I’m still riding the high from Monday when I spent the afternoon at a park by the Cape Fear River practicing yoga with Seane Corn, and Michael Franti, along with about 150 other yogis in the blazing summer sun. While we moved through down dogs and warrior twos in the grass, Michael Franti played his beautiful, uplifting music—and we all soaked up the love and good vibes. It was damn near magical, and I may or may not have gotten choked up once or twice.
Reflecting back on that experience, I realize that what really made that experience so powerful wasn’t getting to meet the amazing yoga teacher Seane Corn, although that was awesome. It wasn’t getting to hear and see Michael Franti playing in that beautiful setting—again, awesome.It wasn’t the inspiring speakers on stage. What made it all so special was the feeling of community that was created that day.
When I left my house Monday morning I was definitely excited to be going to this event, but I was nervous as well. I know a bunch of yogis and yoginis in town; we are a very yoga-friendly town. But as far as I knew none of them were able to take off in the middle of a Monday to go get their chataranga on. But, as soon as I parked my car I ran into a friend and she invited me to join her group. Not only was I NOT alone, I got to meet six lovely, new people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine going places alone. I don’t need a big group to feel comfortable. And time alone is important. But, it’s really nice to share experiences as well. Being invited to unroll my yoga mat as a part of their group started creating that feeling of inclusion and community that made Monday so amazing.
See, I think a lot of us are missing that component of community in our lives. This is something I’ve been thinking about recently, and if you listened to my recent podcast episode about PokémonGo, you know that I touched on the concept of this silly game being a positive factor in community building.
Feeling like you belong, like you're a part of a tribe, like you have a place at the table…however you want to describe the feeling of community; that’s important to our health. And too many of us don’t feel it. We are connected to the world by our phones and our computer screens, but we interact from a distance. And that distance creates fear, and isolation, and loneliness. Those feelings can escalate into depression, and anxiety. Doesn’t it seem like almost everyone you know suffers from one or both of those? Yeah. Me too.
So how do we get that goodness of community back in our lives? How do we tap back into being a part of where we live, and find and connect with other people? I don’t have any definitive answers, or an easy five step downloadable plan for you. But I do know that it starts with taking a chance, and going out into the world with a good attitude and a hopeful outlook.
When I drove out of the neighborhood on Monday morning, I was pushing my nervousness over to the side in order to make room for the possibility that everything was going to go really well down at the park. I figured, hey it’s a yoga meet up. It’s going to be populated with yoga enthusiasts, who are generally a pretty chill crowd. So worse comes to worst, I’ll be surrounded by chill (maybe aloof) people I don’t know. No big deal. But, as I said earlier, I ended up finding a friend and making new ones! And I expanded my circle a little bit wider. And that feels really good.
I like that feeling and want more of it. But to keep it going, I have to do my part and actually keep going to meet ups and connecting with people in person. It’s very easy for me to do everything I do via the internet. Clients can be coached on Skype, or the phone. I can do all of my writing and podcasting from home. I can order food online and have it dropped at my door. I can get anything I need delivered to my house in twenty-four hours thanks to Amazon Prime. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? But is that really a recipe for a happy, healthy life? No, I don’t think it is.
So if you’re one of the millions of us in the world who feels a bit disconnected, a bit isolated, or left out, can I make a suggestion? Take that first step toward finding your community. Check out the Meetup app, and find out about local groups you might be interested in (seriously, no matter what your interests are there’s a meetup for it). Take a yoga class instead of always practicing at home. Drag your laptop to the coffee shop to write. Sign up for a 5k or a group bike ride….there are literally thousands of ways to meet other people with your interests. Once you start getting involved you will be amazed at the difference you feel.
I felt it Monday. And I want all of us to feel it.
How did you connect with or find your community? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section (you can even remain anonymous!) to inspire other folks to get out there.