Sangat = Spiritual Community

Connecting to others on the spiritual path brings me profound joy.  There is something intangible and incredible about sitting down next to someone who totally gets me and my journey and my desires.  I’ve clearly heard the message from the Universe (and my lovely yoga teacher/mentor) that now is the time to create the community I’ve been longing for.  This directive has prompted some internal musings about WHAT exactly community is and WHY I long for it so deeply.  So, here are some musings on Sangat, or spiritual community.

What is community?

Community to me means connecting with people in “real-life.”  By which I mean actually sitting down with them face-to-face, talking together, eating together and meditating together.  Community for me means creating and nurturing bonds with people in such a way that they become part of the fabric of my life.  I care about what happens with them….and they care about what happens with me.  Community is about feeling that my own practice of yoga and attempts to self-reflect has impacts beyond my own existence.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

When we’re in community we’re much stronger than when we’re on our own.  There is a magical, whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts, thing that happens.  This does not mean that being in community is always blissful and challenge-free. 

A community of people around you acts like the Immune system in your body. 

Through challenging situations both the Immune system and Communities of people learn, heal and grow towards more expansive versions of themselves.  When we get sick, it is actually a growth opportunity for the body.  Each time you get sick the individual immune cells actually get smarter and stronger.  And thus, you as a human organism also get stronger and healthier. 

Being in the world is messy.   There are germs everywhere you go.  It doesn’t matter how many antibacterial wipes you use or how often you apply hand-sanitizer you are going to be exposed to viruses, bacteria etc.  Luckily the body has the amazing Immune system.  So most of the time when you are exposed to some pathogen you’re body gets rid of it without you even realizing it’s happening.  Occasionally something makes its way in that causes you to get sick….but as your body is healing itself it is also learning and preparing to better handle that problem in the future. 

There is no germ free….there is only your ability to respond to your environment.    

Being around people is messy.  Even when we’re trying our best we’re occasionally going to hurt someone’s feelings, have our feeling hurt or in some other way run into the drama of being human.  When we’re intentionally connecting to other people and these challenges arise we have the opportunity to experience the hurt and learn how to move past it.  As our minds and souls are healing we are also learning and preparing to handle ourselves better should that situation arise again.

There is no problem-free community….there is only your ability to respond and grow. 

People are inspiring.

On the other hand being around people on a similar spiritual or growth path is inspiring.  When we feel crazy for wanting to get up at 4am, or sit for 2.5 hours in meditation or give up dairy having people around us on the same path helps to normalize and keep us going.  And we can do the same for them. There are lots of studies that show that having a “gym-buddy”makes people significantly more likely to stick to a fitness routine.  Having a Sangat around you makes you more likely to stick to your spiritual-fitness routine. 

And….people are just down-right amazing.  When we connect with people we get to see the sweet and tender ways that people live in this world.  We get to hear their stories and share in the story of being human.  We can be inspired to be a part of a human community that expressed so much love, compassion and service. 

When we connect to like-minded souls we see the light of our souls mirrored back to us.  That mirroring allows our own light to shine brighter.  And for me, anyway, that is the purpose of this life.  If I can go through the challenges and find the joyous moments of life I become more fully me.  If I can strengthen my connection with others and with my own truth, I can do what my soul came here to do.  If I can be steady in the midst of the craziness of life I can shine a light for those who may have forgotten their own.  I can be a light for all.

“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” Yogi Bhajan

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