Community has been entering into my field lately. You may be wondering what this idea of “community” even means and why it matters? Well, maybe community is the answer to create a more enriching life. Community may be an important component of our individual wellbeing and a good thing for society at large. Luckily, there are various ways to bring the essence of community into our daily lives— even in major cities.
About a year ago, I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to live in a space with friends— regularly sharing meals, connecting, and having fun. Since then, I’ve met many people who share this vision and some are actually turning it into a reality. Happy, obviously a documentary about happiness, visits the happiest countries where many people live in community settings. Just this past weekend I shared my gifts at a retreat focused on fostering community and getting back to nature. I am so grateful for my experience with this group I now call friends and time with them has inspired me to write this blog.
We are tribe beings. If we look throughout history, archaeological evidence from previous civilizations reveals humans living in communities— sharing living spaces and celebrating life together. Hunter gathers were generally groups of people, and this group connection is demonstrated in other species such as wolf packs, dolphins, and primates.
Humans are genetically programmed for love, sharing, and connection. Our DNA encodes for various cascades of chemical release when we receive love in various shapes and sizes. Having a strong foundation of connection with others is vital to our wellbeing. It’s unfortunate that many of us grow up in a capitalistic society, which can oftentimes be isolating because of a tendency to value the self over the group and it fosters competition. Certain codes of conduct are enforced to create “professional” environments— affection and laughter have fallen to the way side while ego and seriousness are perceived as being in “control.” The majority of our society has lost site of community based structuring.
Community brings together like-minded individuals for a common good. A community can be based around a shared belief or activity. Community is about gathering for something greater than the self. Perfect examples include yoga communities, food communities, techie communities, religious communities, recreational sports teams, goddess circles, discussion groups and so on. We can create a community around anything we so desire. Community life is all about how “we” can share and create together. The individual mentality in a community wonders “how can I give, how can I share my gifts?” Given we are all born as unique individuals, every person plays a vital role in a community. Community is about the “we” not the “me.”
Industrialization and moving to big cities has isolated many away from nature, fostering self-centered ways of life. It’s not our fault, or anyone’s really; this is just how it has come to be. When the land is worked, it’s such a large task it takes a group effort, hence why living close to the land fosters community. Technology has become a way of connecting people across the globe while isolated people in their present lives creating disconnect as people get lost in their smart phones. The thing is, we have the power to create a life we love, a life filled with love, and we can do this together.
Community is a beautiful life support, providing a nurturing environment to grow and evolve into our happiest and healthiest selves. As a collective, decisions are generally made for the highest and best good of all. The simple act of eating can be enhanced in a community setting. Think about eating dinner solo compared to a shared experience— it’s likely a healthier meal is served; the time together feeds the soul too; and the cooking and cleaning transitions from a chore to a fun activity.
Just as in our everyday lives, communication is key in community settings and we best learn how to exchange information in supportive group environments where we can observe how others communicate and reflect it back onto ourselves. We chose a circle style setting, referred to as council, as our main way to communicate given the size of our group so that everyone had the chance to speak without interruptions. We witness admiring traits and attempt to emulate these, or we may notice less appealing behaviors and be conscious not to replicate these. Realizing constructive behaviors and having the opportunity to be in situations with others is how we blossom— if we’re up for the challenge of course.
Sure, it’s easy to be alone because then we are never at odds or disagreements with anyone. Being alone is a safe haven from sparking reactivity and having to maneuver through less pleasant emotions as they bubble to the surface during discussions. In choosing to be alone, however, so much beauty is missed. Community environments promote a safe space to be vulnerable, sharing our feelings and emotions, while enhancing the magnetizing force that bonds us humans together. Sharing compliments and words of love at the end of the retreat had many of us in tears of joy.
Everything we do in life is to gain acceptance and love by others, consciously or subconsciously. Everything. All fears are rooted in fear of being rejected, fear of being alone, and fear of not being loved. Fear is the opposite of love. It’s easy to hide and be alone as a way of not having to face these fears. Love is ingrained in our being and community is a way to channel love for all those involved. The beauty of community is a hand to hold through the journey of life. It is stability through the ups and downs, the laughs and tears, the celebrations and the falls. Community provides inspiration to stand up again after the inevitable falls.
In time, I envision more people coming together to live together in/on the same buildings, houses, or land. It excites me every time I learn about new community experience or living situations because it’s already happening!
For now, there are many ways to thread community into our daily lives in major cities.
- Creating frequent gatherings with friends or new acquaintances around a common interest where creation or activity happens as a collective
- potluck dinners
- discussion groups
- whatever sings to your heart.
Meeting regularly is key. Connecting via discussion where trust is built, and going in with an open heart, an open mind, and open ears in a vulnerable way facilitates a space for deep bonding and growth. It’s wonderful that we can be a part of many different communities, either with friends or by venturing off on our own, meeting new people, and joining groups that interest you. Be fearless! Ultimately we all desire connection so there is nothing to worry about or nothing to lose.
I recently made the next round of castings for an up and coming television show called Utopia, where 14 strangers will come together to create a community. In the initial round of interviewing, I was asked to complete the sentence “My Utopia would be…” and I replied without blinking an eye, “all about love.” Community can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, yet at its core it’s about connecting and sharing for the good of all involved. Aka LOVE.
This weekend, Saturday April 26th I invite you to a healing and connecting experience, Vibations, which I will be leading at the Body Actualized Center in Brooklyn, a space devoted to community, music, art, yoga, and gatherings. Finding bits of community anywhere we can makes for a more connected, enriching life experience.