Post-Healing Intentional Communities (Part 1)

A vision for community living celebrating the Miracle of Life from a Post-Healing orientation…

Art by Alex Grey
I explore some of the themes of this essay in this video with Portals of Perception.

The Question On My Heart

Where does one go when they’ve come out the other side of their Healing Journey and are called to be of service by creating, living and celebrating a new possibility for humanity in the form of a collective community called Home?

This Home is an external mirror for the internal sense of Home that its community members effortlessly embody. Ultimately, the internal and external merge, and Home is revealed as a mirrorless mirror of the unfolding Kosmos in all its miraculous glory.

An Orienting Map

Let’s take a step back and use a dramatically over-simplified tripartite map to illuminate three dimensions of the human unfolding:

  1. Pre-Healing
  2. Healing
  3. Post-Healing

Pre-Healing is when we primarily operate from our unconscious patterning, often rooted in childhood trauma, shadow, survival and/or fear-based conditioning. Often this gets unconsciously projected onto others which perpetuates the experience of separation, hence reinforcing the very fears that most often shape our woundings in the first place.

Healing is when we become conscious of that which was previously unconscious and seek transformation to rewrite old narratives and learn tools and processes to more actively engage with that which arises before it harms ourselves and others. Often this process involves making “healing” part of our new identity. We dare to go deeply into our “wounds” in order to understand them as fully and wholly as possible, which can simultaneously be extraordinarily painful and exquisitely liberating. The healing journey almost always involves a great deal of grief, surrender and forgiveness.

Post-Healing is when one integrates and alchemicalizes into daily life not only their “healing insights” but also the tools as well as internal & external support structures that create an anti-fragile process, allowing one to not only cope but prosper when old psychological patterns arise (i.e. we become triggered), as there is an often automatic process of illuminating that which remains unseen, pouring compassion and love onto the younger parts of our psychological structure, and cleaning up shadow that creates perceived blockages from unconditional Love. The foundation of this process is often when one is able to see and experience their Core Wounds as Sacred Gifts, no longer fearing their past but loving their present and future potential as perfectly imperfect vessels to serve the Mystery’s infinite magic.

An important note: Post-Healing definitely does not mean the “healing” is over. In fact, some of the deepest healing can emerge during a Post-Healing chapter of life. It’s often when we let go of the “need” to heal that healing becomes most accessible. Post-Healing is more about having the capacities, tools and inner-stability to responsibly weather the storms of healing when they inevitably arise.

It’s Not Linear, Except When It Is

Art by Christina Smith

Is this a linear map? Yes and no. We can go through all three stages in one day or even one hour. Many times during a single therapy session or a supportive conversation with a loved one, we can go from blinded by our darkest shadows to moved to tears by the beauty and perfection of Life.

If we zoom out and look at the arc of an average Western adult life, there’s often 1–3 major chapters of “The Healing Journey” that take place. Many times these happen as part of a natural response to developmental transitions as we come to reorient and integrate new perspectives and meaning-making structures, sometimes creating the feeling that our entire world is collapsing.

Other times, the healing journey can arrive when outside tragedy greets us at the door: death of a loved one, cancer diagnoses, divorce, a near-death experience.

Then there’s moments when nothing dramatic on the “outside” is happening, but internally our world is crumbling: depression, addiction, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, burnout.

However healing finds us, it could be said we have a choice: dive in or shut it out. In reality, life is far more nuanced, and often there’s a greater intelligence at work that dials in these two simultaneously, journeying into parts of our shipwrecked soul and shutting out vast amounts of that which we’re not ready to explore, or would be unwise to do so.

When this Healing chapter finds us during the story of life, it often feels like a great death is imminent. Eventually, this leads us to seek safe spaces — or sometimes safely unsafe spaces — where we can re-enter the metaphorical womb to prepare for rebirth.

Intentional communities — from churches, to sanghas, to communes, to cults — are often ground zero for those deep in their healing journeys.

I’ve had the privilege and great blessing of traveling the world for the past four years visiting, living, creating and yes, healing, in dozens of these transformational communities. Some of the most extraordinary moments of my life — moments I will relive in my memory for decades to come — have transpired in these collective wombs.

