Moving out of the Wake Up House

A little over 4 years ago we created the San Diego Wake Up House, the mini Sangha within a Sangha. Today, as I look forward to a move out date, I can’t help but reflect back. For context, if you haven’t already read them, please read about how the Wake Up San Diego Sangha formed and how the Wake Up House came about too.  A little over 4 years ago we moved into the Wake Up House and it was also the same time that I proposed to Barbora. Our life together started in the warm embrace of our beloved community. We sat together, breathed together, walked together, ate together, cooked together, sang together and practiced mindfulness in countless ways together. Many people have come through our doors to practice on almost every Friday night since we began. That’s a lot of Friday nights! I’m not sure if you have ever hosted a gathering at your house, but imagine doing that every week for over 4 years! That’s a lot of people, a lot of tea prepared, lot’s of chips and salsa, and most importantly, lot’s of love 🙂 What we have put into the Wake Up House, the community has given back 10 fold. We have practiced beginning anew, hosted retreats, movie nights, vegetarian potlucks, had house meetings, made countless consensus-based decisions and we’ve made many mistakes but we grew through it all together. Life-long friendships have formed; bonds that seem to only get stronger as time continues on. People have changed career paths (and continue to do so), I got married, wrote a book and two of us have had babies! There is so much to reflect on, so many memories, so many tears, laughs, hugs and heart-opening experiences.

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I never got to have the college dorm-room experience and I never will. I was too busy being caught up in the disease of addiction. However, the love, connection, life-long friendships and things that I imagine would have been the best parts of that experience, have definitely happened in these last 4 years. Most importantly, the thing that I don’t think a college dorm-life would have given me… is the life changing, heart-opening, mind-expanding practice of living with people who were practicing mindfulness together in harmony. I have mentioned it before that when I have gone to retreats at Deer Park Monastery, my life changes pretty drastically, forever, each time. It’s a place where I allow myself to drop fully into the present moment, without electronics, completely in my body. It’s a place where I feel whole, unguarded, relaxed and free. My heart opens, I connect with others and I smile to life. I used to be sad when I left Deer Park, for obvious reasons. When I left, I went back to work, went back to my normal life, the world filled with toxins, the busy life where everything has to fit onto my google calendar in order for me to keep track of it all… I kept asking myself, “why can’t I live like I do at Deer Park in my everyday life?” Retreat after retreat, always sad to leave. Then came the Wake Up House. I can honestly say that when I leave retreats now, I am not experiencing sadness or fear anymore. As a matter of fact, the last retreat I was on, I couldn’t wait to get back to my “normal life” and put what I had gained into practice. I’m so excited to practice in my IMG_0838life now. I have a stable, solid oasis to come home to every day (not just in my breath, but my actual home)! I have wonderful loving roommates, a beautiful wife, the cutest baby son a guy could ever dream of having and a community of friends to share all the experiences with. Living in the Wake Up House has nourished me so deeply, and in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

As I contemplate the next steps, I know that I will walk forward with the Wake Up House within me. The stability I have gained here will continue on. The Wake Up House will continue on with my heart and soul as well. I have poured my heart into this and the volition has fed me until I have overflowed. This practice has not only saved my life, but it has given me a life to live that I can cherish. It has helped me know my true self, the greater self, the self that inter-relates with everyone and everything. Feeling that connection… how could I not want to help others find that too? It has been said that the next Buddha will be in the form of a Sangha. What better way to spend our time then helping to manifest the Buddha in the Sangha? This is why it is time for me to aspire to join the Order of Interbeing: It’s time to Wake Up. It’s time for the Buddha to be. We need the Buddha present, and in order for that to happen, we have to Wake Up and realize that what we are waiting for, is us. We are already here 🙂 This house, this community, is evidence of this. I’m so proud of our little gem, and I’m also so happy that I don’t need to live here anymore for it to continue. Intentional communities tend to end once the founding members move on, but as Bara and I (the last two remaining founding members) move out, I am so happy that the community has become an entity that will sustain itself. The roommates are practicing together beautifully; they are taking on various roles, forming a CTC, helping to plan a retreat, will continue hosting the Wake Up San Diego Sangha and are expanding to create new ways for the community to gather in new joyful ways.

It’s time for Bara and I to focus our attention on building our little family Sangha now. I have learned so much in my time in the house, and I’m excited that with us leaving, others will have the opportunity to step in. I’m excited for where the house will go, how the Buddha-nature will continue to manifest. I am so happy to support the growth in any way that I can. I’m so grateful to all of those who have made this experience possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. To future roommates, please continue to practice diligently. We practice for ourselves but we are also practicing for everyone else. As you breathe, know that you are creating peace and also a space for people to heal. I wish you all well.

