Wanderlust

I have been waiting for a shift, and over the weekend the sweet Mama finally delivered. 

“Finally” implies I was waiting impatiently; I’ve left alone my exaggerated diction as it is quite frankly the truth. I was growing impatient. I felt, deep in my being, how desperately I awaited the shift. A slightly unnerving sensation, considering I didn’t know the capacity in which I would be shifted. I just knew something was coming. Something needed to come. Something had to come.

I left this past Wednesday for Wanderlust. Familiar? For those who aren’t, it’s basically Disneyland for yogis. Wanderlust is a delicious festival, a powerful conscious collective, held high in the mountains. Actually, it’s held in a handful of places throughout the nation. The festie I attend is in Squaw Valley, California. If you’ve never been to Tahoe, let me tell you that place is laced with magic. There’s a sparkle in the soil, the sky is wider there, gargantuan really. The mountainsides look like the nature scenes from movie sets, so perfect and picturesque. The air is sacred, the water healing. Squaw Valley has an air of magic that is reminiscent to that of what I experienced in Maui; though the two places are completely different. It’s just one of those spaces in which everything is held, high up in the mountains, closer to God.

So I left Wednesday, after my college internship orientation for nutrition school. I’d been planning to drive up with a friend, but close to the last minute plans changed and I discovered I was to be driving up solo. My instinctual reaction was surprising; it was fear. Fear! How would I navigate myself, alone, all the way to this far away place? Through the foothills, over the summit, into the mountains themselves? I’d been so many times in my life, but never in the driver seat. How would I get there in one piece?

Truly my reaction is comical. It was then and it is now. I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of not knowing how that would look. How would I do it? Could I stay awake? Could I manage the directions? Could I find parking? I was amused by the time I left home. I settled cozily into a reflective state as I drove up, left foot propped against the dashboard, window cracked and a grin splitting my face like I was indeed heading to Disneyland. I felt suddenly on the very precipice of something monumental, and I hadn’t the slightest clue what was in store for me…

Needless to say I made it to Squaw in one piece. I was smiling. I even managed to stop halfway to pee and dance around and then find the freeway again without any trouble. I couldn’t help but think to myself, Who am I?! When I pulled up the parking was a laugh. Dozens of free spaces right in front of the village. By the way, we stayed in the village. Like, on top of the village. I imagine it took a whole 78 seconds to get from the condo to the cobblestones, and I’d walk out the doors directly into the festival. No transit time whatsoever. Such a prime location was likely the only thing that could make such a magical experience even more magical. 

My Tribe awaited me when I arrived. An intimate group of us shared the gorgeous condo over the ensuing four days, and debauchery of all kinds transpired…okay I’m totally joking. No debauchery of any kind went on, I just wanted to say that… 😉 Well, no true debauchery at least. I never went to bed past 11:30pm, as we had early mornings every day, and had the pleasure of sharing a king sized fluffy ski chalet bed with my sista in the master bedroom. Rough life, I know!

The whole weekend was a series of laughing, cooking, eating, sleeping, practicing, practicing more, hiking, practicing more, volunteering, running to and from the room, eating and cooking more, laughing even more, occasionally showering, shopping too much, getting dirty, getting rained on, practicing more yoga, making a mess of our condo, cleaning up after one another, holding one another, dancing with one another, getting annoyed with one another, sleeping beside one another and getting to deeply know one another. It was utter bliss.

There’s always a sensation of letdown, post Lust. I had it last year. I have it again this year. But something is wildly different this year. Last year I mourned the end of our journey, I was sad to be away from the magic, as though I had to be there to experience it…as though I had to be physically living with the Tribe to be immersed in it…this year is different. Very different.

I drove home solo, which was an exquisitely appropriate bookend to this trip that was spent surrounded by anywhere from two to 2,000 people at any given time. Sharing a space with five to seven others, over the course of four nights. The time driving home was so indescribably valuable to me, I reflected and processed, mostly in the silence of my own thoughts, radio off. I had so much to sift through, so much to relive, so much to cement to memory, so much already coursing through my cellular matrix, now a part of my DNA.

I realized something, in the wake of the whirlwind that is Wanderlust. I realized that, despite being surrounded by love and lovely people for the whole of the experience, I had embarked on a profoundly intimate journey with myself. It all began with the solo drive up to the mountains. Funny how such a seemingly insignificant alteration in plans could have such a resounding effect. Something so minor as not having a passenger opened me up to this grand space of possibility. Aloneness with my Self, my own thoughts, the whisperings of my sweet mind.

So often we’re bombarded with the outpouring of the needs, wants and desires of others. Attending to this is important; we are here in large part to be of service. But in equal measure we need to attend to our own solitude, imagination, time spent conversing soul to mind. That’s what I was given, Wednesday evening, and again yesterday evening. I pulled onto the road in the misty rain left behind by a thunder storm, the very booming Grace that had chased us up the mountain on our one last hike before departing. The drive was long but, again, I spent the majority of it wrapped intimately up in my own thoughts. Like two lovers tangled in bedsheets, my mind and my spirit tousled in the Wanderlust aftermath. 

