Over the past few weeks, life has thrown my routine off course and those who know me know that’s hard for me. I crave routine always. I have been working and creating things I love and serving all those around me. I spent part of my time building a community event for my daughter's school, taught lots of classes and workshops and have been in study mode a lot (new project coming out this fall). The theme that has emerged in my practice, life experiences and work is the value of community.
I have fallen into a book called Tribe by Sebastian Junger. It is an excellent book for those interested in PTSD and community. The premise of the book is that we are stronger when we come together and how our world pulls us apart. There is a theory called the self-determination theory, which holds that we need three necessary things to be content, feeling competent in what we do, feeling authentic in our lives and feeling connected to others.
If we look at this from a yoga perspective, feeling competent in what we do means we feel valued. Part of this value can come from feeling our work is needed. In classes I teach we look at the importance of smiling at one another, remembering to say thank you for the person who checks out your produce at the grocery store. But it can also mean feeling seen and heard and accepting that. How often do people thank us and we are too busy to let it land and make eye contact to feel valued. Feeling competent in what you do means people are seeing you and validating you. So often in our world, we don’t do this for each other, we focus on the negative not each other's strengths.
Feeling authentic in our lives is a significant point for happiness. When we live and move from our place of real truth, that’s when the magic happens. To live from your real truth takes self-study and a real ability to listen to your inner knowing. It is something we cultivate or work towards. As someone who loves everything consistently moving I always have to reground every month and connect, does this feel like going through the motions or WOW that filled me up. As busy as we are these days I only want to spend my time with things that fill me up. What does it mean to live from your authentic place? That is a big question. Do we pause do we listen to how things make us feel.
What does it mean to be connected to others? “We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire as human beings is to be close to others and our society does not allow for that.” Junger Pg (94) What would it feel like if we connected with each other, put down our phones and practiced compassionate listening with each other.
“The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good” Junger pg 59 Connection to others is serving. It is a part of something more significant than you. It is walking into a yoga class you haven’t been to in a month, and feeling like your fellow yogi’s, without words, feel grateful you are there. It knows you are alone as no one knows what its like to be in your skin but also knowing everyone feels pain, anger, hurt, joy, happiness.
“Why are you focusing on how different you are from one another, and not on the things that unite us?” Yehuda, Junger Pg 127
So often we focus on what is wrong, how disconnected we are from one another the differences between us. But what if we focused on being a human, and having a human experience?
Over the next few weeks explore as we move into a busy season or perhaps a slower one. How do we connect with the world around us? Not just our loved ones but also everyone we encounter. Do we help? Do we support? Do we love?
* Junger, Sebastian Tribe- On homecoming and belonging, 2016