Sangha: Building Community

Symbol of Sikhism, white and golden version.

Symbol of Sikhism

A lot of peace research is about how to improve local areas, whether it means stopping ethnic strife amongst Bedouin communities in northern Africa, building better public spaces such as roads and transport in Curituba, Brazil, or raising awareness about public schools and education in the United States.

One of the most important aspects of working in the field is to build the community support. Often times, the community is divided on any given issue, though.

How can you build the community? Kundalini yoga, the traditional yoga of Sikhism, discusses the importance of sangha, or community. Buddhism, too, has strong faith in sangha. In Buddhism, it is a community of noble ones, of awakened beings, or monks and nuns.

In the field, we are not looking for monks or nuns. However, we can build a community of noble people who strive to find the middle path towards a better environment.

How can one create sangha in the field? Bring people together. Sometimes this is over food. Sometimes it is sports. Sometimes it is cultural events such as dance or music. Sometimes people bond over yoga!

Why should we? By building community, we can now begin to work on the issues that matter. In my own experience with domestic violence issues, it took time to make a community. This requires patience. Remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. People take time to become familiar to one another. As a facilitator of yoga, I waited (sometimes patiently) to assemble a group.

I started out slow, and then began to use new ways to build the community. I presented “What is Yoga” to the English and Spanish support groups, allowing them a chance to get to know me and my philosophy on yoga. Some people responded positively– that I seemed approachable, relaxed, and happy. The opportunity to observe me allowed potential community members to experience the effects of yoga on me.

Once the group came together, I began to create bonds with them and amongst them. I spent time getting to know each person and learning what makes each of them comfortable. I allowed them to interact with one another. Many already knew each other from other places, and from the English and/ or Spanish support groups.

It’s a slow process, for sure, but all research requires patience!

 

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