Noticing Our Identity in Community

This practice explores how we can retain our individuality while continuing to engage with community.

We’ve been exploring ways to bring mindfulness and compassion more consciously to bear on our experiences of being in community—what we know about what it feels like to be included, what it feels like to be on the outside.

Using the acronym R.A.I.N., we’ve been recognizing, accepting and investigating our experiences. And today we’ll be exploring how to do all of that with non-identification or non-attachment.

So what does non-identification mean when it comes to considering community? This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the ways that some of our experiences in community have helped give rise to a sense of individual identity: I belong here and not there; these are the types of people with whom I feel a sense of belonging and connection because we share this kind of identity. 

Communities arise in the social realm, so we often have a constructed sense of ourselves—a sense that somehow flowed through or traveled with these experiences of being in various kinds of communities.

Let’s look at this more closely: It’s such an easy temptation to move from experiencing community to developing a hard-bounded sense of who we are as individuals. This is me, and that is the other. But with mindfulness, we may be able to breathe some air into that. We can find some strength that comes from having a firm sense of who we are, and we can also become more aware of how those constructions about our identities could become their own prisons. How do we preserve the strength and empowerment we can sense in our communities while ensuring these notions don’t create barriers for connection with others?

What we want to aim for today in our practice is sensing into community, but in a way that is not being fully of that community. We are a part but of that community, but that community does not represent the whole of who we are. We can try to engage with community with a sense of holding that experience lightly—always open to the sense that there’s more to be known and felt, more to be seen, more to be experienced, more to be lived.

Noticing Identity in Community

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