A sangha that aspires to support its members in becoming free from suffering and realizing our interbeing-ness needs to have a culture of collective care - where all are cared for because all are caring. While at any given moment, who and how we are giving and receiving may be different, we can trust in the sangha to hold us.
Like all aspirations, nurturing a culture of collective care in our sanghas is not easy, particularly in a society that promotes hyper-individualism, consumerism as the cure to all, and work being the only valid activity to focus on. And in our society that expects people to be perfect in order to be acceptable, it can be very difficult for many to acknowledge their own difficult feelings and express their need for support.
We are far more likely to be told to dismissive and dehumanizing messages like 'get over it', 'it's not that big of a deal', 'just focus on getting things done', 'no one cares', "what's wrong with you?". So many of us have heard these messages so often that we don't even need to have someone else say them to us. We hear them in our own minds first most of the time and end up not caring for our needs - and continue our suffering.
Thankfully, we can lean on our practice to cultivate the conditions for vulnerable self-expression by nurturing collective care - and cultivate collective care by nurturing vulnerable self-expression. The individual and collective inter-are and so we must nurture both together.
We can be aware of and not driven by the toxic messages that don't let us be human. We can connect to our feelings and needs and share them with emotional honesty - even when it's scary to do so. This provides the building blocks for naming needs and co-creating ways to have our needs met in consensual ways. Through this, we can consistently water the seed of vulnerable self-expression and collective care - and become the type of caring sangha we aspire to be.
Sandra will share stories from her own journey where her practice has helped her lean in to her truth and share it with others in order to ask for the support she needed - and how receiving it helped her pain be healed. She will also guide the sangha through an exercise to practice sharing vulnerably with someone else and asking for support.