A Visit to One of the World's Oldest Intentional Communities - Lama Foundation
I am sure when most people think of intentional communities, they envision Hollywood’s version that portrays a group of people doing drugs, living in the woods and who talk mindlessly amongst each other… I can tell you that after my latest visit to one of the world’s oldest intentional communities, the Lama Foundation, that definitely wasn’t the case at all.
Located just North of Taos, New Mexico – the Lama Foundation (which got its name because the town it’s in is called Lama) was founded in 1967 by three people, whom are no longer part of the community. This community has faced several challenges over the years but the biggest one was when a wild fire occurred in 1994 which left almost all of the community in ashes. During my visit, I saw the evidence of the fire on the scorched trees just a few short feet away from the original dome building that was created in the late 60’s and somehow managed to escape the flames… I will say, it was humbling to see how nature returns with a vengeance after these things occur and makes way for even more trees to grow.
Several people have come and gone from the community over the years, but there are currently nine full time residents who have their own small cabins to live in on the property. During my visit, there were also several land stewards in attendance. The stewards are interns that visit for three weeks and help out in the community. The Lama Foundation is a popular place for retreats, work-shops, and spiritual healing – which when you see the location of the place you’d understand why! It has some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen and the buildings were incredibly unique, cozy and inspiring. Ram Das has spent a lot of time at the foundation and it was the location where he wrote the well-known book, Be Here Now.
Unlike most communities that formed in the 60’s and 70’s, the Lama Foundation has had a no drug and alcohol policy. “I think that played a huge role in the success of this community and why it’s lasted for so long. I also believe there is some magic up here that helps to keep this place in existence,” said a resident.
I was truly impressed with the organization and cooperation of this community. Every morning there is a heart-tuning circle, where those who wish to attend can share how they are feeling and any concerns they have. It’s really an amazing thing to be able to express yourself and what you’re going through to a group of non-judgmental people who can give you comfort and support in return. At the end of the meeting, individuals volunteer for the tasks they want to help with for the day; for example: gardening, cooking, cleaning, housing, construction, and other general maintenance. Nobody in the community is above another and all do equal-shared work. Two meals are prepared each day, brunch and dinner, for those who live there and any visitors like myself. The meals are vegetarian and definitely delicious! A big variety of organic herbal teas, coffee, and snacks are available throughout the day as well.
The Lama Foundation does grow some of its own food, but they are not totally self-sustainable; mostly due to the short growing season. The community is totally off-grid though and uses solar panels for all the electrical needs. On the property, there is a very unique and beautiful shared-bath house, a huge library with an amazing selection of books, also a music room, dining hall, a comfortable living room and a giant dome space where they hold different celebrations and ceremony. The Lama Foundation is non-denominational and respects all spiritual practices; recognizing the One God – One Love mentality. It is a place dedicated to spiritual community, service to the land and the awakening of consciousness.
This was one of the kindest and friendliest communities I have visited so far. It was so easy to sit down and have a genuine conversation with both the residents and the stewards. My son and I were treated with so much respect and it was really wonderful to have support as a single mom. I also loved how well everyone participated in maintaining a clean and loving facility for all to enjoy. We cleaned up after ourselves and you could trust that if you left a personal item somewhere, it wouldn’t be bothered.
“We all live here for different reasons,” said another resident. “But I think living in community is so important and something we’ve forgotten how to do. Humans are social beings and we need each other. It’s not always the easiest to live in community and you definitely face your shadow a lot more than if you’re living on your own. But it’s very healing and it’s good to work through things together and have that support.”
The Lama Foundation receives monetary support through hosting the retreats and workshops and also by donations. All money goes towards things that the community needs and the residents get monthly wage, as well as having their living cost of food and shelter covered. If you want to be a full time resident at the Lama Foundation, they ask you intern for the three weeks to get a feel for what the community’s like and to know what kind of work will be required. The Lama Foundation is definitely kid friendly and welcomes visitors – but please call ahead. To check out more information and up-coming events visit their website: www.lamafoundation.org
Please check out my first book, Diary of a Starseed, which is an inspiring true story - available in print or on kindle: starseedstory.com
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