The Value of Community

I sit here now after having just returned from a Grandmothers’ meeting. We have them once a month, every month. Our group facilitator who emanates a spirit of giving and connectedness to our Earth and its people, leads us through meditation, sharing, prayer and connecting to the great nurturing energy of the feminine principle. Language barriers sometimes hinder the process of intellectually understanding everything, but our hearts hear crystal clear what this is all about.

These meetings open up our hearts. They open us up to sharing, receptivity and love. This is what the Grandmothers’ energy represents that we invite to bless our meetings. And, with these gatherings, I find myself imbued with a refreshed and renewed outlook on life. I feel connected. I feel connected to life in all its manifestations, I feel connected to the women with whom I sit with, and I feel whole.

This is the importance of community.

[Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn]

We are emerging from a place of individualism where honour and pride is bestowed upon the man who can do it all himself, into an era in which we are recognizing that the circle of community is essential to our wellbeing and ability to thrive. However, this flavour of community is one of particular depth and dare I say connection that I think supersedes our ordinary conception of community.

You see, what I feel emerging in my life and what I’m noticing in the lives of many others, is that we are joining not only our hands, but our hearts in communities of love. We are coming to see that when we help someone else and they help us, we’re all happy. It’s a win-win situation. There are no winners and losers, there is just a community of support where everyone thrives and feels connected to the whole.

Two years ago I found myself craving community. I lived alone, but not only that, I felt alone—there is a difference. Granted I knew people and saw these people regularly enough, but something was missing. I lacked that feeling of connectedness. I didn’t feel whole, I felt lonely. And, this is coming from a hardcore individualist and introvert. I’m not saying I wished I saw people more often. I loved my alone time in my apartment reading or studying. I still love and relish that time. However, I missed having a sense of community. The only community I knew was my two parents who lived six hours away.

I’d never grown up with much family around and I’d never been one to be part of “cliques”  as I felt uncomfortable with the ways groups operated; group mentality and popularity contests…it was all not my thing and it just didn’t make me feel what I wanted to feel. I also always felt different and not entirely embraced or accepted by most people. I had a couple friends growing up whom I loved dearly, but often felt like there was something inside of me that was missing. So, really, I wasn’t craving community for two years, I had been craving it for a good part of my life.

But to get back to the point, two years ago when I was 23, I found myself in a class in which we were going to do an experiential exercise—a ritual to bring into our lives something that we really wanted. I dawdled on my choice on whether to go with ideal health or community. Despite still running into health problems, I chose community, because I knew I needed to fill that gap in my heart.

Community came. And boy, did it ever come. I came to learn what community really was and I began to fill that gap within me. I found myself bonding ever more closely with my classmates over the coming months and years (I think it says a lot that since our last class together in June of 2011, we’ve had regular class reunions every month or two).

I also joined a group online which I call “the card group” which is a community joined by their love and interest of reading oracle cards, but more so than that one of the most loving cyberspace communities imaginable. At its core, it’s a safe place where people can ask for support, healing, and whatever they need and those requests always fall upon loving and open ears. What this community proved to me is that, as Denise Linn says, “cyberspace really can be sacred space”.

Furthermore, I recently joined a spiritual mastermind group and I can tell you that this countered all my views of what a mastermind group was all about. I always associated mastermind groups with overly ambitious people in the business world and the thought of it all and its emphasis on profit-making and icky business talk like that had me shuddering away. I like helping people. I really just want to help in the best way that I can. And I can say that I’ve been blessed to find this gentle group of humble souls who really just want to do the very same. It’s wonderful, it’s fulfilling and it’s a space where we share encouragement and love on our individual paths.

Here is one last testament to the growing phenomenon of loving communities in my life (and maybe others as well? I mean, I’m not alone here in these groups after all…):This summer I participated in a workshop, which I feel exemplifies that community is about love and that what is emerging now in the consciousness of many is a need to share love; not to be something we’re not; not to puff up our chests and show off our egos. Just love. The workshop was experiential and we spent the entirety of our time there helping people access the portals to love through meditation, sitting and being present with people, and laying our hands gently (and respectfully) on their bodies. We helped people overcome their barriers to love to facilitate the experience of the awe-inspiring love of the Divine flow through our beings.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

I feel blessed in my life to have discovered communities of love— genuine, pure LOVE and the more I focus on love, the more these communities sprout up. I find myself in healing circles and in circles in which we express prayers of gratitude and so on.

On a final note, I leave you with this thought: let’s form communities around love and not around our fear that we will be alone. This is where the fulfillment lies. No one in these communities makes you do things that are against your soul’s wishes, they only support your soul’s journey and that is what we need and what I needed.

I leave you here with a few words from Sharon McErlane, author of A Call to Power:  the Grandmothers Speak. She speaks about the “net of light”, which exemplifies what community is all about and what the Grandmothers’ meetings are all about.

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Love is the Answer

So, I was walking around my neighbourhood the other day and happened to come across Einstein with his sign: “Love is the Answer”. As I was pondering on what to write about, noticing that for the first time I felt like I was overloaded with ideas and had trouble choosing which one to go with, I kept seeing that sign in my mind’s eye. Hmm, a sign, perhaps?

Ah, love. What a beautiful thing, er, feeling or something like that… Okay, so that’s where I’m going to start. It probably goes without saying that love isn’t a thing. It can’t be contained and it’s intangible, sort of (more on this later). So, it’s a feeling, right? Well, this blog is about my insights and opinions; I’m not an expert on the matter, but my opinion and insight you shall receive. To say that love is merely a feeling diminishes it. Yes, we feel love, but it’s so much more than that. At its core, I would say that love is what connects us all together and it is the breath of life that drives us and colours our world. Minus love, we are somewhat like robots operating mechanically with no intrinsic drive to aspire to anything more than just to get through life.