For those who might be reading this, no matter where you are in the world, know that this is possible where you are. It might not take the same form, but it can manifest in the way that will work for you. Know that there are others like you, and we are here to support you. It is very worth it. You are worth it; we all deserve to have a sanctuary where we live, a refuge, a home of healing. Please help to create more Wake Up Houses. Even if it is just a 2 bedroom apartment… all it takes is 2 practitioners to live together. Please reach out and ask us how to get started. We have lot’s of experience to share with you. You are not alone, we are here for you.

Nick Neild
Inclusive Action of the Heart

Wake Up House 2016

 

Formation of the Wake Up House

I began practicing mindfulness with the Open Heart Sangha here in San Diego in June 2011. I was immediately captivated by Thay’s teachings and the practical application of the practice; it opened my heart and changed my life forever. Shortly thereafter, I began visiting Deer Park Monastery, which is where I was introduced to the San Diego Wake Up Sangha (at the gate house, where it was practicing once a month). Since then, I have been practicing with Wake Up and I am now living with Wake Up! I am one of the co-founders of the Wake Up House in San Diego (since April 2013) as well as the house manager (since July 2014). There is so much to share from the whole experience that I am bursting at the seems!I especially love to share how the house formed, so cool! I recall one night during one of the Wake Up San Diego gatherings in March or April of 2012, we were enjoying the glow of a community-made vegan pizza dinner at the Big Red House.  The facilitator and host, David Viafora, brought up the idea of a Wake Up House very casually when we were speaking one on one. A tiny spark of excitement ignited in my heart that moment, and I knew right away that was exactly what I wanted to do! I remember telling him, “I am 100% down!” I was already enjoying so many of the benefits from the practice but I still needed much more support than a bi-weekly meeting with the Sangha could supply. It was around the same time that Jared and I began to co-facilitate with David for the Wake Up Sangha. The three of us began talking about wanting to form the Wake Up House together, and based on our travel aspirations, we projected that it could realistically form in early 2013. An email went out to the Sangha in April to see if anyone else was interested, but nothing popped up. We continued to nourish the idea in conversations at Sangha which transformed into email correspondence as Jared and I began to travel the world. It was at this point that people began to pop up out of the woodwork to inquire about the house idea. We began exchanging emails about people who seemed really cool, and how we wanted to proceed. On January 20th, 2013 we were all back in San Diego, and we met at a vegan restaurant in North Park. A week later we met with all the people who had expressed interest in moving in with us. Although there were about 7 people seriously interested, we quickly learned that there was literally no room for maybe’s in the Wake Up House. Either someone had the aspiration or they didn’t. When we had our third Wake Up House meeting David delivered some shocking news that would change everything. He was feeling a strong pull to move to Northern California to explore a long distance relationship he had been kindling. Although every fiber of my being wanted David to stay, I knew he would regret it if he never moved to be with his girlfriend, and as his friend I had to encourage him to go. Jared appeared to be in shock and my heart sank. However, there was still so much momentum built up and my aspirations were still very high, so I took a breath and proceeded. Since that left Jared, my girlfriend Barbora, Anna and I, the 4 bedroom house idea transformed into a 3 bedroom. We realized this actually made things easier for the area we were looking in. We wanted to live in North Park but the homes there were built a long time ago when the average family size was small, so most houses were 2 and 3 bedrooms. We loved the area because it is very central (in between all major universities), lot’s within walking/biking distance (minimizing our carbon footprint) and plenty of vegetarian/vegan restaurants nearby. Anna, Barbora and I found the perfect 3 bedroom town home while Jared was out of town. Although Jared reassured us he was still about 80% on board, he admitted that he wasn’t as certain as before. This crystallized after we signed the lease and Jared decided this wasn’t the best move for him. We quickly shifted gears and began to ask everyone who had previously expressed interest. We eventually met with another Wake Up Sangha member, Josean, for dinner at his place. He agreed to move in, and the first official cast was set to move in April 3rd, 2013.

"The Last Supper"
“The Last Supper”

David solidified his plans, and the last Wake Up Sangha gathering at the Big Red House was planned for the middle of March. It was clear to me that a huge shift was about to happen, not just in my life, but in all of our lives. This was one of those defining moments in life that will always be remembered. There was a lot of disappointment, sadness, anxiety, joy and excitement all wrapped up together. All my practicing had led me up to this “game-day” experience. It was time to see where my practice rubber met the road. 

