The sun shines brilliantly from the height of the sky down onto the soft grass, the crystalline lake, the white sand. It is perfect in central Florida right now, cool and refreshing at night, bright and light and incredibly warm during the day, and not a hint of humidity.
Yesterday, Shaya took to kids camp and I immersed in two incredible Kundalini workshops, complete with energy-moving exercises for my body and meditative ideas for my mind. At night, we fell into bed sore and happy, tired and refreshed.
Today, we woke early and packed up our things for a half-day at 3HO’s Winter Solstice Festival – yesterday a day full of classes, conversation and making friends (both of us), today devoted to White Tantric Yoga, an adventure in all white where you sit close to a partner for 31 or 62 minutes at a time, with the idea that the movements and mantras cleanse and purify you and unite every single person under the big tent (something like 500 of us) as one.
I’m not sure why I am here, but I think I’m glad about it.
I’ve been to yoga festivals before and loved them, but I have to say that this Kundalini world is the friendliest, most welcoming community I have ever stepped into.
That said, I’m not wholly on board with all the observances and rituals of this world. Yet, or maybe ever.
I have never fancied myself a follower and for most of my life, it has in some ways hurt me, in some ways helped. Because I can’t just follow along, I’ve never been immersed in the center, and fully belonging to, any community.
In high school, I had friends in every clique but was never in one deeply. In the religious world (Judaism, but also this Kundalini Sikh world and in college, somewhat on the fringe of the Christians), I connect with people at all points of the journey but never held a leadership pose.
You can’t if you don’t buy into the dogma, hook line and sinker. And some days, I wish I could.
It is so much easier when you believe, or sign on to belief, in one path. When you believe, like I do, that we are all the same, that all people are connected and similar and brethren, that every community is beautiful and wonderful and dangerous, then you are by definition not popular.
It’s ok. I’ve come to accept who I am and my role in this life. I will share one idea from this festival that rings powerful to me: there are two most important days of your life, the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Further, one of the teachers mentioned that it is better to be a teacher than a student, defining teacher as someone whose presence changes or inspires others.
Those two lessons alone were worth coming for.
And the friendships I made as well as those my son has made.
So here’s what it’s like in the Kundalini world: you walk down the street and everyone is smiling.
It doesn’t matter what you wear, what you look like, what you do for a living or where you’ve been – you are welcomed with a hearty “Sat Nam!” and often a hug. People smile at you just because you’re standing there.
People hug you just because you’re both here together. Conversations strike up on the sand street as you walk from the parking lot to the big white tent when you ask a tall, handsome stranger if a headache is a normal reaction to the tantric exercise you did.
(It can be. Think about doing a meditation with 500 people in an enclosed space and imagine all types of intense connections and releases.)
I am amazed at how many similarities continue to arise in every world I step into. In the religious Jewish world, there is a powerful notion that when you pray as a community, your prayers are more powerful.
We all talk about God and higher purpose and the meaning of it all. Think about that question – the day you realize why you were born? Have you made it there yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
(Why was I born? To write. Right this moment, sitting here crafting these words in beautiful nature, a perfect breeze kissing my face, I am in heaven. My purpose: to write, to inspire people with my words, and to help people find their truth through writing.)
As much as I was born into a secular world that poo-pooed the idea of God, I am increasingly drawn to the supernatural, the spiritual, the powerful underpinnings of all of us and all that is.
This world is so incredibly beautiful and wonderful and scary and perfect. We are lucky to walk on its surface and sample its moments.
Right now, I sit beneath two big leaning trees with fuzzy moss growing off the branches and blowing prettily in the wind. It is a gorgeous morning. Tents dot the landscape and a mom walks with a baby in a sling and a toddler at her side.
From the tent, I hear the teacher instructing the group in their next tantric pose. The white sand and volleyball net gleam in the sun.
Yesterday, my little guy kayaked around the lake by himself. An old man in a turban and a long scraggly beard said, “He is brave! Braver than I am.”
It was a small lake but the wind was strong, and I had to agree with the man. I beamed a smile. “Yes,” I said, “he is brave. He is very athletic.”
The man said, “He should always be athletic. He should not stop. Perhaps he will go to college and kayak competitively.”
It was a sweet and casual moment with a stranger on the beach, and both of us were focused on the positive glory of the child before us. For me, it was the maternal pride of watching my own offspring take flight with confidence and ease.
But for this man, what was the connection?
Perhaps the purely held belief that all of us are God’s creatures, made in the image of the Divine, and every moment, every small miracle, every brave step into the unknown is worth celebrating.