Here we are on the threshold of the second Udaya Live, Yoga and Music Festival. Last year’s festival marks high on the list of memorable experiences for me and I am very excited for this year’s event! So much of the planning and scheduling for this event naturally lends to an amazing experience. I hope that you are attending to see and feel how holding a festival in the mountains of Bulgaria with this crew of people really lends to an amazing experience.
…. What is going to make your festival experience the best it can be?
As the old saying goes, you get out of your experience what you put into it. Udaya Live is an all inclusive retreat style Festival. One of the few of its kind. It is set in a supremely beautiful environment in the mountains of Bulgaria (this year on a lake!). All of your basic needs are taken into account in the planning of Udaya Live and on top of that there is an imagining of the possible ‘wants’ you could have fulfilled by attending. Attendees will experience many styles of world class Yoga teaching, meditation, musical performances, Kirtan, DJ sets, dance parties and more… including a floating stage!
After all is said and done, what you take home is the quality of that which you yourself put into the experience. There is a common pitfall that we can fall into when we treat a festival situation as if it ‘owes us’ something. One sign of maturity on the path of Yoga is the recognition that ‘giving’ is the natural response to seeing who we really are in the context of Life, the path, the practice, and what really matters. When we see the bigger picture, we see that we really only get what we give.
If we are lucky enough to attend any festival on this planet, we fall into a category of humans that is extraordinarily fortunate. Even if we have not a dollar to our name and we are bumming off the generosity of others, it is more rare to attend a festival than we might think. So many humans are forced by position and circumstance to live a life of poverty and survive day to day on little with little opportunity to do anything else.
The essence of the word gratitude is ‘debt’. I know this sounds funny. But think about it… You only give a ‘gratuity’ in a situation where you think you owe something. This is usually done with money though there are other ways of expressing gratitude. Simply holding an attitude of gratitude for your experience goes a long way to shaping what you get out of it. Writing down at the end of each day 5 things you are grateful for affects the way you perceive and feel the events of your day and opens you to a greater possibility of relationship with your environment and with others. Telling someone in a moment of genuine feeling that you appreciate them expresses the tacit recognition of connection and presence.
Another pitfall we can default to is the idea that we actually ‘own’ the space we are in. This belief is rooted in such a deep seated sense of separation and insecurity and it rarely, if ever, renders the feelings and experience we ultimately desire. Even if we get “our space” or take up “our space”, our self-centeredness is eventually due to be exposed and reflected back to us.
Sharing space goes a long way in living inclusivity and acceptance. Sharing physical space and also sharing space in the sense of being with people and not needing them to fulfill your unmet needs. Simply being with people without letting your story get in the way of the relationship. This can look like holding an attitude of interest and regard for others, acknowledging what others have to say and being willing to listen to views other than your own without needing to change theirs. Sharing space tells the Universe that you recognize something deeply important about being human and having a desire for real relationship.
One of the main ways we expand the value of experience, whether it is a festive one that we enjoy or a demanding and stressful one we do not, is by putting our attention on it.
Attentiveness is not just paying attention to where you walk, and how you eat, and if you pick your nose in public. Attentiveness is not just not slamming doors and not littering because it is “someone else’s job” to pick up after you.
Attentiveness is how you hold yourself in space. Attentiveness is being aware of your center of gravity. Attentiveness is staying with the feeling of life in the body you have been gifted with. Attentiveness is noticing your habits of movement, action, reactions, speech, and the unconscious tension you hold in your body. Attentiveness is being at home in the body, as if it were a sacred temple; taking care of and not harming the body.
How do you know you are present?
What do you use to verify it?
How do you prove it to yourself?
Is the presence of your physical body enough to count for being present, like in school when your name was called and you raised your hand to indicate “present”?
Ever since the famous words, “Be Here Now” were printed over half a century ago, Yogis have believed that they should be present and have implemented so many practices and strategies to be here now, ‘present’.
Sensation and Feeling as far as I can tell, the only verifiable evidence that we have of our presence. The struggle to stay present with the moment by moment sensation and feeling of the breath and body is and has been the only tool for humans as long as we have existed. No Facebook post or Instagram “like” is gonna get you there. No imaginationland idea of what presence is will fulfill that unending desire for your “peak experience”. Besides, if you are ever going to get that “peak experience” you are looking for, it would be the highest irony were you to not be present to experience it.
The destination is the present, and it must be renewed with every breath, or the connection is lost.
What is going to make your festival experience be a peak experience?
- Sharing Space
By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.