The Commune Blog

The 5 Fresh Herbs We’re Drinking on the Commune (and Why)

the lab Apr 11, 2020
While it’s not true that drinking warm liquids will prevent coronavirus, we’ve nonetheless fallen into a routine of herbal teas here in Commune Topanga — mint in the morning, lavender at night, rosemary, sage, and thyme (yes, they make great tea!) in between. These herbs are simply bursting out of the hillsides right now, and their vibrant aliveness has suddenly made our cabinet of tea bags seem dry and dusty in comparison. 

Plus, all fives of these common plants have a host of medicinal qualities. Here, our resident nurse and herb-nerd Julia explains some of their benefits. 

What herbs are you harvesting and steeping right now? Let us know in the comments.

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Why We Gather

the lab Apr 11, 2020
Nearly 30% of all millennials self-identify as religiously disaffiliated, subscribing to no institutional religion. While many churches provide community, an infrastructure for charity and a place of spiritual refuge and worship, institutional religion has turned off many young people through scandal and social policy that seems to lag behind the times. We explored this idea in depth in Commune podcast episode "Why We Gather."

This movement away from traditional religion has left a hole in many people’s lives including my own. Personally, I am yearning to connect with a power greater than myself. And I am looking to commune with others on a higher plane. For example, I am deeply drawn to the teachings of Jesus. I am less drawn to religious institutions that use faith to divide people and discriminate against “others.”

There is a saying, “God has no grandchildren.’ In other words, your relationship to God is direct. It’s yours. For me, this...

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A Simple Game to Rekindle Your Dinner Conversation

the lab Apr 11, 2020

Rose, Bud, Thorn is a nightly conversation game I learned as a summer camp counselor years ago. Surprisingly, it has become a big hit here in Commune Topanga quarantine. Every night Jeff and Schuyler’s daughters insist we play — maybe because they want to head off any talk of statistics and politics, but, I have come to suspect, because they crave the healing hidden in the game.

Here’s how it works: Each person shares their Rose, Bud, and Thorn for the day. The more specific the better.

Your Rose is something positive, an opportunity for us to collectively rejoice in your success or relive a happy moment. Recent examples of family Roses include:

  • “Today we picked a bag of oranges on a neighborhood walk."

  • “I got a good grade on my school essay."

  • “How sweet it is that we sit down for dinner as a family every night these days."

Your Bud is either something that shows promise and/or something bittersweet. This how we know what you’re...

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Homemade Masks and Revisiting the 3 Rs

the lab Apr 11, 2020
When I filmed Julia making a homemade face mask this weekend, my intention was to write a DIY post. But as I watched her discuss her materials (an old sheet, leftover jewelry wire, thick elastic cut thin enough to use), another angle emerged. 

We have entered an era where the CDC is posting articles on how to make your own mask and videos with the U.S. Surgeon General in full dress uniform folding an extra t-shirt. Scientists are rigorously testing the filtration merits of vacuum cleaner bags vs. pillowcases.

In the early 1980s, my mother’s first job out of college was working for the local waste management facility promoting their new recycling program. I vividly remember her coming to my elementary school classroom to teach us the three R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 

Unfortunately, time (and corporate propaganda) has obscured that the three R’s are actually a hierarchy. Reduce your waste, creatively reuse what’s left, and only...

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Surrender to the Wim of the Moment

the lab Apr 11, 2020

When we say honor the teacher, we mean honor their wisdom and experience. The best way to travel a land you’ve never been to before is with the humility of a stranger — and that sometimes means relying on directions and trusting the process.

So when Wim Hof stopped by and decided to throw an impromptu “BYOI” party (Bring Your Own Ice), it was an exercise in surrender. Grabbing your friends for an ice bath hasn’t gone fully mainstream and it’s no wonder why. It’s daunting, it’s scary, and it stands in the face of the common wisdom that you spend your life avoiding discomfort instead of actively seeking it out.

So you breathe, you listen, you surrender to the cold instead of your impulses and instincts. You let that thick Dutch accent wash over you as he beatboxes and pontificates, and you give yourself to the newness, the experience, and the space for growth within you. Waiting on the other side for you is the wisdom of expansion, of...

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Meeting a New Feathered Neighbor

the lab Apr 11, 2020

Every night on the property you can hear two owls. One has a deep, slow hoot — a steam engine finally pulling into the station. The other is higher pitched, questioning. We’ve never seen them, but they have pet names anyway: Bert and Ernie.

That’s the preamble... 

Now the sun is setting and 9-year-old Micah runs into the kitchen shouting, “There’s a stuffed animal on the steps, but when you get near it moves!”

We troupe out into the garden and find this young friend:

A concerned call to the Ojai Raptor Center reveals:

  1. She (or he) is a juvenile Great Horned Owl
  2. It’s not uncommon to find juveniles on the ground. At this age they can climb trees but can’t fly.
  3. We should clear the area and she’ll climb back up. And after about 30min that’s exactly what happens.

Bert and Ernie, all that time hooting… we now know what you were really doing! 

P.S. For those non Sesame Street folks out there

What feathered...

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What is Acceptance?

the lab Aug 12, 2019

The true beauty of our community here can be summed up in that very word. Living in community allows us to grow in our connection to ourselves, to our world, and to each other — but it also comes with challenges. How do I smooth over disagreements? How do I see the other side of the situation? How do I serve the greater good, when that means denying myself? 

Surrender to the situation, lean into acceptance.

My perspective may not be your perspective, but both are essential parts of our shared happiness, joy, and success. By embracing the truth of what is and who we are, from all angles, we can honor each other with clear and open minds.  

Acceptance is a choice, perspective is a choice, and choosing to see other people’s truth is a choice — one that this mindful community allows us to confront every day.

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A Place for the Heart

the lab Apr 23, 2019
What is heart-centered living?

Living through emotional intelligence.

Stepping into what feels right and connected.

Finding purpose and meaning in your actions.

Working intentionally with human energies.

Getting intuitive about the unseen and unknown.

Pulling back the curtain on what is.

Pushing the boundaries of what’s comfortable in order to find what’s right.

Accepting the purpose that rests deep within your soul.

Carving out space to connect to the true essence of humanity.

Creating congruence between thought, feeling, intention, and action.

Welcome to where heart-centered living becomes communal. Any time we bond over ideas, and invite the perspectives of others into our life, we dialogue with the divinely human spark in each other. We reach for the special place of knowing, that deep wisdom, which compels us to share, question, and find common ground over collective experiences.

It’s an approach, it’s a perspective, but it’s also a...

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