Shambhala: Buddhist Pure Land; a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic.
Hi EH family,
I missed a week of blogging, and for a good reason! I was away at a music festival called Shambhala. It is my fourth time going to this particular festival but this year was a little different because I had a new position. I was part of a crew that was just created called the Wellness Crew.
Shambhala is a 22-years-old electronic music festival located on a private ranch in the Kootenay’s. This ranch becomes a fully functional farm before and after the festival. When you enter the ranch 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. It’s a place for expansion and play!
Interestingly enough, there is no alcohol permitted on-site, (people still sneak it in, but this rule greatly reduces its present.. and the amount of fighting tenfold.) The use of drugs is a lot more widespread in this type of setting. To reduce the potentially harmful effect of not taking the proper dosage, or not knowing what you are taking to begin with, the festival has an area called Anchor’s that will drug test any substance, let you know what exactly is in your substances, and how much.
The festival has a fully staffed medical crew. It is a fully functional pop up hospital, even staffing an OB-GYN, paramedics that can reach anywhere on-site within about 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. This is all located in the heart of the festival. There is a huge amount of energy and funding that go into making the festival as safe as possible. The perspective is to meet people where they’re at.
When I enter the Shambhala grounds I immediately feel the expansion. I think that magnetism of it's offering is a testament to the fact that humans innately want to be more than society offers them. We all want a way to allow more of ourselves to exist, and the use of psychedelics offers us that portal. Although it’s just a portal and not a way to ultimate freedom, one of the most healing aspects of Shambhala’s environment is that there is no judgment. Here there is space to open up to more of yourself and feel safe. I think that’s one of it’s most beautiful offerings. It reminds me of something that an old friend of mine once said that really stuck in my head. She said that as humans, one of the things that we need in order to be happy and healthy is altered states of consciousness. That can be achieved in many ways. It could be through meditation and breath-work, through mind-blowing sex, through listening to classical music or opera, through slowing down and care taking nature, or like at Shambhala, it could be through trance dancing and psychedelics. This is one of the more quick and intense options, and for some of the population, it works really well.
I personally acted like a little old lady at the festival this year and went straight to bed after my work shifts! I was simply honouring my own version of authenticity, and I did get some good dancing in during the day time. Another part that I seriously loved was when I sat down for food, I always made new friends and had great conversation. The level of potential connection, sharing of information and diversity is amazing here. Although I think it does require being the first one to speak most of the time! So don’t be shy :)
Another great thing that I learned about this year, was the amount of artwork that comes into the festival. There is an beautiful gallery of local and international artists that are handpicked by the festivals long-time curator that will make your third eye come to life.
My job at the festival was to walk around and survey all the crew and staff, 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 as a whole. I’m not sure of the exact amount of staff and crew there are during the festival, but someone did mention in passing that it was about 2600 people. That’s a lot of temporary staff and crew! There is a growing intention by the festival to care for the staffs wellbeing and fine-tune any kinks. Of course, there are always going to be issues, and I did come across some, but I believe that the desire of the festival to discover these issues is a really good sign. The first step in healing anything is accepting what is.
The festival is continually trying to improve and meet the needs of everyone involved as the event grows over time, and I felt that from many of the full-time employees. There are so many magical people that bring this event to life every year, and if all goes well, you’ll be seeing me there next year for sure.
Finally, if you feel inspired, there are great opportunities for volunteers. You receive a free ticket by working a certain amount of hours, great food during your shift and the best part about it is that you’ll have the opportunity to meet so many amazing people as you work and mingle with the 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