There once was a time when I chose to live in a hippie commune. In this post I’m going to give you the scoop on how I ended up there and my biggest takeaways.
It was at the end of 2013 and I was on my third year back home living with my parents after graduating college. That had been an adjustment on its own. I had spent 4 years “on my own” in a college setting making my own decisions and surviving. Yet, once I moved back home, my parents required me to ask for permission to leave the house and my mom would stay up waiting for me until making it home safely (calling me every half hour until arriving).
That was the not so fun part of moving back home with my folks. I also want to note that I never enjoyed living in Pennsylvania. Nothing against the state or anything, it just never felt right for me for some reason. Anyway, the plus side of living with my parents was not having to pay bills. My parents always encouraged me to save my money for future purposes, which was a blessing.
During this time I was working at a non-profit becoming burnt out from being overworked. I was also in a “situationship” that needed to end. This all caused me to want to get away, far away. Honestly, I don’t even know what made me think of that as my solution to my problems. I’d like to think it was the Universe nudging me to take this leap. One day, I got fed up with everything and I made the decision to go somewhere, anywhere far away.
The hippie commune
I googled, “volunteer programs with housing” after deciding that choosing a program like this was the safest and easiest transition to move out. One of the top Google results was a link to a website named “Kalani.” It was an oceanside retreat center on the Big Island of Hawaii that had a volunteer exchange program of sorts. It all clicked for me and I felt excited as I stalked the crap out of this Kalani place everywhere online to make sure it was legit.
I filled out the volunteer application that same night choosing the 3 month program and called it a night. A few days later I heard back. I had my phone interview and accepted the opportunity to volunteer for 3 months beginning in March of the following year. I didn’t tell my parents about this until a few weeks before the trip (damn, I had forgotten about that part LOL).
Honestly, I didn’t even know what to expect at the time. No particular thoughts or ideas came to mind about the whole experience. I just knew it was a “community living” vibe having to share a bathroom and common areas with a bunch of people as well as a bedroom with 2 roommates. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal considering I didn’t have privacy growing up anyway being that I lived with a bunch of relatives during my entire childhood.
So the day came when I had to tell my parents and I left shortly after. My mom took it harder than my dad. They didn’t want me traveling alone but I didn’t let that get in the way. Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous about leaving. This was my first time traveling somewhere completely alone and I was to live there for 3 months!
It took 3 flights to arrive on the Big Island and a shuttle from Kalani was waiting for me at the tiny Hilo airport with a few other volunteers. I remember it was a late evening so it was dark out already. The volunteers were really friendly and hugged me, making me feel welcomed. We boarded the van and made our way to my new home. As I mentioned, it was dark out so I couldn’t see much during the drive to the retreat center. Once we arrived, all I remember is hearing the sound of coquis everywhere (yes, the Puerto Rican frogs also live in Hawaii).
I was taken to my bedroom and introduced to my roommates. It was finally starting to hit me that this was going to be my home for the next few months. Our room was right off the living room common area and although we had a door, a part of the wall above the door was open so we could hear everything. The following morning I woke up and experienced my first community meal at this hippie commune.
We had breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet style served at the same time every day. Each of these meals were announced by the sound of a loud conch heard all over the property. That was a first for me lol. We were right across the street from the ocean so I was fortunate to spend time at “the point” listening to the waves seeing the endless ocean ahead of me. But the most different thing for me was the “clothing optional” pool that everyone spent time at.
I grew up with pretty reserved and conservative parents. It wasn’t until I was in college when I wore my first 2 piece bathing suit ever and I felt uncomfortable the whole time. Prior to that I’d always wear shorts or a t-shirt over a one piece. So having a clothing optional pool was the craziest part for me. There were other things that were a first for me too like all the costume/theme parties we had. Everyone seemed to love going all out and dressing up.
