intimate human connections
July 14, 2012 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Where are my people?

I recently attended a couple of AA meetings (Australia) and was struck by the openness, honesty, kindness, eloquence, reflectiveness of the members - maybe even (and this is difficult for this atheist to quantify) spirituality. Being Australia, there was very little overt religion.

Then I read some Kris Radish books: The Sunday List of Dreams, Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, and the Elegant Gathering of White Snows. In the Sunday List of Dreams, the main character goes to a Women's Festival, which reminded me in a lot of ways of the AA meetings I've been to.

So tell me, where as a mid 40s single woman can go that has these aspects - welcoming, friendly, non-combatitive, open, expressive, event/meeting/group that is not connected to religion specifically and allows for all kinds of beliefs? I don't want to be forced into doing things that I may not enjoy (so rules have to be flexible). For example, maybe there's a nudist camp that is just right, but I want to be able to choose whether or not to disrobe.

Obviously, I would like something local (South East Queensland) but I am also interested in travel, and if there's some event somewhere in the world I shouldn't miss, please list it.

(FYI no church of universalists in this area and Mefi meetups are great, but I would like something a little deeper and more connected than this).

If it occurs to you that my question is too narrow (not because of Askme regulations, but because I haven't considered something else) please feel free to suggest things out of the scope, but also please explain why you've included them.
posted by b33j to Human Relations (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You're sure there are no Unitarian Universalists nearby? You may (or may not) feel comfortable with various pagan groups or the Society of Friends, but they're the most likely to feel "spiritual" but open-minded, in my experience.

(Also, contacting UUs/pagans/Quakers in your region is the best way to find groups which are like them.)
posted by SMPA at 8:51 PM on July 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Writing groups. Book clubs. Philosophy classes.
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:14 PM on July 14, 2012

I've never been but friends who have tell me Woodford Folk Festival has that atmosphere.
posted by rdc at 9:58 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe Confest? I haven't been, but friends of mine who have raved about the low key welcoming atmosphere.
posted by woolly pageturner at 12:18 AM on July 15, 2012

There have been a spate of articles/blog posts recently about how contradancing is like church without the church bit, in terms of community and connectedness and a sense of the (I too am an atheist) spiritual -- if you like movement/dancing, you might investigate whether there is any near you? FWIW, I recently went to a Sufi prayer meeting and had an incredible conversation with one of the members, who is also a modern dancer, about the connections between Sufic practice and dance and spirit. It helped me explain to myself why I feel bonded to the contradance community whereas other kinds of dancing are just hobbies for me, no matter how deeply I engage with them.
posted by obliquicity at 1:03 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have to say that I've found "my people" in the local Bahai crowd. I'm a hard core proselytising atheist, but they're good people. Smart, inquisitive, challenging, educated and more pro-women than any other religion I've encountered. It's got a few drawbacks that stop me from jumping in completely, (apart from the whole not believing in god thing) but all in all, if I were ever going to join a religion, Bahai would be my choice.

And if I were just looking to hang out with the good, introspective, political, amusing and generous people, they would always be where I would turn to. Seriously, they're the coolest of the cool. The god part is a mere inconvenience. And they could care less about my attitude to it.
posted by taff at 4:47 AM on July 15, 2012

If you went to AA because you care about someone who is an alcoholic, you would we welcome at Al-Anon. A good Al-Anon group is not at all focused on alcoholism, but on improving the members' own approaches to dealing with life.
posted by something something at 6:27 AM on July 15, 2012

Seconding contradancing--even if you don't think of yourself as a dancer, contra is very welcoming and participatory and can be quite spiritual. This link might help you find dances near you.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 6:56 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

So if you like AA meetings, and the people who you've met there, what's stopping you from going to AA meetings, and enjoying those peoples company? Sure, there are "closed" meetings, which are for alcoholics only, but if AA in Australia is anything like AA in the states, you'll find plenty of "open" meetings, which are open to anyone who walks through the door.

Or AlAnon of course, as noted above -- AlAnon pretty much welcomes everyone who walks in.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:32 PM on July 15, 2012

'My people' are International Folk Dancers. I love the music, dancing, and the people who are drawn to it tend to be smart, interesting, and have diverse and not narrow spiritual beliefs.
posted by theora55 at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2012

Since you didn't mention this in your post, why did you attend AA? Do you have a drinking problem or are you involved with someone who does? If not, I'm having a hard time understanding why you would go to meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous is designed for people who cannot drink successfully and want to live a life without alcohol. In my experience, there is no place/group/event where you will find the same atmosphere. The reason for the bond between recovering alcoholics is because they share a common fatal malady. In other words, they either grow together or they will die separately.

If you're looking for something with a similar feel to AA, I don't know what to suggest because I think that AA is what it is for a reason.

If you're looking for low-religion spirituality, try the other advice listed above.
posted by strelitzia at 12:43 PM on July 16, 2012

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