A decision to leave the world most of us are used to for a life devoted to chanting and meditation may seem like a radical choice. But it is not as uncommon as you might think.
More than 600 intentional communities exist in the United States, and about half of them are centered around spiritual values, according to the directory published by the Fellowship for Intentional Community, a networking organization for such communities in the U.S. and Canada.
Most intentional communities coalesce around an overriding idea: to foster spiritual growth, to live as lightly as possible on the earth, or to cultivate a culture of sharing (sharing resources, responsibility, and power). The sanctuary and strength of purpose of a specific community can feel like the perfect answer to someone seeking to radically deepen a commitment to a spiritual path or a social ideal. Still, whether you ever consider such a step probably depends as much on your circumstances as on your desires. And though most people never move into an ashram or join a commune, some communities, such as increasingly popular "cohousing" developments, are making the decision easier by blending socially progressive values with life in the everyday modern world.