“If you haven't experienced the tremendous benefits that can come from participating in a small group of people who are dedicated to each others growth, I urge you to think about how this might enhance your inner work.”
Elaine St. James (Inner Simplicity)
Just about everyone I know is part of a book group that meets once a month. They read an agreed-upon book, then come together at someone's home over dinner and wine to share their responses to the story. I was part of one of these groups for several years. I found that at least 50% of the time, I really didn't care for the book, and the books I did like, others didn't. I enjoy books that make me think about things I hadn't thought of before, or books about real people and situations. In other words, non-fiction, or fiction with a message, which didn't much interest the rest of the group. So, for me, the book group became an enjoyable social event, but not much else.
The spirituality group that I attend on Sunday mornings is just the opposite. We don't have food, unless I take it. We're there to meditate and express our thoughts about various topics. We talk about the way our outer lives affect our inner lives, and what we're learning from that interaction. We encourage, support and challenge one another. When we decide to read a book, it's because that book furthers our spiritual progress. I find a great deal of food for thought every Sunday that sustains me all week.
While I'm not much of a “joiner,” being a dedicated introvert, I highly value this little group. If you are not involved with such a group, and you're truly interested in developing your spiritual life, I encourage you to find one, or start one. Just as it's a good idea to seek advice and guidance with our finances, or our taxes, it's very helpful to have a small group of people to support our spiritual evolution. Diverse groups are best in that they present challenges to the certainty that keeps us stuck in one place. Different perspectives force us off home base and out of our comfort zone; and that's where growth happens. Small groups, 6 to 10 people, work most efficiently, since they afford everyone a chance to speak, if they want. Leadership can be shared or rotated, with that person's job being to keep the group on track, and out of the weeds of simply socializing.
Being part of a Centering Prayer group, a meditation group, or other discussion group focused on spiritual awareness, provides wonderful mental and physical benefits, as well. It's food for the soul, and isn't that what we're all looking for?
In the Spirit,