The Power of Spiritual Community
“ For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
— Matthew 18:20
She perched on the edge of her chair, hands clenched into fists, staring at the green carpet to avoid eye contact with the other 16 people sitting in the circle. The middle-aged woman has been dreading this moment, and now it was here. The person to her left spoke first.
“I like the way you waited for the older couple to enter first before you came into the room,” he said.
“Thank you,” she mumbled.
“Your green sweater sets off your green eyes,” said the next person.
“Thank you,” the woman said again, a bit more clearly.
“It was sweet how you invited that new person to sit with you at lunch,” the next person in the circle said.
“Thank you,” the woman repeated, this time returning the young man’s gaze.
As the exercise continued, every person in the circle gave her a sincere compliment, and her only reply could be, “Thank you.” Her confidence and joy grew with each example they shared. After she had received positive reinforcement from all the group members, the man next to her began receiving the group’s compliments one by one.
This You Validation experience, one of the classes at the Optimum Health Institute, is a powerful and frequently emotional exercise in spiritual community. Like-minded individuals from around the world come together for a week or more, and start to feel their connection as they work towards a common purpose – coming into a state of optimum health in body, mind and spirit.
From ancient texts to modern medical research, the benefit of living or participating in a supportive, like-minded community is a recurring theme.
The New Testament is rich with passages stressing the power of praying together. Dr. Marty Seligman, creator of the new branch of mental health called “Positive Psychology,” identifies being in a supportive community as a key necessity for happiness. Dr. Candace Pert, a neuroimmunologist who scientifically proved many ancient spiritual beliefs, said the human brain was hard-wired for community – a single person could not survive without companionship.
The unique power of a spiritual community is it enriches every aspect of a person’s life. Group members support each other’s journey, offering encouragement, validating experiences and celebrating their fellowship as they grow stronger in their faith.
This active support system prevents social isolation, a key component of depression, and helps lower stress on a day-to-day basis. Just knowing there are others in your corner can give you the confidence to tackle an ambitious new goal, stick with a commitment you made or point out the things you’re doing right when you feel like you’ve fallen into a rut.
There are several ways to find your own spiritual community:
- Use Social Media — start or join a Facebook group that posts positive messages. The Optimum Health Institute has a Facebook page as well as groups that you can join to stay connected with fellow OHI community members.
- Start or find a “meet up” group sharing your values. There are many such groups that gather to meditate or discuss spiritual concepts.
- Visit different churches, temples or spiritual centers in your area to find one that “fits.”
- Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about.
- Take a class in something that interest you – Reiki Healing, for instance.
Many people have discovered an enduring spiritual community when they become a guest at an OHI mission in San Diego or Austin. Experience You Validation, and many other body, mind and spirit classes and exercises during your stay. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.