January 29, 2015

When we Grow a Community, we Save the Planet.

Photo: Sandra Cockayne via Pixoto

87 men and women wove bodies together, forming a rough line in a hall decorated with love and colour.

We arranged ourselves, without speaking,

in order from youngest to oldest. Gentle milling, some eyes downcast avoiding contact, some eyes boldly claiming attention, the occasional cheeky grin, measuring each other silently and instantly. No words, just body language and brows raised in question, obvious miscalculations quickly corrected, our order shifting organically in line.

When we were done, when the group was satisfied the task had been met, the movement and small shufflings ceased. We looked at each other. Up and down the line. A pause in which we gave permission to see and be seen, to take our place and recognise the rightness and gifts of each stage of life.

For the first time in my 33 years, I understood what it meant to be accepted and loved just because I was present and alive.

I understood what was missing in my own family. I didn’t have to do anything to earn this. It wasn’t dependent on how hard I worked, how attractive I was or how much money I made. It was my birthright, and there was some essential yet unknown role only I could play here.

Although I’d been seeking out “community” for many years, I never understood before this moment what it truly meant.

There was some vague fantasy about it, visions of living off the land and growing food, supporting each other, living cheaply, sharing tools, resources and necessary work, eating meals together and regular, process-driven, meaningful group conversation. I could see the essence and practical steps but had no awareness of the internal space, willingness and ability to suspend personal agendas it takes to both create and participate in community.

I didn’t understand how to actively engage in the community already around me, because I didn’t feel part of it until that moment.

When I first started in my clinic as an acupuncturist, bodyworker and spiritual counsellor seven years ago, the word community was just beginning to emerge in commercial realms. Business experts were (and still are) talking about niching and target markets and becoming a centre of influence. Coaches in the field of heart-based, authentic marketing were (and still are) talking about building tribes of people who love us and love what we do.

Forming deeply personal connections with many people and sharing with them regularly is the way to be successful and make money doing what we love—especially for healers, yoga teachers and creative souls in business.

It’s true.

Growing a tribe works.

But it’s the motivation behind the building of community, the purity of the underlying energy that determines how deep the journey will become and what lasting impact our work will have in individual lives. It’s our personal and direct experience of participating in community that dictates the integrity with which we hold the space for others.

The intention behind building community and growing a tribe is paramount.

We’re asked to enter into a higher level of communion with the sacred gift of life, each other and the earth. Community asks us to honour relationship above all else and (I believe), is the only permanent antidote in existence for lifetimes of isolation experienced in the west.

In a nutshell, growing a tribe will save the planet, and participating in one will heal the heart and collective cultural wounding.

The following purposes are often expounded by business coaches and marketing experts behind the building of community:

> It’s a method of growing a business, a large list and ensuring “success”
> It’s a branding tactic and a way to crush competition
> It’s an easy way to filter those interested from those not
> It’s a means to meet and fulfill our own personal goals and desires
> It creates a sure market of raving fans for selling products and services
> It helps build mutually beneficial relationships where networking and referrals can occur
> It’s an effective marketing strategy

The invitation for yoga teachers and healers in business is to grow a tribe for deeper reasons. To move beyond the singular self-focus, outcome-driven actions that gauge impact only in social likes, numbers and dollars.

Photo: Author's own.

Photo: The first meeting of “The Conscious Business Circle in Brisbane, Australia,” a community of yoga teachers and healers.

We build community because it meets a real human need: connection.

We build community because showing up and being seen is spiritual practice, because facing the fear, anxiety, doubt, awkwardness and self-worth issues shoved in our faces when we do, transforms.

We build community to learn how to be seen despite not fitting into the heavy concrete moulding of the main stream.

We build community to solidify and refine our body of work so we create something of real value in the world, and to heal the core wounding of separation endemic to our culture.

We build community to experience humility, and to experience what it means to bow down and release every idea we have about what love is—to soften the ego enough to see the grace we take for granted inside each moment.

We build community to be held by something infinite and to know what it is to live in service.

Community teaches us compassion. It allows us to know we are One.

Actively engaging in community is not meant to be easy (enter massive amounts of vulnerability, judgement, comparison, frustration and crippling bouts of inadequacy and self-doubt), but it’s the easiest and most direct route to self-knowledge and more love.

It shows us how to embody our gifts, speak up, understand value and worth and celebrate uniqueness. It teaches us we are all the same and leaves nothing behind but gratitude and a deep knowing of the finite nature and beauty of this human existence (no matter how messed up or scattered it may look from the outside).

Community has healed my heart and helped me find a voice that’s unapologetically imperfect. A voice that’s clear and powerful. It’s shown me how to cry in public and healed shame that had been preventing me from sharing my work in the world.

For those of us in conscious business, community polishes the soul and makes us cleaner channels of light for what’s asking to be delivered via individual hearts and hands.

If you’re considering building a tribe to grow your business, get clear on your motivations first. Ask some questions:

Why are you doing this?

What do you hope to gain?

What kind of community do you personally want to be part of?

And perhaps most importantly, what can you give to your community that is of real value and a gift in their lives?

If you’re interested in learning the mechanics of building a community, seek an expert who’s actively engaged in one (or several even). Find someone who’s had experience facilitating large groups and in understanding group dynamics. Go join a community yourself and look for support in the people around you right now.

Building community consciously is a process of surrender.

It’s a mystery and entry point into the unknown because we never know who will show up or what new inspiration and seeds will spark. We never know what love will come and be made possible in our own lives and the lives of every person who contributes.

Community created from this place births a fundamental shift in the way we give and feel our connection to all that Is. It’s an end to separation for we are both parent and participant equally.


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Author: Mirror Living

Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Emily Bartran

Photos: Sandra Cockayne via Pixoto / Author’s own.

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