Posts in WeSpace
Evolving Collective Spiritual Practice

Why We Need the “We” – Part Two

Last week we explored the shift from shoulder-to-shoulder to heart-to-heart, focusing specifically on practice with just one other person. This week we’re going to broaden that out to a community context. Not only do we need to expand our spiritual practice beyond the confines of individualism, but we desperately need to evolve how we gather and practice together.

We also emphasized the importance of the need to further reflect oneness in our spiritual practice. If we seek the experience of oneness with all, and with one other person, what would it look like to seek this experience in a group? And wouldn’t such a group practice be reflective of a more evolved approach to our spiritual gatherings?

How do we get there? 

Let’s start with a very simple picture. Imagine a group of people sitting in rows of chairs (or pews) looking up at a person on a stage. Now picture a circle of chairs with people sitting, facing one another. What difference do you feel? Where in your body do you feel it? Stay there for a moment.

Now picture a glowing heart radiating from each person in the circle. See the spiritual energy and love flowing out of them. As the waves expand out, everyone’s spiritual energy fields are overlapping and engaging with one other, creating a palpable collective field where love, wisdom, encouragement, and much more can emerge. Is this a spiritual reality?

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From Shoulder-to-Shoulder to Heart-to-Heart

Why We Need the “We” – Part One

When you hear the words “spiritual practice,” what do you think of? Perhaps you picture someone meditating. Perhaps you picture a person doing yoga or tai chi. Perhaps you think of a rosary or prayer beads. Whatever it is you imagine, it is highly likely that your image is of a single, solitary figure at practice by himself/herself. If you pictured a group, kudos to you (although the title and picture in this post may have influenced you!).

Even so, the vast majority of our attention is still on the personal. In fact, most of our experiences of group spiritual practice or spiritual community are largely an individual experience. There are just other people around. It’s shoulder-to-shoulder practice.

There is certainly value to this. There is a sense of accountability. A sense of comradery. A side-by-side, working on this together comfort. But there can also be a strong sense of loneliness. An isolation when things aren’t going quite right. An over-orientation on the teacher/authority. A guilt and shame at not living up to the standard assumed by the group. And quite often, a failure to bring about any kind of social transformation. 

Of course we need to practice alone. And certainly some spiritual practice must be tailored to our own individual needs and expressions at various points in our lives. But if this is primarily the only form our spiritual practice takes, then we are missing the vital component of shared, heart-to-heart spiritual practice.

Is it really vital? Would we even know if we’ve never experienced it?

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