Wow, I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 3 weeks. I’m supposed to leave this week but have decided to extend my stay by another 3 weeks. This community feels so right. It is amazing to think that not that long ago, we (the whole world), lived and worked in small sustainable communities and villages much like Sadhana.
There is something here called “Sadhana-time” which refers to the fact that you get very close to people when they are a small group that you live and work and eat and play with. One week feels like a month, one month like a year. There are about 30 long-termers, people who live here year round, though only 15 are currently present, and they’ve accepted me into their little circle. Whenever I leave the community and then come back I feel home again. Home in a way I’ve never felt before. At any given time, during the low season, there are 30-50 short-termers, volunteers who stay for 2 weeks. Many of these short-term volunteers do not get so involved in the community and are here almost for a kind of vacation. To give you an idea of how involved I’ve become, after a week of being here I was giving tours to new volunteers, a job that only long-termers do and a job that I love. J
The people drawn here are my kind of people in every way possible and yet each very different. Because of a commitment to inclusion, English is the spoken language at Sadhana even if English isn’t your first language. I’ve made amazing friends with a couple from Barcelona, some young girls from England and Canada, and many Indians. There are also people from the US, Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Israel, etc. Almost everyday new volunteers arrive, and about a quarter of them are returning volunteers. And because of “Sadhana-time” you get close very fast. Some people who come here are in life changes or looking for peace and clarity during life transformations. People who’ve just gotten out of relationships, people who need a break from school, people who are looking for different kinds of communities, people who are tired of the corporate world and want to do meaningful work for as much time as possible. There are also a number of young families looking for an alternative, close-to-nature experience for their young. The community also floods with college students in environmental studies programs who are doing internships and fieldwork in small groups. Not to mention the native Indians who are excited to find a more environmentally-conscious home inside their own country. That’s not everyone, but you get the gist.
There is a distinct difference between the “long termer” and “short termer” communities. “Short termers” are often most interested in planning the adventure they will have after leaving the community. Many “short termers” are college or post-college students on a spiritual journey, though many often have environmentally-focused backgrounds. Because “short termers” are only in the community for 2-4 weeks, their bonds are usually closest with each other and many “short termers” who met in the community decide to travel together afterwards. “Long termers” are in the community for different reasons and are more invested in it. They stick together, much resembling a college dorm mentality. They stick up for each other and cover for each other. They are close like siblings and like lovers. Because there are so few of them relative to the constant influx and transition of short-term volunteers, the “long termers” bond together and often choose to spend their time together. Many say that it is emotionally taxing to get to know so many people for just a few weeks at a time and it’s somewhat easier and more logical to remain close with the other “long termers” who live there, knowing that this doesn’t always foster community among all of the volunteers at a given time. It is an acknowledged challenge. Another challenge is the very small, gossipy, drama-filled nature of a small community and how to keep personal things private and not talk about everything to everyone. I’m a talker so this is hard for me.