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Finding Our People

Updated: Feb 19, 2022




Sangha (SAHNG-ha):

A group of like-minded people, usually walking the same spiritual path.



Linking up with others to support your goals will improve your life. Not every person can understand us, so it's important to find people who GET IT. Those people become your Sangha. Surrounding yourself with a Sangha can reduce stress and improve feelings of self-worth.

 

Background


When Buddhists gather together to study their faith, it is called a Sangha. In the Sangha, they encourage each other in times of need, share personal stories, and study the dharma (teachings) of Buddhism. In his book Good Citizens: Creating an Enlightened Society, Thich Nhat Hahn writes:


"It is difficult to make a change alone. In the Sangha there is a powerful collective energy of mindfulness and concentration. It can help us make a breakthrough; it ignites our insight. Our practice together of walking, sitting, breathing, eating, is very important. When we practice with the Sangha, it’s easier than practicing alone."

These are the reasons we come together to practice yoga! Though Sanghas are a Buddhist practice, Thich Nhat Hahn goes on to explain that SANGHAS ARE FOR EVERYONE. Everyone can benefit from a support group, no matter where they live or what religion they practice. When Thich Nhat Hahn met Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966, they shared a discussion about the importance of Sangha building - something we can recognize in King's Civil Rights Movement accomplishments.


Thich Nhat Hahn & Martin Luther King Jr., 1966


What are some other examples of Sanghas? Journey Forward Yoga is a Sangha. A group of close friends can be a Sangha. An addiction recovery group is a Sangha. A church group is a Sangha. The list can go on and on!

 

Friends. Family. Sanghas - What's the Difference?


Our family is our blood. We share genes and history with them. The love of family is often very deep and complex. Our friends are people we've met that we enjoy spending time with. Often they are people we can talk to honestly. Our Sanghas are groups we form to support each other on a specific path. Suzan Colon, author of the book Yoga Mind, writes:

"[Sanghas] provide support for one another in a way that even close family and friends might not be able to, because they understand each other."

Perhaps you remember a time in school when you bonded with classmates also going for the same degree/product as you. Or maybe you connected with other employees hired at the same time as you. Maybe as a new mom you reached out to other mothers for advice about your child. Reflect on whatever your experience has been, and see if you can feel the difference between the three.


I found a Sangha in my yoga teacher training group, as well as the other members of my studio's community. It felt amazing for me to be able to get into my deep, emotional, spiritual side with these people. Talking with them, feeling supported by them, I felt the courage to continue bringing out that side of myself. I eventually moved on from that studio, but I carry the love and lessons with me. I still connect with many of the members of that community, and it fills my heart to do so. I think one really important thing to remember is that it's never the PLACE or EVENT. It's the people and it's the change happening inside you. This mindset will help us not get too attached to a physical location or system.


And now my Sangha is with you at Journey Forward. This community fuels me every single day. This community continues to give me the courage to be myself. I hope it does the same for you.

 

Being in a Sangha


Being in a Sangha means being a part of a supportive group. It's not a club. It's not exclusive. The idea of "you're in, but you're out" doesn't exist here. That's because the idea of a Sangha is based on the Buddhist belief of non-duality. Follow me here:


non: not

dual: two


Not two. There are not two of us. We are all one. We can recognize ourselves in anyone, because we are all one. We can always find a common ground with each other, and every being on earth.


When you're in a Sangha (in the West we'd usually refer to it as a community), everyone gives something, and everyone takes something. You talk, and you listen. You share your gifts, you benefit from other's gifts. Here are a few examples of unique gifts in our Sangha at Journey Forward:


Maria brings her discipline and presence.

Kelly brings her creative artwork and logos.

Sarita brings big picture ideas.

Michelle brings her art of conversation.

Olivia brings humor, wine, and Biggie.

Ashley H. brings a huge smile.

Ashley D. brings persistence.

Kim brings an infectious energy.

Julie brings her humor and presence.

Nicky brings her dedication to reflection.

Lara & her kids bring us joy through conversation.

Beth brings incredible feedback and support.

(There are so many more of you, but these are people that have taken between 40 and 247 classes with us at Journey Forward! Wow, right?!)


All of these gifts blend together to make our incredible Sangha. Together, we support each other in our quest to live a more mindful, happier life.


 

A Word on Trust


It can be really hard to put ourselves out there in this way - to allow people that are not family or lifelong friends into our lives. If you are someone who has difficulty trusting others (like me!), try just dipping your toes in the waters a bit. Share a few things, listen, provide advice. Really feel someone out for whether you think they can support you in what you're going after or going through. Remember, you never have to share something you don't want to. You decide what to share and when to share it. The important thing to know is that there is SOMEONE out there that understands and can comfort you in just the right way. You'll find them - keep looking!


 

Finally


What I love is that there is plenty of room for everyone - family, friends, and our sanghas. They all combine together to make our worlds turn! In the month of December, we'll be diving deep into this idea of COMMUNITY - SUPPORT - SANGHA. If you haven't joined us yet, I hope you join us now. Anyone is welcome, always. It's never too late to join us!


Namaste,


Christina

Founder: Journey Forward Yoga
Instagram: @journeyforwardyoga
Email: hello@journeyforwardyoga.com

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