Love is our gift to the world. The world benefits from our gift and we benefit from the gifts of the world for our own sustenance. When a baby is born, she has nothing to offer the world, nothing but love and the child requires the love of family and others to grow and develop. As a side note, evidence of this is reflected in the The Budapest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) that studied infants in Romanian orphanages. The study found that the growth of babies and children who were starved of love was stunted. We do not come into the world with a tangible, material gift to offer. You see, love is something that is born out of connection. As humans, we have the ability to connect and we can live our entire lives in that state of being fully and lovingly connected.  One of my favourite Buddhist teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“It is possible to live twenty-four hours a day in a state of love. Every movement, every glance, every thought, and every word can be infused with love.”

Love is a state of being; it’s a state of reciprocal, mutually uplifting beingness.  Ram Dass says:

“The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”

Now, if love is a reciprocated force alive only through connectivity, then how do we “be” love? We become love when we realize that we are channels through which love flows. This is an amazing concept. You see, as a species we are rising beyond material consciousness. Those who are lagging a bit might be wishing our essence was something that could be grasped, pinned down and claimed. But, the beauty of our essence in being channels is that we are able to share the love and the light and expand it. (To demystify the concept of light, light is knowledge in the greatest sense, which quite literally enlightens us to the true nature of who we are; whereas, the dark, clouds us from seeing our true natures and traps us in fear, jealousy and other low vibrational states of being; light always lightens). And by virtue of our ability to channel love, that love can potentially manifest itself through us into something tangible. Now, I should say that there may be more to our essence than just being channels, but for now, as I am on the topic of love, I am just focusing on this aspect of our beings.

So there you have it: You are a conduit for love. You become love by being it. You be love by allowing your every breath, your every sentiment, and your every action to be infused with that sense of intimacy and connectivity and by seeing love all around you. Love is our fuel. See the world through love and give it love through your thoughts, actions and meditations. That is your gift and your gift may manifest itself in the most wondrous and mysterious ways.

I leave you with a video, Occupy Wall St- The Revolution is Love. I know many of you have probably come across it when it came out at the end of 2011, but even if you’ve seen it, I suggest re-watching it. Charles Eisenstein speaks to the fact that we are here to give and that other modes of living ultimately are not working and will not sustain us. As he says, “the lover knows that more for you is more for me, too.” Love is the answer. Now go; be love.

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Welcome to the Playful Om!

Well, well, well… You made it!  Thanks for stopping by and welcome to the Playful Om!  So, you might be wondering what this site is all about and what’s up with the name.  Fear not.  I shall explain.

The Playful Om was an idea conceived many months back out of a spurt of inspiration to bring to the world thoughts and discussions on life, love, happiness, health & spirituality.  Well, kinda.  It’s more like I want(ed) the world to experience the fruits of raising our consciousness and felt nudged to play my little part in this big puzzle.  (And, if we all play our part… I’m getting tingles at the thought, we’ll be creating one amazing puzzle, that’s for sure!)  The idea sat in the womb, incubated for a long while and well, what can I say?  You can’t keep a baby inside forever!  And, so here you and I bear witness to the humble birth of the Playful Om.

Ok, so I know what you’re wondering…  what’s the deal with the name?  Well, as I sat here one night and pondered some appropriate names for this blog (all of which seemed very inappropriate, despite the words being very love-y words, you know like, “love” and “joy”), I asked the trusty universe for a sign.  And, there in front of me lay the sign of all signs, quite literally.  I looked up from my desk and found my eyes gazing at this picture that I have up on the wall.  This is no ordinary picture, but a collection of photos taken around India of the symbol “OM”.

Now, as for what “OM” represents… you might already know, but it bears explaining again, if such a “thing” can be explained.  I think that’s a challenge, because in its full and greatest essence “OM” cannot be explained.  However, the blurb beneath the picture did such a fantastic job of doing so, that I absolutely had to include this here:

 “Om is the eternal Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. This entire universe, including our body, mind and senses, is its manifestation, extension and expansion. Past, present and future all are nothing but OM. This was true in the past, it is true in the present and will be true in the future. And whatever else exists beyond the three divisions of time, that also is indeed OM. What is the essence of OM? It is the eternal vibration of awareness.”

-Text from the Mandukya Upanishad translated by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

Awesomeness.  Ok, so OM what??  Om.com was out.  (I dare you to check *that* website out.  I think you’ll agree that it’s quite different from what this is about…).  So, then I pulled out my Osho Zen Tarot cards (which seem to  always provide me with the most splendid and spot on insight), and I pulled none other than the Playfulness card!  Well, there you have it, my friends, the Playful Om.

This blog is about the thread that connects us all together and to the all that is and that essence of joy, love, happiness, contentedness, bliss, whatever it is, that we’re able to tap into to live a greater and more magnificent version of our lives here on Earth.

As I sat here and deliberated whether this was *the* name to go with, I found myself listening to and gazing at this Youtube video.  I couldn’t help but think, if I even needed confirmation, this photo of the uber joyous Dalai Lama holding the most amazingly colourful umbrella ever, with this mantra being sung that repeated “OM” oh so many times was IT.

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So you might be wondering who this “I” is referring to… that would be me, Melina.  Although I’m the site owner and I’m the one typing up the blog posts, this isn’t really *about me*.  This, more than anything, is about the Playful Om 😉  (Though, if you’d like to know more about the person behind this site, you’ll be hearing from me in future posts with my insights and thoughts). I hope you enjoy your stay here and that you will return.  Please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.  Best wishes and much love!

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