The Trust Challenge

When I had nothing left, no more ideas, no more options, no way out of the current situation. The only thing I could do was trust in the present moment. Trust that my current situation would pass. This trust allowed me to surrender fully. I released all worry and doubt.

It was on a trip back from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation in northern California to my home in Iowa City, IA that I hit a massive snow storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had just driven across Wyoming; the vast skyline views, mountains, and the open road when the weather quickly changed to cloudy and cool. Rain began to fall. I was only a couple of hours from the Nebraska border when the rain turned to sleet and finally snow. The view of the open road became more and more limited to the space directly in front of my vehicle. I chose to get off the interstate and take highways. I often choose to do this when the weather gets bad as I can drive significantly slower and not have semis whizzing by.

Wyoming
Taken during my drive through Wyoming.

It didn’t take long for a thick, slippery blanket of white to cover the beautiful scenery and the road. I was moving along at a mere 25 mph and sliding around like a monkey in socks on an ice rink. I had watched the weather progress as I had watched my anxiety and worry gain traction while my tires could not. I couldn’t pull over on these back roads as I would not be able to drive forward if I stopped, and even if I chose to stop it was freezing outside so I’d need to leave my car running. How long would this storm continue? Would I have enough gas to get me through the night and the next day? Choosing to take highway over interstate may have been safer but I was driving through a Native American Reservation area and there were no hotels or gas stations. On top of all of this my cell phone lost signal, so IF I did stop I’d have no way to let anyone know where I was. I was out of options. I was out of ideas. Like time ticking forward, I continued to inch along.

There were two ways I could continue. I could allow my worry and anxiety to consume me or I could surrender to the moment. Although at a slow crawl, I was still moving forward. I am an optimist at heart, sometimes to my own foolishness. Having just spent a month at yoga school I was well practiced in not allowing my feelings to get the best of me. Ever the observer. Instead of choosing to press onward in a space of worry and fear I chose to press onward from a place of calmness and trust in the powers that be. To help me along with this, I prayed out loud and proud. I told my higher power that I needed a way out. I needed somewhere safe that I could park and somewhere warm I could sleep for the night. I needed to know it when I saw it AND I only had fifty dollars to spare, so if it was a hotel it’d need to be cost effective. I laid it out and let it go and then just kept moving forward, inch-by-inch. I focused on the few feet in front of me that I could see, and I breathed deeply and audibly, releasing my tension as I went. This wasn’t easy, but still I pressed onwards.

blizzard
Image taken from my room window.

Two hours later…. out of the blank white canvas, twinkling lights began to appear. It was a sign. Not just a figurative sign, but a literal sign. It was a casino sign with flashing lights. “THANK YOU DIVINE MOTHER!” Relief filled my body and I hollered as loud as I could as I pulled into the packed parking lot. One way or another I was going to stay here. I parked and headed inside through the brutal winds. The man at the front desk informed me the rooms were a minimum of $175 a night, but unfortunately they were all booked. I took a long, deep breath. This didn’t make sense. I was fully trusting and I felt deeply that this was where I was supposed to be. I asked, “Do you have any rooms available? Perhaps one that is under repair? I don’t need much. I’d sleep in the lobby if you’d let me.” The man sighed and gave a kind, pitying smile. He searched on his computer. Lo and behold! “I do have a king bed room but the TV isn’t working.”

“I’ll take it!” I exclaimed, but a moment of concern passed through me. “How much?”

“I’ll discount it due to the TV, so that’d bring it to $54 after taxes and fees.”

Grateful, grateful, grateful.

If you’re going to live your life based on delusions (and you are, because we all do), then why not at least select a delusion that is helpful.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This story is entirely true and is a reminder to me to trust and surrender to the flow of life. I may not always know the why or how of a situation, but with trust none of that matters. With trust I am able to surrender to my higher power. Maybe for you that is God or the natural flow of the Universe; for me it is the energy that lives inside me and the energy that lives all around. This energy is the comforting embrace of my Divine Mother and the steadfast power of my Divine Father.