David's Going Away Party
David’s Going Away Party

 

It suddenly dawned on me that with David leaving, a huge guiding force for the Wake Up Sangha was going with him. I was looking at some pretty spiritual shoes to fill! A part of me felt up to the challenge, but another part of me that craves the spotlight because unresolved approval seeking needed to be put in check. I decided that I wanted to take a back seat and really encourage all the house mates

Move in Day
Move in Day

to be the guiding force for the Wake Up Sangha. I figured the voice of the Sangha had a wisdom all of its own, and I was confident I could be there to encourage and guide when it was needed.

We moved in, unpacked relatively quickly, and were ready to host the Sangha! It was the beginning of a new adventure for Wake Up San Diego; it was the now the proud parent of a newborn baby Sangha: The Wake Up House Sangha.

Nick Neild
Inclusive Action of the Heart

 

How it all started

Hello Wake Uppers past, present and future,

I have the Honor of writing the first blog post simply because I have been around the longest. Similar to how Homer Simpson got his job at the power plant; by showing up the first day it opened. I was there at the first wake up San Diego meeting and was asked to give some insight on how this whole thing got started. As a disclaimer I would like to say that my involvement in Wake Up has been inconsistent at best. With a demanding career and a passion for traveling I haven’t always made time for the Sangha. However the loving, compassionate young adults I consider to be strong practitioners in Wake Up always keep me coming back. The first meeting was in May of 2011. Talk of starting the group began two weeks before during the Wake Up retreat at Deer Park Monastery. I give the credit for starting the group to Linh Nguyen. She is a much more driven practitioner than myself. She approached me at the retreat to ask for my opinion and help with starting our own Sangha. I wholeheartedly agreed. We wanted a way to strengthen our practice while away from Deer Park. We wanted to create an intentional group based on Mindfulness. The meeting was held on the Grass at La Jolla cove on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We had many people show up who were new to Mindfulness and Meditation in general. Linh asked those of us who had some experience with mindfulness to enlighten them on what it meant to be mindful. We all took turns giving our interpretations of mindfulness. I can’t remember exactly what I said but it probably went something like this:

Mindfulness simply put is being aware of what goes on inside our minds. Being aware of our feelings, perceptions, mental formations, objects of our mind, etc. Meditation helps to slow our thoughts so we may see our minds clearly. Initially for me, it was slowing down and being completely aware of my strong emotions when they came up like fear, anxiety and anger. Then meeting my strong emotions with gentle compassion so they could go back down into my store consciousness easily. For so long I was caught up in the busyness of life. So caught up that I went around feeling these strong emotions all the time and didn’t even realize it! It caused much unnecessary suffering. Mindfulness has helped me to transform my afflictions.

After that we read from one of Thay’s (Thich Nhat Hanh) books. We did a short meditation and closed with Dharma sharing.  As many practitioners know Dharma sharing is a safe place to share whatever is in our hearts. I remember thinking how wonderful it was to have people my own age that I felt comfortable being vulnerable with. We were all experiencing similar challenges and triumphs in life. Because of this we were able to listen deeply, give support and offer insight to each other in a way that was more connected than I had ever experienced.The meeting lasted about an hour and a half. I remember leaving feeling so light and peaceful.

There was a long hiatus after that first meeting. Linh had an opportunity to study in another city and was gone all summer. I was supposed to host the second meeting at my house but because of a death in the family, I had to cancel. The meetings were pretty spotty for several months until David Viafora began hosting them at the “Big Red House”. David’s strong practice was exactly what our group needed. Over time we began meeting every two weeks. A vegan potluck or a walk to a nearby Thai restaurant often followed them. We would organize outings together like Camping, Rock Climbing or Stand Up Paddle boarding. I found myself craving the positive energy the group created and would make it to as many meetings as I could. As the Sangha strengthened they began talking about creating a Wake Up house. Before long the house came into fruition in its current location. As I said before my involvement with Wake Up has been inconsistent at best. Like the tide it ebbs and flows. But I always come back. I still feel the same way about this Sangha as I did that first meeting. I feel so blessed to know that the Wake Up House exists. It is a place I can go to strengthen my practice, feel supported and give support. The Wake up house is filled with some amazing young practitioners, full of loving kindness. I have made many great friends through Wake up. Although in the end we all must follow our own path, wherever that may take us. I hope many of these friendships will last a lifetime. I love and cherish you all.

Victor Carrasquillo

“Awakening Compassion of the Heart”

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