Spirit work is a sacred and personal ground to walk. The ways in which we explore and unfold those higher parts of our beings are ever-evolving and vast. Many people today do not resonate with organized religion or traditional sources of connection to Source. Some find their spiritual nourishment in nature or reflective quiet time. Others connect to less structured venues like Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday or their favorite personal development authors and speakers. Still others develop their relationship to their Higher Self and humanity on the yoga mat.
Regardless of your agent of choice, it is paramount to give yourself this space to grow and explore. Give yourself this space on a reliable and consistent basis as it is how we heal our wounds, redefine what is possible for our lives, and unlock the genius within that desperately wants to express. That is the call of our life purpose guiding us forward, and connecting with that call on a regular basis is a way of realigning with our intention and values.
Many friends and people I meet will share that they feel they are now or have undergone a spiritual awakening. Whether a result of a massive life event or the more gentle unfolding of their lives, they have a growing awareness of the thread of humanity that connects us all and the creative force of the Universe. When I ask them if they feel a supportive spiritual community would help them in furthering the shift and development in their lives, the response is usually a polite decline. Some have had negative past experiences with religious communities, and others simply feel that the spiritual path is to be traveled alone–that it will happen naturally in its own time.
I would offer a different perspective based on my own experience. Before I dive in, let me provide you with some context… I am fortunate to not have had a scarring experience from my past religious communities, however I did grow to have very mixed feelings about it. I was incredibly blessed with a supportive and nourishing traditional religious community growing up. I was very committed and it had a lasting impression on my person with an appreciation of service to others and vital personal relationships that saw me through some very challenging times. Even given the positive and meaningful impact of that community, I questioned the church politics and bureaucracy as well as the lack of total acceptance of individuals (e.g. the LGBTQ community and people of other faiths and beliefs) — although I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the latter and give it definition until much later. After I left for college and in the many years following, I searched for another community of the same faith that would fill that gaping hole left by the absence of my home church. As I grew and battled life’s challenges, I struggled considerably and questioned my faith and beliefs. For the better part of a decade, I shopped other faiths, questioned the very existence of a higher power, and eventually stepped away from any form of organized religion.
When I reached that critical choice point of my healing journey a few years ago, I began exploring in a more broad sense. I listened to many strong voices in the realm of personal development as they resonated the strongest with me. They expressed a wisdom and way of being that felt deep and true. Many of them did not even address religion as their message was more about realizing your highest potential — of being and expressing more in the world. And as I started to heal and find my way back to a purpose-driven life, I had a moment of inspiration: there had to be people talking about this ‘stuff’ and there were most certainly people who knew more than I did from whom I could learn and share.
From the outside, this drive to seek external wisdom might look very similar to my previous searching for spiritual fulfillment. However, there was a fundamental shift in the motivation — instead of looking outward to fill an internal vacuum, I was searching for learned voices to support me in my own development. They might provide insight, resources, and valuable education, but the work itself was mine to do. (Anecdotally, I would add that I have only arrived at the full realization of this shift after much contemplation and reflection.)
What I found was more than I ever expected and has profoundly changed my life. I certainly found the connection to deeper wisdom and support for which I was looking. In addition, there were a number of crucial unforeseen benefits and blessings that were gifted to me. First, there is incredible value in hearing the stories of others and in sharing your own story. It is one of the best ways to identify those areas of your life that require attention and healing. Second, the community can serve to help you expand your own personal vision of what is possible for your life and connect you to the tools and resources to help bring that into expression. My community dared to see me as perfect, whole, and complete — just as I was from my first day there and just as I am now. They saw unlimited potential and value in me. It has been a deeply personal journey to step into that truth for myself, one which I am still and will forever explore. The breadth and depth of my vision for my life has exponentially expanded, gaining clarity of purpose and greater potential. That vague ideal I once had to change the world has not only become tangible but empowered. Being able to see things through a lens other than your own is invaluable and critical in moving forward with your own development. It allows you to identify, question, and lay aside limiting beliefs, and in a very real sense, it allows you to explore your own depths. It is a complement to and not a replacement for looking within.
For me, that supportive spiritual community is Unity of Indianapolis. For you, it might be the same or something else entirely. My charge is for you to consider exploring and connecting to a community in which to share and grow. You may find untold treasures and incomparable support. Perhaps consider that a supportive spiritual community can look and feel differently from any of your expectations or previous experiences. At the time I found Unity, I only had a vague idea that I should connect with people face-to-face in my area. I didn’t even know I was looking for a church, but was hoping for a meet-up group or book club. It can certainly be a church or traditional religious organization, but it can be any group that serves your own unfoldment. You already have all the answers inside of you but, as mirrors and support for each other, we are stronger and can go further together.