The Art of Simple Living in an Intentional Community

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It’s taken a while for me to understand the importance of connections, connections with friends, connections with family, even the importance of connections with strangers.

For most of my adult life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. One compelling reason was the opportunity to dwell in a creative flow for large chunks of time. I love the written word and admire a well-turned phrase. To be immersed in a creative energy is one of those direct experiences of grace that leaves one floating for hours, days, afterward. What a glorious way to spend a day!

Another compelling reason for being a writer was that the profession was so easily transportable. All I would need is a computer, an internet connection, and electricity. Barring that, a pencil and a notebook would do the job.


My favorite ideal was a secluded mountainside with a gurgling stream nearby. Sunny meadows scattered with wildflowers. Fluffy clouds and soft breezes. A cabin that miraculously cared for itself. Food that miraculously appeared and cooked itself, deliciously waiting for me to pause, push my chair away from my desk and stroll outside for lunch in the sun.

It all seemed so perfect.

The reality was quite different. The food never magically appeared. The house always needed sweeping. Repairs always needed attention. But more than that, perpetual solitude was. . . well. . . lonely. I yearned for human interactions. Eye contact. Voices. Body language. Laughter. I need connections in my day.

Humans are rarely wired for perpetual solitude. Most humans crave connections with other humans. Most humans seek satsang.

Satsang is a Sanskrit word meaning time spent in the uplifting company of like-minded people. Satsang is an acknowledgement, since ancient times, that humans seek fellowship. Connections with others.

Satsang is an integral part of living in an intentional community. For instance, Ananda Center at Laurelwood offers many different training and learning opportunities, chances to study the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda on a deeper level, and explore ways to integrate spiritual practices into daily life.

Almost always the format of the training or learning is through satsang. We gather together one night a week, or once a month, and talk about practical spirituality. We tell stories and describe experiences. We explore concepts and meanings. We wonder, ask, and answer. We help each other understand, grow, deepen.

Just as importantly, working together on projects can deepen our connections. We solve problems together, learn new skills, prove ourselves, expand our experience by working side by side. The work is secondary; it could be construction, hospitality, permaculture, or animal husbandry. The joy comes from working together, deepening our connections to others.

IMG_2620Sunday Service can be an opportunity to come together and share inspiration through spoken work, music, shared energy.

Community dinners are opportunities to share laughter, stories, vibration.

Holiday events are opportunities to connect, and reminisce.

Satsang offers connection and deeper understanding of who we are and who we want to become.

Here in Portland, we also have the Temple and Teaching Center, the Living Joy Center, the Community, Living Wisdom School, and all of the fabulous people that we run into every week, every day. We are truly blessed, with satsang and with each other. We are connected.

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