The Sark Folk Festival was amazing. I could not have hoped for a more uplifting, authentic and love filled way to begin life in the next decade (oh yes, the big 4 0 has now taken place!).
I was accompanied by the majority of my most favourite people in the whole wide world including my brother all the way from Australia and his fiancé and their daughter (and my goddaughter) Willow and our friends Carl and Tessa and their children from France and Nige from the UK, and my Guernsey friends and family so that I felt truly blessed and part of a tribe for the first time in a long, long time.
There is a lot to be said about the power of tribe. When I first happened upon Byron Bay in Australia all those years ago it just felt right, those people, that environment, it resonated, which is probably the reason I kept returning. Back here in Guernsey in the pre-Ewan, post-finding yoga days I always felt a little lonely because while I had one or two friends on a similar wave length, I never had the comfort of the group of like minded souls.
The weather was incredible, the music was food for the soul, the views from the festival site were stunning, the tent putting up was funny, the trekking up and down the cliffs for beautiful swims in the sea was challenging and yet satisfying, the cycling was fun, the laughter with friends was uplifting, the lunch with the folks at The Sablonnerie was fabulous, the yoga was out of this world (how amazing to be able to teach with such incredible views and to such a respective group of yogis), the night sky was tremendous and the whole experience made my heart lighten and my soul shine.
The experience reminded me how important it is to connect with like-minded people so that we feel that incredible sense of belonging that comes with the whole tribe concept - it was really obvious to me that weekend, how much this affects positively how we feel.
I was also reminded of the many benefits that come from spending time in nature and ensuring you have shelter, so that you are focusing on one's simple needs in life - a warm and dry shelter (a tent that will not leak or blow down), the opportunity to clean (share the shower with 70 other campers), fresh food (and not paying £2.85 for an avocado in the Sark shop, ouch, gold dust indeed!), light to see your way back to the tent (no fire here, dragonfly solar powered lights had to work instead!) and water to drink (plus a stove to heat water for much needed 2 cups of green tea and jasmine required to get going in the morning!!).
And from there and as I already said (but am still blown away by quite the positive effect this had on me as I have not experienced that previously) the importance of interaction with others, of connection and moments and merriment. And from there to music and dancing and liberating yourself. How we danced and jumped and jiggled to the music, barefoot and free, hoorah for freedom!
We can go on yoga retreats and step quietly into ourselves, connecting with our heart and nourishing our soul, and we can go to festivals with our tribe, connect to the earth, dance and come away with a joyous open heart and a nourished soul. I find this fascinating.
Quite a few times in the spiritual world I see this pressure placed on people, practitioners then, to tread a very narrow path, to deny various aspects of them selves, to eat this or eat that, to follow this teacher or that, to attend this course or that, to do all sorts of things that others tell you to do to increase your wellbeing and make you feel better about yourself and your life.
And I see practionners doing this, flitting from one teacher to the next, from one diet to another, starting a yoga practice and then stopping and deciding that that teacher, or that diet, or this time is not working for them, that there is something wrong with the suggested approach or the suggested person. But the truth is, they are forgetting that they need to find their way.
Not my way, not your way, but the one that works for that individual. We can all guide of course, but let us not forget that we all have our own inner wisdom inside, the challenge is perhaps being able to hear this over the chatter of all the other voices in our lives - our friends, our family, social media and all the many books and publications and online material that suggest they know us better than ourselves and we should do this or that...
Not only that but I think we many of us underestimate the power of tribe, the power of nature, the power of dancing, the power of music, the power of going with the flow even if that means you skip your yoga practice that day, or you have to go without your avocado (which I did and I survived!), the power of just being in the moment and flowing with that energy.
There is a time and a place for everything, for early nights to see the sun rising and late nights to see the stars shining, for solitude to hear our own inner callings and noisy time spent laughing with friends and family, for being energetic and active, for being gentle and quiet. We need them all, ever one of these moments to feel whole.
While it is tempting on the spiritual path to try and rid ourselves of the traits of self that are not entirely enlightened, that take us from the narrow path, or that do not accord to what we perceive to be the way we should live our lives if we are truly spiritual, we should remember that all experiences are valid and that even mistakes are simply another experience. Wholeness can only really come when we are willing to embrace all of who we are and what we have learned.
And this to me was one of the most exciting discoveries of my 40s (12 days in, but I have been doing a lot of thinking recently...!!) and the Sark Folk Festival was this incredible sense of wholeness that came from truly letting go and going with the flow with a tribe and nature and all things musical and joyful and uplifting.
So I would encourage anyone who is clinging on tightly to their idea of how things should be and how they should live their life according to what someone else has told them, to let go of this, just let it go and go and have some fun instead. Find the tribe, get outside, touch the earth, hold your hands to the sky and try and book some tickets to the Sark Folk Festival next year!!!
In light and with love.