Surrender is the most powerful feeling I have ever experienced. There is love in surrender, and there is peace and stillness too. So I remind myself to trust in my beliefs, to trust in my experiences, and to trust in my own intuition.

Part V of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is Trust. Trust in your creativity, your inspiration. Trust in your higher power, your belief system, yourself. Trust in your practices, your body, your mind. Trust in time. This too shall pass. You will come out the other side a new version of yourself. More resilient, stronger, and with a new level of faith in the powers that be.

What other option do we have? Succumb to the worry and anxiety which only create more worry and anxiety? Which only lead to clouded judgement, unease, and uncertainty? Pardon my language, but FUCK THAT.

parvatasana
Parvatasana (Seated Mountain Pose) “My thoughts and energy rise up to touch the sky.”

The last couple of days have been very difficult for me. I’m sure many of you can relate. I have passed through waves of contentment and waves of worry and angst during this strange new world. It has been painful and dark, but I refuse to give into it. Yes it’s there. Yes it doesn’t feel good. Yes I wish it wasn’t there, but how do I continue? I return to what I have been practicing. My yoga and meditation practice isn’t just for the good times. The times where my life is going smoothly and I have Peace in my heart. I practice at these contented times so that when shit hits the fan I have something that will anchor me. So I practice. I put my body into postures that will relieve physical tension thus releasing mental tension. I chant or sing. I pray and speak to my higher power throughout the day conversationally. The way I see it is that in my dark times I wish to feel my higher power at all times, so I talk casually to It keeping it around, keeping It near. I meditate and create deep levels of stillness that I fill, later, with Divine Joy and Peace through expansion practices and joy practices.

 

 

Positive Thinking
A wise dog will forever remind me to think positively ❤

I found this section of the book to come at the perfect time. Reading about trust in my creative process helped me to explore trust in all aspects of my life. Things are uncertain, and now more than ever we must trust in the process. We don’t get to know why this is happening or exactly how it is happening. To trust in these circumstances we must surrender. Cease resistance. I understand this is difficult, but breathe into the experience of what is. Stay present in the discomfort. It does not control you. YOU control you. You are the observer of the self. Your body may go through phases of releasing chemicals in your brain that make you feel anxious, worried, and afraid. You are not these feelings. You are the observer of them. Remain steadfast in this knowledge and trust in the process that is happening.

Here are some resources to assist you in surrender, trust, and expansion.

Surrender Practice: Please enjoy this practice with Betsy Rippentrop, owner of Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, IA on Lessening Anxiety Through Surrender.

Trust Practice: This chant has been one that I have been returning to again and again over the last couple of days: “From Joy I came, from Joy I live, in sacred Joy I melt again.” If you would like to learn about how to chant effectively click here.

Expansion Practice:

Expanding Circles

from

The Sky and Earth Touched Me

  1. Find a quiet place to sit where you have a panoramic view and also an interesting foreground. For example, sit where there are flowers and grasses and perhaps a shrub close by, trees a little farther away, and a hill, mountain ridge, or expansive prairie in the distance.
  2. Sitting comfortably, close the eyes and become aware of your body. Listen to the sounds of life around you- far away- and nearby
  3. Open your eyes and extend your awareness just a few feet beyond your body to the nearby grasses, pebbles, and insects. Try to feel that you are in everything you see as much as you are in your own body. Feel yourself moving in and becoming alive in the natural world around you. Continue this for a minute or so. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to what is before you.
  4. Extend your awareness farther to include the nearby shrubs and trees- twenty to thirty feet away. Breathe and relax. Allow your attention to flow spontaneously, from the closest grasses and pebbles to the nearest trees. Feel that everything you see is part of you.
  5. Continue expanding your visual awareness in gradual stages. Fifty yards- a hundred yards- to the distant scenery- into the vast blue sky. All the while, keep the awareness of yourself in what is closest to you, as well as all the way out to the distant view and sky. Let your awareness flow freely and naturally to whatever interests you. Feel inside yourself the sky, trees and waving grasses.