I realized I had been very mindful with my prana, my life force. I had contained my energy carefully. By this I mean I broke my routine completely, but still managed to get (close to) enough sleep, to nourish myself deeply with filtered water and home-cooked, organic, plant-based food, keep my daily practices, find space for time to breathe with just myself. I was vigilant with my energy; I chose what I wanted to do, regardless of the herd, and went for it. I made decisions based on my inner guide, my intuitive knowing, rather than being swayed by what everyone else was doing. I dressed up and walked through the village beneath the starry canopy alone some nights, smiling at strangers. I danced without regard for anything but the sacred feeling of my feet on the earth, the air on my skin, the music in my veins. I danced with my friends but not with any strangers. I politely edged away from unwanted attention and passionately engaged with the intoxicating energy of new friends and welcomed interactions. I left the nightly concerts abruptly, as though my internal alarm had chimed. I kept a key on me at all times so I could come and go as I pleased. I was free, liberated, I wanted utterly for nothing.

I spent a great deal of time with my beautiful friends, as well. We hugged and cuddled and laughed and goaded one another. I got to know some of the people I already called friends on such a deep level that they are irrevocably family to me now. My heart split wide open with love for my guru, my teachers, my fellow yogis. I participated, solo from my group, in a practice called Seeds of Change. It was led by Seane Corn and a series of other teachers and gurus. I get chills just writing about it. I very nearly (and I mean very nearly) didn’t attend; I was wanting to hike the mountain, but for fear of the thunderous, threatening sky, decided to listen to my deeper intuition and stick with my teacher, Seane Corn. I knew, intuitively, how powerful this would be; and yet, I had absolutely no idea…

I could write a whole other essay on what those 90 minutes held, so for today I will just tell you it was life-altering. Gurmukh, world famous yoga teacher and guru, closed the practice with a healing meditation for world peace. It split me open. Actually, I felt the crack begin very early on, from Seane’s words alone. As Suzanne Sterling led us through a powerful dance complete with chanting and jumping, shouting “RISE UP RISE UP RISE UP” I felt the gurgle from below…the threatening of tears…Shakti alive and uncoiling. When it came time for the healing, I could barely breathe the mantra for crying. Sobbing, really. With mantra and mudra, sitting in a circle of 500 yogis, we healed those who lay in the center of the circle. Then, as it felt right, we would go and lay in the circle ourselves. There were always some of us holding space, forming the circle and repeating the healing mantra, and the vulnerability of laying in the center space, offering up whatever needed healing was so raw and unconditional that it brought me to my knees. People lay convulsing in tears, encircled by us all, their chanting brothers and sisters. We prayed for peace, for healing, for resolution and for clarity. We sent healing vibrations to one another and out into the world, pointedly and generally, round after round. I left the practice on shaky feet, needing desperately to be alone. I circled the festival, my floppy hat tugged low and my sunglasses on, needing space with my Self…to integrate and process what had just happened to my spirit.

That is where I would pin the climax of the shift as having taken place. It all began with my drive home, culminated in the tear-stained slipstream of Seeds of Change, and rested in my palms, fully complete, as I descended the wet mountain roads in the late afternoon of a rainy Sunday. I felt a bubble of joy ripple through me as I journeyed home yesterday. Butterflies. Despite the melancholy of the magic ending, I felt positively giddy to be heading home to my world, my life, my everyday, with no one to live the moment-to-moment with but my most favorite person…my unconditional, tireless companion…me.

I felt, for the very first time in my life, a new level of fervency for life with myself. Not a shred of neediness. Not a thread of clinginess. Not even an iota of needing. I felt so whole, so complete, so utterly one with myself that it was as though I’d been sailing along so far at just a fraction of an angle off…and now I’d righted my course. Sailing straight ahead. Onwards and upwards. Fearless and trusting in my ability, my intuition, my inner compass. Welcoming of company and external love, appreciative of community and the warm, adoring vibration of my Tribe, but so very solid and steady on my own. Rooted firmly, unshakeable. A new sensation, as new as the mala hanging ’round my neck. A sensation that found me as Divinely as those mala found me, calling me energetically from yards away. A sensation that crept slowly into my being, straight into the power vortex, infusing my every cell with its potency. A sensation of stability. Solitude. Singleness. An almost other-worldly acknowledgement of how sacred and vital this very moment is, this moment between me, myself and I. This moment that is no longer reliant on physically being alone, but is rather bottled up inside of me. A holy experience that I now embody, a shift so massive I could never imagine finding myself on the other side of it again, something Divine to take onwards and into all relationships I have from here on out. The sanctified relationship with myself. A gift I could never have received if not for an open heart.

So, I leave you with that. Whether you are alone, married, have a hundred children or live in a commune…whether you go to Wanderlust or Burning Man or the San Francisco Zoo…whether you’re man or woman or some exquisite combination…keep an open heart. Because an open heart will call you home. It will open the channel for God to come pouring in, for Grace and Divinity and Truth and Love and all things magical and sparkly and DELICIOUS to come seeping into your every cell. An open heart will make you a vessel for the many gifts the Mother has to offer, it will heal and it will fortify. It is the one thing no one can take away and the one thing that will transcend all. So be open. Let the love in. Let the light in. Bottle it up. It’s a sacred concoction and it’s yours to carry, sharing as you will…

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