Laying The Old Stories To Rest

Art by Danielle Klebes

In November of 2020, I had a series of clear insights that came in a symphony of synchronicities. The message was clear: this healing chapter is over. The Universe said to me, in more or less words…

“Tucker, all your ‘innerwork’ has gone from sacred to indulgent, and in order for deeper layers of healing to occur you need to move past the idea of ‘healing’ itself. There’s nothing wrong with you, Tucker, other than the stories you tell yourself about something being wrong with you, but even those aren’t wrong, they are just Love guiding you, just like everything else in existence. It’s all Love guiding you. Don’t try to change anything, including not trying to change not changing anything. You’re making this whole thing up anyways, which also means it’s entirely real. The point is, relax. Allow Love to just be here, now, however it shows up. And know that you are always being of service, so drop these stories about needing to be Jesus or Ghandi before you can be ‘good.’ And then drop the story that you need to drop the stories. Rest in silence and listen to the noise. Be stillness in motion. It’s simple. That’s why it’s complicated. Do you get it? Good, you’re not supposed to. Have fun, my friend!”

Life started shapeshifting in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Ironically, in some moments, I felt more alone than ever because I experienced more connection than ever, which can feel isolating when the other humans around me bond over shared disconnection more than connection.

While these new narratives were sinking into my soul, I could still feel the programmed conditioning of our culture that says we need to become something extraordinary to truly be of service, like Martin Luther King, Jr or Mother Theresa. This wasn’t the familiar, “Tucker needs to be seen as successful to feel worthy” story, rather it was a far more subtle spiritual introject that I presume many if not most readers taking in these words also perpetuate in their minds: “Life is broken, and I’m responsible for fixing it.” Maybe that’s the ego’s greatest trick: I can continue to play the game that I’m a separate self because I justify to myself that there is a crisis, and I, this ego, am essential to overcoming it, but not just for myself, for all of humanity and Life itself.

The challenge (and blessing) is that this narrative no longer aligned with the deepest truth that felt transpersonal to Tucker, for the new narrative recalibrated the “hero” of my story as God operating through Tucker, not Tucker operating as God, even though, arguably, both are simultaneously true.

Painting My Dreams

Art by Mahfuzur Rahman

So what does one do when nothing is wrong and everything is okay, including the stories that something is wrong and everything is not okay? For me, at first, there was just a lot of silence. It was like a blank canvas called Life was lovingly staring at me with its invisible eyes saying, “If life is but a Dream, what dream do you want to dream?”

The first image my soul painted on this no-longer-blank canvas was fatherhood. I dream to be a dad. I want to experience Creator creating Creation through the vessel of a child that comes out of my beloved’s womb, the same way Tucker resurrected from the womb of his healing journey into the community of Communion with the Creator who created him. Having a child feels like the most extraordinary example I can imagine of experiencing the infinite holons of Love that fractal up and down the kaleidoscope of Kosmic creation in a sea of sheer brilliance that feels so gorgeously Divine because of its humanity, and so profoundly human because of its Divinity.

Okay, so now I have a child (or two) painted onto the canvas of Tucker’s Dream Life. Where is this family going to be raised?

My dream is to raise my family in an intentional community that shares the essence of the ones that raised me anew as I re-entered Life from a Post-Healing orientation of Love Is Always Here.

These Homes-away-from-home are what I want to call Home. But how can we fully engage with these communities if we primarily orient from a Post-Healing foundation?

Three Paths For Post-Healing

Art by Domé Moon

Generally, I see three paths that people take when they transition or stabilize in Post-Healing:

  1. Stay Put and Serve: Turn around and help a lending hand by serving others on their Healing Journeys in the very community(ies) that helped enable one to enter the Post-Healing phase of life. Often this looks like becoming a workshop facilitator, spiritual teacher, health practitioner, or a counselor/coach/therapist/guide.
  2. Return Home: Sometimes one must consciously leave the very communities that helped them heal in order to break free of their old ways of being, marking a clear start of a new chapter in a new land. This can involve returning to a familiar place, perhaps somewhere they once called home, entering from a new foundation of psychological health and spiritual awakening that grounds their souls in service of those who may largely be operating from a Pre-Healing or Healing orientation. Sometimes this can even look like returning to our old careers or the lives we temporarily left behind, though doing so from a new psycho-spiritual foundation.
  3. Pioneer a New Direction: A third path I often see are those who leave their healing communities with the mission of bringing to life something that’s never been created before, often deeply rooted in a vision that feels infused with soul and spirit, as if it’s larger than any one being yet coming through the vessels of specific individuals holding the torch of this Dream.

Some, of course, weave all three paths, or dance between two.

A Community Vision

Art by Melani Pyke

What I envision for Tucker is to help pioneer a new vision for intentional community living that celebrates the Miracle of Life, not as an experience to heal from rather a blessing to fall ever more fully, wholly and holy into Love with.

What if the center-of-gravity of a community was not: “Come here…we’ll fix you” rather “Welcome Home…we love you!

