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The heart of belonging: A contemplation in complexity, colonialism, and rememberance.

Now is the perfect time to delve into the heart of our gathering, the audacity of tending to belonging in our times, and the humanity required to undertake this journey. Not even to excel, but to simply show up with the willingness to get it wrong, get it right, and declare, "I am willing to belong" despite all the reasons why we think we don't. We can't wait for perfection before we embark on this path.


Belonging—what a daring title to claim. It's been on my mind, and I want to share my thoughts on belonging, womanhood, and community. Few, including myself, are truly qualified to define these terms. A part of me resists defining them, preferring instead to live into them.


I've taken many courses, read extensively, and have been taught about the wild and unruly nature of belonging by many wise elders and spirited humans, but most of this comes from my own tracking of energy and human patterns. Belonging spans socio-political realities, ecological truths, colonial agendas and humanitarian principles. But belonging is also a cellular genius we possess, an inherent state we occupy with our liveness, that is indeterminate from external approval or sway. It is something that has been taken from so many, and has left us with no clear path to remedy.


So on one hand, this essay is about resilience and maturity as much as it is about repair and growth.  It's about not trying to fix, heal, or save ourselves or others; belonging the vast sky under which we exist that we must learn how to turn towards again, as a rebellious act against the false story of non-belonging.


Last year, I was deeply moved by how many women attended The Temple of Belonging. We never promised that they would feel belonging, yet people came, leaned in and found their own way in this beautiful invitation. The truest thing I've learned about belonging is that it's a collaborative and collective experience just as much as it’s an individual one. Not just within human communities but with our spirits and the times we've chosen to incarnate into. Belonging is something to be remembered, not created.


What I am sharing isn't the only truth about belonging, nor is it comprehensive. I love our women's gathering and this community because each of us holds a thread that creates a beautiful tapestry, warming our bodies and spirits. If anyone claims to have the whole story, I'd run the other way. This is an offering, an inquiry, a contemplation on what may be happening underneath the surface of the incredibly charged and volatile surface of this conversation, and the bleeding hearts from which they come from. 


Belonging seems innate, yet we've been convinced otherwise for far too long. Generations of colonization have written us out of nature, out of the Garden of Eden, and impregnated us with the biggest act of ‘othering’ I have ever known. Not to mention the horrific harms done to millions of bodies and souls of humans (predominantly black and brown bodies) since time immemorial, all in the name of greed, fear, extraction and control. The feeling of not belonging, that each of us feels in our won way, is so much older and wilder than this one lifetime. But I am here to offer some perspectives I have found liberating and helpful, for not overly analyzing the past, but rather beginning to live into a brighter future.


Exploring belonging isn't a five-step process, it’s not an easy ‘how-to’, and there's a good reason for that. It's a fluid journey of remembrance, requiring us all to decondition our stories, victimhood, wounds, and ways of seeing the world that were given to us by people who also forgot that they belonged and hence took that from others. It requires us to rethread ourselves intimately and lovingly with ourselves and the rest of the living and nonliving world.


Belonging starts with an actual longing to be here, which many have actually lost.


What if your desire to be so woven into the fabric of this reality, to the point where your individual thread is inseparable from the whole tapestry, was the missing ingredient to the felt sense of belonging? It is a yearning for union with life, an innate desire to fit here, to be threaded into the fabric of life where everything already exists perfectly as is, outside of my opinions, beliefs, and judgments.


What if your belonging was simply an energetic desire to actually be here, to stop resisting life because you don't approve of it, and allow yourself to hunger so badly for this incarnation that your inherent belonging simply wakes up within you?


Belonging is about desiring that threadedness with life itself, but we would never dare to weave ourselves too tightly into a world we don’t understand or have compassion for. It is also a state we embody that brings confidence, ease, and surrender to something greater than ourselves. 


You see, belonging carries this sense that we share the burden of being alive together, and while some like the concept of that as an idea, the real-world living of that is an entirely different thing that I see very few willing to participate in. And part of what also seems true, is that we already do belong! We can't actually untether our fates from that of the whole world, no matter how much we try - that’s the trick! Our bacteria make decisions on our behalf every day, the trash you make becomes someone else’s shoreline, all your protests about anti-capitalism are happening on a phones that extracts minerals from the Congo and displaces millions in the name of capitalism!


We are all already complicit, and we are all also innocent. We can't reclaim belonging until we reconcile just how woven we already are, in all of the ways we empower and also harm others. And why would we not want to wake up to that realization? Because it would hurt like hell. Because we feel like there is nothing we can do to make positive change. Because our heart’s would break and we wouldn’t be able to be a productive human body in a framework where our aliveness is valued by what it can achieve or produce (aka capitalism). I share this to soften the threads of righteousness that can seep into these conversations, usually without even noticing. There are many ways to remember how connected we all are.