Practice Expanding Circles for as long as you feel inspired. For your first time, try the exercise for 10-15 minutes.

Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.

-Pastor Rob Bell

I recognize the discomfort within myself and the similar discomfort in all of us. In that sense, we are in this together. This isn’t happening to us, this is happening for us. Don’t surrender to the darkness: anxiety, worry, dread. Surrender to the light: trust, joy, peace, and love. Breathe deep and know this truth. Time is ticking by, this too shall pass. Accept this experience for what it is and grow into it. Just like in that snow storm, I could only focus on the few feet in front of me. We all must focus on what is directly in front of us, inching along, until we get to safety. Breathe.

May you always see the Light within,

Em<3

Persist, Devote, Keep at it: Bhakti Bird

On a sunny day in April 2015 I was sitting in a Pranayama (life-force control) class my first time at The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation. I had been meditating and deepening my practice for two weeks and had another two to go. I was working towards my 200-hour Yoga Certification. In this moment my attention was on my breath. As I inhaled I observed my belly expand and as I exhaled I kept my attention on my belly relaxing back into my body. My mind was quiet, my body was still. Tap, Tap, Tap, my focused-mind softened. Tap, Tap, Tap. I was becoming distracted. Tap, Tap, Tap. I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened my eyes and looked to where the noise was coming from. I noticed a couple of other students do the same. What we saw was a robin sitting on the outside window sill. Tap, Tap, Tap. He was tapping his little beak against the window pane and pulling us away from our breathing techniques. Tap, Tap, Tap. Before long everyone and the teacher were looking toward the window. The teacher walked to the window and tapped back trying to shoo the bird away. It left only for a moment and returned just as the teacher walked back to the front of the class. Tap, Tap, Tap. “It seems you will all be challenged today; devote to your practice no matter the outside circumstance,” our teacher said. For days this sweet bird returned again and again during our class time. The second day I made a joke about how Bhakti (Sanskrit for Devotion) Bird was there to help us all gain mental strength over distraction.

Garudasana 2015
Garudasana (Eagle Pose) at Crystal Hermitage Gardens in Ananda Village 2015. “At the center of life’s storms I stand serene.”

I still think of Bhakti Bird whenever I am faced with distraction or resistance. That first day that I was distracted by this small creature and its small sound, I had allowed that sound to cause resistance (lack of focus) during my meditation. The responsibility does not lie on the bird. I am the only one responsible for my mind, my thoughts, and where they go. The second day, the day our feathery friend received its name, I discovered that by switching my perspective I could own my responsibility. That sound wasn’t happening to my meditation. It was happening for my meditation. Anytime I heard the Tap, Tap, Tap I was reminded to stay devoted to the present, to my practice. I swear that bird was a Yogi reincarnated and an intuitive one at that! Every time my mind wandered good ol’ Bhakti Bird would get me back to the task at hand.

Part IV of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, is Persistence. Take a moment to remember a time when you persisted on something. Perhaps it was in high school striving for a certain grade or athletic standing. Maybe a time at work when you were focused on getting that promotion or raise. Perhaps in meditation, returning to the practice again and again. This past week I persisted to clean up our yard by raking the leaves. A minor comparison, but it took me 8 hours. I don’t think it had been raked in years! (We rent.)

Once you’ve thought about that moment of persistence hold onto the feeling. You were focused on a goal and you worked at it until you either accomplished it, lost interest, or did not succeed. Notice I do not say failed here, because there is no failure in devoting yourself to something. Dedicate yourself to the creative process not the creative product. I would argue that your creativity is in everything you do, but if you disagree then look at it as dedicating yourself to the process not the product.

When we persist at anything we will always find resistance. Think back to that same memory of persistence. What circumstances or people did you have to overcome? Those moments of resistance are where you were able to practice persistence. For my example of raking the leaves the wind was my biggest foe, but don’t worry I overcame and completed my task!

paschimotanasana
Paschimotanasana- Posterior Stretching Pose “I am safe. I am sound. All good things come to me; they give me peace!” https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/seated-forward-bend

Let’s take resistance more literal. Have a seat on the floor and put your legs out in front of you. Inhale and draw the hands out and around and up over head. As you exhale slowly bring the hands to the top of the legs and begin to bend forward. Stop at the first point of resistance. Now breathe into it and experience the physical sensation of resistance. Inhale and visualize space in the area that is resisting, and exhale try to relax that area and move deeper into the stretch. Persist for 1-3 minutes, moving deeper through relaxation not through force.

