Is to try and do it alone.
Community is one of the foundational pillars of a transformational path. It also is one of the sweetest things in life. As we wake up and discover who we are and what we’re about, we have the chance to re-create a family around us, not just with our spouse and kids, but with soul-people – like minded, high minded friends and colleagues and fellow walkers on the path.
If you try to do it alone you have no one to call you on your bullshit or help you to get on track when you’ve blown it. You can get real weird when you try to transform yourself with no help and no one having your back.
There is a great ancient text called the Yoga Vashishtha. In it, the master Vashishtha recommends four main practices. He calls them the four gates to liberation. They are: Self Control, Contentment, Self Inquiry, and Good Company. We will look at the other gates in posts to come. For now, let’s look more at the practice of good company. When we look at it this way, it is not just happenstance, it is not just the people we happen to have around us. When we look at it this way, it becomes a practice that we do, like taking care of our body or eating a beneficial diet or being mindful about the way we spend our energy.
Thecompany we keep is crucial for our transformation and well-being in life. Swami Muktananda was famous for saying “You will become the company you keep.” If you look at the people you surround yourself with, you can learn a lot about yourself. They say that we make about the same amount of money and have a similar “happiness index” to the people who we spend most of our time with. You will see what you are drawn to when you look at the people who you are drawn to associate with. This is something that is useful to consider. Are you surrounded by people who are better than you? Worse than you? Smarter than you? Dumber? More evolved? Less evolved? Are you surrounded by people who bring out the best in you? Are you surrounded by people who frustrate you constantly? Who helps you get out of your ego? Who helps you to burrow down into your ego? What kind of spiritual community do you have? What kind of community would you like to have? Are you making the most of your circle of people, whatever it may be? Or are you lacking good people? Are you trying to do it alone?
Examine your key relationships and ask honestly why you are there. What are you deriving from your associations? Again, it’s not about getting it right, but getting it true.
If you are doing it alone, take some action to fix that. If you find that you are the only friend in your social circle who cares about well-being, or the only person in your family that is interested in evolution, take action. Find some others you can connect with. Use social media, find a teacher. Take some action.
What About You?
What kind of company are you? Do you create more space or less space for the people around you? Do you take conversations higher, or pull them down into muck? Do you enjoy shit-talking, side-taking, or the rush of a good mob lynching? Be truthful. Notice the kind of friend you are when you are in your circle of power. Notice the kind of person you are when you let yourself get triggered or pulled into your smallness. How do you effect the people around you?
What About Helping Others?
This is always a dilemma. We want to help people, we want to enlighten people, we want to uplift the people around us. Good luck with that! The best thing you can do for anyone is to uplift, enlighten and help yourself. Don’t try to make your dumb friends un-dumb. Find some brilliant friends. Don’t try to enlighten your family. Get in touch with some enlightened people and do your practice, uplift yourself and then be a change agent trough osmosis. Then just be there, watching TV, being quiet, smiling warmly, being steady, speaking the Truth, speaking your truth. Show up and show your awakened heart. Be contagious, not by preaching or acting enlightened or holy, but by actually being awake. Be happy if you can. If you can’t, just be transparent about your shit and don’t hang onto it. If people know you are a seeker, if they know you are a person on a transformational path, they will watch you. They will notice how you lose your temper and regain your composure. They will notice how fake or real you are.
If it is their destiny – and it rarely rarely rarely is- they will ask you to help them. They will ask you about your practice, they may ask you about the things you do to uplift yourself. Then you can tell them a tiny bit, a really tiny bit. If they are interested they will ask for more. Take it from me, as someone who has spent most of my life trying to help people, it ain’t easy. Like they say on the airplane: put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.
But take some real time to assess the people in your life. Do you have friends you can really trust? Do you have people that you can share your vision of life with? Whatever it takes, make it happen. The stupidest thing you can do on the spiritual path is to try to do it alone.
You can see a video I did for Yogaglo on the subject here.
You can see a clever article about male friendships here.
You can register for my February retreat and meet a TON of amazing uplifting men and women here.