When we think of increasing our health and vitality, we might think about what we are eating, how much sleep or sex we are having, the workout that we said we were going to start and really stick to, or planning a spectacular vacation. But there is one important component that we may not even realize we have or that is missing from our life. Do we see ourselves as part of group where we feel a connection is the foundation to our wellbeing and living a fulfilled life?
Oxford Dictionary defines community as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. According to Oxford, to be part of a community, one does not have to sign a legal contract, live in a certain place, or formally be part of a specific group of people. Oxford implies that community lies in the experience of the person defining their community. Community is in the eyes of the beholder.
When Seacoast Power Yoga celebrated its 3rd year anniversary, over 50 of us gathered to mark the milestone with lots of laughter, sweat and gratitude. Although each of us have different experiences of our community, by showing up to celebrate, everyone was offering themselves and giving themselves at the same time. Many students have shared with me personally; the community of Seacoast Power Yoga has made their lives better. And in my view, it’s because each of them chose to be a part of it.
Here are a few reasons why communities make such a big difference in our lives:
~Community gives people a place to belong. Whether you are 12, 25 or 83, people want to be a part of something. Not everyone has a job they love. Not everyone has a family life that is full of nourishment and connection. A community can be a place where you share something in common or work toward a common goal. Or it can be something that you are just a part of because of where you live or some place you go regularly. I’ve stopped by our Newfields General Store early in the morning and there is a group of men that get their coffee every morning standing around chatting. Community can be both formal and informal.
~Community supports the human connection. People need to be seen and heard in real time. The complexity of our lives is increasing and when our phone calls or lunch dates with friends have been replaced with texts, Instagram comments and Facebook messages, getting in the same room with other people is more important than ever.
~Community supports courage. This may be a sweeping assumption, but taking risks are something that many of us don’t take lightly. Having a community in our corner cheering us on or knowing they will be there if we stumble can make the difference between taking a leap or staying where we are. It’s like jumping off a cliff with a safety net.
~Community offers love and support. After my shoulder surgery, friends and neighbors brought us homemade dinners for a week. It was such so nice and the kids absolutely loved it. People were thinking of us and doing what they could to make things better. My husband and I have also pulled together some meals for friends that could use the break from cooking to focus on their health and healing. It feels great to receive the support and it also feels great to offer the support.
The afternoon of the yoga studio’s anniversary celebration, I flew to Colorado to attend a yoga conference with 400 other yogis with my teacher, Baron Baptiste. I met up with and hung out with old friends but I also made many new ones. I didn’t just show up, I put myself out there and made a point to connect. It was 3 days of fun and I was so filled up by the whole experience. The Baptiste community is always there, but I made the conscious choice to be part of it. I chose to invest in the community and in turn invest in myself.
Communities are like gardens. The more care and attention the garden is given, the more it offers in beauty and bounty. Look around and see the communities that you are already a part of. Make that conscious choice to not only see the community as yours but also to nurture it. Your life will be all the better for it.