A good friend and the owner of Sol Yoga, just returned from a week long retreat at Kripalu. We were discussing how empowering it is to be surrounded by those that see the world as you do. She spent a lot of time in meditation, silence, moving on the mat, taking in nature outside and indoors eating organic, fresh whole foods, so although many of her activities were of a solo nature, she was constantly surrounded by others like her. Being submersed in a “like-minded” vibe all the time is an amazing way to fuel up. Tuning into your core frequency keeps the soul charged and ready to go. It’s a great way to vacation and much more fun than if she had spent a week with a nutty religious cult that thought yoga poses put you at odds with the teaching of Jesus and Sanskrit chants were a parsel-tongued form of Satanic communication. Sure she could have sneaked away and practiced yoga in secret, but it wouldn’t have been the same.
Which brings us to the question of community and it’s importance and why it’s imperative for our health and wellness. When you participate in a particular community you take on the energetic characteristics of those around you. Grow up Presbyterian and the local Synagogue may feel strange. It doesn’t make you an anti-Semite, it just makes you new to the vibe. Spend a lifetime on your family’s 200 acre farm and walking the ghetto may scare the shit out of you. Are you are racist or just overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle energy of city folks living in such close proximity to one another?
Interestingly, I think the opposite holds true as well. An energy can be so familiar and comforting that it draws to itself those tuned into the same frequency. It’s why a life-long Catholic attends mass every Sunday even though the church completely betrayed it’s parishioners by peddling pedophiles from diocese to diocese. Or why Republicans can gather together at a convention even if say, Karl Rove, was the featured speaker. It’s not about the few people at the top, but about the droves of people that congregate together. Like fans of a losing football team, you’ll brave horrific traffic and sub-zero temperatures just to tailgate and drink beer with your buddies every Sunday.
It was an interesting “AHA” type of moment that explained so many things that have confused me for quite sometime. Perhaps if I had been a Catholic my entire life instead of joining while in high-school, I would be attending mass weekly. If the vibe of that sanctuary energized me I too would be overlooking the sins of those in charge. Perhaps my need to refuel would trump my need to be righteous.
Energy is a mysterious thing that is overlooked and undervalued. I can’t wait until science can measure the energy fields that connect people, places and things the way it notes radiation levels or air quality. Imagine how informed we’ll be when we can see and qualify the different energy levels between ourselves and others. Perhaps we’ll stop judging others, accept that we’re not on the same wavelength and move on instead of screaming sexism, ageism, racism or whatever other ism comes to mind. Sure those things exist, but sometimes you just don’t jive with another person and it’s as simple as that.
Being surrounded by like minded people creates health because you’re “in the flow” so to speak. Since you’re not struggling against the tide all the time, it’s easier to create change in your life. So if you find yourself wrestling with a goal, get out and find others like you. Create a community for yourself by joining a group or taking a class instead of doing things all by yourself. Besides creating change, this community is imperative if you want to maintain any changes that you made. I was at my healthiest when I was spending one full weekend a month at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. As soon as I graduated and stopped spending so much time with people like me, it got much harder to preserve the changes that I had made. I have spent the last 5 years trying to recapture a vibe when perhaps I should have been trying to create community and let the vibe find it’s way there.
As summer comes to an end and autumn approaches, remember that the days will get shorter, colder and darker. You may find yourself inside more, hunkering down for the coming winter, so if you’re in need of community I strongly suggest that you create it now rather than waiting until later.