Since ancient times community has been considered to be a key element of any developmental practices and how to translate and integrate these developments into the world.
Buddhist practitioners have one of their three jewels as the Sangha. Sangha is the community of practitioners.
Tantric Yogic practitioners have one of their key aspects of the practice as the Kula, the family or clan of practitioners.
Any religion has the same, albeit by different names.
We human beings need to belong, we are belonging based creatures, tribes, clans and cults. We have no big teeth, no claws, no spikes or spines to defend ourselves, so our biology unites us through emotion and the neuro-chemicals and neurons of connection – oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, mirror neurons, theory of mind (how we mind read others intentions), and more. This is how we have evolved.
In an unconscious way, this need to belong and to bend our being into this can lead to toxic othering of the ones who are not in our group – tribal warfare, xenophobia, slavery and all the social diseases and inter-group violence that have been rife through human history.
In a conscious way, community can offer us a level of support that is unparalleled – we will come back to this later.
First, what is community?
“A common definition of community emerged as a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.”
Of course, this is the definition of simple emergent or unconscious communities. It does not consider the modern ‘virtual community’, for example.
When I was teaching in Greece, one of the events at the symposium was traditional Greek dance and music. The interesting result of doing this hypnotic, repetitive dance, together, in a circle for an hour, was the resonance created amongst the group. It is like a community reset. Whatever has happened has happened, let’s come back into resonance and shared perspectives. This reminded me of when I used to do Breton dance, all night events of bringing people into a heightened and deeper state – together.
I’ve also experienced the same in the Native American community ceremonies I have engaged in – all night dancing, singing, and more that draws people into a state that can be loosely described as profoundly connected and loving. One of the phrases used in this culture is ‘Todos la familia’, meaning ‘we are all family’.
From the Lakota Sioux we hear ‘Aho Mitakuye Oyasin’ repeated often in these kinds of ceremonies, which means ‘we are all related’. Technically, in terms of mitochondrial DNA, this is totally accurate.
Community means coming together. Yet it is what happens when we come together with conscious intent that really matters. We resonate and we synergise.
I was talking with a psychiatrist whom I work with, (I teach postgraduate psychiatrists) and we were talking about how practicing breathwork together, chanting or singing together, moving and dancing together – creates social health, individual and collective mental wellbeing and also enables each of us to relax into the community and find our place.
It is from this relaxed presence that we can then find a new us. Community is a womb in which we are reborn every time we dive in deep.
In my book Protecting Planet Earth, there is this piece on conscious community as an evolutionary art.
It’s important to understand that no matter what we do, we are never not in community. Even people sitting in caves are in community, the breath they breathe is also our breath.
Community is all of us, including those we know and love, those we live amongst and those we share this planet with. We really are all neighbours and all relatives.
Community in this sense is the concentric circles of the interdependent web of connection. Community is the place of communion, the spatial and temporal centre for shared existence. Without community there is no humanity.
We are a relational species within an ecological web, without other species we do not exist, and cannot exist. There is a limit to how much species extinction the web of life can take before it collapses into another mass extinction.
When we recognise all the myriad species of our planet as our ‘community’, as if we were all related, then our communities will include these myriad species and give living room to them as well. Our community is the web of life.
The art of community is growing beyond unconscious conditioned community and into conscious community. To understand conscious community, it’s useful for us to have direct experience of the deepest truth of our subjective existence.
This experiential ‘truth’ as vibrant livingness is that in essence, as pure awareness we exist as a feeling sense of compassion, goodness and love. In other words, the feeling of awareness or consciousness in its most original form, is love. We’re all this. This is what people commonly experience when they go deep into the inner meditative work.
We also have common ground, we all breathe, we all share beating hearts and all have centres of gravity and feel our feet or some part of our bodies on the ground. We all need food, water, shelter and love. When we know our bodies as flowing earth, water and air. We recognise our common ground, our common wealth and begin from here.
