We arrived Portugal to stay one month in this to us, a bit mythical place.
THE START I met Glen a few years ago; a guy my age, from New York. Both of us where there as volunteers on a music festival. We ended up small talking in one of the many long breaks. He told me about this wonderful place he had found, in Portugal, a project living close to nature, doing permaculture growing fruits and vegetables. And they where also meditating as a part of their daily life. Something that I already did, just another kind.
At this time I did´nt even know what permaculture was. But I was certain it was something for me to explore, something seemed very right about it. The best way to live and work together with nature. I wrote down the name of the place on my forearm.
Three years later we made this space to travel, and the Awkened Life Project was on the top of our list! Coincidences made it to be the end of this travel.
LANDING So. We arrived in light rain together with Robinson, another volunteer, who´d allready stayed there before, doing carpentering. “- You´re staying for a month?! Oh I´ve only stayed a week before, and it was a quite intense experience for me.” Arrived; warm welcome. Got setteled in our tent, and thoughts started to swirl around in my head. This was my first interaction with peoople living in a community, working together for a common cause. “-Who are these people. Why are they living here, in the middel of nowhere? Is this some kind of religious sect we have tumbled into? And oh we are going to stay here for a while…”
It took one or two days to settle down with these thoughts. Fortunately people there (8 – 11 at the time, a lot of friends, old volunteers and helpers came by) where very open, and it was easy to feel welcome to ask as much as we wanted to. They where very dedicated to both their spiritual developement, and the work in the garden and the construction work. The meditation part was fully optional. We could attend just as much as we wanted to. They have a scedule meditating 2 times pr day, 45 minutes. I don´t remember where the switch was, feeling it was a natural way to live, and a very good way to live as well. I guess it came gradually by experiencing, asking, and getting sensible answares.
WAY OF LIVING They live with a philosophy developed around a man called Andrew Cohen, who work together with scientists, philosophers and more, searching on how we can evolve our selves to be more responsible, acting deliberately, and this leads to a big freedom in life. Living more on purpose, so to speak.
They use spiral dynamics as a model to recognize how we all have been formed, and influented by the valuesystem from the culture we live in, which country we grew up in, and which gender we are. By becoming aware of these patterns, who always have some positive and some negative sides, one can take responsability for what this is, and develope in a positive and fruitful way. The meditation they do, is also working as a tool to recognize in daily life, your way of thinking and acting, making it more clear for you to see your ego, and thus being able to change.
Click on the picture, it will get bigger. Social values – developement from Spiral Dynamics…
It will take some time, of course. To get the hang of this. Being in a comunity where people in general are aware and working with this, is a great gift.
An example of what I learnt about our conditioning, coming from Norway…: “-You scandinavians, and especially norwegians – with all this oil. You are some of the luckiest people in the world. Did you know that? You get so many things for free. Education, health care, a lot of jobs… But it´s easy to take things a bit for granted – isn´t it – when the state virtually takes care of you from you´re in dipers till you die. It´s easy to get a bit lazy… On the other hand, you are very good at handeling this wealth you have. There is not much corruption, and everyone get a piece. Most countries with oil industry is not that good at handeling their wealth, most of it ends up in a few rich peples hands. You are not like this, that is really special with you! But when you are so well off.. It can be hard to be able to appreciate things. I find many scandinavians a bit dark minded. Maby it is because your standards are so high, all your needs are covered – you have too much time missing something you don´t know what is…” ( From a mix of conversations I had with different people during the stay).. This is of course a charicature, it is not this black and white. But it´s true, it goes well with a lot of peoples attitudes up here. Scandinavia belongs (at the moment) to the green MIM. Values like equality, non hierarcy is important. Less differences between rich and poor, men and females etc. Respect for authorities can be difficult, even to respect our self, to develope, can be difficult for some (“- I know I won´t make it perfect. So it´s no point trying..”) These are some values that lies in our culture.
And then the differences between men and women. Again, reality is not this black and white, but this is a model: Men remove themselves from their true self by dissapearing into the intellectual. Women remove themselves from the true self by identifying so much with their feelings, they think it´s reality…
well, enough said, from someone freshly hooked. Need to explore more…. I can recomend to read the philosopher Ken Wilber.
SELF SUFFICIENT ENERGY How they had built up their qinta (-portugese for “farm”) was quite extraordinary. They had made their own electric system, living off -grid with solar panels, hydro electric power generator from ther waterfalls just by the garden, a ram pump – pumping the water from the river 40 meters upp hill, giving them running water in the houses. Compost toilet, producing soil. All self built and working perfectly! This is the most self sufficient system I´ve ever seen. Would like to write an own post about it, but this system is beond my understanding… You can check it out yourself, if youre interested…
They where not selfsufficient with food, but I think it is a rather good thing, giving the opertunity to support the locals, shopping on the local marked, getting the closest to organic food, and get to know other farmers around, sharing knowledge. Also the rebuilding of the ruins of on the qinta was done by local construction workers.
FOOD I had many of my best food experiences in this place! They have a vegetarian diet where most dishes are raw food. Turning into fantastic salads, sauces, soups, with oils and spices. Not to forget the breakfasts! Fresh goat milk / yoghurt, oat milk, soaked oat corns, seeds and nuts. All kinds of dried and fresh fruits. Always something good around the corner… We where so lucky to have two parties comming up while we where there, here is a description of the raw cake, for Mim´s birthday. And for lunch and dinner there was a beautiful fixture – always a big bowl of greens – weeds from the garden. I think i have never felt so healthy and wholesome ever.
WORKING It is a great feeling – working together in a community, seeing that all you and all the others do around benefit everyone being there, and that it is so many possibilities to do things ourself. From preparing food, to work in the garden, in the forest; getting materials, doing constructionwork, take care of the animals, or cleaning. People using their skills. And everything is a part of what we call life, and we are doing it for our self – not as a “have to do it to earn money”. I will put a lot of our experiences from the things we learnt in the garden, in the following posts.
And staying one month didn´t feel long at all for me. It is such a bright place, making hopes for the planet and humanity in to reality…