What Matters Most
"We are birthed into Sangha, into sacred community. It is called the world."
I was first introduced to a beautiful Buddhist chant on a trip to India in 2012 that gives reverence to the 3 jewels of the tradition. The Buddha himself is the first, his teachings or the Dharma of the Buddha is the second, and Sangha or the community that supports our practice is the third. At the time I didn't know that Sangha would play such an important role in my life. I just knew that when I chanted the word a wave of comfort came over me.
Life leaves us clues all the time. It was that chant that laid the foundation for me to begin a journey with my husband to create a space for people to come together in the spirit of healing. For years the studios that I frequented felt like home. The smiles I received and gave while preparing to enter the space, the quiet conversations I had with fellow students in the minutes prior to class and the camaraderie I felt all around the room as we moved and breathed together kept me coming back to the shared practice time and again. Without the friendships I've developed on the mat during workshops and trainings and while retreating away to gain perspective, I'm confident I would have given up on this yoga thing years ago.
Let's be honest! This stuff isn't easy! Taking a deeper look at yourself, being open to facing and healing old wounds, and having a willingness to do the work on the daily takes courage and grit. Having compassionate, empathetic, and wise people in your corner who understand what you are going through is the most precious gift that the Buddhist tradition teaches us. We grow together. We struggle together. We triumph together. We celebrate together. And when we are down and don't feel that there is anyone in the world who could possibly understand we get on our mat. We show up knowing that there will be people in the room who, despite not knowing exactly what is on our mind, will show us kindness, will share with us a smile, will breathe with us from beginning to end and maybe have tea with us after it's all over.
The Venerable Ananda said to Gautama the Buddha: “This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, and admirable camaraderie.”
Ananda is pointing out the importance of friends on the path. The Buddha’s response goes a bit further:
“Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and comrades, he can be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path.”
Sangha means community and I have found over this past year that it is what matters most. I have felt so much love and support from everyone who steps into our sweet space that I am often overwhelmed with gratitude. I walk in the door and instantly feel at ease. The familiar faces, the warm embraces, the laughter, the tears and the wisdom that is shared continuously reaffirms my devotion to the practice. When I witness the relationships growing and the bonds building on the mat, in the lobby, on the stairs walking up to the studio and on the way out I am reminded that I am on the right path and that each day I spend in support of Sangha is a gift.
I am looking forward to year 2 and to celebrating the amazing community of teachers, students and support staff who welcomed us in and made us part of the family.