We can apply this persistence/ resistance to current events. This, for many, is a stressful time. Stress is resistance. Think back to that distracting Bhakti Bird. I changed my perspective and it made all the difference. If you are finding yourself in a dark place and feeling overwhelmed by stress try changing your perspective. A TedTalk changed my entire outlook on stress. Check it out here. Joy practices are another great way to get you out of a funk and in a better headspace. Joy practices are anything that makes you feel joyful and peaceful. Examples include: nature walks, physical exercise, dancing, laughing, gardening, cooking, cleaning, fishing, etc. Try to do one a day! If you’d like a fun nature exercise suitable for children, adults, solo, or for the family check out Journey to the Heart of Nature, click here.

Persistence is a relatable topic in our everyday lives, in our creative lives, and in our spiritual lives (remember this is a yoga blog 😉 So whatever your facing today, in this moment, remember the wise words of Ms. Gilbert:

..devotional discipline is the best approach. Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that– whatever the outcome– you have traveled a noble path.

Perseverance
Affirmation for Perseverance; AKA persistence

As I mentioned before, Bhakti is Sanskrit for Devotion. I think devotion and persistence are one in the same. I have found, in these trying times, that keeping myself focused on something, anything, helps me feel sane. I have devoted myself to this blog, to raking the leaves, to my daily yoga and meditation practice. I have persisted to keep my space, our home, tidy as this helps me to have a tidy mind. I have devoted myself to exploring my spiritual practice through lots of nature adventures, new yoga practices, and reading yoga related books and materials. I strive everyday to see my God reflected in everything that I do and every creature that I see. This has been the deepest practice of all. If I can love my Higher Power through my loved ones then I am not only connecting to the deepest part of them but I am also connecting to the deepest part of my own reality. Above all I have been trying to devote myself to the light within. That light is in every living thing and finding it outside of myself only adds to my spiritual experience. Am I trying to reach enlightenment? Perhaps in some lifetime. For now, I am more focused on my current well-being and the well-being of the people around me.

Devotion is not mere sentiment; it is heartfelt commitment to something or someone.

-Ananda Sangha Worldwide

No matter what your devotion or persistence is directed towards; opening your heart center or chest can help you to open to your practice of devotion. Try this Heart Opening Yoga Routine with Melody, one of my teachers from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation.

Another way to encourage the center of feeling is through chanting. Check out four chants here. I especially enjoy “When I Awake” sung in the recording by Swami Kriyananda, founder of the Ananda Village and my yoga school.

alter
Having an alter helps me to have a space dedicated to my meditation and prayer practice. I like using candles, inspiring photos, chimes, and things I find on my nature adventures.

One final way to cultivate loving energy for a positive mindset and concentration is through prayer. You do not need to be religious for prayer and there is no wrong way to do it. There is power in affirming out loud or to yourself the things you are grateful for, the things you are seeking guidance with, and for visualizing the health and well-being of yourself and others. Personally, when I pray for others I visualize them surrounded by a warm-glowing light. I see them happy, healthy, and laughing. I feel that this strengthens the vibration that is sent out and the vibration I feel inside.

Many of us have been overcoming our fear of the unknown. Below is a prayer from Whispers from Eternity by Paramhansa Yogananda:

Demand to be able to Conquer Fear

Infinite Spirit, teach me to comprehend the utter uselessness of being afraid. Help me to keep in mind that even death, since come it must, at least comes only once and need not be suffered a thousand times, beforehand, through fear! When death does come it will be by Nature’s mercy. When it comes, I will welcome it in my soul, for I will understand that it is time for me to move on, lowering the curtain on this life’s drama, but traveling, perhaps, to something new and equally interesting. Let me not be a “psychological antique,” fearing change.