Belonging requires reciprocity.


What if belonging has always been there, underneath the illusions and tricks? How would  we engage with our communities, our gatherings, our families, our beloved, and nature if we knew that this is all allowed to be here? How do we show up in the world if we believe we already belong and let go of the ways we've been convinced otherwise? How would that feel in your body? Would it soften the breath? Would it offer more compassion for those still stuck in their conditioning, colonial mentality, or supremacy programming? What if they, too, belong? 


This is one of the hardest truths: it cannot be one-sided. If I seek to belong in my truest, strangest, most imperfect nature, then you also get to exist in your perfect, weird nature without someone assuming they know better. This is how colonization spreads - the ingrained idea that one persons, for whatever standings, knows that is best for another person or peoples. What would it take for us to begin to soften that age-old pattern and claim our sovereignty and protect that for others?


We have begun to live in a world that wants a gift it’s not even willing to give. Judgment, opinion, and the colonial ideologies of knowing what is ‘right and wrong’ really hinder any attempts at cultivating true belonging in the world. Once again, easier said than done.


On a subtle level, what I've noticed is this: Can we give the gift we are asking for, even if we've been harmed, even if we feel wounded? Can we offer what we seek, despite what hasn't happened for us or our people? Reciprocity becomes challenging and a bit out of integrity when I want to belong in my fullness but don't allow someone else to belong because they are seen as a bad person, selfish, greedy, or embodying patriarchy or the shadow of the feminine.


I know I’ll get some kick back for this part, and I hope I do - it means that you're here, listening, and give a shit. But where does morality and righteousness even begin to become the same energetic pattern of that which so many of us claim to want to dismantle?


If you don't let ‘them’ belong, whoever they are that you don’t approve of (the rich, the white, the houseless, the jews, the muslims, the queer, the divergent ,the whatevers!)  we actually write ourselves out of our own belonging! It may be true that if belonging, freedom, and liberation must be for everyone, or they don't exist at all. If so, then our own empowered and integrated reclamation of belonging becomes an offering to the world stage and ecology.


So then the question becomes - can I give my enduring acceptance and allowance for all the things I don't like as a way to reclaim my own belonging? This is a crunchy, challenging space to navigate, but it's crucial.


Belonging is inherent to all life.


I don't believe we are here without reason or purpose. My human parts want to understand and approve of it, to make it work well for me in my identity in this lifetime. But there's a lot of conditionality in our desires for belonging and in how we allow others to belong, that is incredibly antithetical to creating and remembering a beautiful world that we all so deeply crave to be a part of.


We've reduced belonging to an anthropocentric view—Do you like me? Will you be nice to me? Will we agree on things? Are we similar? But true belonging is about seeing oneself in everything, realizing that we are 500% more similar than we are different, and that we are literally made up and fueled by the exact same things. Even more so, many of us feel the same hardships and traumas that makes us afraid of each other in the first place, some of the details may differ. There is a lever of humility required to belong, like humus, of earth, of the same soils.


Belonging has become a social game of fighting in, which is such a shallow and impossible game to try and win.


Belonging, to me, is akin to interbeing or individuation, where it's not about isolation or individualization. It's a state where I can see myself in all things, and all things in myself. It creates a sense of permeability in my field, much like the cell walls of my body. I am more space than form and density, and so are you, and so is everything. We are all just condensations of energy and matter, from us to the computer. Energy and matter flow more than we can see, perhaps for good reason, as it might overwhelm us.


Belonging, to me, is also about knowing deep down that we are not separate beings at war with ourselves or each other. We are one great life expressing itself in countless individual ways. Like a tree with its flowers and branches, everything looks different but is animated by the same core life force. Maybe that sounds a bit far out, but that's part of my understanding of belonging that can help pull me out of my selfish, self-centered needs to be loved and fit in. The reality we are walking in is so much greater, and more interesting.


Don't get me wrong, we are literally wired for human connection, community and belonging, which is truly the guiding principle of all my work. However, I have seen the subtle beliefs and patterns that can get in the way of us returning to this connection, and most of the it's not from a lack of access to community or intimacy, it's something much deeper that has to do with what we believe about ourselves and about the world.


When we see each other as expressions of life itself, something transformative happens. There's a softening, a letting go of victimhood and identity supremacy. This softening, in my view, is a process of releasing our stories, our identities, and embracing our shared humanity. It also requires us to reconcile with what parts of ourselves don’t want to belong, what parts of ourselves like our victim story, what parts of ourselves prefer to live in the perceived safety of being ‘right’? These are big questions, my friends.


