the new commune
Anyone who’s attended a wellness retreat knows that it’s pricey—destination events can cost upwards of thousands of dollars in order to provide a safe, quality experience. But unfortunately, cost can be a prohibitive barrier to entry for many.
Enter Commune, the affordable, inclusive retreat we’ve been dreaming of. Masterminded by Serge Berliawsky and Amber Lee, the four-day retreat tucked into the Malibu Mountains was meant to unite like minded individuals who wanted to explore multiple aspects of the healing world. “We're weaving together a community of friends who are grounded, creative, spiritually-centered, diverse, and passionate about life,” says Berliawsky.
We sat down with Serge to learn more about the retreat experience—and how we can make the most of the incredible programming they’ve curated.
The name 'Commune' definitely has some interesting connotations! Can you talk about how you settled on the name, and the significance?
We arrived at Commune through the idea of community. And although we pronounce it as if it were a physical commune representative of communal living, the initial idea was the verb, to commune with one another. We're retreating in communion with nature, with music, with ourselves, and one another. There is a sense of shared intimacy between all participants, while going through a spiritual and creative journey of peace, rejuvenation, and inspiration.
It seems that you've gone out of your way to make Commune really accessible to anyone—both geographically, and from a socioeconomic perspective. Tell us more about the ethos behind Commune.
We're about accessibility, and inclusivity. Commune is something we created so that our personal community could attend, as many of those closest to us (and we ourselves) often have a hard time finding the resources to attend retreats. This retreat is a reflection of who we are, what we listen to, who we study with, who we spend time with, and the philosophies we center our lives around.
What can attendants expect to walk away from their experience at Commune with?
Our community can expect to walk away with new experiences, new practices, new listening catalogs, new connections, new friendships, and perhaps new teachers as well. You can learn about the medicinal and magical properties of herbs used to dye your own clothing, you can study Tibetan yoga with a reincarnated female lama, you can laugh with pioneers of New Age music who are now in their 70's, you can dance to the sounds of a radical Ethiopian jazz/funk/folk ensemble. More than anything, expect to walk away with an experience of what living life to the fullest could look like: spiritually, creatively, and communally.
What role does nature play in the Commune experience? How did you select the location?
Mother Nature is our greatest teacher. When we are in the nurturing embrace of the wild, we let our guards down. We are able to access and connect with our authentic self, receive fully the teachings and messages that come into our field, and recharge through the elements that surround us.
We searched for a long time to find a location that was private, set in nature, clean and well-kept, and that also had amenities (swimming pool, water slide) to create a joyous experience for all. Our 500+ acre camp in the Malibu Mountains is just that, and tucked away minutes from Los Angeles
Which offerings are you most excited about?
Laraaji and Iasos are two of the most inspiring musicians and spiritualists alive. These are two respected elders who were pioneers in the new age sound movement in the 1970's and 80's, and whose work is very much alive today.
As a western woman of color recognized and enthroned as a Tulku (reincarnated lama), Pema Khandro Rinpoche's pithy heart advice and teachings on Tibetan Dream Yoga are both esoteric and applicable, socially conscious, and life-changing.
It is a profound honor to have shamana, curandera, and activist, Eda Zavala Lopez from the Peruvian Amazon with us on retreat. Eda brings an ancient knowledge from the Amazon, reminding us to be humble, responsible, and in service to Mother Earth while we are on this planet.
And the musician Orpheo Mccord. From digging into desert grooves with Touaregs on the rooftops of Timbuktu to sessions with Sufi masters in the mountains of Morocco, percussionist, composer and globetrotter Orpheo McCord (member of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes) has traversed a wide musical landscape. Orpheo is presently immersed in resonant percussion and its use in creating music that calms the nervous system, and allows the listener space to go into a meditative state.