As a spiritual and community leader I receive many questions about how to build community and how to help people thrive. I have presented in this short article the components of a thriving community. I have used LightSong, the name of our community, as the template. You are free to use this template for your own dreams of community. I share this with you to inspire, illuminate, and guide you through helpful steps in this creation process. I believe that the more people strive to create communities of healthy people that this will directly influence the world in a positive way.
LightSong is many things—a school, a healing center, and a thriving healthy community. Our vision includes the statement:
LightSong is dedicated to the cultivation of thriving communities of well-beings through the exploration and practice of shamanism and alternative energy medicine.
People who come to LightSong seek to find acceptance, a place to practice shamanic techniques, and an environment where they feel the presence of like-minded individuals. I believe that people in general quest to be accepted, included, valued, and loved.
The conception of LightSong was actually presented to me during a vision quest. This was long before I had started teaching classes or doing personal healing work and was during a time of my own searching and questioning. During my isolation, I found the site of my quest invaded by numerous ants. They were everywhere. With such an obvious sign from nature I immediately asked them, in my shamanic way, why they had come to my vision quest. I came to understand that they wanted me to build community and they would be my teachers to show me how. Ants know about community! That message motivated me to more exploration of possibilities through numerous journeys to the ants as well as communication with my other spiritual allies and the LightSong community began to emerge.
The beginning was the result of a simple message from nature, but the process of the realization of the community took many years, hard work, and constant vigilance to ensure that the community would reflect the best spirit of a thriving association of individuals bound by a commitment to meaningful personal and communal development. After years of designing, organizing, implementing, and refining the structures and determining our roles and obligations as individuals in a common purpose, it became clear that community required a mutually held spirit of resolve and perpetual attention to core values of trust and caring and love.
As an adult, I have been involved in numerous communities that were created for these same purposes and few of them are still in existence. I often asked myself why such communities so seldom sustained themselves over time. I reviewed what I had observed in communities that didn’t survive or didn’t thrive. What I noticed was a lack of respect amongst individuals, competition rather than cooperation, and leadership that was focused on gaining advantage rather than distributing power. These were not very honorable attributes. In contrast, LightSong’s community is remarkable. People in our community hold our values in their hearts, not just in their minds. As people associated with LightSong have grown into the thousands, we have thrived by maintaining our core values. I attribute this success to certain qualities that were established at the heart of our infrastructure—such as LightSong’s mission to give great respect to others, a stated non-competition agreement, a by-law of no gossip, and moral role modeling from those in leadership positions. The not so obvious but also supportive attributes that contribute to success are based on shamanic practice and incorporating spirit into everyday life. In the design of a spiritual community, spirit must be present in the foundation. Spirituality may be incorporated into religion but the latter often conjures up an image of a governing authority and judgment. Judgment is grounded in the ego and will continually set people up for competition. Removing the obstructing variables of authority and judgment will guide a person to a more healthy community structure where inner authority replaces outer authority and judgment gives way to mutual support.
Below is a list of the goals that were established and have guided LightSong through its evolution from a healing center and school to a thriving community:
LightSong’s Principles and Philosophy
Practices of LightSong are based on the following values and principles:
- The complete expression of Love is the highest goal;
- Healing ourselves is central to facilitating the healing of others;
- The importance of acknowledging and respecting our teachers, the origins of our practices, and our mentors;
- Belief in compassionate spirits and the divine self as the basis for all healing;
- The united belief in the positive, generative nature of the universe;
- Utilizing the Laws of Attraction or Creation Laws as a template for humanities highest good;
- Words and thoughts are always conscious, positive, constructive and respectful;
- Trusting completely in the Higher Power regardless of the name one chooses to call it;
- The willingness to open to spiritual guidance in developing honesty and clarity in one’s thinking;
- The willingness to recognize prejudice, bias, or projection in oneself and replace it with truth and love;
- The conscious awareness of tempering the ego with persistence;
- Speaking the truth without judgment or blame;
- Respect for the right of others to form their own values and beliefs;
- Honoring your own learning from experience and inner guidance as well as those of your teachers;
- Basing the value of a theory or technique on the verifiable results it helps one achieve;
- Using negative and positive experiences to heal and grow;
- Being open to results rather than attached to them;
- Taking personal responsibility for one’s situation in life;
- Holding compassion for those who have decided not to do this;
- Realizing that transformative experiences are not limited to the course work, and contribute to a well-rounded healer;
- Appreciating the fact that healing and growth is maximized when we transcend the limitations of the ego and live from our true, divine self;
- Understanding that to strive and reach beyond the current paradigms of limitation and scarcity results in miraculous manifestation;
- Recognizing that healing requires a deep belief in oneself; and
- Knowing that there are always internal and external resources available to meet life’s challenges.
These principals, as well as our vision, are the corner posts of our establishment. They emanate an energy out into the cosmos that fortifies and nurtures us. These tenets also hold us responsible to what it is that we wish to create. As with all evolution, the pattern of change isn’t a straight path but produces a learning curve of adjustments and modifications as we grow. Our efforts are in constant need of evaluation. However, this evaluation will always serve us in positive ways because it is imbedded in our goals and our connection to the cosmos.
Although there are other ways to become involved, most people join the community because they have participated in a class offered by LightSong. From the very moment new participants walk through the door, there is a welcoming and a sign of respect. Immediately there is a positive feeling and a sense of inclusion. The intention that I hold as a healer, leader and founder of LightSong is that we as a group are immediately adjusting the fields of energy for the class to be a container that emanates energy of a shared purpose. The vast majority of people throughout their involvement with LightSong will speak about how good they feel at LightSong events. Participants most commonly refer to respect, openness, honesty, safety, voice, problem solving in positive ways, and attention to individual needs as descriptors of their experience.
Our community also incorporates indigenous (not necessarily shamanic) principals at its core. Medicine wheel cosmology designs are one basis for our community involvement. We studied the Iroquois traditions, which actually influenced our Declaration of Independence and the writing of the United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was greatly influenced by the community living of the Iroquois. He spoke the Iroquois language fluently and incorporated the Iroquois principals into our country’s founding documents. There are many components of the Iroquois system of governance; however, at its core is the belief that everyone has worth and a job to do that is important and of value and this recognition of the individual’s value to the society instills a sense of belonging and self esteem and promotes the individual’s pursuit of happiness.
LightSong is supported through volunteers and the volunteers’ placement on the medicine wheel is physical as well as energetic. The energy is a constant broadcast that supports, enriches and strengthens each person and their position on the wheel. The idea of volunteering can be exhausting for those who have been involved in faulty programs; however, when benefits are provided and positive attitudes are at the core, great devotion and enthusiasm prevail and everyone thrives.
Thriving communities are a microcosm for the New Earth and how people desire to live. I believe that each time a person in involved in a LightSong function there is an imprint into their energy system that they then broadcast out into the world. This imprint knows there is a better and different way to live than what our history as a civilization has taught us. This experience of true community provides a knowingness that helps drive the quest for the well being of individuals and society.