How to Create Sustainable Relationships for Living in a Community
posted by Cynthia Robinson on March 18th, 2016
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 millennial wisdom of humanity have been our guiding light in remembering, embodying and sharing wholeistic 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.
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.
- Work to separate one’s observations & feelings from the projections & 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 judgments 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.