Seeing the creativity and self-expression displayed all over the retreat center was one of my favorite things. That was also a first for me coming from always being around “professional,” “serious” or “boring” (lol) environments. There was so much art and fun phrases displayed everywhere. It brought life and joy to the place and to each other.
Much needed wisdom
Living at this hippie commune was such a unique and needed experience for my soul. It was the first time I encountered such creative and self-expressive souls. For the most part, everyone was super kind and loving. Free spirited, if you will. This was the first time I was exposed to this alternative lifestyle and wisdom that comes from it. I remember talking with the only other Mexican-American person there and sharing my guilt with him about being in Hawaii. This took place during my first morning at Kalani.
From the time I landed, all I kept thinking about was my parents and how hard they’ve worked all their lives. I felt unworthy and undeserving for everything I was experiencing. For “getting away” to do this volunteer program and most importantly for being in Hawaii, a beautiful paradise. My new friend offered the concept of individual life journeys. I had never thought about that before but I kept listening.
He told me everyone is on their own life path and we can’t get in the way of that. Sometimes the best thing to do is focus on ourselves and our own healing. At the time I didn’t realize how much healing I was about to go through. It still felt wrong to be there but it was the first time that seed was planted in my head.
The guilt, unworthiness and undeserving-ness stayed with me for at least the first 2 months of my 3 month stay. I went through all the emotions to the point of regretting choosing to be there. I have to note that my parents were as supportive as they could’ve been during this time. They never said or did anything to warrant me feeling that way. It was all self imposed.
Finally, one day I was at “the point” staring at the endless ocean and a new feeling came over me. I felt the healing energy of the island enter my body. I felt compassion, love and acceptance for the first time in my life. It was a new level of awareness I had just stepped into. I cried tears of joy because everything finally made sense. I realized and recognized that I was worthy simply for being alive.
Hippie commune takeaways
Before booking that stay I didn’t know much about the Big Island. I wasn’t aware of how sacred the Hawaii land is or about the power of Pele, the Goddess of fire and volcano. There is a healing power of the land and a collective energy you feel when you’re there that I discovered during my stay. I heard people refer to Pele as a being as if she were alive and was warned to not take any part of the land as a souvenir because I’d get cursed. (There’s stories of people getting in accidents or experiencing horrible things back home after taking sand or lava rocks from the island until mailing it back).
So I’d like to think that Hawaii’s healing energies called me to them. My healing and self-awareness journey was meant to begin on the Big Island living at that hippie commune. That’s the only explanation I have about ending up there lol. My higher self (that I didn’t know existed at the time) nudged me to take the leap and go to this new place so that I could meet special people and heal. That whole experience was completely out of my comfort zone but it was necessary for my growth.
By the time I left I felt like a completely different person. I had a newfound level of self-awareness and self-love that wasn’t there before. My compassion expanded to the planet as well, seeing it as an entity of its own. I learned that we are a part of a collective consciousness and a collective being that makes up the world. We are all connected and impact each other in more ways than we can ever know. I guess you could say my spirituality was born in Hawaii.
So there you have it. I don’t regret my hippie commune experience at all. In fact, I ended up going back 2 years later around the same time of the year. My second time around was not as intense as the first, of course. I got to continue my healing journey nonetheless but that time consisted of embracing and accepting my time at that beautiful paradise.
I reconnected with some of my previous ohana (family) from my first stay as well as meeting new beautiful souls. Despite a lack of diversity at the hippie commune, it didn’t matter too much because everyone was all about peace, love and acceptance. Not gonna lie, it would’ve been cool to have an amiga there with me but oh well.
I hope reading this post encourages you to take a leap of your own. Stepping out of your comfort zone will take you far, as scary as it is. Your higher self is always there for you so feel free to ask her anything you want to know. The final thing I want to tell you is that it’s okay to do something for yourself. You can’t please everyone and it’s not worth it to live for others. So I’m letting you know it’s not selfish to take the necessary steps to heal yourself and enjoy your life. You deserve it!
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