Teach me not to paralyze my nerves daily with the dread of some future, imaginary accident. Such dread may only invite the accident to happen!

Bless me, that I not let fear anesthetize my mind and shut off my unlimited power, as Thy child, to overcome all tests and trials. Help me to realize that, whether I am awake or asleep, alert or dreaming, Thine all-protecting presence encircles me always.

Help me to see that neither mighty fortress nor the wealth of Croesus could protect me from disease, earthquakes, and all kinds of accidents, that Thou alone art my protector, and that, though I walk where bullets fly or where swarms of bacteria abound, I am ever safe, enhaloed in Thy all-sheltering light.

Aum, Peace, Amen

Stay home, stay safe, and if you must venture out do so wisely. Persist in a positive state of mind. Focus your attention on uplifting tasks and responsibilities. Do a daily practice of Joy and meditation. We will get through this together.

Tap, Tap, Tap. Bhakti Bird is calling.

With Devoted Light,

Em<3

Enchanted With an Idea

Enchantment: the state of being under a spell; magic.

Inspiration Finds Us

The last few days of reading Part 2 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic have been enchanting and eye opening. As I have stated in previous posts I have read this book many times, and this time I have been reading up and researching yoga teachings regarding each section of Big Magic: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Enchantment is probably my favorite section in Big Magic. This section is all about the process of inspiration and where it comes from. Much like falling in love, becoming inspired with an Idea is an enchanting journey that thrives on trust, openness, and gratitude. Elizabeth Gilbert has an imaginative way of explaining Ideas. I capitalize the word “Ideas” here because she refers to Ideas as alive. Gilbert shares an experience of an idea for a book knocking on her creative door. After months of research and an outline she had to put the project away for two years due to ‘life’. When she returned to the project her research and outline were right where she left them but that creative inspiration was nowhere to be found. She goes on to explain that left unattended ideas will find new partners to work with.

..that ideas are alive, that ideas do seek the most available human collaborator, that ideas do have a conscious will, that ideas do move from soul to soul, that ideas will always try to seek the swiftest and most efficient conduit to the earth (just as lightning does).

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Have you ever experienced an idea this way? One moment your casually eating your oatmeal then BAM you have an ingenious idea of how to solve the water crisis by purifying ocean water, or whatever it may be.

Gilbert would explain this experience as an idea passing through you, enticing you with itself. The process of inspiration doesn’t end here. If anything, inspiration is only the initial “spark” of your relationship. In this moment you must decide if this is an idea for you to manifest into this physical world. That is all an idea desires. Ideas come to us, seeking a partnership, where we may work together to manifest that idea into the physical world. If you say no then the idea and inspirational spark will soon pass. Sometimes this is best. Not every idea is meant for you, and you’re not always meant for every idea manifest. If you say yes, as Gilbert explains, then you are agreeing to work with the idea tirelessly, devotionally, and to your best ability until the mere thought becomes reality.

three bodies
https://www.instagram.com/p/B3WX5iinyKS/?igshid=fzt6i2smdj18

In yoga teachings, we each have three bodies- (The word body here signifies any soul encasement, whether gross or subtle.) the gross physical body, the astral body, and the causal or idea body. I want to focus on the causal body in this post as it reminds me a lot of Ms. Gilbert’s idea theory.

The causal bodied being remains in the blissful realm of ideas.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

Each of the bodies mentioned above are progressions we must each pass through to return to our truest form, the Universe’s Infinite Bliss. Yoga teachings state that this takes thousands and thousands of years as we reincarnate into new forms to dissolve and work through our desires on each of these plains (physical, astral, and causal). WAIT. If I have lost you already or you’re quickly losing interest, take a breath. To some people this will seem much too hippie-dippy. I understand, I use to roll my eyes anytime my mom would mention her experience of the subtle spiritual world. If you are the kind of person that needs science to continue reading, let me bait you with this: https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/physics-questions/ .

something unkown quote
https://libquotes.com/arthur-eddington/quote/lbl9b3k

There are things that science, quantum physics in particular, cannot explain and the way we find the answers to those mysterious questions is through creativity. Hang in there and let’s get some creative juices flowing!

