Rollo May, the existential psychologist, said, “Communication leads to community, that is, it leads to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing”.
When I first began to write this blog post about community, I had a very specific idea in my mind about what a community and that idea was based solely on my own experiences. After a long conversation with a good friend about the elements and importance of community, I began to do research, trying to educate myself around this topic. What I found was so helpful – bringing some new insights about why community is so important to me. It is the sense of community that May describes in his quote above that I want in my life – need in my life – understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.
We are born into at least one community, usually more than one. As we age we find that we are drawn to people who interest us. And these relationships often lead us to other communities. At times we even create our own communities/tribes to bring people with a common interest/belief together with us. The kind of community I vibe with is the one that is welcoming, inclusive and accepting. It brings out the best in me, nourishing me and always receiving me just as I am.
Gathering in community creates a family of choice; a place of constant/consistent love, touch, support and connection. Being around like-minded thinkers encourages our passions and desires and makes us accountable to ourselves. Community is a place of hope, a safe space to be your most vulnerable self, to be endlessly inspired, to get spiritually, emotionally and physically nourished. Community allows us to connect to our most wisest selves. There is an accountability to ourselves and each other to speak truth and take responsibility for our choices. When we “tune into” a group of people that are accessing all of these things it is then that our light becomes brighter more enduring.
The challenge for both the community and the individual is about balancing where to come together and where to allow individuality and independence. Some communities that I have been involved with have not done so well with that balance. There have been times when I was chastised for “having opinions of my own” or “walking to the beat of a different drummer”. And at some point, that community encouraged me to leave – usually through individuals making me feel unwelcome and excluding me from participation in activities and events.
Forrest Yoga is a community that has definitely made me feel welcome and accepted. They have done so much to bring out the best in me. Created by Ana Forrest, Forrest Yoga embodies her vision to create a harmonious supportive community of people with a sense of freedom and a strong connection to their spirit. I came to the Forrest Yoga community through Erica Mather, who is considered a “Guardian” of Forrest Yoga. There was an immediate connection between the two of us and I knew I had found the community in Forrest Yoga that I had wanted for a long time. I want to be clear that although the Forrest Yoga community is supportive, harmonious and welcoming, it is also very challenging – encouraging, inspiring and nudging each other to grow and bring our best to our practice and our life. It is a global, diverse and especially inclusive community that always opens its doors and hearts. They are consistently there for me as I continue to work on my hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Love & Medicine,