The importance of Sangha

Years ago I used to go to weight watcher meetings.  They were sort of like a support group for people struggling with food issues.  Much like an AA meeting.  It wasn't required to stay for the meetings. You could just go and do the weigh in and leave.  The general consensus was that when you stayed for the meeting you always ended up doing better that week.  I remember once the leader saying that she become a leader because she knew that it was the only way that she'd be able to keep her weight under control.  She needed that constant support.

I've discovered that the same holds true for sadhana (daily spiritual practice).  When I have the support of a sangha (community) I tend to do better.  Whether it's participating in a study group, taking a class, or meditating with a teacher, when the reinforcement is there it fuels the inner fire.  That's just the way it is.  I've been reading an interesting magazine called Hinduism Today.  There was an article about the importance of a spiritual community.  I know I'm not alone in feeling the need for a strong spiritual community. 

I've been doing a lot of reading lately.  Reading scriptures is an important part of sadhana.   The problem is that most of what I'm reading brings up lots of questions and without a teacher/group  to discuss these ideas and concepts with I feel like something is missing.  When you're diving deeply into spiritual practice there's no doubt that the support of others is important.  Surrounding yourself with a community of like minded individuals who are also on the their own spiritual journey is where you'll find the support you need.

That's the challenge - of course! You didn't really think that there wasn't a challenge did you?

Here we are........  Most of us are holderholders living in America.   We need to work, raise a family, run a household, take care of our parents, our spouses, our pets.  Finding time for daily spiritual practice alone is difficult.  If I don't do sadhana before 6:15am each morning it just doesn't happen.  Still the longing for a spiritual community is there.  The need for the support is there. 

I'm blessed to have wonderful teachers in my life but I need to remind myself that they too have responsibilities and obligations to fulfill outside of being my teacher.   They too have their own sadhana to do. I remind myself that in my heart they are my teachers but the reality is that they are also individuals on their own spiritual journey. 

So what's a yogini to do?  We all agree that we need support on this path and spending time on a regular basis with a guru is not really an option for most of us.  Where doesn't that leave us? The back cover of the Hinduism Today magazine seems to offer a solution to this very problem.  "Sadhana support goes Mobile"  - that's right,  Sadhana support goes Mobile.  Who needs a guru when you have an "app" for that.  All you need is a iPad or iPhone (I honestly don't know the difference).   Really?  Will the app. answer your questions?  Will the app encourage you to practice when you're feeling depressed?  Will the app get to know you and offer advice based on your individual karma? --- I don't think so. 

I was really hoping that by the time I got to this point in the post that I would have some advice but honestly today  I feel a bit lost.  If only there were as many sanghas as there are weight watcher meetings!  Until then, I will continue my sadhana, I will continue to attend study groups, yoga classes, and meditate with others whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I will continue to read and learn and perhaps the scriptures are right,  when I reach that state of enlightenment all will be known. 

The lesson here is patience and acceptance.  I feel truly blessed to have the privilege to teach yoga as it helps me stay firmly on this path.  The other lesson I'm struggling to learn right now is how to stand on my own two feet and trusting the inner guru.  I'm thinking now of an invocation I heard from one of my teachers

"With great love and respect
I honor my heart.
My own inner teacher"


  1. I go through this as well. If I don't get to our yoga class, or I miss a class with Ed, or I don't go to my Deeksha group, I then feel friendless. But those are emotional charges related to my behavior, not of others. I too, am trying to find my inner guru--no wait, I found the inner guru, but I'm not always good at locating the voice!


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