OBSERVE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the human experience and perhaps where we have taken a wrong turn. When did life become having our eyes glued to our phones writing #blessed but forgetting to actually immerse ourselves in the experience? When did life get so busy that we are always playing catch-up with no time to simply just live and exist? When did we stop remembering that we are all in this together? That we are much more alike than we are different? Why must we create a hostile environment of honking at one another and throwing up the middle finger rather than sharing the road? Why can’t we support each other on our chosen path rather than judging and tearing each other down?
I don’t have all the answers but I am sitting with the questions and observing myself so I can notice if I’m participating in the problem or being part of the solution. As I was pondering these questions and taking note of the environment I live in here in Los Angeles, I kept wondering: why don’t we create a better atmosphere? One that we can all enjoy and be part of. An environment that makes us believe there’s enough to go around for everyone. That we are enough. One that reminds us to treat each other with kindness. I kept pondering these questions, and at the same time, I kept observing my environment to see what role I play within it.
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
This past Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to teach at Lightning in a Bottle festival (LIB) for the second year. If you’ve never heard of it, think Coachella but with much more awareness of health and consciousness. After I finished teaching my first class, I was floating on cloud nine and I fully immersed myself into the environment the festival created, perhaps in a way I wouldn’t otherwise have done. First, there was a bubble machine with people dancing to YMCA. So I went and did the same! As I crossed the bridge, I decided to high five everyone who was partaking and worry about washing my hands later. I satisfied my appetite with a veggie bowl and garlic fries! I watched the sunset with hundreds of strangers who felt like family. I did an opening fire blessing circle with the Wisdom Council and once again a bunch of strangers felt like family. This was only day one.
Day two, I sat underneath a beautiful tree that felt like it was hugging me. While eating some cherries there, I wondered where Memory Palace was (since I wanted to hear the next talk scheduled there)—only to look up and see I was already there. Life’s funny little humor reminding me, everywhere we go, there we are. I got to experience the Gong Sanctuary and be transformed with sound healing underneath another beautiful tree—once again with strangers who felt like family. The weekend continued to unfold into something magical and full of love. The human experience language was definitely speaking love and joy, allowing us a connection to the spirit rather than ego.
SIT WITH THE QUESTION
Throughout the weekend and once I returned back to Los Angeles, I kept thinking; what was the difference? What was the difference in the environment that LIB provided versus the one I’m in right now? And would a bubble machine help this moment? Would giving a stranger a high five help? Would jumping up and down to a dope music act help? Would a sound bath help? Asking myself questions allowed me to connect the dots. What all these things had in common was the human connection. A city like Los Angeles, which is my home, has millions of people but one can feel quite isolated. Connecting the dots, made me realize the common denominator in all of this.
DISCONNECT TO CONNECT
While attending LIB, you have no cell reception which I believe is what allows the human experience to take place. The festival creates a beautiful non-judgmental environment that allows you to pick and choose what you participate in—therefore allowing you to create your own adventure. Once a year, for a couple of days, Lake San Antonio transforms into its own world where you can dress as normal or as free and crazy as you wish. It serves as a reminder that if we take away the power to use our phones and create the right environment, we fully immerse ourselves into the experience, into the joy and gift of the present moment. It reminded me as I try to remind students that we are much more alike than we are separate. All around me I saw complete strangers having conversations without any preconceived notions of what the other person would be like. There was no phone to hide behind. No mask. No everyday comforts to run to. All that was left was the connection to the human experience. We all connected in our own way. Some through yoga, some through music, some through sound—and it was beautiful to see. As many of us experienced different ways to connect, there was no superiority. We all just co-existed without the need of the ego to rear its ugly little head.
SWITCH IN PERCEPTION
The reality is that the same people who went to the festival are the same people who returned home. However, often a switch in perception has been made. Each of us just has to identify what it was and how it can be applied in our daily lives. If we were happy and connected with strangers, had conversations, and stepped outside of our comfort zones, why can’t we recreate that for ourselves at home? One can argue the obvious; at home we are back to our daily grind and the mundane of daily routine; but I believe to a certain extent, we can. We can choose to try and integrate what brought us joy at the festival. We can pay more attention to our environment and create one that brings up peace, joy, love or whatever it is that would meet our current needs. We can make a conscious effort to disconnect from technology at certain times of the day—allowing us to immerse fully into what the moment has to offer. We can continue growing and trying new experiences. We can continue the human experience and realize it’s all love, not judgment and hate.
The choice is yours. What will you choose?