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Ten Awesome Alternative Lifestyles

Ten Awesome Alternative Lifestyles

Have you ever wanted to drop out of mainstream society and live differently? Have you dreamed of not having to work, taking it easy, and meeting great people while enjoying the fruits of the Earth? There are alternative lifestyles everywhere, just waiting for those who want in. Here’s a guide to the ten of the best:

1. Ashrams, Temples & Communes

temple

    Hindu ashrams are known for offering a serene contemplative life while also engaging in healthy, active community work. You often don’t need any money to participate, assuming you can help out with chores, are an asset to the community and get along well with others. If you have a small donation to give at the beginning of your stay, your contribution will help offset community costs and help solidify a place for yourself in the community. Buddhist temples offer a similar lifestyle, as do some Sufi retreats. Modern Christian monasteries often allow one to live in total silence, which can be really nice if you’re dropping out to ‘get away from it all,’ including talking to people. If there is a local mystical Christian congregation in your area, they may have connections to continually operating monasteries that offer spots to folks on retreat. Life can be nice at spiritual communes, involving daily practice, working in the garden and kitchen, and countless spiritual and self-help conversations with others.

    2. The Rainbow Family

    rainbowfamily

      The Rainbow Family is a loose association of hippie tribes with their roots in the 1960s and ’70s. Many people of all ages have kept up the ideal hippie lifestyle by traveling from place to place, forming regional gatherings, and living outside mainstream society. Some of these tribes have permanent camps or are based in certain towns, while others are purely nomadic. Bartering is the primary means of obtaining necessary goods. One quickly learns how to camp, live outdoors, go a while without a shower, and be in the moment. There are lots of adventures to be had on the hippie trail, from listening to old stories about the counterculture, to singing great songs by the fire, to escaping bad weather and storms with minimal gear and shelter.

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      If cleanliness is your thing, you may tire of this very outdoor lifestyle. But it you love the great outdoors and can imagine yourself dancing naked around a large campfire with 100 drums beating around you, then this may be a great way to live for a while. These folks travel to and camp in some of the prettiest country in the U.S. It’s hard to argue in favor of rent payments back home when your camp for two weeks has a view of the Tetons and overlooks a waterfall. You can visit a regional gathering or the big national gathering to get a taste, but I suggest you connect with the tribe closest to you and get to know some of the individuals involved. That way you’ll feel more at home and can camp with your peeps at the next gathering. If you get serious about the lifestyle, you’ll bump into many opportunities to join a wandering tribe.

      3. Retreat Centers

      retreatcenter

        There are many educational retreat centers in the U.S. and abroad where the public can go for a week or a weekend to take self-help classes, learn to meditate, do art, dance, etc. While these are commercial operations that offer programs, there are typically opportunities to live on site if you join the staff. Positions may be paid, or volunteer in exchange for food and shelter. The work can vary from being on the cleaning staff, to helping with the grounds, to helping produce and set up for events. Some of these positions are seasonal. This is one of the nicest ways to drop out and do something different for a while, since you meet exceptional people (other staff, visiting teachers, and the visiting public), learn lots of new things, and the food is usually good. Who knows, it might even stimulate your next career!

        4. Organic Farms

        farm

          Ready to work? Organic, sustainable farms across the world are often in need of skilled and unskilled physical labor, particularly during the growing and harvest seasons. If you have some farming or gardening skills, you’ll have a better shot at landing a position with a farm. If the farm is big enough, they may be happy to take on anyone willing to work hard, long hours, and learn quickly. In my experience, living on a farm is not a leisurely way to get out of your typical routine. Getting up early is the norm, as is the physical labor. But you learn the important skill of growing food naturally, you engage in a healthy activity that builds strength and stamina, and typically eat very healthily. You’ll meet great people as well. The farm circuit is full of intelligent, caring folks who like to work, have strong bodies and smile broadly as they greet the day. Working on the farm should be enough to offset any rent and food costs, and if you contribute enough you might even gain a paid position.

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          5. Yoga Centers

          yoga

            Yoga centers are places where the public goes to do yoga retreats and where yoga teachers go for extended periods of training. They typically have a nice, balanced lifestyle with a mix of physical activity and downtime. Wonderful people are coming through on a regular basis and you have a chance to meet many sweet souls. There is usually a significant cost to living at a place like this, unless you have a skill they need (see #6). But if you have the dough, it’s a great lifestyle, especially if you’re into yoga. You’ll deepen your practice, eat well, and live in community with others.

