I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community for practice.
I recently returned from spending some time in the United States practising on retreat, teaching, and spending time with the communities over there. It was an amazing trip. I spent time meditating in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona (so many cacti!). I got to meet people in person that I’d talked with for countless hours over Zoom in the last two years. I also had my brain scanned while meditating in service of building a neurofeedback device to help meditators reach deep states of samādhi (more on this later).
But the biggest thing for me was getting to be around the community. There’s something powerful about people coming together, whether that is to practise on retreat or in a local class or just hanging out in a park and eating burritos. There was also something special about seeing communities that have been built over years and have developed a pragmatic approach to supporting each participant in their own development.
In my own practice I’ve found that community has been incredibly important. I’ve made some wonderful friends through practice who help me tremendously with their kindness and encouragement. In Buddhist traditions, we might refer to this as the saṅgha. This is one of the three jewels that we can take refuge in, the others being the Buddha (others who have gone further on the path), and the Dharma (the teachings, or the practices). My understanding of taking refuge in the saṅgha is to go to the community for support, to find inspiration, and to be dedicated to supporting each other and cultivating the practice. Being able to rely on the community to assist us, to shelter us in times of need. The saṅgha gives us the courage to move forward.
Then the question to ponder is:
Do you feel supported in your practice? How could community help your practice?
Spending time with meditators overseas affirmed my goals of building a strong community of like-minded practitioners and doing what I can to support building a community.
It has been my goal to not just offer teachings but to build a sense of a connected community. This means that I will do my best to create spaces that are accessible, offer different pricing options and scholarships, and provide support for wherever you are in your practice. I want to dedicate myself to connecting people with the type of community that will be conducive to reaching their individual goals, whatever they are.
I’d also like to create networks that allow you to be able to connect with each other outside of the classes and support one another as peers.
There’s a lot of work to be done here but it seems more important than ever that we find ways to collectively work towards cultivating our minds, consciously working with the ways that we suffer, and finding new ways of relating to experience.
I hope this encourages you to find community in whatever form feels appropriate and beneficial. If there’s some particular format of class or retreat you are looking for, or some kind of community interaction you are seeking then please reply and let me know. Otherwise I hope to see you at a class or retreat soon 😀