By Nick Neild
Hey my fellow Wake Up brothers and sisters out there! I have some wonderful news to share regarding the formation of the newest Wake Up House here in San Diego, California! The housemates and I are forming bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood that go unparalleled. It’s like living in an episode of Friends/reality TV show like Road Rules or The Real World (except a more peaceful, loving, supportive and mindful version). We even joked about putting in webcams and starting a blog called The Real Wake Up House 🙂 It’s exactly what I was looking for, and it is such a blessing. I absolutely needed the support of living in a community like Deer Park, but the lay-version; where we work at our lay-jobs and live in the urban city environment surrounded by all the toxins that water the seeds of craving, violence, anger, fear, etc… I truly feel Wake Up Houses are the missing middle-path link between practicing with a Sangha while living alone, and living at a Monastery as a monastic or lay friend.
Here’s my version of how this magnificent reality came to be. I had been practicing mindfulness with a local Sangha here in San Diego for about a year when the Wake Up tour came to town. So I jumped into that stream, received transmission of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings and began practicing with the Wake Up Sangha in addition to my weekly Sangha.
I was incredibly grateful to have all that support, and I always looked forward to those days when I would practice with the Sangha. I also began attending retreats at Deer Park, and I began feeling the immense support of the monastic Sangha. However, when the retreats would be coming to an end, some fear of returning to my regular life would take hold. It was because I had a deep aspiration to sit more regularly back home and cultivate that same peace I experienced in all three Sanghas, but I just wasn’t able to make any routine stick. I saw deep into that fear, and saw the love I had for myself. I loved myself enough to know that I deserved peace and happiness, but I didn’t love myself enough to do what it takes to be peacefully happy. Coming from a background of drug addiction and working a 12 step program, I have heard an expression: “We will love you until you can love yourself“. So I knew that the only way to get to where I wanted to go was by asking for help from a community that could offer that to me. So when I heard my Sangha brother mention the idea of forming an urban San Diego Wake Up House, I was on board 100%. The seed was planted, then we just began watering it, and slowly, the conditions became right for it to manifest into reality:
First, we just talked about it in private, then began casually sharing our excitement about the idea at our Wake Up Sangha gatherings to see if there was interest.
Second, we established a timeline on when it would be most convenient for the core people who are dedicated to the idea to move in together.
Third, we began looking on websites for houses, pricing it out, and began meeting with everyone who was interested. We asked each other questions about our drug/alcohol consumption, dietary lifestyle choices, financial income, and then we moved forward with the people who felt most committed.
Fourth, a couple of us visited and stayed with another intentional community in Los Angeles to see how they managed things. We were extremely fortunate that they had so much experience, and gave us electronic copies of the application and house manual they had developed so we could use them as templates. We all agreed on a draft of the application, went through it together (interviewing each other) and agreed that we will have a standard in the house to provide a framework to help support us. It included things like no smoking, no pets, no meat, no drugs or alcohol stored or consumed in the house, etc…
The last thing to do was just start calling people who posted ads and making appointments to view houses. Once we found the place that clicked, we signed a lease and moved in! That was really it!
If we had to choose just one word to represent what the intention for our “Intentional Community” was, it would be Support. Defined broadly, as in supporting each other with our mindfulness practice and supporting each other develop our respective spiritual paths. What’s great about keeping our focus so simple, is that it left us free to be creative in how we were going to support each other, letting it come about organically. Instead of having hard and fast rules of when we will all meditate together, or cook together, or whatever, we just let things like that come about as we wanted them to; and it has! We practice Beginning Anew monthly, we have monthly house business meetings, and for the last couple weeks we have been sitting together nearly every morning at 7am for about 20 to 30 minutes. Also, incredibly, a SD Wake Up Sangha sister moved into the apartment complex 2 buildings south of us, and she is now occasionally joining us in our morning sits too! Another great development is that a brother from another Sangha moved into the neighborhood as well. So our Wake Up house is slowly turning into a little Wake Up neighborhood! I feel like we are a beacon of mindfulness radiating energy for the whole community. This definitely reflects our aspiration for our house to be a resource for the surrounding community!
The Sangha has been meeting every other Friday here in San Diego for a couple years. We have very solid attendance by a group that attends regularly. We continually find very inventive and creative ways to practice mindfulness and foster our bond of brotherhood and sisterhood inside and outside our regular gatherings. For example: dancing meditation, paddle boarding meditation, camping trips, day hikes, beach trips and much more! Many of us also go on retreats, attend days of mindfulness and even staff retreats at Deer Park together. Also, just recently we participated in a global day of flash mob meditations on Earth Day in conjunction with another organization called Unify.org. The best way to describe all of these experiences is “life altering, community building and heart opening“.
Needless to say, Wake Up is alive, well and thriving here in San Diego, and I welcome anyone who is inspired by this story, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We would love to share our experiences, resources and tips on how to start a Wake Up Sangha or a Wake Up House. You can also chat with us with our Facebook group.
Nick Neild (Inclusive Action of the Heart) was born and raised in a small town called Poway in the North of San Diego County. He began practicing with the Wake Up San Diego Sangha and received transmission of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings in April 2012 during the West Coast Wake Up tour. He was recently married to the love of his life, Barbora Havlickova in June 2013 and they are now hosting the San Diego Wake Up Sangha together with their roommates Anna Craver and Josean Daal in the San Diego Wake Up House.