connected, the happier we’ll be.
Think of it this way –– a symphony is a blend of many instruments, each with its unique sound, all singing the same song. This is also the quality of a beautiful community.
When you think about your community and the people in your life, who do you think of? Who are your friends and the people who have journeyed with you thus far? What about the people who were once in alignment with you and now, aren’t anymore… Can you bless them for the lessons they’ve taught you and focus on the relationships that matter to you now?
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