A visit to a spiritual based intentional living community….
Down a winding back road through vineyards and forests you will find a unique niche of a community named Ananda Center at Laurelwood. This is an intentional community connecting with themselves and the divinity through yoga, meditation, community, and other healing practices. Upon arrival it looks to be a small campus, but once entering the 250+ acre plot of land and connecting with the beautiful people behind the front doors you can’t help but feel its expansiveness.
Ananda is set on a sacred piece of land. It has been used for holy purposes for as far back as they can trace. They tell me that you can truly feel how all this prayer and positive energy has changed the property here… and they are right. It is as if this place vibrates at a different frequency than the rest of the surrounding world.
I meet with Miriam, a sweet woman who shows me around the center. There is a main house with offices, bedrooms, a community room/cafeteria, and a kitchen. Outside there are plenty of seating areas adorned with flowers and tent canopies. We walk around back where she shows me their gardens, chicken coop, and cows. She tells me that they are short-handed on farm help, however if they needed to they have all the resources to be completely self-sustainable. She walks me past another building, an old elementary school, that she says is in the process of being reconstructed for use. We walk around a large bell structure and down a flight of stairs into the doorway of another building where I am handed off to Jacob. Jacob takes me down a hallway with a larger than life beautiful abstract painting and into the room where class will be taking place shortly.
The community is not only for residents. They also invite other groups to visit and hold events here as well as run their own retreats. Once a month they have what they call their ‘first-timer’s weekend and I was lucky enough to be invited to take part.
I sat in a circle of individuals ready to begin their journey down their spiritual path as Jacob set out a variety of pillows, meditation benches, and books in the center of the room. The individuals in this room had just met yet they spoke to each other in compassionate and loving ways; there was not a hint of judgement to be found here. It was really welcoming to see this sense of community. We did a hung sua meditation while Jacob played beautiful music and sang to us. Hung sau meditation is used to relax the mind and helps to bridge a connection between the left and right side of our brain. We started with a series of breathing exercises and ended with a peaceful ohm. During this meditation we were instructed to focus on the point at the top of our nose, referred to by some as our third eye. This is the location of the pineal gland which is said to connect us to the spiritual world.
This was followed by a philosophical conversation about human life on our planet brought on by a question presented by a group member on how to cope with the negativity brought to our planet by the human race these days and how to find hope that the good will pull through in the end. Jacob explained that throughout history the human race has gone through cycles. There have been eras of high energy- peaceful times with a connection to the natural world and positive advancements energetically speaking. These are interluded with periods of dark energy where the human race focuses on individual advancement instead of the good of the whole- for example the dark ages. He explains that this is natural and leads to overall growth, it is simply a matter of waiting for enough people to catch on and pull us forward into the next age. An excellent visual he offered is a rubber band. On one end it is being pulled back by dark energy, but as the individuals who are meditating, praying, and sending positive vibrations out into the universe pull the rubber band forward it will eventually have no choice to but to snap and propel us forward into the next era. When will this happen? Well, it could be 100 years ago, it could be now, or it could be twenty years from now. The change will happen when the majority of the human race is already living as if we are in the era of high positive energy.
From here I went to enjoy a delicious vegetarian lunch where I met and conversed with many of the group members. I met people from all walks of life including a girl who lives moving from one intentional community to the next across the country and a Woofer- an individual who had come to work on the farm in exchange for a place to stay, a hot meal every day, and an educative experience. The two individuals who stood out the most to me were Nancy and Aumkara.
Nancy and I connected right away as she had previously been traveling and writing about her experiences before coming to Ananda Laurelwood. We shared many stories and insights but the main thing I took away from her was her ability to fit in somewhere where she may not agree with all the values and beliefs implemented. This is a great tool in everyday life, however it really resonated with me as I sometimes feel slightly uncomfortable partaking in events originated in other belief systems while visiting communities in my travels. It was great to see someone else doing the same and really making the most of the experience without changing or hiding her personal values and opinions. She was kind enough to share her website where she writes about her experiences and even offers meditative and spiritual services here:
Aumkara is, in his words, an alternative-alternative energy healer. He uses techniques that involve testing different pressure points on the body and comparing them with the individual’s pulse. I was lucky enough to have him do a healing on me. He found a tense spot on my left rib cage and indicated that I was probably having some liver issues. (This was also diagnosed to me weeks early by a Tibetan tongue and pulse specialist at a Rainbow Gathering- post coming soon!) After a series of pulsating pressure applied on my back and hip by his fingertips (a highly energetic part of your body) he retested the spot on my rib cage again and to my disbelief the tension was gone! I even felt more energetic, centered, and uplifted. It was truly an experience. To learn more about Aumkara’s services offered in Beaverton, Oregon you can reach out to him here:
Before heading to a restorative yoga class I joined in behind the scenes in the kitchen to help chop veggies for dinner. The chefs were so welcoming and helpful; I can truly say I learned a lot about cooking in my short time in the kitchen. And it was actually fun! They used this service time to build their character and therefore always kept the vibe light and uplifting. They chit chatted, drank fresh made ginger ale, and told stories and jokes while preparing delicious stir-fried rice, tofu, and veggies. I got to overhear many of the guests and community members come share their gratitude for the loving nutrition provided by these individuals and even overheard an intern making plans to prepare a thank-you meal to show her intense appreciation for the experience provided.
Restorative yoga was led by a calm and bright soul volunteering her services to the community along with all the supplies needed to run these classes in the future without her. She led us through a series of stretches before entering a meditation that took us out of our bodies, through outer-space, into jungles, and beyond. As I laid on my mat with a lavender scented eye pillow over my face I drifted between vivid imagery influenced by her soothing voice to flashes of light and visuals which I could only describe as the serenity breaking through from somewhere so deep inside that it could only make sense to have been coming from outside of this world. Many insights and realizations flooded into my mind jutting my perspective into a wholly renewed paradigm that felt right with the world I found myself in today. After dinner we ended the day with an inspirational kirtan- meditative chanting, singing, and music making. It truly was the perfect day and I can honestly say it impacted my life without me even realizing it in the moment. I could not help but smile, my heart filled with joy, as I drove away back down the winding road humming tunes lingering in my mind from the peaceful kirtan.