The Amalurra project was born and is still vibrating within me as my own intrinsic impulse. At the beginning of its awakening, this impulse began to manifest in me as a seeking and transforming energy that encouraged me to move it in myself and in others, to materialize it in a transformative scenario and to use it as a tool for growth. This is how this impulse became the founding spirit of the Amalurra communities, which, without being the only ones, have been the most visible forms of its materialization. The communities emerged as a result of the temporal confluence of two movements: mine, which moves me to share both myself and the dream that drives me, and that of others, a collective movement formed by the people who individually felt the symbiosis with this impulse.
As the holder of the founding energy of Amalurra, I felt and I still feel encouraged by the expansive fire of the values that sustain it. That fire has led me to do everything I have done and, without a doubt, it will be the one that leads me to crystallize other ways of materializing it. This has been an immense experience as have been deep the lessons learned in this stage that is now ending. In short, I would like to share both as founder and also a member of this project that, while the communities resonated symbiotically with the founding energy that I carry, the resultant unified movement made us and made them develop and flourish in the direction of that collective impulse that, while taking care of itself, takes care of its participants. However, the moment the personal interest and movement of the majority of the participants separated from the original intention, the paths separated, too.
Now, I have let go of the community projects to continue with the initial impulse that I called Amalurra and create new projects in tune with it..
Next, I will show you the experiences in which the intrinsic values of the Amalurra project have been developed by applying tools and practices aimed at personal and collective development. From this practice, I have been able to extract a deep knowledge based on my own experience as inspirer and facilitator of the Amalurra project as well as on the interrelational experience of all those who have participated in it. This deep knowledge is connected to the inherent values of human beings such as excellence, unity, commitment, responsibility, teamwork, cohesion, resilience, creativity, beauty, care, solidarity or hospitality, among others.
COMMUNITIES (1993 - beginning 2020)
The best-known materialization of the Amalurra project has been the creation of three intentional communities. An intentional or conscientious community (McLaughlin and Davidson) engages the individual in a cooperative way of life, marked by new attitudes and values, which favors personal growth and self-knowledge within a framework of interrelation with other people. The first community project was developed in the Basque Country. Later, the communities of Caparacena, in Granada and Can Cases, in Barcelona, were born.
Later, the communities of Caparacena, in Granada and Can Cases, in Barcelona, were born.
The three communities have been tangible proof that a shared life provides a broader view that helps to become aware of our unconscious contents.
Our sense of belonging to a family and a people mark the collective nature of our existence in this world. Without trying to extrapolate our experience, or establish generalities beyond what our awareness experiences have been in this regard, I would like to share the findings of the work I have developed with the members of the communities, who have been a reflection, in some way, of their own people.
Amalurra in Artzentales, Euskal Herria
Being the first, its hallmarks has been confidence and constant learning along the journey towards the materialization of the original impulse. Created in a short space of time, it emerged from our dedication, enthusiasm, cooperation and commitment to achieve both an individual and collective purpose. This community was the result of an inner work process in which we engaged ourselves to go beyond our limits or conditionings.
Our intention was to put into practice values that define a more humane life, based on cooperation through personal interrelationships and common work goals, by fostering mutual help and conflict resolution. In short, we made up a group of people with collective aspirations, committed to ourselves and to our families, society and natural environment. Thanks to the community platform, we strengthened our personal, family and social links, which manifested in a sense of solidarity, unity and belonging and, above all, in taking care of all the people who came to visit the place.
This community paved the way and, in it, each stone, each construction and each corner emanate the vibration of an imperceptible but huge work of transformation and acceptance of the density that emerged and blocked our path on many occasions. Attentive to this journey, I saw how the nobility of this sovereign people manifested; a people connected to the earth and heaven through their traditions, who respect their ancestors as bearers of their memory and values, and whose foundations are honor and fidelity to one's own identity.Throughout its trajectory, this community has constellated the complex of our own culture: the difficulty of feeling pain and mourning the memories of loss with which we resonate within the collective field (persecution of women accused of witchcraft in 1610 and the bombing of Gernika in 1937).
