Sangha, community. Sangha Community.
Public, unrestricted, group, society, neighborhood, kinship, unity, spirit-these are all words that fall under Community in the Thesaurus. All have different meanings, yet have similarities. We are all part of a community, whether we actively participate in one or not. Whether it’s your town community, school community, online community, religious community or social community- this unrestricted group that unifies individuals can be influential in every person.
Parker J. Palmer’s phenomenal book The Courage to Teach was a perfect book to get me motivated to begin another successful school year. The thing I took most from the book was the essence of a community. Since, I have finished reading this book, I have been more aware of all the communities I am involved in and value the significance of them all. Parker J. Palmer beautifully details ways that we can teach and learn in a community that can “help renew and express the capacity for connectedness at the heart of authentic education.” As an educator I applaud his views on education and as a human being I appreciate his desire for connectedness.
In this fast-paced technological world full of email, texting, Instagram, Facebook, you name it; there is little room for face-to-face interaction or even actual voice to voice communication. Despite this lack of actual contact, there is a huge online community where individuals feel connected. Studies have shown that online communities are beneficial for people who lack social skills, or the elderly who have limited contact with people.
Each community I am involved in gives me pride, enjoyment, and most importantly a spirited bond. I have my ethnic background -the Italian-American community, as well as my profession-the counseling community, and I really enjoy my social communities- the running community and the yoga community. I get something out of each one, and all have a special place in my heart. It’s a bond, a connection, that makes me feel accepted and valued.
The yoga community, in particular, touches my soul. No matter where I practice, when I speak to a fellow “yogi” I feel connected. Bringing my practice to Sangha Space really solidified that for me. For several years, my practice was mostly at home and I would only occasionally go to a yoga class. It was not until I started regularly returning to Sangha Space that I started to feel a desire to become part of this community. I enjoyed being in the presence of other “yogis” and being in the same space as the instructor. It held me accountable to commit to the entire practice, whereas at home, my mind would drift elsewhere, or I’d hit pause to let my dog out, or I would often rush through certain poses, especially Savasana. At Sangha, when the instructor knew my name I felt part of connected group. When I would l leave Sangha Space I would feel, alive and calm, full of peace and exuberance. I started desiring to be part of a weekly community and appreciating all that was around me.
I truly believe what you put out in the universe always comes back at you and when you are mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you will have clarity. As previously mentioned, it was when I finished Palmer’s book that I began to truly value the significance of a community. Last weekend, I was planning a weekend retreat to Kripalu with a focus course on Buddhism. As my husband was reading various views of the Buddhists, he said the word “Sangha”. He said “sangha meaning community” it was an ah-ha moment. I knew what the word meant, but never thought much about it, never made a connection. I believe it was meant for me to value the sense of community, focus on my practice at Sangha, explore a Buddhist weekend retreat and bring awareness to what Sangha represented and stood for. I am proud of my communities, and especially proud to be part of the Sangha Community.
“Community is an outward and visible sign of an inward invisible grace, the flowing of personal identity and integrity into the world of relationships.” ~Parker J. Palmer