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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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                      Last Updated on March 25, 2020

                      How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                      How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                      When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

                      So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

                      1. Exercise

                      It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

                      2. Drink in Moderation

                      I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

                      3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

                      Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

                      4. Watch Less Television

                      A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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                      Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

                      5. Eat Less Red Meat

                      Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

                      If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

                      6. Don’t Smoke

                      This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

                      7. Socialize

                      Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

                      8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

                      Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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                      9. Be Optimistic

                      Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

                      10. Own a Pet

                      Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

                      11. Drink Coffee

                      Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

                      12. Eat Less

                      Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

                      13. Meditate

                      Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

                      Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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                      How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

                      14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

                      Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

                      15. Laugh Often

                      Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

                      16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

                      Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

                      17. Cook Your Own Food

                      When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

                      Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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                      18. Eat Mushrooms

                      Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

                      19. Floss

                      Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

                      20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

                      Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

                      Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

                      21. Have Sex

                      Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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                      Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
                      [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
                      [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
                      [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
                      [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
                      [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
                      [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
                      [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
                      [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
                      [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
                      [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
                      [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                      [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                      [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
                      [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
                      [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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