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On living in an intentional community and ‘happiness’

‘Community’ taps so deeply into the zeitgeist of today, promising the possibilities of connection, collaboration, togetherness and belonging that so many of us are hungry for in this world. Someone asked the other day what the biggest challenge is in living in an intentional community. My answer also reflects what the biggest gift is too…

Ekhart Tolle said that relationships are not there to make us happy, but to expand our awareness. You can say the same of community, or even extend it to ‘life’ as a whole. My biggest challenge is the daily offering of mirrors on my wounds around feeling connected to the world and my ability to peacefully and lovingly relate. Living my previous life, I could so easily hide from others. I was constantly ignoring or walking away – without realising – from relationships and connections, avoiding seeing or dealing with my belief sentences, conditioning and wounds around being able to live closely and intimately with others. Living in community we have an intensified possibility to discover what they didn’t teach us in school – how to work with interpersonal conflict, triggers and projections, the gifts in emotions and how to take responsibility for them, how to compassionately set boundaries, how to distinguish between taking care of personal needs and being in service to the collective whole. We discover how even though we have a longing to live in deeper connection with others, we don’t yet possess the skills to live that fully. Intentional community – like all relationships – have the gift of bringing out the best and the worst in us. They can reveal all our sorest, tenderest and most wounded parts, and then give us opportunities to heal them. Am I ‘happier’ living in community? No, I don’t think I am. Right now in these first stages of living in community, I am on a rollercoaster of impressions and learnings and revealings and my pain body is activated a lot of the time. But to give myself the experience of being part of a family, rather than an isolated individual on my own path, to start allowing myself to be deeply seen by others in my gifts and struggles, to work towards healing my wounds around exclusion and being an ‘outsider’, to have glimpses of the potential for magic as life’s creative intelligence reveals itself through a group body is the most amazing gift, and there is really nowhere else in the world I would rather be.