If the past few years have shown us anything, it is that community is the new currency and health is the true wealth. But community continues to allude us. By the close of 2020, loneliness hit an all time high, Harvard.edu told us that “61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children in the US—felt ‘serious loneliness.’” And the cost of loneliness, combined with hustle culture, is super high. It’s linked to grave physical and emotional issues, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, insomnia and high blood pressure.
Right before the election of 2016, I left Los Angeles to live in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. My family of origin was confused. Why was I abandoning a “4-star life” for a far more rustic life in the jungle? I’d owned my own home in Silverlake, was an award-winning sales executive for a top Fortune 100 Company, and had a successful side hustle leading transformational retreats for women. I often traveled to lux locales and was on the list for hip events.
I was also sick. Physically, I was quietly battling a mystery illness. Though I’d weaned myself off a cocktail of drugs to sleep and stay productive at work, I was still feeling pressured to perform for a company whose values were not my own. While there were always a flurry of invitations, despite the shiny veneer, my social scene was laced with loneliness and often felt transactional. Not to mention that for years the grind of constant traffic, parking tickets, leaf blowers, garbage trucks, and street cleaners, combined with the pressure to be perfect, rattled my nervous system more than I wanted to admit.
After 10 years of extensive spiritual exploration in LA, I felt in my bones there must be more. What exactly that more looked like, wasn’t so obvious.
Just before my 38th birthday, I took myself on a three-week solo adventure to Costa Rica, to surf and write. It was as if the spirit of St. Teresa, herself, beckoned me to her lush fertile lands. Immersed in an eclectic international community of surfers, entrepreneurs, makers and mothers, I found true love, left my life in LA for good, healed my body naturally from the inside out, gave birth at 39 and 42 to two beautiful children, and with my renaissance Frenchman husband, Manex, co-created Sunrise Mountain Retreat Center, a sanctuary for healing and radical personal realization.
Then, a year ago, we stumbled on a private tropical paradise filled with mango groves and pitaya forests, 7 waterfalls, clear streams, dramatic mountain views and stunning seascapes, and a flourishing ecosystem–a place so abundant and peaceful there’s little reason to ever leave.
In an instant our original vision expanded.
With 200 acres spanning 3 farms, we saw a powerful symbiotic trifecta: We would create an international conscious community, a world class retreat and wellness center, and a robust permaculture project.
It’s no accident this discovery happened while a worldwide pandemic raged. For an increasing number of innovators, the pandemic illuminated what indigenous communities throughout the world have known for 60,000 years: Community living is the obvious path forward.
The research from mental health professionals to sociologists consistently shows the steep increase in emotional, physical and psychological health that comes to those who choose to live in community.
Entrepreneurs, artists, tech titans and conscious leaders have long frequented community-driven events including Burning Man, Summit Series, Envision, and Habitas. Now these visionaries are making this a lifestyle and rooting down in specific pockets of the planet as conscious neighbors in global villages with reverence for the rhythms of the natural world. This is resulting in sustainability and happiness above and beyond the dated idea of manifest destiny, where only the individual supposedly “wins”.
Rather than institutionalizing our children, conscious communities include the land as a living, breathing active participant in raising and protecting them. Kids in conscious communities are challenged–not by school shootings, getting hooked on opioids in middle school, or keeping up with Kardashians on social media–but by majestic mountains, gushing waterfalls, the ever changing tides, tropical forests, monkeys and wild horses that inevitably grow them into little badasses.
Theories of neo-tribalism suggest that instead of mass society, human nature is best suited to small, caring groups. Conscious communities are not the hippy communes of yesteryear but foundationally stable groupings that create agency through individualized skill sets that move the members forward to reach the vision of how they want to create impact in the world.
These children will have the fortitude and know-how to thrive in accordance to new laws that will restructure the architecture of how we live in a way that benefits the whole planet. Unless we do this, we are on a fast track to cultural, physical and environmental destruction.
I would’ve told you when I arrived in Costa Rica that I really knew who I was. But living in the jungle lifts the veil between ourselves and nature, initiating a great remembering of who we were before the shoulds and supposed to’s of the overarching culture. Through its symbiotic systems and intricate interconnectedness, the natural world offers us clear clues about how to achieve sustainability, resilience and vitality for the new world.
Manex and I didn’t have to think twice about rearranging all of our assets to co-create and preserve what can be best described as Heaven on Earth. The first family we showed the land to immediately sold their new home to be a part of the community. The second family we brought cried– it was everything they’d been dreaming of.
Now, as we call in 3 other aligned families to create an international village of inspired-doers, who want to co-create a more sustainable world for our children, integrated with the ancient indigenous intention for the land around us, we see that conscious communities are becoming the next new trend. And they are set to become a big wave. Any surfer knows that to ride the wave. You’ve got to get inside early. If you hesitate, the wave hollows out and you’re hovering on the crest, cursing yourself for not dropping in when you had the chance.
Here are some planetary pockets where conscious communities are rising: