“Remain true to yourselves, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and great love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”
It’s early Friday morning at Wanderlust and I’m on the balcony of the Anusara House, centering in my practice and journaling for the workshop I was to co-teach later that day. The Sierra sun had just rounded the corner of Father Pine—huge 30 foot, sweet-smelling giants, with pine cones the size of my open hand—to warm what was chilled mountain shadow just moments ago.
I thrive in the mornings, in my sacred routine of salutation to the day and all it contains…to the reflection of the previous and the sweet moment before unfurling, the space of stillness in open potential for anything.
That morning in particular, my heart was full. Purno ham we chanted together the day before in class with Sianna Sherman and Christopher ‘Hareesh’ Wallis. Purno ham: I am perfect and full exactly as I am now, in this very moment with no need or desire to add or remove any aspect of my being or of my external surroundings. I am full. It was out of this fullness, this overflowing joy that words of inspiration spilled onto an open page, tea in hand.
The heart of what brings us into these experiences of ecstasy and community is a yearning for direct contact with our True selves, a tapping into our unique expression. Tantra teaches us that our ground of being is chit and ananda, consciousness and bliss, inherently free, and full of joy. And that consciousness is ever spiraling and unfolding in co-creative lila – the dance of divine play…
Wanderlust was one big co-creative celebration of that play and I left there four days later with a deep conviction, an embodied resolution that sings my heart awake: I know what I stand for. I know, in radical affirmation, what I will hold onto with all my strength of heart.
It is no secret among this community that we live at a pivotal time in history. On the cusp of releasing fierce individuality, I see optimistically, slowly but surely the lines of separation blur and the empirical forward-moving fires are cooling to a watery synergistic unification. At a point in time where our planet is at capacity, our resources as we operate are on the brink of total exhaustion, and our collective intelligence and communication can either make or break us, we are asked to stand up for what we believe in, to be in community with others working toward the upliftment of all beings.
There is a better way.
Anodea Judith, in Waking the Global Heart, traces the trajectory of humanity’s evolution on the planet in an illuminating and clear meta-historical analysis. She says;
“Relationship is the crucible through which evolution occurs.”
My dear friend Dave Kennedy, a creative visionary and fast-acting community adhesive, orchestrated a group of over 200 volunteers who came together at Wanderlust to create The Anusara Village. In was within this collective, before, during and after the event, in set-up, sustenance, and breakdown that we pushed our individual limits into the strength of synchronicity.
Village Anusara was the container that held a shared vision—one borne of its namesake—a celebration of the heart, life-affirming and proliferating in community.
The large clam-shell tent that would later house yoga classes taught by Sianna Sherman, Elena Brower and musical acts like Hamsa Lila and MC Yogi, was the centerpiece around which art coalesced. O’Shan Tea House, a gorgeous warm-ribboned structure, offered tea libations and grounding conversation, story telling and pillow-time. Giant bamboo tree sculptures lit the way to Team Pine-cone’s largest earth mandala flowing forth from Shiva Nataraj and continuing up the slope were backlit photography boxes that beckoned the wandering observer close. At the top of the hill sat a full walk-through art museum next to a smaller Moroccan-inspired music tent. Around the corner from the clam-shell two more earth mandalas spiraled toward the Kinetic Arts aerial rig across the way from the meditation dome. And that is only a glance at the nectar that pulsed this zone.
To help set-up and break down was a gift. Partly because I truly enjoy working with my hands, diving in under the mountain-scape—art for the sake of art in celebration, but more importantly because being there provided insight into the inner-workings of a group who put heart first. Laughter, friendship, teasing and care were the threads weaving together the synergy of the surface scene (yes and spooning!). Around me some of my sweetest friends old and new offered themselves to me in this dance of evolution and I them.
We go farther together.
I stand for the blessing that is community.
Wanderlust to me is an encouraging glimpse into the future of conscious collaboration. Far from the disembodied, mind-melting, numb-as-can-be status quo festival experience from days past…the shift into music, yoga and nature is a breath of much-needed fresh air.
