Whether you are introverted or extroverted, urban or rural, remote or on the ground, there is no scenario in which you are not a part of some community.  Working as an organized group has been a critical part of our human evolution, and arguably, it will be our capacity to work as a group that could determine the outcomes of some of the major challenges we face as a collective. 

Given the importance of cooperation, It’s no wonder that there’s so much dialogue around how best to function as a group. Whether it’s a workplace, a school, a volunteer organization, or a spiritual group, being a contributing community member is essential for both our personal and collective growth. Healthy community members contribute to the group by fostering a culture of cooperation, respect, and productivity. Conversely, unhealthy community members can negatively impact the group’s performance and well-being. 

In her recent work, The Spiritual Teachings of Higher Self Yoga, Nanette V Hucknall offers invaluable guidance on working with others in community. Being a part of any community can be a transformative experience, but it can also be challenging. There are often distinct personalities, differing opinions, and conflicts that can arise. 

Let’s discuss the five best practices for being in a community and give tools on how to be a healthy member of a community.

1. Addressing Conflicts

One of the most important best practices for communities is to address conflicts as they arise. Conflicts are a natural part of any group dynamic. We are all different and have varying perspectives, and this can often lead to misunderstandings and disagreements. However, despite the discomfort they can cause, conflicts do not have to be purely negative experiences. In fact, they can be valuable opportunities for growth and learning.

When conflicts arise, it’s essential to address them directly and respectfully. Avoiding conflicts or sweeping them under the rug only exacerbates the situation. Instead, try to approach the situation with an open mind and a willingness to listen to others’ perspectives. By doing so, we can find common ground and work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

2. Allowing for Distinct Personalities  

Another best practice for fostering a positive community is to allow for distinct personalities. In any group, there will be individuals with differing dispositions, temperaments, and communication styles. It is crucial to recognize and honor these differences while also acknowledging that they can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

To allow for distinct personalities, we must cultivate an attitude of compassion and understanding towards others. We must be willing to meet people where they are and recognize that we all have our unique strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, we can create a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters personal growth.

3. Utilizing Shared Resources  

In any community, there are often shared resources available to members. These may include books, classes, workshops, and mentors. Encouraging members to utilize these resources is an important best practice for being in a community as they can provide support and guidance when we need it.

It is essential to take advantage of these resources and not be afraid to ask for help when needed. If we have questions or concerns, we should reach out to our mentors or teachers for guidance. Likewise, we should attend classes and workshops regularly to deepen our understanding of the teachings and connect with other members of the community.

4. Stepping Back When Needed   

Belonging to a community can be a transformative experience, but it can also be overwhelming at times, especially if you are simultaneously experiencing spiritual burnout. It is essential to recognize when we need to step back and take a break. This could mean taking a break from attending classes or gatherings or reducing our involvement in the community temporarily.

Stepping back does not mean abandoning the community altogether, but rather taking the time to reflect and recharge. It is essential to listen to our intuition and prioritize our well-being, even if it means taking a temporary break. 

5. Creating Communication Guidelines

Finally, one emerging trend in communities is the creation of communication guidelines. These guidelines are designed to create a safe and respectful environment for members to express themselves. They often include guidelines for active listening, using “I” statements, and avoiding blame and judgment.

Creating communication guidelines is an excellent best practice for being in a community as it helps to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and that conflicts are addressed respectfully. By creating a safe and supportive environment for communication, we can foster deeper connections with others and create a more inclusive and welcoming community.

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