Spiritual Consumerism vs. Spiritual Community

We are longing. We are looking. We are consuming. But are we communing?

Consumption is a necessary part of life. We sustain ourselves through food, housing, transportation, clothing, and a plethora of goods.

The challenge is when we become unconscious about consumption. When we purchase to fill voids, we get into gross states of consumerism that are ultimately unfulfilling. We become unrelated and disconnected from the impact we are having on the earth, ourselves and one another.

When this happens, we’ve lost our way.

Unconscious consumerism leaves a hole. Purchasing isn’t bad; it’s necessary in our present paradigm. But, as you purchase, ask yourself:

Am I coming from a place of wholeness or coming from a place of brokenness?

Fierce practice: Don’t buy anything unless you’re coming from your whole self. Don’t purchase items to make you feel better (it never lasts). Instead, take a breath, ask yourself, “what is motivating this purchase?” and then choose. In the long run, this simple practice will shift your habits and your impulses. Because consumerism — even when intended to support your spiritual food — is not where the shift lives.


The Power of Community

There’s something powerful about a spiritual community. Once you find the people who challenge and inspire you, it’s easier to find those holy gifts that reside within us, not outside ourselves.

As much as we focus on turning within, there’s great value in practicing that in the company of others. You’re in this world to be in relationships with other human beings. The upsets, frustrations, and breakdowns with your partner, spouse, parents, friends and even your teachers can be rectified through communion with your spiritual community. Conflict is normal. Resolution is powerful.

Here’s the deal: The process of discovery with other human beings can teach you more than any self-help book ever will. We can start to ask ourselves:

What is this longing for wisdom outside of myself that I never actually apply to my own life?

We all want transformation. Personal, spiritual, professional — you name it, we want to improve. So we consume. We consume books. We consume retreats. We show up to our spiritual spot and oftentimes consume enlightenment and wisdom.

Here’s the problem: If all you do is show up to a community a couple of times a month or even once a week, you’re just an observer.

That’s not being an active participant in your community…you’re cheating yourself from the good stuff.

Community can be found anywhere. Maybe it’s in your backyard, once a week, with people who challenge and inspire you. Maybe it’s at your weekly dance class. Maybe it’s on a trail with other hikers. Maybe you haven’t found yours yet. And that’s okay.

If you’re on the path of spiritual transformation, you can find plenty in books or on websites. But what you can’t get from those sources is community.

When you actually engage in community, it’s not easy or graceful. You will get your buttons pushed. You will push buttons. The challenge is to not run from them but to lean in. To get comfortable, practice being okay with getting uncomfortable. Because that’s where transformation exists. That’s where the real work lives.

Find Your People

You may have already found your people or sense of community. If you haven’t, lay some ground rules:

If you could define your perfect community, what would it include?

What qualities do you want from your community?

What demographic makeup does your community have?

What day and time do you want to gather?

How do you want to feel with these people?

What topics do you want to discuss?

Get specific with your answers. And then go on the hunt for a group of people you’re willing to make a commitment to.

Create your own sacred circle.

And then show up.

Once you get clear about what you want — and who you want it to be with — take a breath. Get mindful about your answers. Start to ask if you are living (and buying) from a place of consumption or a place of mindfulness?

You might just be surprised by the answer.


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