Week 18: Share My Path Series.
Within the Share My Path conversation there have been many topics that merit further exploration, but the one that struck me this past week was the idea of community; and with it, the idea of privilege and appreciation. While enmeshed within the contexts of the 2013 WakeUp Festival, reflections of Nancy’s path, with her community keeping her to her practice, vibrated in the air; as did Rachel and her community of two. But it was an off-the-cuff comment, made during my interview with Lucia, which hung heavy in the serene mountain surroundings.
While thousands of people were coming together to listen to a wide array of teachers, experiment with a new practice, and/or soak in the community of like-minded people, many others across the wide world were lacking access to even a simple internet connection that might even lead them to the Share My Path series and a community, even if virtual, which seeks to share in order to support.Photo: K. Armstrong
Lucia’s comment during our talk was that her location lacked a yoga studio, it lacked any sort of Sangha which would offer her a community; for this reason she’d found her direction through phone apps. Looking amongst the varied participants at WakeUp Festival one was forced to ponder just how many of them where there because this festival was their access to a community; how many of them lacked any sort of Sangha or spiritually supporting community where they called home?
I overheard, in passing, a man with a WakeUp festival tag speaking to another participant: “Being here is the experience,” he told him. How can we not translate this to mean: being melded into this community is the experience?
This lesson should resonate among those of us with privilege—and I do not reference here privilege of a monetary sort but privilege in access of community. How easy it is to forget, for some, that not every place has a yoga studio. Or that not every place has a community of spiritual seekers. How easy it is to forget that there are still places which even lack access to a church. Places which simply lack access for people to join a community, to feel a part of something greater.Photo: K. Armstrong
During a Seane Corn workshop on grief—one in which I recognize my privilege in attending—practitioners shared stories of grief vibrating within them. One man suffered the effects of the Vietnam War and the atrocities he’d committed. Another had recently lost a friend in the desert. A woman grieved the soon death of her beloved pet. Seane shared her story of losing a balloon at a young age, and the tears which are evident in her journal entry from that day; and in doing so reinforced that grief need not be subjected to a spectrum of worth.
The room shook with emotion as these stories bounced between the consciousnesses of everyone in attendance. The community, of strangers, they’d joined at WakeUp Festival offered them space; space in which they were able to release.
This was just one of many examples of community easily visible.
Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True—the organization behind the experience—later in the week called WakeUp Festival an experiment; a confession she shared was not one her marketing department wanted her to make. And what an experiment it is; offering a space for those seeking to do so.
Of course this space does come of privilege: this time I am referring to the monetary kind. And so yes, it is an experiment whose subjects can at least afford the cost of entrance; or are privileged enough, and grateful for, being offered complimentary access. But, then again, so is every yoga studio charging by the class.
It’s important to recognize our own privileges. To stop every once in a while and recognize that we have the ability to pay for that class, or to donate to our Sangha. But it’s just as important to recognize, and be grateful for, the fact we have access to a community; that there is a group, which may only consist of you and another, which shares something, which understands and supports us.
Not everyone has this; in fact someone reading this may not have this. So remember, as you pull up for your meditation class or yoga class, or as you sit down with your partner to practice, that you are privileged; that life, kamma (karma), fate, or whatever you believe, has offered you more light than shadow. And, remember that some of you even have the ability to build that community which others are looking for.
Share My Path is a journalistic archive of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation . Through community sharing of our paths we’ll help others find theirs.
Share My Path would love to feature your path! e-mail me.
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Last week’s installment of Share My Path: Explore the New:A Lesson in Japa Mantra
The installment that started it all: Your First Time: Sometimes it Hurts.
A random installment:Add Some Curiosity to Your Practice.
A list of all previous weeks: Share My Path.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise