Cities of Light Program

Sharing Nature

Conscious Community Solutions

Spiritual communities provide answers for some of the most pressing issues of our day. Isolation, greed, competition, selfishness, distance from nature—all of these qualities feed into the cycles of dysfunction that haunt our planet and those who live on it.

Friendship and cooperation replace competition and selfishness. Closeness with nature brings peace and a sense of contentment that leads to simple living.  Shared meals, recreation, service and worship lead to a fulfilling life…Finding happiness is the central issue of our day – for in finding happiness, we naturally live in harmony with others, with life, and find ourselves creatively solving for life’s issues. (See Finding Happiness Movie – to see Ananda community life)

Since 1968, Ananda has been a pioneer in small, conscious communities. Beginning with Ananda Village, this pattern of life has spread around the globe, with Ananda communities in Europe and India as well as here in the US. Ananda Portland has had a community in town since 1993, and it serves as a sister to Ananda Center at Laurelwood.

Laurelwood visioningBuilding a small community is an art, born of experience, character development, time, commitment and joy. The Cities of Light program is tailored to support those who seek to develop the understanding, the skills and the character that allow for the development of community wherever life might take them.

Because creating community takes more than book-learning, Ananda Center at Laurelwood is uniquely situated to provide the full experience-base. Using the resources at hand, including the existing campus which houses programs, retreats and conferences, the surrounding farm, gardens, forest and wild-lands, and the developing community, an individual can do research into every aspect of community life while also developing the spiritual and character qualities which make for  supportive leadership, creative management, dynamic involvement and a richly evolving community life.

Our educational campus hosts a Meditation and Yoga Retreat center, a Growing Dharma permaculture farm, and an Institute of Expressive Arts. Some members of the Cities of Light program contribute their time in service to these endeavors while others commute to nearby cities for work.

Each day students begin their day by meditating together and then throughout the day, whatever their activities, applying spiritual principles to every aspect of daily life.

Participants have a private room with its own sink and bathrooms just down the hall. Three vegetarian meals are served each day in the Green Hill Café. We believe in serving food filled with prana – or life energy. Thus we source organically grown and local ingredients as much as possible.

You can begin your journey in the Conscious Community Living Program by participating in the Cities of Light Internship (karma yoga) Program. Those in the Cities of Light Program participate each week in an evening class or satsang – which literally means fellowship of truth – where together we study the universal teachings of Self-realization. There are numerous other opportunities, both formal and informal, for learning including the chance to participate for free or very minimal cost, in many of the retreat programs happening on campus.

Our center is a place of learning and connection, inwardly with the Divine through the practice of meditation and yoga, and then expressed outwardly in our shared activities: vegetarian meals, service, classes, and recreation.

We are situated in a beautiful pastoral valley. The rural setting provides natural beauty, quiet, and a buffer from the conflicting vibrations of more urban environments. Yet when the world beckons, Portland is just a short drive away.

On the 175 acres surrounding our campus we are developing an intentional community, what Paramhansa Yogananda called a World Brotherhood Colony, where all of life can be together in one place. We are striving to create a community where the values of simple living and high thinking can be put into practice. We are experimenting with an alternative way to live that is more sustainable, and ultimately more fulfilling, where people can find what they truly seek: happiness.

If at the end of your three-month internship, you’re interested in participating in the Conscious Community Living Program, you can apply and interview for acceptance. Costs and fees will be assessed at the time of the interview.

For questions, you can email or call us at or 503-746-6229.