Friday, July 6, 2012

Building Your Personal Spiritual Community

A Sand Rainbow: When you can't find a rainbow, make your own.
For those who are keeping close tabs on this blog, you know that one of my big new initiatives is to help support all of you in finding and building spiritual communities. We're in a time where the old methodologies that kept schools of wisdom and spiritual practices separate is no longer helpful to the preservation of those knowledge bases and practices, which was a big reason for how things went for a lot of centuries. Religions didn't have Internet databases to story all their stuff, and they couldn't share via email. So cross-pollination wasn't really feasible, and of course, we all understand how much ego was in the way for one religion to appreciate other religions and spiritual practices. Regardless of what went before, what is here now is an opportunity to build a new type of spiritual community that makes all types of wisdom available so that each individual can find what works best for him or her.

Along with that, I'm working on a spiritual community tab that also includes helping you to build your own personal spiritual community. As opposed to creating something general for many people, your personal community is the one that has people who help you specifically on your path. They may be close friends, relatives, or Internet acquaintances. However, you may not know how to find them or what a spiritual friend really is. So that's part of what I'd like to talk to you about today.

The First Steps to Building a Spiritual Community
The first steps are always starting with you. What types of spiritual practices are working for you? Exploration is critical so you get a sense of what is fulfilling and helpful. When you know what you like, it's easier to find others who are similar to you. But if you've just gone to the same church that you don't like and are hoping to find someone there, you're probably not going to find people that interest you. This is part of following your heart and your inner knowing, which I talk about constantly on this blog. Building a spiritual community for yourself will involve your intuition just like everything else. If you feel intuitively drawn to a meditation group, then go there. See what you're being drawn to. If you're being intuitively drawn away from another group, then don't go there. It is kind of simple in a lot of ways, and while many of you are new to listening to your intuition (going with your gut feeling is another way that this is expressed), you gotta start somewhere.

Not Trying To Get Everything From One Place
You know, living in the U.S. gives many people here the idea that you can just go to one store to get everything you need. People take this idea into communities and relationships. It's part of what makes so many relationships so miserable. People try to turn their partner into a one-stop shop for all their physical, sexual, intimate, emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual needs. Sometimes you can luck out and find someone who meets you on over half of these levels, but most of the time, it doesn't work that way. The same goes for spiritual communities, which is another reason to explore. For instance, you're going to notice that a lot of spiritual traditions completely neglect physical and sexual awareness, or they put them into extremely narrow definitions that are completely unhealthy. So finding different groups that help you open your energy on multiple levels and finding different groups who can support you in different ways will vastly help your own growth, balancing your internal energy, and clearing old issues that don't need to be there.

Where to Go? Where to Go?
I fully realize that a lot of you don't have many options for spiritual practices in your area. That's probably part of how you ended up on this blog, but I've often found that when I follow my heart, more than a few people turn up in places that I'd never suspected. With that said, don't rule out finding people to connect with wherever you are, but perhaps change how you're looking. I know that many of you are refugees of the Christian church, which through a lot authoritarian ways and its black and white world view has turned off a lot of people. But perhaps, the local church has prayer groups, meditation nights, or things about Christian mysticism. Those groups tend to attract more dedicated spiritual goers than the typical Sunday morning gatherings, which often are other people's ways of paying their weekly dues to God (it doesn't work that way with God, however. God is interested in how you are living every moment of every day).

So go to a group that you hadn't gone to before, and see what happens. See who you naturally connect with. I've often found that people are actually very good at finding the right people in the room to connect with. It's kind of like magnets. Different people kind of naturally attract to each other to create a kind of balance in the gathering. Usually, the first people I meet in a gathering are the ones that I'm most aligned with or who offer me whatever learning lesson I need. I won't say that that will be the case with you, but it's worth a shot, right?

Expanding Your Options
You may try other ways. You could put up a message on an online site like Craigslist in your local community saying: "Seeking a Spiritual Friend to Talk." Or you could post to a community bulletin board or something else. Whatever it is you want to do. It will definitely be interesting who responds, and that's part of the journey. You can also setup a Meetup group if there are enough people in your area who are using that online service.

And of course, there is the Internet for meeting people around the world. There are lots of spiritual sites and spiritual Facebook groups and pages that can expose you to other people. Thanks to free video chat services, you can get to talk to these people, who can be anywhere around the world. That's always kind of a humbling thing to realize; you literally can talk to anyone around the world so long as they have an Internet connection. Pretty awesome.

Of course, you can travel to retreats too. Spiritual retreats can be part of your exploration as you find more people with whom you can connect. Once again, this is a great way to practice following your heart and intuition (to me, they become kind of the same thing, although the untamed heart can be out of control emotionally. The spiritual path helps to bring the heart into balance so that it's messages are clearer). Wherever you land, you have an opportunity to meet more people to help support you as you grow.

Growth in All Relationships
Now, you will certainly be able to grow in all of your relationships. All relationships offer a chance to learn about yourself. However, for the sake of your personal spiritual community, it certainly does help to have people whom you like. Together you can set up rules and understandings about the relationship:
  • what you want from it
  • what is appropriate for both of you
  • what practices you're both interested in
  • how you share and reflect with each other, and more. 
All of these things are really healthy to learn how to do. You shouldn't just assume that just because someone else says that they're "spiritual" that they mean anything close to your definition of spiritual. So an initial phase of getting to know someone may be asking them what spirituality means to them as well as offering your definition.

Evolving and Transitional Relationships
The topic of transitional relationships was the subject of an entire blog post back in 2011. This really is aimed at those in awakening because during many phases of the awakening, you will cycle through different relationships. You're burning off karma and clearing issues at a really fast rate, so you need to be bringing new people into your spiritual community and letting go of others regularly. You may become very familiar with the neutral feeling of completion. This is when something is simply done. It's not dramatic or emotional. It's just complete.

With that, you'll find that your personal spiritual community is in flux a lot, and because of that, you'll need to be in a constant state of making new friends. In truth, we all should have that orientation because there are so many wonderful people to meet. But in the space of awakening, it is really helpful to continually feel supported by others. As some people can only swim out so far into the lake with you, then you need some others who can swim out even farther and perhaps in different ways.

It's like I said before, you can't expect all your friends to meet you on every level. So someone who really meets you in the heart-space may not meet you intellectually at all. And after a time, you may learn all the heart lessons that you need to from this person, and you may need someone who can meet you in an even bigger heart-space. So it'll be time to find a new person or group of people on the heart-level. Eventually, your awakening calms down, and you can simply meet others where they are at. But during the transition, it is really, really, REALLY helpful to have people can support you at your level or who offer things to help you learn and grow more easily. And as I said, they don't have to be physically close to you. Thanks to the Internet they can be anywhere.

So Get Started & It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect
I hope you're not looking for perfect people, whatever that means. There are none. There are just people. Spiritual people are just as human as the rest. Some people are actually living spirituality, and some are playing a new ego game. It's a wild, wild spiritual world, but undoubtedly, you can navigate it. What you can't do is to hope that it will all just show up on your doorstep. You have to do your part in co-creating your personal spiritual community. Then if the time is right, people will start showing up. Even if you don't think the right people are showing up, whoever is around you is already offering you the lessons that you need to grow. So take a look around. The right spiritual community for you may already be all around you.
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