 

Back to the Causal Body! The causal body is a part of your physical and astral body until it is released after many lifetimes. Once only the causal body remains, yoga teachings state, they reside in the causal world or plane.

Causal desires are fulfilled by perception only. The nearly-free being who are encased only in the causal body see the whole universe as realizations of the dream-ideas of God; they can materialize anything and everything in sheer thought. Causal beings therefore consider the enjoyment of physical sensations or astral delights as gross and suffocating to the soul’s fine sensibilities. Causal beings work out their desires by materializing them instantly. Those who find themselves covered only by the delicate veil of the causal body can bring universes into manifestation even as the Creator. Because all creation is made of the cosmic dream-texture, the soul thinly clothed in the causal has vast realizations of power.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

While doing all this research I had a magical idea of my own. Perhaps, these causal, idea bodies are exactly what Gilbert was talking about in her theory of how ideas come to us. These souls that have released physical, mental, and emotional desires are working through their final desires with their own power of manifestation. Could their ideas of a story or painting, or way of doing something pass through time and space to our physical plane and grace us with inspiration? I’m not sure why they would choose to work through our world and I’m not sure it matters. If someone asked me, “Hey Emily, would you mind helping me make this pie? I only have 7 of the 8 ingredients.” I would say, “Of course! I love home-made pie. Let’s find a way to make it work and then we will both get to enjoy it!” I’m really not sure, but I like the idea!

Creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Fishing for Inspiration

So how do we get more bites of inspiration? Well, ya gotta make your bait look appealing to the ideas that are out there, just swimming around looking for a partnership. Enough fishing metaphors. Whether you believe the explanations given above or not, you can still find inspiration with the activities mentioned below.

Quieting the mind gives space and stillness to attract ideas. Meditation is my favorite way of quieting my own rambunctious mind. Unfortunately, I do not have internet and with self-isolation I am unable to upload a current yoga or meditation video at the library, but I do have this meditation video from 2017. Please enjoy this 17 minute practice with me here.

His causal being finds expression when man is thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation; the cosmical thoughts of genius come to the man who habitually contacts his causal body.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

trees

Nature has always helped me to still my thoughts and gain perspective. This can be very appealing for those fishies of inspiration. (Sorry, I said no more fish metaphors.) The Sky and Earth Touched Me by Joseph Bharat Cornell is filled with all sorts of activities you can do in nature to help still the mind and reconnect with the world around you. For a yummy Forest Bathing Exercise from this book click here.

Additional ways to calm the body and quiet the mind could be:

  • yoga practice
  • breathing exercises
  • quiet activity like fishing, walking, or playing a familiar instrument
  • chanting or spiritual singing
  • any activity that helps you to become quiet and calm

Remember, stilling the mind  is giving room for inspiration to come-a-knocking.

The Creative Perspective for Success

Living a creative life doesn’t mean we have to live enslaved by our creative life force. It is all in your perspective. If we choose to see inspiration and magical ideas not as our own but outside of ourselves we are eliminating the responsibility of ownership of an idea. We can simply create without too much pressure of what it is we end up creating. When we practice openness, trust, and gratitude with the ideas that come our way we allow for a light-hearted courting and a friendly, joyful partnership. For anyone wanting to live a creative life where you awaken your own creativity throughout your everyday, and for the individual wishing to create masterpieces, this is the perspective to carry.

..merely making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectations..”

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Please tune in next time for an exploration on Part III of Big Magic: Permission. Thanks for reading!

-Em<3

 

 

 

 

 

Returning From the Forest

A week ago I had the magical opportunity of sharing a walking meditation experience with the people of Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. It was a delightful experience to share these teachings in such a setting.

EF MedWalk2

When I became certified (200-hr) back in 2015 I dreamed that one day I would get to share and teach in a festival setting. I daydreamed of that opportunity happening at one of my favorite festivals, Electric Forest (EF).

