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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

What Community Really Means

by Linda Sechrist

Long before community evolved into a catchall word for a society or association of persons having common interests or occupations, it was a noun indicating a quality of fellowship, feelings and relationships. Missing from today’s meaning of community are its most significant early roots—any place where “we, the people” were comfortable talking openly and intimately, befriending and supporting one another, taking the initiative to make changes and sharing in life’s celebrations and losses. 

Local Communities

Local opportunities exist for learning intuitive methods and spiritual practices that can help individuals develop the capacity to deal with differing opinions and personality conflicts that interfere with creating cohesiveness that builds community. Learning capacities and sensibilities that were once traditionally attributed to mystics, the highly creative and world servers are now considered invaluable assets to have in becoming part of an alternative vision for living a more harmonious and meaningful life that considers the good of all. Such capacities and sensibilities are most useful in easing the angst of living into an uncertain future.

Integrative Mindfulness, Bonita Springs

A student of mindfulness and transpersonal psychology, Madeline Ebelini is a certified teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and owner of Integrative Mindfulness. When she noticed at the conclusion of a MBSR course that the healing effects of immersion and resonance during practice were felt by students that expressed their longing for continuing the therapeutic community they had created, she knew that she needed a next step. In Ebelini’s new Psyche & Soma Part I Embodiment class that uses a yoga mat and meditation as investigative tools for self-exploration, participants can create community and become aware of who they are. “The course combines the best of MBSR and the exploration of embodiment, self-compassion and spirituality for deepening, sharing, and fully integrating the principles of interconnection, wholeness, trust, acceptance and patience,” says Ebelini. 

3372 Woods Edge Circle, Ste. 102, Bonita Springs. 239-590-9485.

Spiritual Communities Network

Nudged by spirit in 2011 to create a conscious community, Gwen Peterson, founder of Spiritual Communities Network (SCN), organized a MeetUp group comprising local practitioners, teachers and centers offering classes and events. Now, as a paying member of SCN, individuals can post their classes and events on the group’s Meetup calendars, Facebook page, newsletter, hard copy directory and website.  

“Community consciousness, or collective consciousness, is the shared beliefs of the people in the group. One of SCN’s shared beliefs, that we interdependent, creates a unifying field. New residents look for their tribe to make conscious connections. While we meet monthly so members can connect and learn from one another, there’s virtually something going on every day in the area or online at our spiritual communities classroom where our members present classes,” says Peterson.

Florida Community of Mindfulness

John McHarris, a Naples resident and member of the Florida Community of Mindfulness, led by spiritual teacher Fred Eppsteiner, appreciates being among likeminded people that have the same core interest in walking a spiritual path. “With this commonality, there’s a lot to share and talk about, which naturally helps in getting to know people better and establishing trust and friendships, which is different than just being an acquaintance,” says McHarris.

Goddess I AM, Naples

Southwest Florida is becoming a swirling center alive with energy, perhaps generated by the many small communities that have formed around reiki, healing circles, shamanism, breathwork, eco-spirituality, spiritual study groups such as A Course in Miracles, spiritual living principles, yoga, kirtan, drumming and meditation, which occurs weekly at Goddess I AM, in Naples.

“We’re a local haven for all who need a place to practice their spiritual journey without judgement. We have a core group of meditators. While others come and go, there’s always a sense of cohesiveness among the women present,” says Beth Rinella-Brown, owner of the conscious living, metaphysical bookstore. 

600 Goodlette Rd. Naples, 239-228-6949.

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