For those who don’t know what a sangha is, think of it as a chosen community with whom you do sitting meditation or some kind of somatic, mindfulness practice where you quietly follow your breath. You may read sutras, writings of various Buddhist teachers, inspirational philosophy, the treatises of radical activists, or speculative fiction, and have discussions about what is read and how they relate to your life. You may plan and do acts of service in the community. If you are lucky enough, your sangha may become a family of choice and nourish you spiritually and through times of grief and illness. We brought together a sangha in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh (who we gratefully sat with quite a few times) to help guide us through my husband’s cancer journey. Since my husband is an ordained lay monk in the Vietnamese Zen tradition, this was a no brainer for him to co-facilitate. We love the people who show up and are working to make the space as collaborative and inclusive as possible.
So why do we all need one? Because our mental health as a species is as challenged as I’ve ever seen it in this lifetime, and this is one way to ground ourselves for the challenges of this time and the times to come. For the introverts and folks who are group-adverse or who have been traumatized by group dynamics who are reading this, please know that this is one way to ease into a collective conversation that is as respectful, safe, and generous as they come.
A sangha can start with two people who sit together, but ideally it can start with four. Then you build it slowly, at the speed of trust. Send me questions and comments if you have them.