The collective trauma contributed to weakening the fabric of society and, with it, contact with the qualities that characterize it: dignity, honesty, connection and authenticity. Naturally, in the face of the intense pain caused by the trauma, the general reaction was to deny or suppress the feelings of vulnerability and fear that would often find expression in an attitude of pride or a seeming superiority complex.These aspects of the shadow, which this community members were able to identify in themselves when contacting these memories, are precisely the ones that weakened the community fabric, distancing us from the essence or the impulse that one day moved us to travel this path. Today, we can say that we have walked a bidirectional path. On the one hand, towards the community life dream rooted in our depth as our cultural heritage and, on the other hand, towards distancing from this same dream due to an inability to mourn our losses. The first was a conscious act; the second has traveled on a more unconscious level. Now, the individual challenge is to make the unconscious conscious and integrate the lessons distilled from this experience so that they can flourish in the next stage, regardless of what that is for each person.
Amalurra in Caparacena, Granada
This the second of the three. It was born as a result of the passion and the confidence of its participants in their impulse. Beyond the limitation of their resources, the arid land was fertilized showing all its splendor and demonstrating that a genuine yearning can take us much further than we think. This group felt enthusiastic at the opportunity of shaping the community dream that pulsates in the memories of their collective soul, since their people harmoniously united creeds and cultures. However, their first impulse towards the materialization of the community was held back by a strong tendency to abandonment and resignation, emerging in the face of the obstacles and difficulties along the way.
The inner work processes undertaken in this context showed that this conformist attitude is a defense mechanism activated to avoid the pain of having been a conquered and subjugated people. Faced with their initial difficulties, their memories of failure emerged on different occasions and their despair manifested in a rebellious attitude, unconscious until then, and expressed in the form of apathy and refusal to follow their heart impulse.
My work with this community consisted of encouraging and strengthening their willingness and entrepreneurial spirit so that, through the satisfaction produced by taking their attempt to the end, regardless of its result, this community could reconnect to their passion and fortitude, which are the essence of this people. In this sense, the project materialized in Granada has transmitted the soul of the Andalusian people and the values of their legacy: wisdom, creativity, mysticism, the cultural melting pot and passion.
Amalurra in Can Cases, Cataluña
This community was born as a gateway to diversity with the intention of opening up to a cosmopolitan movement. Its main asset was that they stood up in the face of adversity. Their main challenge was to materialize the community as the other two communities had done before. Their group experience supposed a real challenge because of their deep-rooted individualism, which often hindered their own impulse to walk toward a collective purpose. The Catalan people, whose soul is brave, generous and unifying, carries the fear of conflict as a collective attitude.
The brutal reprisals suffered in the past, when the people came together to fight for what they believed in, generated an unresolved pain from which they tend to defend themselves with individualism and a false consensus. I addressed my work with this community by supporting its members to become united in pursuit of a collective purpose. As they went for it, they recovered their gifts and their ability to face circumstances following their heart impulse, because that is their genuine nature.
One of the main purposes of the Amalurra project is to recover the ancestral bond with Mother Earth. Throughout the materialization of the community in the Basque Country, the place itself expressed what it needed. For this reason, we began to work on the recovery and restoration of the terrain, aware that nature was a mirror that reflected our inner itinerary. Our personal introspection processes also sought to communicate with the land we were beginning to inhabit.
In the case of the Artzentales community, when we got there, the farm had been abandoned for several years and was completely covered in brambles. The buildings of its previous inhabitants, the seminary of the German congregation of the Holy Family, were in ruins. The waters were stagnant and the native trees had been replaced by extensive forests of pine and eucalyptus.
When we planted the trees, channeled the waters, pulled up the brambles and plowed the earth so that it could breathe, we gradually and consciously took care of the abandonment the place was in with the intention of restoring something that was already beautiful. In this way, we merged with the earth and became one with it. The love that can be perceived today in this place does not come from our hearts, not even from the land itself. What one can breathe is the result of the feeling of union that we experience when we come together for a common purpose.
