It amazes me the creativity of the human spirit and what can be made when there are no limitations. I witnessed this at Burning Man and the lessons I learned in the Nevada desert were deeper than I initially recognized.
I expected it to be a party, a celebration of people coming together to express their individuality and to have experiences that were fit for another planet. Of course there was that, but that was just the surface; And just like a calm ocean, there is so much below the surface.
Burning Man is not only a social experiment, it is a way to burn away all of the social constructs we have meshed into our brains. It is a way to burn away that which no longer serves us and it has the potential to burn us awake if we allow it to.
I witnessed emotions of sadness, loneliness, euphoria, love, expression,passion, depression, fear and freedom. The reason there was such an extreme was because this gathering has been created to create a place where all is possible and you can do basically anything you want, really… When there is no one telling you how to act, to dress, to feel, think and be ( only your conditioned mental patterns, if you allow them to influence you); then you get a touch of that place within you that knows what freedom is.. and wow does it feel amazing.
Here are some of the things I learned from Burning it all away…
When you don’t have structure your able to flow:
– No one has cellphones and many don’t have watches so you do what you feel when you feel like it. When nothing is structured in your day and your able to pick and choose what you do, magic happens. You flow with the present moment and go wherever that takes you. Perhaps you end up at a workshop, a dance off, a party or in the deep playa. Yet you are exactly where you need to be at that moment.
– When you follow the flow, magic happens. When you do what you want and follow your heart the universe offers it to you. Its a common knowledge that if you ask for it at burning man it will generally show up either instantly or days later.
There is so many amazing things happening at every moment, so you don’t spend time doing anything you don’t want too…
– There are hundreds of activities happening at one time and so if you don’t like something you move, do something else, join a new group of people etc. If your not feeling it, it is socially acceptable to move on and people understand that at Burning Man. Your able to tap into what it feels like TO REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING. Which is funny because many of us have been just accepting our circumstances for such a long time that we forgot what it feels like to actually want to be doing something versus just doing it.
– There are thousands of beautiful people at burning man and you will have amazing connections with so many of them. Some you will have life changing conversations with and never see again. Some you will connect with after when returning to the default world. It is a reflection of the impermanence of relationships and how our connections come and go, yet it happens at a much faster pace in the dusty clay of the desert. As well, you realize you can connect with anyone, and anyone and everyone can be a best friend, there is no such thing as strangers!
– A principle of B-man is that you cannot leave a trace, what you come with you must leave with and I realized this teaches accountability and responsibility. So often in society we blame others, we blame the government and we never take responsibility for what is going on. Like the bystander effect we stand frozen, but when our own survival depends on ourselves we become EMPOWERED. No one owns our choices, we do and we can choose to step up or we can choose to bow down. Learned helplessness is rampant in society and I think its time we take the lesson of no trace and clean up our own mess without expecting someone else too.
– As we are responsible for everything, we become empowered and with that stand to help others. If someone fell or if there was fight, immediately people would run over to stop it because they didn’t expect anyone else too. Additionally, people were so full of love and everyone was there to support one another whether they be friends, strangers or new lovers.
There is an illusion that we are Separate and alone on this planet. However, we are all supporting one another and everyone wants each other to succeed. Even if their egos wont admit it.
– People would dress as they pleased, even if that was being naked. Some how people got more beautiful as days passed. I realized that as the days went on and people got in touch with that inner child it didn’t matter if they hadn’t showered for a weak, had 2 day old body paint on or ripped clothes.. their eyes shined with their own spirit. Something had been awakened.
– The only permanence is change and what the artists create for months or even years to offer at burning man is burned during the gathering. When a wooden structure that is as big as a 100 ft building or even bigger burns it makes an impression. It really wakes you up to the fact that what was once strong will inevitably wither away when its time. Even Black Rock City ( 77,000 people) is constructed and then a week later is gone…
I cried when I saw the structure called ’embrace’ burn. I witnessed and released my past relationships and my attachment to love. Recognizing that all relationships come and go and what was once consumed with the passion of fire will become ash at some point in time. It was a sensitive but a crucial moment for me.
When the main structure- The man burned I witnessed myself burning. Seeing that we too are on fire and are constantly burning, using energy and consuming till our deaths. We are beautiful examples of Impermanence and yet we ignore it because we are afraid to think of our end. But when we can to accept it we can rise above it and make our lives more meaningful and worthwhile.
– In the dust, intense dry heat all that you have been avoiding becomes obvious. In normal day to day life we are busy with our jobs and providing for ourselves. Stress consumes us, however, at burning man you have everything and there is nothing to worry about, it is a place of enjoyment, amusement and so all your patterns become obvious. If you find you are restless, anxious, anti social, lonely etc it is something to reflect on and think about. Additionally, relationships which were not on stable ground will be shaken and the truth will be exposed.
– Your body and your intuition know more than you think. Our best teacher is ourselves. Yet, we always get in the way and say its not true. But when we listen we start riding a flow of authenticity. If your body is tired, rest… If your spirit is telling you to move on… move. Its that simple.
Burningman was chaotic, beautiful and peaceful. It was a representation of all that exists in life. It was rajas, tamas and awe inspiringly sattvic.