It’s hard not to stare at beautiful people, no? Even harder when they’re topless.

I just got back from a week in Tulum, a beach town in Mexico, two hours and a world away from Cancun’s megaresorts.

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My first day in Tulum I couldn’t help but notice. Thin bodies with sun kissed skin. Men and women both. They moved effortlessly, barefoot, through sand and water. Their knees didn’t ache, their backs didn’t strain (damn them!). They carried babies on their hips, pushed catamarans from shore through crashing waves.

Did I mention they were thin? Not the “diet” kind of thin or “gym membership” kind of thin or even the “regular yoga practice” kind of thin, but the kind of thin that comes from actively engaging with life. Walking. Swimming. Building. Lifting. Creating.

Oh and of course what they ate was fresh. Fruit, veggies, fish. Babies’ bottles were full of coconut water and their food, kimchi or pureed rice.

But that didn’t explain it all. There was something more, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on… 

As the days went on I noticed… sustained eye contact, “hellos” to strangers, smiles at visitors. Touching, hugging, holding. Endearment. Dancing and playing.

The something more?

It was closeness, connection. Men with other men, women with other women, children with other children, and everything in between.

The people I met along this magical coastline of Tulum weren’t thin because of just diet or exercise, or because they thought it would make them happy.

They were thin because they were happy, not just on their faces but in their souls. And they were happy because they were in community. Happy feeling love.

Thin was not the goal but simply a consequence of a life in communion with others. Thin was nothing more than an afterthought.

Did you know fat stores emotions? Typically the emotions we choose not to feel. So, consider, what happens when we surround ourselves with people who make it safe to share our emotions?

Well, what happens is we talk. We feel. We release. We let go. Of all we no longer need (excess fat included).

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And so I ask you:

What community are you part of?

I mean real live human community (as dearly as I love the virtual world, it doesn’t compare).

In other words, what group of people makes you feel truly cared for? (it’s important that it’s a group of people, not just your boyfriend or best friend)

Are your coworkers your community? Your biological family or maybe a chosen family? Your fellow yogis at your neighborhood studio? Or maybe a small group of book club members you’ve seen monthly for a decade?

Once you’ve named your community or communities, ask yourself how deeply you connect to these people. And if not that deeply, be curious about how to go deeper.

Maybe you can give more hugs, breaking that touch barrier. Maybe rather than asking “how’s it going?” you can ask “are you still missing your father?” or “tell me, how good does it feel to be in love again?”…, accessing what really matters.

If you can’t yet name your community, find one. People are everywhere (in running clubs, dance classes, meditation centers) and there’s a good chance many of them could use a community member just like you.

Tell me in the comments below, what does community look like for you?

And what’s one way you benefit physically and emotionally from connecting with others?

Lastly, if you’re a sucker for travel, like me, check out more pictures and an ode to Tulum here.