We listened to the psyche, or soul, expressing itself through the land. And this personal work process, which found reflection in the external environment of the community, was a turning point in our lives. Somehow, it was as if we had listened to the voice of our ancestors and restored our bond with them. As our intention became action, we could connect to their knowledge.
Euskal Herria (Basque Country) suffered a vast deforestation of its native trees, oaks and beech trees, as a result of the industrialization period in the mid-nineteenth century. During that time, there was a massive abandonment of rural areas towards the iron and steel factories in the cities. The simplicity of the words of a Maasai warrior chief, whom I had the honor of meeting during a conference, reflects the impact of any tree felling with a very eloquent image, "Nobody likes to undress in front of others," he said. "For this reason, when we cut down trees, we undress our Mother Earth and affect the relationship between everything that exists on her." With the felling of those trees in the Basque Country, the knowledge that they carried also disappeared from the surface. But the earth had kept it inside her. Thus, in an attempt to rescue this ancestral knowledge, we proceeded to enrich the clay soil of the estate and planted more than 4,000 indigenous trees in order to participate in the co-creation of a community way of life, as it is part of our human ancestral legacy.
At first, the trees did not take root since the earth was so dry, and they died. Therefore, we plowed the soil and covered it with straw, aware that it needed to be cared for. We even held ceremonies from indigenous traditions to help fertilizing the land. As we carried out these tasks, we had the feeling that Mother Earth was enveloping us in a deep feeling of love, in response to our care. Somehow, the need that we all have to feel loved seemed to be satisfied by connecting with nature and with the other. We planted thousands of trees again and, to our surprise and that of the neighbors, this time they took root, forming a thick forest of native species. We understood that the dry land needed to be given back what had been taken from it, and when we did it, it emerged with force.
Water, which is like the blood in our veins, is related to the flow of our emotions. At a deep level, the stagnant waters of the estate reflected our contained emotions and, as we let them flow, we also managed to channel the waters. In the same way that we started to remove the obstacles that held up the waters, opening a way for them to flow towards their destination, so we proceeded with our most restrained emotions. As we became aware of them, we helped them to find their course, in order to touch the heart, the place where the feelings that take home the lost parts of the soul are found.
Many indigenous traditions acknowledge that stones and rocks are not inert; they have life, because they are endowed with the spirit that animates matter. These traditions have a relationship with the stones because they contain the most ancient memory and information of the Earth. The fact that we consider them inert is due to the Western perspective that humans are the only beings who are awake and endowed with intelligence. However, if we accept that matter is not inert, this perspective does not make any sense and we can start to perceive a world full of diversity and, at the same time, of differentiated animated beings.
However, none of this would have been possible without the work we did in contact with nature itself. Thus, throughout the materialization of the community, we were aware of the elementals that inhabit Mother Earth. In Eastern or Native American cultures, these beings are known as the devas of plants, which act as the architects who give structure and provide energy to the vegetable kingdom. Therefore, we established an intuitive and close relationship with these creatures, based on love and care, the ingredients that we would later apply in the creation and maintenance of our gardens and orchards. Each time we took these beings into account when restoring the estate, planting trees and flowers or preparing the soil for cultivation, the results were spectacular.
Before carrying out any of the mentioned tasks, we tried to establish a conscious and loving communication with these beings. We tuned in with nature until we felt a current of love within us, to which the earth more than responded. The fusion that we sometimes achieved with the devic plane was reflected in the surroundings in the form of an energy that is easily perceptible, both by residents and visitors.
Ultimately, the Amalurra community in Euskal Herria was, in that sense, the result of having gone through what the stones, the stagnant waters and the brambles represented; that is, everything that separated us from our transpersonal experience of feeling united. Even if only for a few moments, we enjoyed feeling complete, one with the other, erasing the memory of the pain of being separated.
