There is a subtle, deep and invisible toll to this pandemic, another kind of loss of life: the loss of our embodied social life, the fractures in our circles of belonging.
These fractures can be hard to see because their main language is silence. However, we can feel them….the pain is there. The dharma can help to heal these fractures.
There is a “longing” in “belonging”. We yearn to belong. We need to be embedded in a matrix of care. This need is hard-wired in our genes to ensure our species survival.
To go from longing to belonging, we can listen to our longing. It is natural and instinctual. We might long to nurture and be nurtured, to see and be seen. What does it ask of you? To move into new spaces? To rekindle old friendships or begin new ones? It might surprise us in its intensity and vision.
We might not think longing can be a dharma practice. Longing is the first step to belonging, the call of the soul to be connected. From there begins the weaving of ties that hold us together; gathering, sharing food, acts of reciprocity and vulnerability, and deep listening.
Ponder or journal with these prompts:
- What kinds of community, connection and companionship do I long for?
- What are my circles of care (family, friend group, work peers, sangha)?
- In what ways does my practice evolve these relationships?
- What do my acts of weaving look like? How much energy do I devote to weaving?
We needn’t wait for others to heal our fractures. We can take belonging into our own hands. This moment, which may seem so isolating and broken, might be an opportunity to re-vision our unique and beautiful expression of belonging. It might hold the promise to sustain us for life.