A Buddhist Pure Land: a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic.
I've been away at a music festival called Shambhala! It is my fourth time going but this year was a little different, because this year I had a new job. I was part of a crew just created called the Wellness Crew.
Shambhala is a 22-years-old electronic music festival located on a private ranch in the Kootenay’s. When you enter you’ll see signs like, ‘It is said that only the pure of heart may enter here’ and ‘ Welcome home.’ The festival emphasizes love, acceptance, community and freedom of expression.
From the perspective of healing it is a place where you can let go, and open up to all those pieces of you that don’t seem to fit into the regular world. A place for expansion and play.
When I entered the Shambhala grounds I immediately felt an expansion. I think the magnetism of it's offering is a testament to the fact that humans innately want to be more than what society offers. We all want a way to allow more of ourselves to exist and one of the most healing aspects of Shambhala’s environment is that we can do that free of judgment.
The freedom of expression that Shambhala offers reminds me of something once said by an old friend, " As humans, one of the things that we need in order to be happy and healthy is altered states of consciousness." Altered states of consciousness can be achieved in many ways. Most organically through meditation and breath work, and in more ecstatic ways like tantric dance or mind-blowing sex. Perhaps through listening to opera or classical music, through slowing down and care taking nature, or like at Shambhala, maybe it's through ingesting psychedelics. This is one of the more quick and intense options, and for a percentage of the population, it works really well.
The older I get, the less inclined I am to take mind altering substances, but in a safe container I am not opposed to them. And here at Shambhala, the container is safe enough, and extra safe if thats what your are needing. The festival has a fully staffed medical crew, a fully functional pop up hospital even staffing an OB-GYN, paramedics that can reach anywhere on-site within a 3 minute timeframe, a Sanctuary space where people that don’t feel well can rest while others care for their well being, and a women’s safe space. All this located in the heart of the festival.
My job at the festival was to walk around and survey all the crew and staff, to see how they were doing, and document as much as I could so that the festival could make improvements for next year. It is a testament to how much the full-time staff cares about the wellbeing of their community, in total 2600 people (not including atendee's). That’s a lot of temporary staff and crew!
If you feel so inspired, there are great opportunities for volunteers. You receive a ticket in exchange for working a certain amount of hours, eat great food on your shift and the best part, you’ll have the opportunity to meet amazing people as you work and mingle in a new community. For first-timers . . . get ready to have your minds blown!
Check out shambhalamusicfestival.com for all the information.
The 8 Pillars of Shambhala:
Safety and Harm Reduction
Shambhalove and Community
Music, Art, and Creativity
Acceptance and Freedom of Expression
Respect the Environment
Tradition and Transformation
Have Fun, Let Go and Dance