CONSCIOUS HOSPITALITY: HOTEL, RESTAURANT, SPA, OPEN SPACES
The hotel complex, Amalurra Ecohotel & Retreat Center, in addition to being a means for supporting the creation and development of the community in the Basque Country, allowed to satisfy two purposes linked to the essence of Amalurra. On the one hand, the attempt to get out of individualism and rescue an ancestral value deeply rooted in the Basque people: hospitality, by welcoming whoever wants to visit the place. On the other hand, it became a platform for evolution and personal development through teamwork and cohesion, which allowed practicing solidarity and developing a sense of belonging.
We decided to expand the project by building a hotel complex where we could welcome whoever wanted to come to the place. Our intention was to contribute in the region, while developing hospitality: a value that challenged our individualism.
So, in the beginning, opening this door to the world required discovering everything with which we blocked it from within. This process of personal growth gradually prepared us to offer a conscious lodging as we materialized the facilities with enthusiasm.
As an anecdote, when we decided to undertake the construction of the hostel, which would later be transformed into a hotel, and a dining room, which would later become a restaurant, no bank wanted to grant us the aid we had requested. We understood that their refusal reflected our unconscious fears and resistance to the new step. Therefore, when, eventually, we were able to recognize and inhabit those spaces of uncertainty and fear, we were also able to connect with our genuine desire to go further. That inner movement had an external reflection: the banks agreed to give us the loans that they had previously denied us. In this way and, little by little, we entered the next phase of our journey, advancing in our integral development and aware that everything that emerged to the surface was an opportunity for it.
At first, we decided to undertake the construction of the hotel by ourselves, since we did not have enough money. Despite lacking any construction experience, we took on the challenge of learning from this opportunity, encouraged by the enthusiasm and strength of the group. We put up walls and threw them down. We constructed and deconstructed, especially in those cases where the work reflected the unconscious aspects of the people involved, which manifested in details that could be improved.
On those occasions, we tried to become aware of this aspect and made the task again as an opportunity to integrate what had been evidenced. Most of the time, the final result was even more aesthetic and harmonic. Besides, we felt satisfied when we confirmed that the work mirrored the transformation that had occurred inside. In the instances when a person's irresponsibility had a negative impact on the group’s economy, that person would pay part of the costs as a means of taking irresponsibility for it. Of course, this way of approaching things produced a great inner revolution. But our commitment with rising awareness as well as being totally decided not to abandon our purpose helped us go further.
Within this dynamic, we did not only set up to building a hotel, put up some walls or decorating some rooms. Our intention was to join forces to sustain values we all shared, so that the materialization of the project could express them. Among many examples, there is a clear one that illustrates this intention. It was the way in which we approached the decoration of the hotel rooms, so that each one conveyed the essence of a quality that would give it a name, such as gratitude, dignity, prosperity, beauty, confidence, joy, friendship or serenity.
Some rooms were very easy to materialize, such as Trust, Joy or Friendship. Others had to be painted several times so that they expressed the peculiarity of their quality, such as Nobility or Tenderness. The most difficult was the room we named Dignity, which took us 14 coats of paint until we found the color that, in our opinion, reflected its essence. In the end, we achieved it once each of us contributed some money to buy the curtains that suited the dark reddish purple and gold color with which we had painted it.
Contributing that money was a symbolic act with which we wanted to honor our purpose of rescuing the dignity that we had lost every time we had acted out of personal interest rather than out of consciousness. It was an attempt to recover the nature of dignity, which implies that one does not sell out and remains true to oneself. Once we had finished the room and felt that we had managed to capture the essence of its quality, we decorated that of Beauty. We understood that true beauty comes from the inner self, which involves recovering the dignity of being who we are. Thus, we started to retrieve the soul of those values that supported us in our process of making community.
Experience has shown me that the identity of everything depends on the coexistence of at least two opposing conditions that are mutually dependent within a field of tension. In this sense, each of the hotel rooms contains the story of a quality, as well as that of its opposite. And, in our case, every time we strived to conquer those qualities, their shadow or opposite would emerge. As we achieved to get reconciled with the latter, those qualities became rooted both inside us and in the hotel rooms, in which the frequency of each quality could be perceived.
