If I had to choose, I would probably call myself an introvert.
As often as not, I don’t really like being around people. Solo time nourishes me. Silence feeds me.
But then, I also crave (conscious) community, and I thrive on substantive social interaction. That’s why I let go of my isolated one-bedroom cottage in the Costa Rican jungle and moved to Unity, an urban conscious community and NuMundo impact center in the heart of San Jose.
And I’m glad I did. Solitude may be very comfortable, but I have always found that co-living pushes me to grow—deeper, and at an accelerated pace.
Most broadly defined, co-living describes, “any shared living space that improves quality-of-life for its residents.” The exact difference between a co-living space and an urban intentional community depends, perhaps entirely, on who you ask. For me, there’s a significant amount of overlap.
Here are just a few of the ways co-living and community living can support personal transformation and self-growth:
- Everyone is a mirror. People will push your buttons. All of them. And when something objectively unimportant, like forgetting to take out the compost, sets you off, you’ll realize a critical truth: your problems are… yours. Everyone is walking their path. It’s not about them. In co-living spaces, repeatedly confronted with qualities that irk us, we must acknowledge and overcome our own blocks and biases.
- Everyone is valuable. In co-living spaces, you will share time, energy, and maybe bathrooms with some people you may never have gotten to know otherwise. The inherent intimacy of co-living will continually remind you that every soul is equally bright—and equally important.
- You don’t have to like someone to live with them. I have long let go of the unfounded notion that I should like everyone. (I don’t.) However, when you connect with intentional communities and co-living spaces, you learn that respect—not affability—is the requisite foundation to harmony and evolution.
- Learn to Set Boundaries. Boundaries are everything. You’ll learn to say no. A lot. You’ll set firm-yet-loving boundaries around personal time and self-care—if not from day one, then very soon thereafter. In so doing, you’ll take a necessary step in personal development toward assertive communication.
- Co-Living is a Natural Incubation Process. Assuming your community or cohabitants are also committed to self-actualization (chances are good), then a co-living space will nourish your dreams, projects, and lifestyle in equal measure.
- Healthy Challenges. There’s a saying I’ve heard a lot in the ecovillage movement: community makes life easier. Now that may be true in some ways, but living in community—co-living—is also incredibly challenging, especially for those of us raised in individualistic cultures. The good news? That challenge is fertile territory for growth. Develop core life skills that you can’t learn alone: patience, compromise, and clear communication.
- Journey without to journey within. As with our physical travels, any foray into new external territory kindles deeper exploration of our inner landscape. Co-living is another adventure, both on our inner path to self-development, and on the outer one to global transformation.
How has co-living supported your transformational journey? Please share in the comments!
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