Strong Community Directly Tied to Health

I have been processing community, collectivism and individualism these days because of our own family’s dream to own land one day and live in more intentional community. It gets lonely being an American sometimes, living in a place where the individual is lifted above the collective whole. As I was doing my reading for school, I came across this page and felt affirmed in my desire to live in close community where life gets messy and things aren’t always as easy as going at it alone. But, there are also incredible benefits to living this way that cannot compare to any other way.

“According to the revered Chinese doctor Sun Simiao who wrote fifteen hundred years ago, people become ill ‘because they do not have love in their life and are not cherished.’ When the heart is open and we are connected to our fellow beings, when we have intimate relationships, when we feel that we belong to a community where we have a valued place and a context in which to give of ourselves, we are more likely to thrive. This  is in many ways just common sense but it is interesting to see that many scientific studies are now confirming this.

Statistically, it seems that loneliness, isolation and depression make us several times more vulnerable to premature death or disease. In fact, an analysis of a person’s social relationships, how well-connected they are to partners, friends, family, community and tribe is a more powerful predictor of well-being and longevity than any of the more commonly studied factors such as gender, race, socioeconomic status or alcohol and tobacco consumption. One study exposed healthy adults to the common cold virus and found that those with healthy social relationships were four times less likely to catch cold.

It may be useful to see relationship as an energy field generated by the two or more people involved. Commitment, clear intention, compassion, generosity and humour will generate a strong healthy field which carries individuals through difficulty. In other situations the energy field may drain and limit the people within it. This can be seen in oppressive regimes or in destructive personal relationships.

In other words, the more we are connected to our community, the more our health is supported. To give to our community can be seen as a mutually nourishing act. Through our contribution the community’s energy field is strengthened and this in turn strengthens us. The healthier and more functional a community is, the healthier its members are likely to be. When a community is well-integrated, sharing some common values and recognizing the value of its own diversity, its energy field becomes well-developed and increasingly able to support its members.”

Recipes for Self-Healing, Daverick Leggett


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