Creating community where you are/Inner community

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Creating community where you are/Inner community

From ICWiki


Each of us contains within us a multitude of facets that can pull us in different directions or work together to help us move forward. At different times in our life we may feel “together” or “scattered”; in essence, we are noticing consciously how integrated our inner community is at that moment. To the extent we can create connections between the different parts of ourselves, and balance the competing demands on our time and attention, we can integrate the different aspects of our personality and create more of a harmonious inner community.

One of the ways people work on their inner community is by setting aside the rational, conscious mind, and accessing something deeper. Available methods include meditation, contemplative prayer, yoga, and musing quietly about the challenges and opportunities facing us. Some people find repetitive exercise, such as bicycling or running, to be an excellent opportunity for this contemplation. Others find sitting quietly in a natural setting provides them an opportunity for this work.

Another way is through a process similar to what the Quakers call a Clearness Committee. This is a conversation with one or several friends, who both listen carefully to what you say, and ask probing questions that help you bring previously murky feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc., into the light where they can be considered clearly. It is important for the friend(s) to recognize that their role is not to sit in judgment, but to help clarity emerge. Certain types of counseling operate in a similar manner.

Oddly, a third way to improve the inner community is to take the time to help others. This can help put our own life in perspective, and reduce the self-absorption that too much of the first two methods can produce. Humble service has a long and central role in all religions, primarily because it takes us out of our every day selves in a way that deepens our connection with our inner selves. Whether we just listen to another person who needs someone to talk to, or join the Peace Corps, we can learn more about ourselves by being significantly involved with others.

The state of our inner community affects our capability to create community with other people. We need to create a balance between inner and outer work. The inner work can often feel like preparation, the outer as the task to be accomplished. Yet if we do only preparation, we end up feeling like we’re spending all our time gazing at our own navel. If we try to do the task without preparation, the work feels difficult and chaotic. The balance point can vary over our lifetimes; the trick is to find the balance that feels right in the present.