“It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual.  The next Buddha may take the form of a community – a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living.  This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth” Thich Nhat Hanh

A cohesive community, or what some traditions call, Sangha, does not happen automatically.  This is especially true in a modern society where many of us have been raised outside of true community and are conditioned to more highly value “independence” than “interdependence.”

Here’s are five core practices we embrace and require that we’ve seen work well in a few high functioning intentional communities.  Practicing these helps us move from a traditional housemate/roommate situation to a more connected family/community.

  1. Eating Meals Together.  We make a concerted effort to share meals together and unless there is an extenuating circumstance (work, travel, etc.), being a guest (or workaway type exchanger) comes with the expectation that you will join us for all breakfasts (7:30), lunches (1:00), and dinners (6:30), Monday through Saturday with Saturday night until Sunday late afternoon being an optional “lazy day.”
  2.  Sitting Quietly Together Before Breakfast.  At 7:15 every morning except Saturday and Sunday, we expect that all guests (unless that have a work conflict) join us for 15 minutes of quiet sitting.  People read or meditate, but the point is to start the day together with a calm, pleasant practice.
  3.  Weekly Communal Clean.  Once a week, usually Saturday morning, we schedule ~90 minutes when everyone helps with a deep clean of the house and grounds.
  4. Cooking Lead.  Depending on who is with us, and the various skill sets and desired, we assign a “cooking lead” who pre-prepares meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to last for the following 2-3 days.
  5. Kitchen Serving Lead.  People sign up for this responsibility, which is to be sure that food is portioned and heated correctly, and then gets to the table for each breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They also direct a thorough cleanup after every meal.

Some of our optional practices include:

Daily Exercise.  For those who want to build an exercise habit, we have been meeting at 7am Monday through Saturday and doing one of the many popular 7-10 minute high intensity full body (cardio and strength) workout routines.

Stopping With the Bell.  We have a clock in the house that, when we turn it on, chimes loudly every hour.  When it does, we try to all stop what we are doing and take a moment to listen and breathe.  We haven’t been using it lately, and it takes a little getting used to, but most find this to be a useful mindfulness practice.

Healthy Food.  We try to buy healthy, mostly organic, and when possible locally sourced food in bulk.

Sharing Stuff. For those interested, and when practical, we share cars, bikes, rides and anything else we can.  We are constantly looking for ways to collaborate and share more.

Garden and Greenhouse.  Growing as much of our food as possible is something most of us aspire to and a shared garden and greenhouse helps make this happen.