Every once in a while, a friend, acquaintance, or stranger will remark that my outfit or style makes it seem that I’m on my way to some sort of music festival… to which I will usually reply with a smile that “my life is a festival.”
Several years ago, I had been struggling with my sense of self-identity and purpose after grieving the unexpected passing of my grandmother and ending an unhealthy long-term relationship. I was oblivious to the life-changing experience I was about to embark on when a couple of friends swept me away to Lucidity at Live Oak Campground, only 45 minutes away from my home in Santa Barbara.
To call this event a music festival does not do it an inch of justice. Transformational festivals like Lucidity are enhanced through seminars, workshops, ceremonies, art exhibitions and installations, yoga and movement classes, and other immersive transcendental experiences that embrace personal growth to community building and our relationship to the Earth. The ethos embodies that, in expanding our individual consciousness, we can unite in community awareness, and develop into global sensibility to better our future for our species and planet.
As individuals awake from their daydreaming and become conscious, these countercultural movements are becoming increasingly prevalent across the country and throughout the world: Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) in California, Sonic Bloom in Colorado, Envision in Costa Rica, Fusion Festival in Germany, Shambala Gathering in Canada, or Cosmic Convergence in Guatemala. The list goes on and on!
Here are some metamorphic lessons I have accumulated from my otherworldly experiences and how you can apply the soul-quenching practices to your life:
You do you, Boo
One of my mottos in life is to be unapologetically yourself. We are all wildly unique in innumerable ways. At transformational festivals, you’ll find a community that thrives on personal expression and inclusivity. To discover ourselves and be accepted and loved for our oneness is precious. Therefore, not only is it critical to be accepting of ourselves but of others as well. Although I may not always understand other people’s choices or behaviors, I strive to be loving and accepting of them. As long as they are not hurting themselves or others, who am I to judge?
At first, self-expression may feel strange or uncomfortable to some. Especially if someone has been taught to seek acceptance or validation from external sources.
If you are struggling with self-identity or want to understand yourself better, here are a few ways to heighten your awareness of self:
- Reflect and write down your values and morals
- Prioritize alone time to connect with yourself
- Utilize a habit tracker or journal to trail patterns in your thoughts & behaviors
- Counseling or therapy can increase mindfulness and self-esteem
- Join some classes, workshops, or meetup groups on zoom
- Try something new to get out of your comfort zone (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!)
Living to meet others expectations will never bring us fulfillment. Empower yourself to go down the rabbit hole that is your heart. When we pursue our passions, it brings us fulfillment and joy. When we do activities that we truly enjoy, it attracts like-minded individuals who can become life-long friends (Still possible- met one of my close friends on zoom!) When we live in authenticity, it brings a balance of fervor and serenity. Remember, this is a lifelong journey of self-discovery. So the never-ending question is, who are you and what tickles your fancy?
Play with your Inner Child
Blowing iridescent bubbles as the wind blows them up into the sky, the thrill of riding a bike down a steep hill, or playing in the cool sprinklers on a sunny day. Activities like these connect us to the free-spirited nature of our childhood. As adults, we have responsibilities like school, rent, bills, etc. that can be stressful. Transformational festivals are an opportunity to escape into a land of care-free laughter and exploration. FestX Awards even bestowed Lucidity as the best family-friendly festival of 2018 (children under the age of 12 get in free!) It’s not uncommon to hear the distinct high-pitched laugh of a child or see them wiggling their little booties to the music. We can learn a lot from these groovy youngsters:
- to laugh uncontrollably
- color outside the lines
- be curious
- live in the moment
- go on adventures (safely, with social distancing measures!)
- believe in magic
Keep in mind, there’s an enormous difference between being youthful and immature. Acting childish can be stimulating and fun, but there’s a time and place for it. After sitting at the computer accumulating zoom fatigue, you’re likely to find me taking a break by dancing (oftentimes while blowing bubbles) on my patio or playing with my hula hoop or other flow toys at the park.
Harmonize your work and play so you don’t slip ‘n slide into frivolous irresponsibility.
Express your Creativity
There are few events that inspire as much creativity in me as a festival. The mind-blowing art installations, enlightening seminars, soul-quenching live music, and the sea of kaleidoscopic ensembles and costumes. Sometimes I become almost unrecognizable under the adornments of glitter, face paint, and brightly colored garments. The creative process of producing these costumes inspires elation as I anticipate the festivities. Although, I have learned that creativity is not limited to artistry. Rather, it is something born in the imagination and intelligently translated into our lives. Creativity can take the form of a:
- witty joke
- synchronized dance
- problem-solving idea
- slick sports strategy
- ground-breaking invention
Focusing on creative pursuits safely during this ongoing global pandemic can be fulfilling, rewarding, and stress relieving.
Wherever there is resourcefulness, ingenuity, vision, or experimentation, there is creativity. After returning home, I utilize my experience to invoke further innovative pursuits to better my life for myself and the world. How do you or can you perceive the world in new ways to express your hidden creative genius?
Connect with the Earth
One of the most vital aspects of transformational festivals is the opportunity to connect with nature. The campgrounds and festivities of these events are usually set up in wilderness locations. Throughout the festival, there are seminars, workshops, and ceremonies celebrating the earth through spiritual means, plant medicine, sustainability efforts, and restoration of ecological systems. Most importantly, the organizers understand the environmental burdens of large scale festivals and encourage participants to follow Leave No Trace (pack it in, pack it out) and Leave it Better (give-back service) policies to ensure the land used has a minimal amount of impact as possible. Back at home, there are a plethora of ways that we can unite with the environment:
- Exercise outdoors: swim in the ocean, walk or jog along the beach, hike in the mountains, yoga in the park
- Plant a garden or acquire some house plants that you can nurture and watch grow
- Enjoy a sunrise, sunset, or discover some constellations while stargazing
- Frequent farmer’s markets: buy beautiful, local produce and reduce fossil fuel emissions from shipping (plus, you’re supporting local farmers!)
- Find out how you can volunteer with COVID-19 safety measures with environmental organizations and nonprofits
How are you an Earth steward by intensifying your love affair with nature?
Lucidity was my first transformational festival and the adventure was catalytic to my self-discovery. My butterfly costume was fitting to the metamorphosis I was experiencing as I felt a new-found peace within myself. I found myself mesmerized by the light shows of flow toys as eccentric festival characters danced to the musical vibrations. My consciousness expanded as I listened to the possible solutions of defending our Earth from global climate change. I threw my inhibitions away as I joined platonic cuddle puddles with friends I hadn’t met yet. Since then, I have continued to explore these ethereal landscapes in order to increase my individualism and awareness of the impact I have on my community and the environment.
When I venture back to ‘the real world’, I integrate my experiences and the lessons I have learned into my daily life. The festival may amplify my consciousness, but it is my responsibility to continue to revolutionize my thoughts and behaviors to bring psychedelic magic into the seemingly mundane or frustrating aspects of life. During these difficult times in light of the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus, it is especially important to harness these cathartic teachings. Therefore, I implore you to explore how you can traverse, amplify, and elevate yourself to make your life a transformative festival too.