A Simple and Profound Ritual To Build Community Around You (and feel deeply supported)
When was the last time you had someone over for dinner at your house? Not at a restaurant, but your house. How about the last time you were invited over to someone else’s house for a meal?
Whether it wasn’t too long ago for you, or it was a long time ago, it has become a not-so-often event, hasn’t it? Time is speeding up, we have perceivably less and less of it, plus there are so many lovely restaurants popping up almost every other weekend, it’d be a real shame not to try them all. (“Go-go-poke-bowl”)
Yet, there is something incredibly special about being invited into someone’s home. We get a glimpse into their daily lives, a deeper understanding as to who they are in the ways they organise their books, arrange their furniture or leave the blinds closed all day for some odd reason. It’s intimate.
In our fragmented world, maybe there is something in this as a practice of literally ‘coming home’ to each other in a new way. In the mid 1980’s the average Australian knew 7.1 people in their local area whom they could ask for small favours and share their lives with. In the mid 2000’s, this number has dropped to 5.7 people. Out of a matter of time and living increasingly insular lives, are we coming to depend on our system for the types of emotional and social support we would originally get form our communities?
“How can we restore the fabric of our communities to being foundations of support for the wellbeing and resilience of those within them?”
I ponder this question a lot. It’s time to take the reins back from a culture that – in its current state – seems to not be able to provide the level of social intimacy and cohesion that one requires to feel supported, held and understood by their community. It seems that we have to be the ones who create this intimacy ourselves, and in fact, maybe we have become a little complacent and need to hold a little more responsibility around this. Not just for ourselves and our own feeling of social connection and cohesion, but for those whom maybe aren’t equipped with the confidence, social skills or home to be able to invite others into – those who maybe need it the most.
I’ve become somewhat of an extraverted-introvert in the last 6 years (someone who is naturally introverted but has characteristics of an extravert, in my case learned), and found it challenging not only to arrange to see friends or to be the host, but to even see them in the first place. My favourite moments used to be when I’d have social arrangements for this evening and just beforehand as I’m starting to question whether I’d go or not, someone would call and cancel. I’d be able to simply continue enjoy my own company.
This was until I fell into a depression as a culmination of a number of changes in my life and had to learn to depend on others. It was confronting to recognize that I couldn’t hold myself entirely, that I needed to let myself fall and be held by those around me. Lucky I had people around me who could catch me, many don’t! This was a big lesson in ’softening,’ in allowing myself to recognize in a very embodied way that I do need others in order to be well, and that this was ok.
It doesn’t mean you are any lesser, because you require community to feel well and flourishing. In fact, it is the recognition that this is ok, and in fact natural that will bring one of the biggest washes of connection over you.
During this time, when I was going through my depressive months, questioning my identity as an entrepreneur and wondering who I was without that identity (if anything, it felt at the time), I started gathering my closest friends in my living room. Whilst I did this because I, myself was seeking support and holding, I knew many others would benefit from this space also.
Here’s what we did:
Six to eight of us gathered at my house for a potluck dinner at 6pm.
We shared stories, and connected over the events and challenges in our lives since we’d last met.
At 7pm, we sat in a circle (pictured in this article).
We meditated together and arrived in our space with a sense of deliberation and intention.
One person at a time shared something into the circle. Something they are excited by at the moment, and something they are challenged by in their own lives.
Everyone listened. No comments, no thanking, no problem-solving.
After that person’s sharing, everyone took a pen and paper and wrote a very quick honoring for this person. We wrote what we saw in them, what qualities we admire in them, the ways we’ve seen them grow.
Then it was the next person.
Once everyone had shared, we danced!
You don’t need to go to the depths we do, but here is a more open-format ritual I would recommend.
Invite 4 friends over to your house for a potluck dinner.
Invite them to also bring one friend who they adore.
At dinner, invite everyone to share a quick story about themselves and the questions they currently hold for themselves and their life.
Afterwards, take it in turns of sharing something that is exciting you at the moment, and something that is challenging you at the moment.
Feel, witness and breathe in the magic that takes place.
So here’s a ritual you can organise around. Start with just one. Believe me, people will ask for more. Believe me twice, you’ll want to do it again. Within no time, you’ll firstly have an incredible community of friend whom you feel intimately connected with than ever before and able to share your inner-life with. You’ll also have facilitated something beautiful, a space for people to remember what it feels like to truly be acknowledged and to rest into the holding of community.
I’d love to hear what felt most resonant, exciting and hope-giving from this piece. Do you already do something similar? Will you try it out? Share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Towards greater connectedness,
Also published on Medium.