When Li Cara moved to Williamsburg four years ago, she had a hard time finding anything to help her connect to spirituality in a way that wasn’t part of an organized religion.
“I wanted to get spirituality out of the shadows,” she said. “In Williamsburg, it’s taboo to mention that you’re anything besides Christian.”
To help spread a more general idea of spirituality, Cara started a new group in June with Janéa Swander and Susan Olney. It’s called the Spiritual and Intuitive Development Group of Williamsburg.
The group meets once a month at the Williamsburg Unity Center — it is not affiliated with the center.
There are discussions during group meetings about crystal healing, presentations from mediums and discussions on other forms of spirituality.
“The whole point of the group is to present these different modalities and allow people to choose the flavor that feels right for them,” she said. “Some people go and try different churches, it’s the same with spirituality.”
Cara wasn’t always a spiritual person, she said.
Before 2012, she said she found herself living life with a mask on because she hated who she was and didn’t feel loved. Then one day she was lying in bed asking herself how much longer she could take living that way when she heard a presentation from Joyce Meyer, a popular Christian speaker and author, on the television.
But Cara had always been against organized religion and so she flipped passed the Christian speaker. However, she found she kept being drawn to the program and eventually learned that there other ways to experience God than just through the Christian religion.
“I was overcome with this electricity physically and I just started feeling these messages of kindness and love,” she said. “It seems simple when you say ‘be nice to yourself, be nice to others’ but how many of us actually do that in real life? I wanted to.”
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So Cara began writing about her ideas on spirituality and that’s how she authored her book “Unleash Your Light” which was recently published by the local company Blue Dragon Publishing.
But Cara didn’t stop there; she continued to do regular Facebook videos that spread the message of spirituality and now she has started this new group in Williamsburg.
The purpose of the group, Cara said, is to give people the opportunity to experience different aspects of spirituality but also to spread some of its messages.
“I think the bigger hope is that this movement will spread and affect people in a way that they recognize that you are my brother and if you hurt, I hurt,” she said. “You don’t have to be religious to believe that empathy connects all of us, so my hope is that this idea spreads.”
Cara said she didn’t expect many people to come to the first meeting in June because people in the area didn’t seem open to the idea, in her opinion. Cara, Swander and Olney knew there needed to be something in the area for those who wanted to learn more about various aspects of spirituality, she said.
And they were pleasantly surprised at the first meeting when nearly 30 people came. Now, there are about 150 people on the group’s Meetup page and she said attendance numbers are increasing with each group meeting.
“I think it’s coming out of the mainstream,” she said. “To see so many different people from different walks of life all talking about this—it gives me hope.”
The group’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 7 at Unity Fellowship Church. For more information, visit the group online.