THE BLOG

No One Stands Alone: The Power of Community

02/12/2015 06:30 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

Earlier this year, nearly 2 million people gathered together in Paris to honor the 17 victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, and the days that followed saw a global outpouring of support. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio flew to Paris to represent not only the other City of Light, but millions of Americans. An international community -- united in grief, strong in spirit, stood in solidarity with France, sending a message: a global village was there for Paris.

The Huichol say, "No one stands alone." In tragedy or in triumph, day-to-day or during an isolated, rare event, the presence of community bolsters us. It's a credo we can all live by: In our community, we find our strength.

The Three Core Aspects of Healing

The strength of community runs deep. In Huichol shamanism, community is one of the three core aspects of healing. It's like the bridge between our self and the world. And each of these three levels brings people together -- on an emotional, physical, and a spiritual level. We heal our self, doing what it takes in our life to find our health or personal healing. We heal our community, bringing harmony and truth to our interactions and connections with each other. And we heal the world -- all that lives on Mother Earth, our greatest community.

A Fit Community

Without community, we cannot extend ourselves, our passions and our enthusiasm, into the world. With it, we have a mutual support system that carries us through hard times, such as when we're losing steam and motivation, and when we need strength for body and soul. It sustains us in our own lives: We don't ever have to stand alone.

Certainly, there are different communities for the different journeys we take in our lives. Sports teams, as Mark can attest, depend on community -- for motivation, for intensity, for solidarity. The ideal community for achieving your goals of Fit Soul, Fit Body is part sports team, part village: It's made of like-minded people, who share your goals. They're as serious and committed as you are to sowing those daily kernels of corn that bring success -- the daily workouts, the daily steps to gradually improve your character and your ways of approaching the world. But they also feel a sense of joy in being a part of each of those steps. They can be happy and light in the midst of their commitment. And this merging of commitment and joy is a kind of fitness in itself.

Finding Strength and Inspiration in Community

We may no longer have the communal benefits of the past, those traditional ties to family and birthplace that provide natural, lifelong connection. But in these modern times, our communities becomes like our families, and they fill the same fundamental need. Mark talks about how community was crucial to his strengthening program for body and soul. As he says, community is what enabled him -- a self-described "lazy person" -- to overcome his key weakness, getting started. Doing workouts in the company of a training community provided the support that was vital to his staying consistent.

Don José not only took Brant under his wing, he brought him into the Huichol tradition of community, gathering fruit, hunting, walking, talking, just as generations before had, and just as generations in the future will. Community binds us together. In our modern-day world, we may not get the chance to travel up a mountain for a Huichol ceremony, or have a feast in the tribal village. But we can go for walks with close friends, go to events and eat meals together. We can be connected and interact. As Don Jose showed, community is key. It is far more than just company: it fulfills a fundamental need we have as humans.

Different communities provide different streams of support -- strength, inspiration, companionship, connection. And these are as vital, and as nourishing, as food. Just as the body feeds itself with beans and corn, the soul nourishes itself with community. As the Huichol say, you don't have to stand alone. And that's what it's all about.