What if people live together not just because they want to be in a supportive community environment where they can practice conscious communication skills to uncover their endlessly shape-shifting shadows, rather they want to live together because they love each other and want to dance, laugh, share, serve and celebrate the absolute miracle of this very moment with others who also see it as a miracle (and who also happen to be dedicated to more consciously communicating with one another)?

What if we play ultimate frisbee on Tuesday afternoons not to heal our inner children who weren’t allowed to freely play when we were kids, but rather because playing frisbee is fun and a beautiful way to move our bodies, enjoy each other’s company and to bask in the glorious sun (or rain)?

The point is certainly not to create an either/or…a this or that. And it’s also not necessarily a simple “both/and.” It’s about consciously crafting a hierarchy of orientations that allow for all to be welcomed in the mosaic of community Life while choosing to orient around core missions, beliefs and principles that are not a dogmatic expression of a charismatic leader rather a natural expression of a collective art project called intentional living from a Post-Healing foundation.

Every Day is Birth Day

Art by Calvert Brown

What would it take to create an intentional community where Healing is still infinitely present but not the primary invitation into the community?

Well, pretty much all of the modern world is an example of this, though I would argue it’s a cult-ure primarily oriented from a Pre-Healing foundation.

What does a Post-Healing intentional community look, feel and sound like?

From a meta perspective, Life itself is a Post-Healing intentional community. But Tucker, the human with wants and needs, desires something smaller and more concrete he can raise his family in, like a place-based land project celebrating regenerative values by living regenerative lives, meaning everything we do is in the service of Love expressing itself, which inherently is regenerative in the sense that it’s recognizing that what we are, at our core, can never be destroyed. The Awareness that is aware of This is constantly in a process of regeneration, for Something is always changing which reveals Nothing that is unchanging. When this is deeply experienced, Death itself is never not Here, which means we’re being reborn every moment, which means every moment is our birthday, which means we can celebrate every moment as if it’s our literal, metaphorical and metaphysical Birth Day.

So what would a Post-Healing intentional community look like that celebrates every day as Birth Day?

What do we do when we celebrate someone’s birthday? We do what we can to make them feel so deeply loved: buy them gifts, bake them cakes, sing them songs, show up together to celebrate the sheer fact that they’re alive.

What if we looked at all of Life as constantly in a state of Birth Daying? Could we continuously show up with overflowing cups of love as we celebrate, serve and surrender to the beauty of Birth and the inevitability of always-present Death?

Can we take no moment for granted, including the moments that we take for granted?

Is this vision Utopian? Do you want it to be? If you want it to be, then it can be, and then it will seem far away and always out of reach. That is your choice.

I feel this vision right now, as I’m writing it. So for me, it’s not Utopian. It’s Reality. Except when I remember that it’s “just” a vision, and suddenly there’s separation again, a sense of an experience that is here but also not, close but also gone. That’s why I want you, my friend, to come join me in communion with community, so we can remind each other of Home, that feeling you have when there’s no place in the entire Universe that you’d rather be than right here, right now.

Home is where my heart is. Home is the Dream that I dream to dream.

Let’s build a Home, together, and call it that which it already is: a Dream come True.

May it be so.

Tucker

Art by Sustrans Showcase

Coming soon…

In Part 2, we’ll explore how Post-Healing communities can embrace, support and celebrate a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences including those operating from various places on their healing journeys while maintaining a strong foundation in a Post-Healing culture.

In Part 3, we’ll investigate how a Post-Healing ethos and structure can apply to transformaing our ecological and societal systems in the larger world.

Resources

  1. This vision was in-part inspired by a brilliant essay called “The Three Journeys” by Aviv Shahar and Kyriaki Nikandrou. Coming soon: A Portals conversation with Aviv, myself and others where we explore our Three Journeys stories.
  2. The Neverending Healing Journey” podcast on Life As A Festival exploring some of that traps of contemporary Healing culture.
  3. There are many ways to frame Post-Healing. Bill Plotkin has his own map around Soul Initiation. Richard Rohr explores “the second half of life.” Marc Gafni discusses Pre-Tragic, Tragic, Post-Tragic. Dick Swartz and Internal Family Systems refer to operating from the Larger Self. Dr. Tom Habib has a map for relationships where Post-Healing could be referred to as beginning at First Love (Stage 4). They’re all distinctly unique and, perhaps, pointing to a similar essence.

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Tucker Walsh

Tucker is a lighthouse for Spirit and travel guide for Soul helping to navigate the miracle of Life through storytelling, ceremony and celebration.