by Nick Michie: Your Sangha is your spiritual community…
Spiritual community is one of the most important aspects of the spiritual path. In Buddhism and some other yoga traditions, it is known as “Sangha” and is a central part of meditation practices.
Sangha refers to the community of people on the spiritual journey. Traditionally, it was used to denote a community of ordained monks or nuns. But more recently the term is used to describe a wider spectrum of spiritual practitioners.
So we can find Sangha in meetings with advanced or enlightened teachers. But we can also find it by spending time with other fellow spiritual seekers.
Paramahansa Yogananda once said, “Environment is stronger than willpower.” You may have plenty of will power on the path, but find yourself in a negative environment, or around people who hold you back. If this is the case, it’s hard to reach your highest potential. Most of us are not able to grow far beyond the energy we’re surrounded by.
This post is about how to find spiritual community. When we do so, we deepen our spiritual lives and improve our practice. During the early days on the path, many of us read endless meditation books and blogs, and watch tons of YouTube videos.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, you’ll probably get to a point where you realize that you need to be around other spiritual seekers if you want to truly evolve.
Why We Need Spiritual Community
If you wanted to be a musician, you’d hang out with other musicians. If you wanted to be a politician, you’d hang out with people who talk politics.
So if you want to deepen your spiritual life, it’s important to spend time with like-minded people. Here are a few reasons why:
Meditation is fairly straightforward. We sit and focus on our breath and bring the mind back when it wanders. But there are also many possibilities for making errors and taking wayward paths. It’s simple, but not always easy!
More advanced meditators can give you advice, show you techniques, and answer your questions. This helps you refine your process and improve over time. It helps you to stay on the right track.
Spiritual practitioners don’t spend much time on superficial chitchat or idle gossip. They get straight to the heart and talk about deep issues.
This helps to raise your consciousness towards higher thinking and spiritual ideals. It also pulls your mind away from the trivial concerns of everyday life.
On the spiritual path, it can feel a little isolating early on. You may find that some of your friendships start to fall away. Some people even experience feelings of isolation.
When you go to meditation meetings, you’re likely to meet people you relate to. You can share your experiences and enjoy each other’s company. It makes you feel a part of something bigger. Plus, it’s nice to be around like-minded people.
You may find your practice becomes more consistent and disciplined. Your motivation increases when you see other people on the same path as you.
Some people even buddy up for accountability. You can check on each other’s practice and talk about how it’s going. This way you have a greater drive to form the habit and become a daily practitioner.
Deeper Inner Peace
So, your meditation is becoming more consistent and disciplined. You’re finding that your practice is deeper because you understand better what to do. Maybe you’re also spending more time thinking about higher ideals, love and joy. As a result, you find your daily sense of inner peace growing. You’re calmer as you go about your days, less worried, less stressed.
I’ve saved the most important until last. Sharing energy with advanced meditators is very powerful. You may find immediately when you’re in their presence that your meditations are deeper.
You are sharing in the vibrations that they’ve cultivated over years of practice. So, when you’re amidst this spiritual energy, you’re magnetized along the spiritual path.
How To Find a Spiritual Community
So, all this is great, but how do you actually find spiritual people? What actions can you take to help you network and find support? Here’s a list of 9 ways to do it:
1. Go to meditation and yoga classes
Try to find classes in your area. You can search online, and especially on Meetup.com to find something that looks like it might be a good fit.
It can be a little scary the first time, which may be what puts some people off. But you might make some incredible friends and get the support you need. So it’s worth facing those fears.
2. Join a Facebook community
Facebook has many groups where you can find spiritual community. In these groups, you can get involved, have conversations, and share about your journey.
Chad Foreman’s The Way of Meditation Community
is one of the best around. It’s an uplifting place where you can associate with other long-term meditators. Head over there to join the group.
3. Reach out to people you know
You may already know someone who is into meditation or yoga. You could send them a message on Facebook to see if they can help you out. When people are into something, they’re usually happy to share their knowledge.
Ask them if they want to meet up or if they go to any cool groups that you could join. This is a quick and easy way to make a spiritual friend.
4. Attend an online group meditation
There are many online classes and guided meditations around these days. They are often shared on Facebook groups. You can find some on the Way of Meditation Community.
Live classes may be on Facebook Live. If they’re on Zoom or another webinar platform, then you may need to enter your email. But it’s a small price to pay for attending a live meditation. Some may also ask for donations or payment.
5. Take an online course
All of The Way of Meditation’s Courses
have interactive forums to ask questions and leave comments. But some courses do have a community aspect online. Taking a course tends to put you into the “inner-circle” of a meditation teacher and help connect with other practitioners. This is a great way to deepen your practice and means you have a direct link to ask them questions and seek help.
6. Go on retreat
This for me may be the most powerful and effective way of finding spiritual community. It is throwing yourself in the deep end.
When you go on a retreat, you’ll be alongside many spiritual seekers, some of whom will be far more advanced than you. You’ll get a chance to spend time with professional spiritual teachers who will help you along the path.
Plus, a whole week or more of meditation won’t do you any harm. Try to make some friends and stay in touch.
7. Go on a pilgrimage
Going on a sacred journey can be a powerful way to meet people. You’ll be spending a lot of time with others, as a pilgrimage can be a few weeks.
This is a unique opportunity to connect with spiritual devotees. The purpose of the journey is spiritual connection, so the vibes are high and the energy is beautiful. Again, stay in touch with the people who stand out.
8. Start a your own spiritual group or meet-up
If there are no spiritual groups in your area, why not start your own? It only takes two or three people to make a group. If you can find a couple of people interested in meditation, you can get together and practice.
This is how I started on the path actually. My friend Ryan and I used to sit and meditate together in Thailand, and often a couple of other people would join us. Afterwards, we’d speak about the spiritual path. There is powerful energy in people coming together to grow spiritually. You could even advertise if you were feeling brave.
A Few Tips Aboout Spiritual Community
Finally here are a few tips before you get started.
Be active in the community. If you’re in a Facebook group, be sure to ask questions, answer questions, and get involved. It’s easy to join and then take a back seat. At the start, you may ask more questions. But as time goes by, you’ll become more of an authority, and people may begin to ask you questions and seek your advice. Your responses to questions may even be included in a blog post at The way of Meditation like this one – Everyday People Answer the Question What is Meditation?
Be respectful and kind
Within the spiritual world, there are a variety of paths, and a range of opinions. Always try to respect the opinions of others.
There’s nothing worse than when someone’s comment turns into a nasty, heated debate. It doesn’t help anyone and it serves only to expand the ego. Let other people have their opinions and be polite and respectful. You may not agree, but that doesn’t mean you need to be unkind. If you need to correct someone, do it kindly.
Don’t be afraid to invest
For some reason, people seem to think that everything meditation-related should be free. Free meditation stuff is OK, but like anything in this world, you get what you pay for. If you’re willing to pay for courses, retreats, and classes, you will get more out of your practice. You’ll also connect more with the teachers and students in that community. Start with quality inexpensive courses like The 21-Day Meditation Challenge
and go from there.
When the student is ready…
There’s an old saying in India that I’m sure many of you have heard: “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” Well the same goes for spiritual community. When you’re ready to take the spiritual path seriously, the right people will come your way. They will find you. Everything is unfolding as it should, and all things will fall into place at exactly the right time. Trust in the divine plan.