When we see that the heat of our muscles came from sunlight through food and that we are all the same, we start to get a sense of unicity. When we see the ways that we are formed through emotional relationship, and how our ideas and concepts and beliefs are all built out of relationship, we can stop seeing ourselves as independent.
Independence is a painful illusion, we are all interdependent. When we see that we’re all built of relationship, we can begin to honour community and grow a conscious community.
The pro-social method of conscious community creation recognises that each of us has the potential to support each other’s mutual arising. Let’s support our ‘relatives’ in living as this direct experience of scintillating truth, in relationship to each other.
Conscious community then grows from being a method, to becoming the vehicle and the living expression of conscious evolution.
We become a community of interdependent, mutually empowered individuals growing into our greatest, creative, actualised and compassionate potential.
What does conscious community offer?
Sanctuary is a place where we can rest, relax, come home to the experience of love, presence and being together.
Challenge as appropriate and necessary, from our loving celebrants in community, help us to remain in presence, awareness and responsibility. If we do something unskilful, having people we trust to reprimand, cajole, and invite us back into skilfulness, is essential
Support helps us face our challenges and issues, whilst deepening in practices of developmental method, insight and realisation. We help each other grow.
Communion is the sharing of love, realisation, joy and laughter. The sharing of struggles and suffering, the relaxation into life and death.
Celebration is the coming together in joy, appreciation and gratitude of the members of the community and collectively sharing and expressing this dance of inter-dependent appreciation.
Resonance is the shared energetic union we create that enables us to relax our nervous systems into the community, to land from individuation into union and to experience this in a good way.
Synergy is how we grow together, how our social-synapse enables each of us to be more than is possible alone. Our brain’s structure and its function becomes enhanced as we land in this conscious celebratory community. We grow through and out of community.
How will we grow such community?
We practice honesty, integrity, presence, awareness and willingness to communicate and take responsibility for all of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This is the premise for trust, and the life-breath of community is trust.
It is when we each take individual responsibility for all of ‘our’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and the consequence and impact of these in the world. No one else is to blame, no one makes us think, or feel, or do anything. Then we can be in community that is conscious – otherwise it is a mess of projection, blame, transference, counter-transference and all the problems these create.
As community members we assume total responsibility for resolving ‘our’ conditioning and yet rest in the openness and sustenance of the community of ‘realisers’.
To sustain such openness, we cultivate integrity, profound awareness and willingness to face the truth of what is, with resolute inquiry and ruthless compassion.
As conscious community we recognise we’re all in this together, we’re all family, all relatives. We play, work and share together to help each other discover our unique way of moving deeper into the vision and action of who we most fully are, individually and collectively.
Conscious community is a mirror reflecting back our strengths, weaknesses and blind spots, if we are prepared to see them. We see and know who we are, reflected in the hearts and minds of every member of our community. Conscious community heals us.
Members support each other as they reveal and resolve shadow. Members take responsibility for their psycho-emotional states and for the wellbeing of the community.
Conscious community offers and invites a sustainable way into our own hearts and minds.
Living more and more fully in the heart of our being, we find mutual support in each other’s struggles and successes, in each other’s development and simple pleasures. Members celebrate each other’s joy and success.
Members share commitment to each other’s growth and development in conjunction with a commitment to the well-being and mutual growth of socially and ecologically sustainable community.
Members share love and learn to live in love. Love is simply the feelings of consciousness, or aware presence.
Conscious community offers the possibility of co-creating culture and a mutually empowered future.
Conscious community is realised interdependence in action, the path of loving responsibility and social and ecological sustainability.
Conscious community allows us to work together even more effectively and in harmony, to become the very best version of who we can be. We all need this.
This is just the beginning. There is nothing definitive here – it awaits your engagement, contribution and presence.
Come and climb consciously in, with the 30 day free trial for my Embody Evolution membership – join our vibrant, growing, passionate community to breathe and flow, thrive and grow. 💚