May 21, 2012

Look in the Mirror, Do You Like What You See? The Importance of Community. ~ Alicia Banister

Photo: Katie Tegtmeyer

“Out of a great need we are all holding hands and climbing. Not loving is a letting go. Listen, the terrain around here is far too dangerous for that.”

~ Hafiz

This is Part two of a series. Part one is here.

There is a wound that we all feel, and that we can no longer ignore.

This wound is separateness. It’s isolation. It’s a disconnect from one another and the earth. This wound is often silent, subtle and painful, but not necessarily overwhelming.

This wound can find healing in community. Because what is community, if not human connection? Hand-to hand connection.

Community is not necessarily about a group or a tribe or an exclusive enclave to which one belongs.

Community is about the barista at the coffee shop on the corner, the bus driver with the route that goes past my house, the washing machine-less folks at the laundromat with me right now, the clients I see regularly and the clients I’ve seen only once or twice, the friends I meet for happy hour and the friends with whom I make dinner.

Community is about trusting that you’re not alone.

Community is about feeling a connection, however fleeting, with something essential in someone else—and making that connection more important than all of the differences between you.

Community gives us mirrors.

Mirrors are essential because they give us the opportunity to see parts of ourselves that we can’t otherwise reach. There’s a reason I named my practice Reflections Massage Therapy. I believe we are all mirrors for each other—reflecting back our beauty and capacity and ever-essential flaws.

Because here’s the thing, a mirror doesn’t choose what it shows you. It shows you. All of you. The perfections and imperfections and everything in between. And there is magic in these mirrors because they don’t just reflect back to us what’s on the surface, but also what’s underneath: what makes us human.

And that is part of the importance of community, because everyone is a different mirror, everyone reflects us back differently and we need those different perspectives to see ourselves more wholly.

I got that reflection the other day, with a friend, and I felt in my body what it was to be seen and met not for what I am putting out into the world, not for my cleverly constructed ego, but for the self that resides within that, the essence of me. And to have that reflected back to me was a gift greater than I could’ve ever imagined receiving.

But these reflections do not come cheap.

We have a responsibility to community.

We have a responsibility to those whom we share space with and those who provide reflections (and coffee and delicious food and environmentally friendly transportation). Perhaps some of that responsibility lies in redefining community to allow it to include those who fly under our radar on a daily basis.

I’m not here to preach about community and make you feel guilty if you’re not more involved in the community where you live. I understand that community is not always an option, not always available and not always welcoming. Believe me, I get that, I’ve been there.

I want to start a conversation about what community looks like to each of us (the extroverts and introverts and everyone in between) and what we can do to support one another and ourselves.

So, maybe your community is one person. One person who sees you, one person who can meet you, one person who can reflect you back to yourself, one person who shows up. Great! Let it be one person, and in that one person allow yourself to see them, meet them, reflect them and show up—that’s the important thing, keep showing up. For yourself and for whomever comprises your community.

It is through community that we heal. It is through community that we connect with our humanity. Polish your mirror. Tend to scratches. Take a lesson from its capacity to hold the wholeness of everything it sees.

We could all stand to see and reflect more wholeness in the world.

Alicia Banister swims in the sea of bodyworkers in Boulder, Colorado as a CranioSacral and Massage Therapist. She is not very good at sleeping late or cutting in a straight line. But she is really good at regularly feeding her dog, being in the woods, cooking, laughing loudly and often and making mistakes. She regularly marvels at the human body and the breadth of its inherent healing capacity, as well as the fantastic beings that inhabit those bodies. She makes it a practiceto let life humble her as often as possible. And to remember to have a sense of humor about it all. You can find her ramblings at reflectionsmassage.wordpress.com and reflectionsmassage.com.

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Editor: Lara Chassin

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