A few months ago I applied to the EF Brainery Workshop program. About a month later I was just getting off work when I received an email stating I had been chosen to give the workshop I had applied for. My heart dropped and then ascended quickly back up my body. I drew a breath in and felt it expanding into every part of my body and beyond. I had not gotten my hopes up about being chosen for this honor as there were, no doubt, many applicants all with brilliant ideas of what they could share with the Forest Family.

I ran across the street to where a friend was. We embraced and whispered into their ear, “I just received confirmation that I will be teaching a walking meditation at Electric Forest.” They was elated. My excitement was boiling within me but their’s was boiling in every direction!

The workshop gifted us with two tickets to the festival. We both put our requests in for time off and before we knew it the day came for us to make the 7 hour trek to the Forest.

The Walking Meditation Workshop was scheduled for Sunday at 10:30 am. This was like the Universe winking at me, because Sundays at 10:30 am is when I teach a weekly Ananda Yoga & Meditation class in Iowa City. What were the odds that I would be teaching at EF at the same time on the same day of the week!

We arrived on Thursday morning to set up camp and enjoy a few days of the festival before sharing the workshop experience. After checking in with the Brainery staff, receiving our wristbands, and a couple of security check points we were guided into the fields where thousands of people were setting up (and already enjoying) camp. Due to some miscommunication between one of the vehicles and the staff who was telling cars where to park they required the people in our row to reverse and reorient our vehicles closer together. There was some over-compensation in this movement and it left our vehicles with barely any room between them. Which meant we wouldn’t have that much room to set up our tents.

This year at the second weekend of Electric Forest there was a record heat wave for the event. With our tents staked on top of each other, the sun beating down, and no breeze sneaking through the walls of tent mass, to say we got hot does not begin to express the experience. This was my fourth time at EF, first time being involved with the Brainery. I have never experienced heat like that before, and I hope I never have to experience it again. There was no point where we weren’t sticky with sweat. The heat seemed to creep into our bodies and brains. It muted my senses. Even now, attempting to recall those first two days is difficult. I can’t seem to recollect the artists we saw, what we did during the day, or our neighbor’s names. The heat never ceased. Sleep was a drift between consciousness and only brief moments of sinking into those joyous places of subconsciousness. The sleep deprivation only added to the discomfort and delusion of the day.

By Saturday morning around 8 am we were both awake, sweaty, and miserable. We craved sleep but new it was nowhere near. We attempted to go to the waterpark near the festival grounds, but after enjoying the A/C of the building while waiting in line for 2 hours we decided to call around to see if there were any rooms available.

I have never stayed in a hotel during a festival before. I love camping during festivals and throughout the year. I usually don’t enjoy the effects of air conditioning and find hotels to be stuffy. We came to the hotel decision only after days of heat exhaustion and sleep deprivation. I have no regrets.

We did not enter the water park. As soon as we booked a hotel (30 minutes from the festival grounds) we headed back to tear down camp, load up and head to the place we knew we could rest our weary bodies. We slept, we ate, we even enjoyed the pool and hot tub at the hotel. After an hour worth of showers we drove back to the Forest to enjoy a show before hitting the duvet for a full nights sleep.

Sunday arrived and I can actually recall all parts of that day. We arrived to the Brainery tent an hour before the workshop. I centered and handed out fliers that gave a description of what attendees could expect.

To say the workshop went off without a hitch would be false, but I had the energy and centeredness to handle the workshop as it unfolded.

EF MedWalk3

I am so grateful to have had this experience at such a wonderful place with such open and gracious human beings. The heat was difficult, but shaped a unique Electric Forest experience I have never had before. I am grateful for every part of the experience. I hope to return in the future and continue to share the teachings of Ananda Yoga and Meditation.

 

To those who attended the workshop I hope it was a centering and peaceful experience for you. I hope you took the practice with you and gained an understanding of how you can use walking mediations in your every day life to develop qualities of awareness, even-mindedness, and observation.

 

Blessings to You All,

Emily Basili