Humans are intensely social creatures. Our health and well-being depends largely on the quality and quantity of our social interactions.
Insulation, isolation, desperation. This progression has become almost typical for the many of us who live in large cities and sprawling urban environments.
We insulate ourselves within our private apartments, condos, and houses.
We then start to feel isolated as we become busier and busier and have less time to spend simply being with those we care most about.
If not recognized and remedied this pattern can lead to chronic states of depression and loneliness as we drift further away from the social connections that serve to nourish our entire being and we find ourselves perpetually behind a screen, missing out on all of the intricate subtleties that come with a face to face, uninterrupted social interaction.
These patterns are a strong contributor to the nearly epidemic levels of mental illness and depression that plague the modern world.
Teens and young adults seem to feel this the most as they’ve grown up with smartphones, tablets, and online video games as part of regular life whereas when I was a kid we still played outside, no one had a cell phone and our video games brought us together in the same room because online gaming didn’t exist.
The rising rates of depression, mood and social anxiety disorders demonstrate that clearly we’re engaged in a way of life that doesn’t align with our needs as humans.
But there is hope within this seemingly desperate situation.
Many of us are – ‘waking up’ – and bearing witness to this state of constant semi-sleep that we become stuck in and which serves to perpetuate the ‘established’ way of doing things. Simply by becoming aware of the situation, it enables us to begin exploring solutions to some of these issues.
As Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Part of this change of thinking is that we are rediscovering the concept of the Tribe. We are recognizing the mismatch between our biological needs as animals and our city environments. None of us are well adapted to this modern life of artificial lights, hundreds of virtual “friendships”, and spending the majority of our lives inside, completely disconnected from our natural habitat within which we were able to survive and thrive in a way that respected the earth and the creatures we share it with.
This isn’t to idealize our hunter-gatherer past. There are many great benefits that we experience in modern life today. I think of electricity, smartphones, laptops, and high-powered blenders to name a few (yes, it’s true, during my 5 months living in the Amazon the piece of tech I most often thought of was a blender.)
We have become disconnected from our roots and from the things that truly nourish us on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level; namely real food, community-based parenting, exploring the natural world, and living a life aligned with natural cycles and rhythms. One key part of this is recognizing that all of life is connected. What I do to a field or a stream whether it be polluting or preserving I do to myself and those I love. Many of us were raised with the idea that we are separate from nature and that the “environment” is something out there that we venture out to for recreation when we’re lucky enough to have time for it.
Find Your Tribe
Finding our tribes. It’s what we’re doing to overcome these issues, to build community, and establish a network of trust and support. Our tribes are made up of those individuals who similarly to us, have come to know in their minds and hearts that there is a better way to live.
This way seeks to honor our needs, enhance our well-being and does so by integrating the wisdom of the past with the tools of the present.
It is the meeting point of indigenous traditions and modern technology and unites us within the global family called humanity.
Think of the feeling you get when you meet someone new and discover that although your lives have a markedly different appearance, you have both struggled with similar challenges or share a passion for a particular topic or value. Time seems to slow down, moments feel like hours, emotions are shared and felt deeply, excitement arises, hope is renewed, faith restored. You realize you are not alone and never were even though it definitely seemed like it for a time.
Before long you feel like you’ve known this person for a whole lot longer than calendar time would indicate as you tune more deeply into the concept of synchronicity and flow.
We become the healthiest and most fulfilled versions of ourselves when we’re surrounded by the types of people who inspire us, care for us, challenge us, and with whom we share similar ideas and perceptions of the world and it’s mysterious nature.
When we forge these bonds and re-create the Tribe in modern life we become more human.
It is these relationships, shared interests and deep feelings of love that really make life worth living.
It has recently become far easier for us to go about finding our tribe. Whereas our parents and past generations had to rely solely on radio, TV, newspapers and word of mouth to discover interesting events and gatherings, today we have the internet which is host to an ever-growing network of socially oriented platforms such as Meetup.com which serve to connect us to those around us through shared interests and passions.
Facebook has become an indispensable tool for organizing events be them retreats, yoga classes, camping trips, concerts, open mics or potlucks. All of which draw us together in real, face to face interactions where we meet new friends, forge intimate relationships and find a real sense of community. This community is central to allowing us to become part of something larger than ourselves which then becomes a new entity that we serve within from a place of love and devotion in order to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
It has only been in the past 12 months that I’ve truly begun to integrate this in my life. When I leave a high vibe community gathering and am feeling on top of the world I look around and witness the large proportion of folks who appear dis-eased, nervous, fearful and cut off from the people and places around them. They sheepishly navigate from place to place with their gaze directed down and posture slumped forward, un-empowered, defeated, just getting through another day.
I have been in that position before so I can appreciate their struggle all the while giving thanks for the gifts that the tribe has brought to my life.
For me, it’s been a mixture of health, nutrition, yoga, spirituality, music, authenticity and outdoor fun which serve as the practices and passions that connect me to those whom I feel the greatest resonance and harmony with.
When we’re together it’s electric! We laugh, play, share, dance, teach and inspire each other to become the greatest versions of ourselves and to share our gifts with the world! We support each other through challenges, we exchange food, hugs, massage, energy healing, poetry, music, and art.
We strive to practice compassion for ourselves and for the often neglected darkness that resides inside each of us. That part of ourselves we are scared to share for fear of judgment. We know that by witnessing and honoring our shadow side we are able to become more whole and tap into a personal power and freedom as we learn to witness and lovingly discipline our inner demons. Pure presence and unconditional love allow us to feel seen, supported and accepted for who we are, regardless of how imperfect or flawed we perceive ourselves to be.
This compassionate witnessing of our inner exploration is the type of connection and support that allows us to integrate our wounds and transcend limitations. It’s available to each of us if we just have the courage to be honest with ourselves and our tribe.
It’s no wonder that one of the harshest punishments humans have devised and enforced on those deemed socially unfit is that of solitary confinement – total isolation and separation from that which sustains our well-being. Let’s not continue to enforce that type of cruelty on ourselves by spending countless hours alone and in front of a screen.
Instead, let us come together and share the things that we’re passionate about. Let’s connect, grow, empower, share meals, plant gardens and energize ourselves to bring our dreams into reality
These communities and opportunities to connect exist right here and now in your city. Your tribe is waiting for you. What you seek is also seeking you.
Getting involved makes all the difference and helps us to become healthier, happier, re-connected humans and that’s something I think we can all agree is a worthwhile goal.
The time is now to Re-birth Modern Tribalism.
Are you on board?