6 Secrets for Living Together in Community

6 Secrets for Living Together in Community
Many people want to live together in community on the land, but how do you actually rise to the challenges?

Something that many people want to do is to live in community, but the challenges of actually doing this and successfully living with other people in a shared existence on the land is quite another thing. This article gives some vital tips and information from a community that is rising to those challenges and putting into practice the challenging, but rewarding, dream of living together.

There is nothing which feels more meaningful to us, and the others who make the Paititi Institute home, than living in a sustainable community dedicated to personal transformation and healing of both inner and outer landscapes.

Paititi Institute for the Preservation of Ecology and Indigenous Culture was founded in 2010 from a heart-centered commitment to the idealistic vision that our global human family can collectively embody a harmonious, symbiotic and joyful existence with all life on earth. The indigenous wisdom lineages which carry the millenial wisdom of humanity have been our guiding light in remembering, embodying and sharing holistic examples of regenerative living.

From the beginning we resonated deeply that we must “be the change” if we are ever to realize such a vision for all life.

Initially we approached the manifestation of this vision with some amount of naiveté and romantic illusions. Little did we know that living in community with other like-hearted beings, who were coming together in shared resonance, would provide so many challenging opportunities for putting our personal evolution into practice.

Our home in the Mapacho Valley where the Andean Mountains and the Amazon rainforest meet.

Of course, throughout this journey we have experienced many more uplifting moments than the grueling ones; yet we have learned that it is inevitable for conflict to arise within a community setting and it is often the case that we will find a reflection of our light and shadow in a group. These interpersonal challenges have been blessings in disguise and powerful teachers for all of us who have seen them through, since facing and embracing them holds the key to our true ability to bring benefit to others in a greater vision.

Throughout all of the lessons, we have developed a set of community agreements over the years. When actively put into practice they have guided us to transform conflict and disagreements into creative friction; fueling personal and collective evolution as well as deeper relatedness. These agreements are living and breathing alongside us and I am sure they will continue to evolve as we do. We are inspired to share some of what we have learned and welcome you to see how this benefits your life as well…

Paititi Community Agreements:

1. Own your own experience and respect the experience of others

This vital agreement contains within itself all the other agreements and is inviting everyone in the community to take an empowered view (rather than a victim stance) in life and relationships. Owning our personal experience means we understand that our experience and the experience of others may not be the same. Some simple techniques which support us to interact from this place include:

  • Speak from “I” rather then a general “we”. Speaking in this way allows for a deeper and more authentic space of relating while at the same time not making assumptions or projections about others.
  • No shaming or making others wrong. No one is receptive to being told they are wrong and we follow the perspective that there is no “wrong”. Instead there is wisdom and ignorance. Where wrong can never become right, ignorance has the potential to become wise. Each situation and experience is a building block of evolutionary growth.
Community circlet
Paititi Community circle
  • Work to separate one’s observations and feelings from the projections and stories that arise from them. Many disharmonies start simply from making stories based on observing only a small part of a larger situation. Our mind has the tendency to fill in the blanks and it can be very helpful if we understand that our stories are just that, stories. They may not be true.
  • Cultivate curiosity rather than judgement: Having judgements about someone or something is a closed way of being. On the other hand asking from a place of true curiosity why someone is being or doing something in a certain way creates an opportunity for better communication and deeper understanding.

2. Be transparent – No hiding

Transparency involves embodying qualities of openness, receptivity and vulnerability while cultivating consciousness. Consciousness is the main medicine and it is essential for resolution to first recognize that there is even an issue. First and foremost this is referring to being transparent with oneself and choosing to see all outer feedback coming to us as reflections of our inner world. When disturbed we first ask, “How is this a reflection of me? How am I being in this way? Am I disturbed because this person is reflecting something I don’t want to face in myself?” Some additional ground rules include:

  • No gossiping (talking about others indirectly in a negative, venting or complaining manner). Gossiping never solves anything. Instead it only acts to create unnecessary drama that distorts reality. It is everyone’s responsibility not to gossip, as well as call it out if others are engaging this way.
  • Instead, go to the source of your disturbance – our personal disturbing emotions. What is the real source of our emotions and how can we channel this energy without being dominated by it and hurting others? This exploration allows us to approach the external trigger/s directly from a grounded, compassionate and curious perspective. If support is needed then mediation can be very helpful.
  • Don’t be afraid of confrontation. Challenges are the raw ingredients for our growth and facing them in a grounded way allows for collective evolution.
  • Be open with others about your process and challenges, especially when it is affecting others.

3. Be in integrity and 100% responsible

Coming into integrity is a process of aligning one’s thoughts, words, actions and feelings. When a community unanimously takes 100% responsibility for all of these aspects of our being, an empowered and inspired space is created.

  • Focus on solutions, rather than problems. If you can see it you can solve it and the only way to bring real benefit is though a personal example. Fixing things is fun and makes others happy, complaining creates disharmony and discord.
Grateful to be alive!
Grateful to be alive!
  • Notice when you make a mess and clean up after yourself, be it energetic or physical.
  • Be honest and make amendments. When stepping out of integrity, take responsibility for this and be honest with oneself and others, making appropriate amendments with those who are affected. Sincere acknowledgement brings oneself back into integrity.

4. Honor your true self

It is not possible to be in service and bring benefit to others if one does not take care of oneself, especially around the basic needs of our human organism. Don’t assume that others will be able to read your mind; and communicate your needs so the community can support each other.