The final result was not only a product of the decoration. After we committed to embracing the darkness that each quality contained, their essence began to flow and permeate everything. Maintaining this group's purpose contributed to anchoring those qualities on the walls of the rooms, to the extent that, today, there are guests who can appreciate them, as they have said so in our guest book.
As it can be seen, the construction of the hotel was a psychic process as well as a physical one. This way of proceeding would establish itself as a distinctive method of the school of life that Amalurra has intended to be, in which a mistake became invaluable learning material, both internally and externally. All that needed to be corrected in the outside was an important resonator of aspects that required to be seen and considered within us. Consequently, the place started to visibly transform and acquire greater harmony and beauty. In my opinion, this evolution showed that the inner work that we carried out in the depths of our psyche gradually manifested itself in matter as a resonator of this psychic transformation.
In this way of doing, each one's gifts and knowledge were put at the service of the collectivity. Therefore, we learned different styles and ways of working, to the extent that we reached a professional level in the restaurant and hospitality areas.
Subsequently, launching the hotel and restaurant as an economic resource that would support the materialization of the project, also brought a constant activity that challenged the natural defenses of the mind. As a result, our inner situation expressed itself in implications, evidence and manifestations that helped us move forward, satisfied every time we could go beyond our limits, after having decided to do so with enthusiasm and openness.
VOLUNTEERING: WORK AS TRANSFORMATION
Throughout our community experience, we could feel that putting our energy at the service of that one has committed to generates the help and the necessary resources to achieve a goal, beyond any expectations and logical prospects. Aware that we all have something to offer (time, attention, company, gifts or skills), the knowledge distilled from the communities’ project led me to confirm that service focused on something else than oneself brings a sense of fulfilment and an opportunity to belong. Doing it as if it were a ritual, centers the mind and helps to integrate what is separated within oneself.
Volunteering belongs to the category of spiritual practice because it is an offering, a prayer, an intention or an opportunity to come into direct contact with our interior and perceive how difficult it is to let go of expectations and do something without anticipating a future result, recognition or compensation. The key is to do it, not as a service provided to third parties, but as an inner development platform that in turn benefits oneself and, therefore, the community. This is what differentiates it from ordinary work, focused mainly on obtaining a remuneration.
In Amalurra, volunteering focused on maintaining and supporting the communities: the gardens, the orchard, the restaurant and the kitchen, for example. Even though some people were relieved of working outside and were paid for working full-time in the community, we all did some sort of volunteering, apart from our jobs.
However, it took us all a while to understand the true meaning of “volunteering”. In the beginning, we used to do it with an objective, such as learning to coexist, developing a good disposition or feeling that we belonged. Sometimes, other less obvious expectations leaked through, such as obtaining recognition or compensating for an unconscious guilt. These reactions are totally normal until one integrates the deep meaning of volunteering. Thus, experience showed us that the moment there is some kind of interest, however minimal, volunteering loses its transforming capacity and the fatigue caused by the effort made emerges.
On the other hand, our ego often led us to believe that every time we did voluntary service we had to receive something in return. This belief disconnected us from our initial impulse, which came from our heart, since we ignored the fact that the reward occurs in the soul dimension. With the passing of time and practice, we understood that having this clear contributed to resolving part of the conflicts that arose in the community.
From my point of view, true volunteering, or selfless service, is an exercise of love. In our case, our decision to come together around a common purpose implied facing the obstacles that prevented us from to sharing ourselves.
Among other things, we experienced that volunteering strengthened self-esteem. Likewise, it reinforced our sense of belonging to something greater that connected us to a greater intelligence that sustained the community. This was so since when we serve something greater, we feel part of it. On the other hand, volunteering brought individual gifts to the surface while it also made us aware of other talents we were not aware of. This turned it into an opportunity for self-knowledge, for working on the limitations or resistance that separated us from altruism, for accepting our selfish part and for feeling a genuine recognition towards ourselves, based on the satisfaction that comes when one gives something from oneself. All these aspects directly impacted personal empowerment and well-being.
