Ever had that sudden, lightning-bolt realization that you are no longer enjoying the company of those around you? Or perhaps you’ve known the slow, creeping comprehension that you don’t actually share the same interests as a friend, despite having previously been so sure. Like many of us, my life has been peppered with these moments. After spending a great deal of my youth on the fear-ridden roller coaster of desperately trying to fit in, I eventually recognized that I quite simply hadn’t found my tribe yet. From the moment I did, not only were conversations a lot more sparkly, but life made a whole lot more sense.
If your spiritual cup is feeling a little empty, you’re probably yearning for satsang; gathering with like-minded, uplifting people, especially those on a spiritual path. If this resonates with you, read on to find out how and why you should make space for satsang in your life.
The Importance of Community
Satsang is a Sanskrit term stemming from two roots: sat (true) and sangha (community, company or association). Its loose definitions range from “associating with good people” to simply “being in the company of truth.” It’s arguable then that satsang can be a lone relationship with truth, but the importance of community should not be overlooked. It’s common to think of inner-growth as a solo path; yet for many, the greatest spiritual breakthroughs are triggered or inspired by practicing in a group.
Entering into a shared space of support and unity can have a profound effect on the ego — an effect much more difficult to reach alone. Selfless emotions arise, the pain of separateness begins to dissolve and the inter-connectivity of the universe becomes increasingly apparent. For those yet to experience it, I know these are big claims. But when you break it down, it’s not all that surprising.
As social creatures, we humans have a long history of benefiting from our sociability. We’re all too familiar with clichéd résumé buzzwords like “team-player” and “effective communicator.” For the most part, we live in societies where it’s normal to use contacts, to use other people to get to where we want to be. We are conditioned to climb ladders and trample over those on the rungs below. But what if we could shift the way in which we see our interactions? Instead of thinking about what we want to gain from a relationship, it’s infinitely more beneficial to focus on what we want to reflect: What positive qualities do you want to shine out and see beaming right back at you? From this shift in perspective, compassion is born. Empathy, kindness and love overrule greed, jealousy and animosity. To share this is to share truth.
(Find out how to Trust in Your Truth Through the Knowledge of Hinduism's 6 Pramana.)
Uplifting, Inspiring, Grounding
The reality is that we spend much of our time surrounded by people on a variety of different wavelengths. Within the constraints of school or work, we don’t have the freedom to be picky about company and it’s vital for our social side to make do and get along. The snag is that being discerning about the company we keep outside of these contexts is tricky when we spend so much of our time there.
Not everyone is blessed by uplifting and stimulating people in their day-to-day life, or lucky enough to meet by chance those who are walking a similar path. This is why satsang is so important. Gathering in a wholesome community of like-minded people can inspire you to delve deeper into your spiritual side, to tap into and nurture your innate qualities. Being present in true company can totally shift your energy. It is as elevating as it is grounding.
(More on getting grounded in Grounding Through the Chaos: How to Recover From the Holidays With Yoga.)
The Extraordinary Within
Traditionally, satsang referred only to a gathering in the presence of a satguru — a true, enlightened being. These days, we don’t tend to come across as many gurus in the street as when satsang emerged, but, thankfully, tradition has evolved alongside us. Satsang has come to mean any gathering in which spiritual reflection, discussion, meditation or teaching takes place; from chanting in kirtan to philosophical debate in dharma talks. Although it’s ideal to be in the company of the truly wise, there’s a lot to be said for simply getting together with other like-minded, ordinary people. In the company of those who are committed to bringing out the best in one another, extraordinary awakening can occur. After all, each of us shares the same intrinsic qualities as the enlightened saints and sages, we just need a little reminder from time to time.
Welcome the Heart of Satsang
If you haven’t yet come across satsang in your local community, ask your local yoga studio or community center. If they don’t already have something set up, it’s likely you’ll come across someone willing to collaborate.
Beyond community gatherings, try to welcome the heart of satsang into your everyday life. Take the time to reassess your closest friendships and relationships — do they still nourish your soul? Are you shining out your truest self in their company? Search for new teachers who uplift and encourage you, forge connections that make you feel positive and at peace.
If all else fails, cultivate your inner truth. Read or listen to spiritual teachings and spread the word to those around you. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain: You never know who you might inspire.
Light up the Truth
Support is vital on a spiritual path. Sharing your inner-growth (and holding space for others to grow alongside you) can be a powerful tool for awakening. Gathering in satsang quietens the wants and needs of the ego, fostering a truer sense of self. Next time you find yourself bored by dull conversation or desperately trying to fit in, remember that we only get one chance to walk this Earth. Don’t waste precious time on company that doesn’t make you light up from the inside out. Instead, seek out and bask in the company of those dedicated to reflecting the truth. It is these people who will spark real insight, who will call wisdom to the surface.
(Continue reading in Journey to Love: An Essay on the Spiritual Community by Satyogi Shunyamurti.)