            6. The Wandering [Skilled Trade]

            carpenter

              There are skills that can take you places, making you an instant asset to many communities and organizations. If you enjoy what you do, it may be a pleasure to do it in a variety of settings, traveling and meeting new people along the way. Carpentry is skill that is in high demand everywhere a new center or building is being built. If you can prove your bona fides to the foreman, you will often be allowed to live on site and be fed in exchange for helping the crew. If you are a great massage therapist, there are many places you can set up shop in exchange for free room and board. Think retreat centers, communities, and spas (where they may even pay you some in addition). Are you a talented web designer? Many organizations need a better web presence, or better online marketing. Tech skills that would normally cost a community a fair amount of money can be bartered for a nice stay at a new location. As people get to know and trust you, you may develop more options to earn income on the side from your new place of retreat.

              7. Co-ops

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              co-op

                Co-ops are groups of people who combine resources to share needed goods and services, such as food, shelter, health care, etc. There may be several in your local area. Cooperative housing provides a community feel while still allowing you to live in a town or urban area (maybe even the same town you’re already in!). Co-ops share chores such as cleaning and shopping, and often rotate meal duties, so you might have one night of the week to cook with a partner. Meals are often eaten together, although co-op members typically have more diverse individual schedules and activities as compared to living in a commune, and members are always free to do their own thing. Co-ops are a great way to reduce costs and live with a sense of community. Some co-ops have a focused sense of purpose as well, such as to recycle, or a charitable cause, which can make life more invigorating. You can create a different spin on life without changing the town or city you live in by joining a co-op!

                8. Intentional Communities

                community

                  The mother of all alternative lifestyles! There is a community out there for everyone, just choose your interest. Some are stranger than others, and in some you may need to be on guard for funny behavior, but joining an intentional community can change your life quickly. Communities may be focused on permaculture, religion, nudity, living off the grid, survival skills, polyamory, extra-terrestrials, and many variations of counterculture beliefs. Caveat emptor! Go at your own risk, but have a blast!

                  9. Native Villages

                  village

                    Native villages offer the ultimate in a change of pace and cultural experience. If you are accepted, you can live as many did centuries ago. Chop wood, carry water. Grind corn flour, build a fire. Have slow conversations, watch the sky, and the weather. People in these villages live on a different timeline than the rest of us. Probably a healthier one. Not to lump Indigenous peoples all together, but in my experience, there is more thinking before speaking in villages than in modern society. More listening than answering. And some responses come non-verbally, even through silence. Fishing, hunting, and cooking take up much of the day. As does sharing time with others, learning, telling stories, playing with children. It may seem at times there is nothing else to do on this planet but eat, tell stories and play. Ahhh, what a nice reminder. You may even learn a language and some neat tips about life while you’re there.

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                    10. Foreign Countries

                    foreign

                      Of course there’s always the big move. As they say, wherever you go, there you are. Why not be in Buenos Aires? Foreign destinations can offer inexpensive living with a very different lifestyle than what you’re used to. Malaysia, Indonesia, Berlin, Central America, and spots in Mexico and South America are popular. In some locales you’ll find an active ex-pat community if you want to be around those with a similar background and language to yourself. In others, you may need to blend in more with local culture. The idea here is to stretch your money as far as it will go while truly enjoying life. Want to live near a tropical beach? Own your own ranch? Not be burdened by a mortgage? If you can afford a plane ticket and can bring some savings with you, you might afford yourself several years in a wonderfully different culture.

                      These ten ways of living offer those seeking change many options to experience life outside the mainstream. They can be great respites for a while, or become a permanent lifestyle. Always know that you have options in how you live. You don’t have to feel stuck by the parameters of modern society. You can choose a life that helps you be happy, have less stress, and fits with what you value and enjoy. Go out there and have an adventure!

                      Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                      1. The Inner Critic

                      This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                      He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                      Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                      2. The Worrier

                      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                      He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                      Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                      He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                      He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                      He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                      4. The Sleep Depriver

                      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                      His motivation can be:

                      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                      How can you control these squatters?

                      How to Master Your Mind

                      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                      For the Inner Critic

                      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                      • He riles up the Worrier.
                      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                      • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                      • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                      • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                      Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                      For the Worrier

                      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tense

                      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                      For example:

                      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tension

                      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                      Breathe in through your nose:

                      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                      • Focus on your belly rising.

                      Breathe out through your nose:

                      • Feel your lungs emptying.
                      • Focus on your belly falling.
                      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                      For the Sleep Depriver

                      (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                      • Shut down your thinking.
                      • Calm your feelings.
                      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                      Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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