I came to Ajijic, Mexico for all the right reasons. I was looking for a place to retire that was affordable, had a great climate, access to good healthcare, and a nearby international airport. I also wanted to find a thriving ex-pat community that is actively involved with the host culture. The small village of Ajijic (pronounced a-he-heek) located on Lake Chapala just south of Guadalajara, met all of these criteria.
What I did not know, and was delighted to find out, is that Ajijic is also a Mecca for those who are interested in finding a spiritual community of kindred spirits.
Paramhansa Yogananda, the highly regarded Indian teacher of yoga and meditation, visited Lake Chapala the summer of 1929. During his time there Yogananda proclaimed that this area would one day be the site of a major spiritual awakening and he was inspired to write a poem “Ode to Lake Chapala.” This iconic photo taken of Yogananda on Lake Chapala is widely associated with Yogananda’s prayer, “God’s Boatman.”
Indeed, there are numerous spiritual organizations in the Lake Chapala region, including The Center for Spiritual Living, The Heart of Awareness Insight Meditation Community, and two Course in Miracles Communities: Living Miracles located in the town of Chapala and Namaste in the village of Ajijic. The Lake Chapala Society also hosts an Open Circle event every Sunday in which invited speakers often cover topics related to self-improvement.
Namaste is the brain child of New York Times best-selling author and singer-songwriter-musician James Twyman. This living-community is founded on the principals of non-dual spirituality which teaches the experience of oneness. It has attracted a vibrant group of some 30 on-site residents, mostly retirees who are drawn to experiencing a spiritual retirement community that offers a dynamic experience in the concept of aging in place. Lately the community has been attracting more young people, digital nomads who desire a more contemplative and communal lifestyle.
Dwellings consist of tiny homes, ranging in size from 300 – 600 square feet. Communal meals are served five days a week. Daily satsang sessions allow residents, visitors, and those who live-off site to come together for meditation, sharing and music. A variety of book study groups and classes are offered throughout the week.
While Covid restrictions have required that the community limit some of its activities to the public, there are still ways to participate on line with its founder James Twyman and other invited teachers.
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–Susanne Sims, March 17, 2020