So I spent yesterday morning meditating with a bunch of dirty hippies. Actually, they were rather clean-cut hippies. And old – I’d estimate was the youngest person in the room by at least 15 years. It’s nice to see some people are still carrying the communal-living torch; albeit sans long hair, tye-dye, and LSD. At the same time it’s a little sad, how the hippies are all grown up and respectable now.
The occasion was a “spiritual retreat” being held by the members of Heathcote, an intentional community (aka commune) which has existed in one form or another for forty years now. I have, as it turns out, a loose connection to the group – my mom lived there for a while in the early seventies. Sadly, no one has been there long enough to remember her. It was a good time, though – a bit awkward and experimental, as it was apparently the first of these events that they had put on; but relaxing. There was silent meditation, drumming, chanting, free-form dancing, and various readings from spiritual texts. The sound of running water from the stream outside of the converted mill in which we met permeated the event. The leader made some dire-sounding warnings about how brutal a half-hour meditation can be for someone who’s never done it before. I didn’t find it so, although it took my feet awhile to wake up after thirty minutes in the lotus position. Apparently the lotus is no longer in vogue among meditative types, as I was the only one thus contorted; but I find it braces the back far better than simply crossing the legs. I always find myself hunching over when I sit cross-legged. The group chanting sounded amazing, but it was such a new experience for me that it was over before I was able to get much out of it. Sitting still during the drumming was an unusual experience; as soon as the beat picked up I got the urge to move and dance. But once I reconciled myself to sitting and experiencing the rhythm instead of moving to it, I found it to be a neat way of meditating. One of these days I hope to try shamanic meditation, which I understand involves sitting or laying still while the sound of the drum leads you to other levels of consciousness.
Afterwards there was lunch (vegetarian, of course) and a tour of the community. I got to spend some time talking to the drummer. They hold a world music drum circle twice a month, which I’m looking forward to attending.
One of the other visitors asked me if I was looking for a community like Heathcote in which to live. I had to laugh… no, I admire what they are doing, but I don’t think I could ever do it. I think the only group living arrangement I could deal with for any length of time would be one in which I was the benign dictator… I’m just too much of an individualist to submit to consensus rule.
Yesterday afternoon we took the kids to a Greek food festival, and had Gyros and honey puffs and Greek coffee. “Yum” is all I have to say about that.