It is essential to recognize that there may be a difference between what I want (based on conditioning) and what I need in order to thrive and actualize my full human potential. When detoxing one will often crave what is being released.

5. Practice presence with self and others

“The true master is a beginner in every moment.” As we gather life experience, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain the beginners mind. We make the commitment to practice presence with ourselves and others, listening in an active way no matter how much we think we already know about what is being shared. Cultivating presence alone is all that is really needed to resolve and avoid disharmony and it is the greatest support anyone can give to another being and the community as a whole.

6. Take initiative and be engaged

Everyone in the community takes initiative to be fully engaged in community projects and meetings as well as their personal growth and development. It is up to each person to benefit from their life experience and no one can undertake your personal evolutionary process for you. Each individual is committed to serve as an inspiration and example, and be the change in the world.

Building The Paititi Community Space
Building The Paititi Community Space

The journey to create a supportive and empowered container for conscious community to thrive has given us a lot more understanding and compassion for all of the conflicts in the world. We have been able to cultivate deeper compassionate awareness by seeing first-hand how even in a space of peaceful beings who share a resonant world view and a similar spiritual path in life – conflict, tension and drama still arise. The beautiful gift in this is that the resolution starts from the inside.

More than just conceptual formulations, these agreements are an expression of an elevated frequency of consciousness handed down to us from the ancestral lineages of humanity. Putting them into practice provides a format and container to apply our formal spiritual practice and views into every moment of our lives. When everyone’s efforts work collectively to uphold this field, every step of our lives become more and more filled with meaningful, compassionate and joyful insights into the essence of human nature which we can abundantly share with each other, being the ripples of consciousness that we are.

You can support Numundo, an online network that empowers transformation through travel and re-connection to the earth, of which the Paititi Institute is a part here: Numundo, A Network for a New World

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3 years ago


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4 years ago

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4 years ago

Having lived in and helped build intentional communities I have come to regard ownership as a very important question. Most people who attempt to build communities and/or are attracted to them conflate the idea with socialistic shared ownership ideas which directly leads to a consensus model of decision making. Consensus decision making is cumbersome and exhausting as everyone has to become an expert on all kinds of minutiae. Some people will have been more invested in the community than others but still have a more or less equal say in most decisions. This leads to conflict and poor decision making and an economic problem — too much of peoples life energy is spent on decisions and political drama with little to show for it…it is unproductive and maybe even has a negative economic value. Most people want others to make decisions for them so long as those doing so are fair and competent, but there will be disagreements and in those moments someone or some group (not everyone) should have the power to make whatever difficult decision needs to be made in a timely manner. Ultimately shared ownership is non viable and in my opinion a sort of loosely intentional (not too ideologically constrained) condo board or co-op with individual deeded title to a portion of the property with exclusive rights to the unit is the best way to resolve this but rarely used. Follow the structures that are tried and true in society. Make strict leases for non owners and strict and clear guidelines for owners and non owners alike. It is very easy to make a bylaw that prohibits public intoxication for example, with clear consequences including fines. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and learn painful lessons along the way. Focus on prosperity not endless resolution of decisions. Another piece of advice that is directly related to the above — make it easy for people to come and go by being able to easily sell and or finance their portion of the project. People’s life circumstances and needs change constantly and often rather quickly. If you want to attract interesting dynamic people you need to compete with the regular world to a degree. Units should be able to be mortgaged somehow or another. People should have opportunities to earn money. People should not be coerced into work that they hate — charge a maintenance fee and hire someone (maybe a member) to do the maintenance. Former members of the community profiting from their sacrifices when they sell is fair and reasonable. Allow for your project to be dynamic as life itself is. Many try to create a utopian ideal that truly does not and will not work and doesn’t lead to happiness. Accept the conditions of life and don’t expect to solve all of the world’s problems. Creating a community at its best is like creating a tribe. It can’t be done by consensus…it has to be based on a very well elucidated and strong founding vision which is not easy to modify and generally not up for debate or even able to be changed…a constitution or a strong figure — Think Moses, George Washington, Mao Tse Tung, Lenin…whatever you may think of these people they harnessed a strong vision for their community. If you don’t project a strong vision which is not up for debate you will constantly have a culture war on your hands…exhausting and likely the opposite of what most people are truly seeking.

4 years ago


6 years ago

I’m starting research with the intention of buying property and starting a community. I know it’s a part, at least, of my own personal evolution. I have so many questions like how to deal with drugs and alcohol, should I do background checks of applicants, how do I attract the right people to build the “ideal” community. Obviously there are many challenges and I’m still trying to figure out the initial/skeleton intention of the community. Has anyone here ever started one and succeeded or failed? What would you do differently? Any ideas or suggestions for creating a foundation to build on as far as policies, rules and/or mission? I’d love to hear your input. Thanks!

7 years ago

I would like to know how you deal with disabled people. Do you simply not let them in? What would you do if someone in your community became disabled….say a beam fell on them or they suddenly became depressed…..

8 years ago

Want to start a community? Buy a milking cow. That way the cow cals the meetings twice a day. And if you want a little milk, you show up. This avoids responses such as “You and which god thinks they’re in charge?”

FPA von Dreger
8 years ago

There needs to be recognition and discussion of the sexual theme and issues of living together closely in community.
Isn’t it ‘interesting’ – and very revealing ! – that the ‘spiritual’ aspect of communal life is almost always brought up and discussed, and the ‘sexual’ aspect is almost never brought up and discussed ?!!

8 years ago

I totally embrace and praise every one who is participating in this global transformation 🙂

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