Meditations On The Wanderlust Festival 2013
I’d seen all the enticing ads of people enjoying themselves at the Wanderlust Festival, people soaking up all the yoga, meditation, speakers, and music by Moby they could, and I finally resolved to go. By myself if I had to. An extra boost came when Wanderlust chose me to be a guest blogger for their Squaw Valley summer fest: I had applied to an ad on their web blast calling for writers, just for fun. Although they only notified me six days before the conference, I vowed to make it work (no place to stay, no one to go with, a couple of major life events to reschedule—minor obstacles!). I could make it to Squaw Valley in three hours and fifteen minutes with no stopping, I learned, and suddenly my dream festival seemed more than possible. I could be one of those women in the pictures set against majestic hills and rocks and rivers. I had a few days vacation time coming up. I had a full tank of gas and little piles of singles for the tolls. I had a family who would feed the cats and water my half-dead plants (I appreciate nature but I’m not sure it appreciates me). After five brief days of planning and finishing up my work, I threw nearly everything I own into my car and got going.
You may have seen the ads for Wanderlust yourself, which feature an attractive person (oftentimes a woman who looks a little better in tight clothes than you (I) do) in a yoga pose I can only manage on my super best days. Or when dreaming. Maybe she’s bent over looking at her toes, or standing tall, spreading her arms open wide to the incredible settings that host Wanderlust festivals. Either way, she’s looking right at you, and she’s saying: Come on. Good things nearly always await in Tahoe, anyway.
The Wanderlust Festival website lets you sort through its online catalog to choose the classes right for you, and it’s completely nonjudgmental about how long you may spend doing this or how many times you might change your mind. I selected four fun days of meditation and lectures, figuring I’d watch some yoga (fearing the classes would be too intense for beginner me), and maybe try out a few things just for the challenge (as if driving myself and staying by myself and walking around interviewing new people by myself weren’t going to be challenge enough).
First impressions really count for me, and I loved mine: The Wanderlust Festival is the perfect place to go if you wear flowy, comfy, (prAna-like) clothes. There’s no way I could be the most strangely dressed person there, which I often am at, let’s say, the grocery store in our small town, or even in my office. I tend toward natural fabrics, soothing or happy colors, and flow-y is the adjective most required by my wardrobe (pants flow/tops flow/jackets flow—I’m big on flow). Check out the Wanderlust website to see the photos of all of us in our everyday best—and favorite—clothes. Then you’ll know to bring your wildest or weirdest, and your favorites. But really, a pair of shorts and a tank top (or three) will easily get you through four days. So yes, I over-packed, but this is nothing new for me. Plus, featured front and center, I found the prAna booth selling its wares (or wears), in case you ran short of tops/bottoms/bags/scarves/what-have-yous. So there I was at a beautiful mountainside resort, and as if this wasn’t ideal enough, there’s a prAna booth smack in the middle. I felt immediately at home. I wore my tie-dyes, my purple and green swirls, and I relaxed, knowing I couldn’t possibly be more comfortable and accepted, and that grass stains wouldn’t show a bit.
My first class — Relational Mindfulness: Intimacy with the Present Moment— set the scene for the whole festival. In it, we focused on meditating quietly within ourselves, but then faced an unexpected challenge: We had to sit about a foot away from a stranger, stare into his or her eyes, and talk about our feelings, our projections, our wishes. Realizing I’d look silly fleeing the scene, I went with it. I learned a lot, I saw a lot of great eyeglass frames, and I got past my initial fears of staring into the eyes of strangers and basically feeling stupid. I think most of did (both feel stupid and then get over it). We even relaxed with one another. And for the next four days, I continued to run into my new friends, sometimes grabbing lunch (oh, the food, the nutritious blissful, no one criticizes you when you ask if it’s gluten free food), or listening to the many musicians who played each day, or just sitting on the grass, not caring about about stains. Four days of this, and I could tell you I was ready to go home, but I’d be lying: I was ready for four more days of it. Or weeks.
The class’s goal was to explore how we can be in a meditative state while interacting with another, and to say what we feel is true for us, according to teacher Stefan Grafstein. It was sometimes confrontational; it was sometimes relaxing; it was in the end a success.
Chakra Clearing Meditation revolved around the chakras, and most of us have heard about their powers, their colors, and what parts of the body they correspond to (and what jewelry to purchase to work on each individual chakra), but if I’m being honest, I get it all confused. The colors — aren’t three of them shades of purple? (It’s my favorite color, so I don’t mind a bit.) Which one is orange, again? Taking this class from Patience Lewis, I finally felt some clarity as to which purple goes where, and why it matters, and what I can do to improve myself. It was also my most relaxing and peaceful class of the day, which I have no doubt soothed all the appropriate chakras, and then some. The breeze off the mountains during these outdoor sessions didn’t hurt anything, either.
So I meditated through four days of Seven Chakras and Pranayama, and Four Phases of Meditation (find anything you can by our teacher Charlie Knoles on YouTube, and watch it, over and over, and tell your friends: That’s my advice). Perfect Health Meditation, and the Bodhisattva Warrier. Yoga, Meditation and the Infinite Pharmacy Within (in which we explored how proper breathing is good for whatever your addiction, whether to the hard stuff or to giving in to that constant self-doubt looming over your right shoulder).
At the end of each day, I blogged for Wanderlust about my experiences, my shopping finds, the (constant) ice cream I ate (a plug here for Ben & Jerry’s and So Delicious bars, because they can really keep a girl going through 4 days — and calories do not count in the mountains anyway). I realized that meditation held a lot of power for me that I wanted to use in my life every day, often many times a day, depending on how much work/how many people/how many crises I encountered. I need to use my breath for the good it can bring me and others; I need to focus on compassion for myself and others; I need to recognize my responsibility among the others in the world (even if it’s just reminding them to breathe sometimes). I admit I didn’t try the meditative hula hooping class: It was nearly 90 degrees, and I had to save something for next year, right? (It was so warm: I tried frozen Kefir instead, and let me tell you: A+. I met my deadlines. I met Moby twice. I met people I truly want to follow on Facebook or maybe even on foot. What I’m saying is: I’ll see you there next year. Meet me by the hula hoops. I’ll be the one with the ice cream bar in my hand.
~ Linda Lenhoff
See more Wanderlust Festival images
Linda lives in the Bay Area and is the author of the novels Life a la Mode and Latte Lessons.