The Heart of Community

IMG_0531As members of the U.S. consumer class and in this age of technology and communication, we experience a high degree of personal independence like no other time in history.  The price we pay is experienced in the decline of the kind of communities that feed our deep need for belonging and in the damage to the commons we all share.

Imagine for a moment that every interaction you have with another person creates a bond that connects you both.  After decades of daily and varied experiences, imagine how these bonds proliferate exponentially and intensify connection and understanding, much like what is found within healthy familial relationships. Now imagine that same quality of care and collaboration rippling outward exponentially to other households and the greater community.  In time, these bonds become so dense as to be empathic.

This web is made up of a collective wisdom that we all—young and old, get to tap into and appreciate how much we need one another.   Multi-generational community living is essential to our well being and it has become endangered.

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Inter-Generational Living

Since 1990, my wife and I have raised our family within an intentional community that we started with 8 other families. An “intentional community” is where people come together with the intention and commitment to create Community.

Sharing resources, raising children together and nurturing the land made all the sense in the world and it still holds true. This path has been painfully difficult at times, and you will not find a greater advocate than me!

Reclaiming Community is similar to reclaiming a forest that has been clear-cut.  First we plantroad trees in rows that grow and eventually provide a canopy and compost for new growth to flourish below. Younger trees and undergrowth sprout up.  Diversity occurs and invites more. Animals, plants and organisms self-select.   Some thrive while others die off.  In time, a more robust, integrated, inter-dependent system evolves out of the original monoculture. Organisms develop more and more symbiotically as countless subtle connections form.

A mature ecosystem works as a collective whole.

In human relationships, Community provides the beauty found in the tapestry of life woven through seasons, generations, births, deaths, celebrations, struggles, traumas, meetings, playing, arguing, working together, taking steps, building structures, gardening, raising children, family conflicts, forgiveness, young ones becoming teens, teens growing older, marriage, divorce, sharing meals, caring for one another, becoming elders and so much more. Over the decades, like the symbiotic relationships of an aging forest, in my community, something organic and far bigger than it’s parts is developing.  Inter-dependence grows, Community is  felt, experienced and transmitted.

A basic somatic principle is this:

When in conflict and triggered we do not rise to our higher ideals, we fall to what we have practiced most in our lives, behaviors born out of the family and culture that nurtured us.

IMG_2561When we first started out, our romantic ideas of community soon gave way to conflict, painful breakdowns and the inevitable disillusionment that is a part of the learning cycle of community building. We were hoping for the family we always wanted but soon found ourselves in the middle of the family we always had…with the chance to face it as adults.

Along with our familial reckonings we had to address the patterns of our culture and histories that regularly reared up from within us.  We watched as hierarchical power structures, sexism, classism, adultism, agism, racism, ignorance and the fears that sponsored them played themselves out in our circle.

Experiential learning that comes through daily play, work and shared struggles provides the compost for  community to continually grow.  We are learning how our breakdowns in relationships produce cracks in our ideals and from those cracks, seeds take root and new possibilities take shape.

These struggles took us far beyond our comfort zones, clarifying, at the very least, what we did IMG_0250 copynot know. The pain of our interactions provided ample motivation to find more inclusive, forgiving and responsible ways to be together.  As time went on we got glimpses of how a healthy community might navigate the complexity of multiple intimate relationships. Those glimpses galvanized our efforts.

As we shape community, it shapes us again and again.  It is a dynamic evolving process through which the world and ourselves can be effectively transformed.

We are learning to get back up more gracefully after our falls, to honor and add diversity to our mix and recognize that we are all in this together.  Shifting engrained power and control practices to consensus is a slow and deliberate practice.

Our original vision continues to become a reality in ways that we could hIMG_0089ave never known.  All ages offer their unique gifts to one another, mutually benefiting and illuminating.

We are learning how to conflict well and from that well we all drink deeply.

Young and old, we know that we each carry a part of the puzzle and together a collective wisdom is emerging.  Our sons and daughters and their children are building on this foundation.  They will certainly have their own struggles to work through, but their struggles will be different.   They have a solid sense of self and place. They are a beautiful testimonial to our values and efforts. The web of support that connects us is a tightly woven fabric.

 

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IMG_0478 copy In the Somatic Consensus workshop series called, “The Heart of Community” we explore cutting edge linguistic, emotional and physical practices that put us in touch with our deeper values and effectively transform old habits and reactions into resources for healing and connection. Together we will learn to practice who it is we each choose to become to better bring our gifts to the world.

I  am excited to share how body wisdom holds keys to a treasure house of intuitive guidance and inspiring communication. Somatic Consensus’ body awareness practices integrated with Nonviolent Communication’s brilliant linguistic skills bring focus and intention to walking our talk with power and compassion.

You can  find out about upcoming trainings on my website: www.liminalsomatics.com.

Blessings—-IMG_5322

David

 

 

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