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The Importance of Community in Spiritual Awakening

Community, if we allow it AND we do the work, can wake us up. They trigger us. I am not saying that you should surround yourself with people that trigger you and that you should stick around in all the situations in which you are triggered. If you choose to leave the situation, don’t leave the work behind. Triggers show us where there is work to be done. One of my teacher friends says, “when it is hysterical, it is historical.” When something causes our emotions to go sky high and out of control, there is something in our history that needs our love, attention and eventually our forgiveness.

A community of awakening is a community of connection. They don’t want to go out and get shit faced. They want to sit down, look you in the eye, and have a meaningful conversation. Get rid of anyone you cannot hang out with without gossiping, getting drunk or high or having sex with. Get rid of people that you cannot be silent with and that don’t want to hang out with you in the light of day.

A community of awakening is not looking for you to agree with them. They respect your views and they listen. Many people will step to you under the disguise of wanting to have an amicable discourse but they really want to convince you to think, believe and live like them. People who give you conditional love, that is based on your responding the way they want, will not help you awaken.

Get rid of anyone you have to edit yourself around. This does not mean that you should not use non harmful , loving and true speech, but you should be free to be who you are completely.

If you want to awaken, don’t look for people to enable you. Look for people who will call you out. People who will ask you why you have not been on your yoga mat. People who will not ignore the fact that you have started drinking and smoking again after expressing the desire to quit. People who will not allow you to talk to them any kind of way and that will make you own up to your out of control emotions. Look for people who don’t agree with everything that comes out of your mouth. Look for those who challenge you to do better and to be better.

When your community presents an opportunity to be better, to rise up, to respond differently, to look at what is triggering you, take that opportunity. Look it dead in the face and use it to awaken. Don’t run. Don’t shut them down. Don’t bury these emotions. Wake up to them, fully and completely. Grow.




Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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