Likewise, every time we were able to carry out a task voluntarily out of our sense of free choice, we observed that this work was impregnated by a quality that could be defined as “doing without an effort.” This was so because we were no longer giving anything to anyone, but to ourselves, to our relationships and to life. Experience has shown us that, in the moments when the group focuses on a common purpose in unison, in a circular movement in which everything is included, it is as if the task were done through oneself. As a result, the magic of unity emerges like a symphony that elevates the individual, and vitality, joy, enjoyment and shared satisfaction prevail over exhaustion. Thus, on the occasions when we could vibrate in that space in which voluntary service was performed as a way of consciously going beyond one's limits, the task in question became easier. This is the reason why I have considered volunteering as a practical form of spirituality that has supported the internal growth of people and the development of the community, which consolidated through the values that each one of us was able to recover and that contributed both to individual and community benefit.
To conclude, there is no doubt that the emotional revolution resulting from all the above-mentioned practices favored our spiritual awakening, as well as accessing other experiences, perceptions and dimensions of consciousness. This helped us to express the spirit, understood as an expression of love, in everyday life. Practicing together, as a group, also took us closer to our hearts, to spaces of vulnerability, to the natural world and to our ancestors. On the other hand, these practices consolidated unity and group commitment, an essential foundation for the materialization and development of the community.
Children and young people have been active members in our community life. Perhaps they have been the ones who have better integrated the meaning and values of the Amalurra project. As they were growing, Amalurra was growing too and the values that supported the project were being refined. Young people have learned to “live in community” since they were children, developing values such as solidarity, collective consciousness, creativity, teamwork and self-knowledge.
As the basic premise of the community was to know oneself through our relationships with others, community life made it easier for young people to get to know their inner world more deeply and also to learn how to navigate interpersonal relationships. These young people are well prepared for the new world. They have walked a path of personal empowerment, while incorporating the experiences and values of a community life, as well as those of life in society.
Although they were born in their own family, for them the community has been an extended family. They learned to share themselves and to speak about their feelings fluently, since they communicated their experiences at a deep level to one another, resolved conflicts or talked about their concerns. The day-to-day activities became spaces that facilitated this sharing: birthday celebrations, the arrival of a new child, the afternoon games after school, or the circles around the fire.
Rituals and celebrations gave importance to the moments that mark milestones or stages in the individual and collective trajectory: births, birthdays, graduations, solstices, equinoxes, New Year's Eve, and so on, in which children and young people got involved and enjoyed helping to create community and participating in the growth of the project.
In addition to the intellectual skills they acquired at school or university, within the community, art and creativity were taken into account and each child was supported to develop those artistic skills for which they were most inclined, such as music, dancing or painting, among others.
Young people also participated in a practice called auzolan, which is the Basque word for “voluntary work done for the benefit of the local community.” As children, they collaborated in a playful way, taking care of flowers, for example. As they grew and became more autonomous, they had more presence and responsibility in the project. In the same way that boys and girls collaborated in their families, they also did so in the community. This facilitated the development of values such as discipline, teamwork and cooperation.
Thus, they forged more intimate relationships. In addition, they learned to be present and notice the sensations that occur inside them in each situation, to identify their feelings and reactions and to process and share them in a healthy and self-responsible manner. As a result, they have acquired an emotional and body intelligence that is vital for life and is not taught in our conventional educational system.
SPACES WITH SOUL
“I don't know if Amalurra will continue to exist after having walked a path sustained by the purpose for which it was born. But, if the project came to disappear, I am sure the Earth itself will save the necessary seeds so that anybody who wishes to do so can extract them and create other interrelated spaces in which to practice the knowledge distilled throughout our experience. If so, the cycle will continue, inexorable, like life itself.”