What is is that I belong to, that rejoices at my participation? The sunrise? The rivers? My family? When did belonging become so much about me and so less about WE?


Comparison is the thief of connection - we need diversity of being.


One of my guiding principles is that "I am neither superior to that which I judge nor inferior to that which I praise". My intention with the women's gathering is to gently unravel the need to constantly analyze and understand these complexities, and instead, foster a sense of acceptance for ourselves and others as kindred beings who are all looking for the same thing. But this acceptance requires us to relinquish the judgments (and all judgement is self judgement) that can be so ingrained, and even become addictive, that prevents us from feeling connection or belonging even before we try!


One little gathering cannot take this all on, obviously, but there is a big hearted invitation here for us to stop talking and thinking about it all, and lean into feeling with our bodies and systems that actually remember the path of a deeper compass that knows somehow, the work of belonging lives within.


Nature is a beautiful and constant reminder, with its wildness and diversity, that underscores the necessity of embracing our unique and imperfect selves. Diversity is not just desirable; it's essential for life to flourish and when it is unable to, diseases of mind and body will take its place.


Nature shows us that belonging is not sameness, nor peace, but it's the collaboration of various forces that create a shared experience and emergence of place.


Each of us has a part to play, and it's in embracing our individual missions that we can contribute to the richness and resilience of life itself. Part of our conditioning is that we were taught to fear diversity instead of trust it, and the only way to trust it is to try. The only way to trust life is to trust yourself (I could go down a big rabbit hole here).


We can't all be Dorthy is this play, or else what a horrible play that would be...


Another facet about belonging is its nature of generosity.


Belonging is not just about what we possess or what we are entitled to; it's about what we give ourselves to, what we are in service to, and what sustains us. It's a shift from a mindset of ownership to one of interconnectedness and service. I've been deeply inspired by the idea that belonging is about belonging to that which gives us life—the planet, the animal kingdom, the elemental kingdom, our own bodies. We are interconnected with everything that sustains us, and this interdependence is something I cherish and yet many fear.


There's an emerging understanding of belonging that contrasts with older models based on ownership or earned status. It's about recognizing our place in the larger scheme of life and acknowledging our co-dependence with all living things. This perspective challenges us to rethink how we tend to the garden of belonging, especially in a world where many feel disconnected and unworthy. It's each of our responsibly to tend to this garden.


Belonging is too often outsourced, with individuals expecting others to make them feel like they belong. While inclusivity and diversity are crucial, relying solely on external validation for belonging can be disempowering and create a cascade of unhealthy/ unconscious relational patters that have the opposite effect. It's important to recognize that true belonging comes from within and is about showing up authentically in service to life.


The feeling of belonging cannot be given to you by anyone outside of you, but it does require the right conditions to be able to live well and flourish. Just like the seed, it's within you all along, but needs fertile ground to grow. That is what we are here to help with, in our own imperfect and sincere way.


A practice ground for belonging:


The Temple of Belonging is a space where we can come together, not to fix or save each other, but to honor our collective wisdom and support each other's growth. It's about creating a community where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued, to the best of the collective’s ability.. This requires us to embrace our imperfections and recognize that we are all on a journey of healing and self-discovery, each bravely and beautifully leaning into understanding and remembering belonging for ourselves and with each other. 


We seek to share the burden, have the brave conversations, and create a humble space for us all to co-create belonging and bravely move past our fears so that we can actually enjoy the connection and community that is right here waiting for you. It's a place full of joy, triggers, deep wisdom and also profound ease. It all belongs! (in case you didn't get that part yet hehe)


In essence, belonging is about finding our place in the world, not by fitting into a predetermined mold, but by embracing our unique gifts and contributions and reconciling with what is standing in the way. It's about recognizing that we are all interconnected and that our individual well-being is tied to the well-being of the whole, but we have to choose this. This gathering is an audacious prayer, a very sweet and simple space, and a practice ground for us as women to tend to the garden of the kind of life we say we want to live. It’s a place to put down the worries of being liked and loved, and pick up the dignity of knowing that we are all a part of a greater being, and our peace comes from sharing that gift with each other. Aka - you're already liked and loved ;)


I write this with courage, and hope that what resonates will be useful, and what doesn't will be left behind. 


As one my teachers Bayo Akomalafe says "I hope to never leave you with the poverty of an easy answer", and I agree. Let's keep wondering out loud and leaning into ourselves and each other with courage, curiosity and compassion.


Thank you for reading, thank you for being.


Jenny


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