As a community we are standing up for the highs in life that one can remember the next day, the next year. The magnitude of offerings presented at the festival turned each day into a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Mountainside morning meditations, asana practices, aerial lessons, philosophy talks, music jams, pool parties, hikes, bikes, sushi and social hour, shopping, dancing and art gazing are just skimming the surface of the Wanderlust experience. I applaud the festival organizers for their vision and stand up for health in body, mind and spirit.
“If you have influence, use it to create change, inspiring others to work from the heart…
I’ll be completely honest here. I found myself at Wanderlust in a position of some influence.
This is new. Partly due to the abundant promotion the coordinators offered me, partly because Sianna has welcomed me so thoroughly into her orbit, and partly due to the squishy love-soup that was the result of my yoga community, my burning man community, my spinner community, and my Bay area communities falling into each other, over each other and out of each other at Wanderlust.
However it happened, between teaching workshops, demos in class, and performances at night I had many, many opportunities to show up for and engage with a staggering number of people. I had a witness sense of social responsibility here, of being gifted an opportunity to be heard. What I chose to do with that window was up to me.
“…Let what you love occupy the center of your life. Then take it to the world.”
For me, the hoop has been a potent doorway into the heart and in hot pursuit of the re-presentation of my inner Truth, I have allowed it, encouraged it and ushered it into the center of my life. In turn the hoop has taught me to ride the lines of effort and grace. I am the author of my own novel—I both create the momentum and movement of the hoop and yet surrender to it’s own intelligence—a surrendering that requires tuning in, vimarsa Shakti, in self-reflection.
Truth be told, I have been completely sideswiped by the beauty that is this life, Wanderlust being a Petri dish for further realization. I am astounded in the face of such depth, such rich diversity. In gratitude I realized again that whatever influence I have now or will have later is in service to giving back the affirmations, the radical and empowering acceptance I receive. I know so deeply that what I have to offer is no better or worse than anybody else’s offering. If we were to encourage each other to put what we love in the spotlight of our lives, to be without apology as an example to world, can you imagine the strength and clarity we would have!
Father Richard Rohr says;
“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves.”
I am in the practice of radical self-acceptance. As I am right now. I am in the practice of affirming life. I stand, in humility, for that message.
Saturday night, a few hours before I was to go on the main stage, I pulled out my journal and dedicated the performance to all that has transpired since Wanderlust 2009. Tracing back the web lines in all directions, I unpacked the Russian dolls, one gift nesting inside the other, one step on the ladder supported by the last. My list grew longer and longer and my heart filled until the seed of the experience became ineffable – without words.
Amidst the chaos of the stage transition between Yard Dogs and Bassnectar, as stage hands swept sticky confetti from the floor and the crowd, sensing something, directed their gaze to the front, I felt my heart beating, nervous and fast now, my prayer whirling and circling…
My music came on, I danced…
Across the way, in the Anusara Village, three very special people, three of my teachers, whom I have to thank for so much, led a fireside chat on Tantra. The Kula, the Anusara community (as I imagine them), sat around Sianna, John, and Hareesh as they took their seat and spoke their message of influence. Tantra teaches us to live in integration, our spiritual lives and practices are inlaid with those of everyday tasks. Our teachers come in every form if we open long enough to receive. I’ve learned that the heart of what brings us into these experiences of ecstasy and community is a yearning for direct contact with our True selves, a tapping into our unique expression.
“Open to the Grand Mystery. When you are open, you do not filter your experience.”
When our experiences are raw, and fully felt, what we walk away with, stronger than vulnerability, stronger than the I-Am statements that crowd our mind-space, stronger than the fear of to-be, is a profound stillness in the eye of the storm. Purno ham. We are full. On the last day in Village Anusara we closed out the experience with a Give Love celebration. 200 people danced that message alive and innumerable more left Monday morning to pollinate their communities with the light shining free of filter, barricade and wall.
I left Wanderlust, soft and smiling, with a deeper understanding of what I want to hold onto with all my strength of heart, and where, under no circumstances, will I settle for less.
Radical self-acceptance, the blessing and strength in community, the gift of giving and receiving love and an open window into that space that is always over-flowing, ever-full and radiant in its perfection.