community medicine

“Don’t waste your hate.
Rather, gather and create.
Be of service, be a sensible person
Use your words, and don’t be nervous.
You can do this, you’ve got purpose.
Find your medicine and use it.”
-Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People

I blinked and it’s February.

These day’s I’m back and forth between home in WV and Kripalu Center in MA as I continue to work toward my Ayurvedic Health Counselor certification.  This program is rigorous and transformative, and is reminding me first of all of how passionately I feel about the wisdom of Ayurveda, and second of how important it is to have community.

The sanskrit word “sangha” refers to a community of people who are all working toward a common goal.  At Kripalu my sangha consists of 47 other students, a wide range of age, race, religion, home-country, etc.  If not for this common goal and our particular choice of school, it is likely I never would have met or encountered any of these beautiful individuals. Yet, here we all are sharing the same space for several days at a time together.
Every single day, from 6:30am til roughly 10pm when it’s “lights out,” whether its morning sadhana, lecture, mealtimes, study hall, small moments of free time, sauna, what have you, we experience it all together.  Sure, it gets intense and sometimes we need to step away for some alone time, but the beauty is that we never really have to feel alone.  If I have a question, someone has an answer. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m not the only one.  If I have pain, someone can help.  We are there for each other, we support each other, and that is what will ultimately help us to succeed in this program and beyond.

When I got home from the January module I couldn’t help but start to see my community here in Shepherdstown, WV in a similar way.  Our country is facing some challenges these days that are truly testing us.  Things are changing at a pace that we are not all comfortable with and it is stirring up some heavy emotions.  Never before have we been so aware that we do not all see eye-to-eye.  Some of us are sad, some are tired, some are angry, some are resentful.  Many of us are confused, or dreading the future, expecting the world to fall apart before our very eyes. Many of us are hopeful, optimistic, sure that something great is bound to come. The amazing thing that is happening, though, is that we are being reminded of the importance of our community as a whole.

We aren’t always going to agree with each other.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t all appreciate being heard.  We all come from different upbringings and carry with us different values and priorities.  There isn’t one way to live any more than there is one way to be healthy.   Maybe if we practice patience in our community; by hearing each other’s points of view, by sharing our values in a way that is kind, by allowing each other to be different from one another, then maybe we’ll start to understand views that aren’t our own.  Maybe if we practice love in our community; by helping out a friend who is having a hard time, by offering what we have extra to those with less than, by dropping needless and insulting language that is only meant to hurt feelings, maybe we’ll start to see each other as equals.  Maybe if we practice joy in our community; by sharing what we love, by laughing, by focusing on what is wonderful about the world instead of what is horrible, then maybe we’ll start to see the potential for joy in every moment.
We have a wonderful sangha in this wonderful little town.

I love you all. Everyday.