Recently I went to Wanderlust (Mont Tremblant, Quebec) with some amazing women. We danced until 2 in the morning, shared meals, laughs and yoga sessions, and we shared one bathroom (yep – 1 bathroom, 5 women). We had our little Sangha (community). At the beginning of our trip, we went ZIP LINING! At first our friend, Ingrid, was terrified to go zip lining. We acknowledged her fear, cheered her on for being there and soared with her over the trees.
Can you imagine if we turned around and said to her: “I choose not to live in fear”?
Or: “It’s fine. Stop being a downer.” Or if we turned our back to her and just went off without her. And yet we may do or say that in other instances. Things like: “That person brings the energy of the room down.” Or you avoid that person at all costs! You have just shamed anyone who is suffering with pain, sadness, depression, anxiety or even anger – furthering his or her isolation.
I was one of those people that could not be there for someone while they suffered. Why?
I was too afraid to look at my own pain from years ago. Maybe your parents told you: “There are people in Africa who are hungry or dying” (which made you note that your feelings were insignificant). Or perhaps you were taught when you were younger to not show emotions or to have a cookie when you were sad or to keep your mind occupied … so now that you’re an adult this moved on to being with a new partner (never acknowledging the loss of your previous relationship) or to turn to alcohol, drugs, working out more, keeping busy, reading motivational books, or whatever. And when you stop that behaviour, you begin to FEEL all those uncomfortable feelings. When you can feel your own pain, then you can support others experiencing pain. Otherwise, there is no compassion and therefore, no community.
“It is from garbage that we produce flowers; and similarly, it is from suffering that we produce understanding and compassion. I would not live in a place where there is no suffering, because in such a place I would not be able to cultivate understanding and compassion, which are the basis of my happiness.” AND: “You should recognize your pain and cradle it like a baby. You should embrace your suffering in order to soothe it, calm it, and transform it. You can do this with the support of your brothers and sisters in the Sangha [community], which is a powerful instrument. Even the Buddha needed a Sangha.” ~ You are Here, by the Buddhist monk, Thich Naht Hanh
Community doesn’t mean just holding hands and singing kumbaya but to me it means: can we help each other through the challenges, can we have tar (made of compassion) on the soles of our shoes when someone is suffering and baring their soul.
Community and compassion means to me that:
- We show compassion and support to those going through challenging times so they feel cared for and are not alone
- We support and care for our colleagues and customers (one-on-one and socially) and together we build a stronger community
Here’s to creating a more compassionate world by being understanding and caring for one another, especially during the darkest of times.