Last weekend I went to Thomas Hübl’s Celebrate Life Festival for the first time. It runs for 10 days each summer in the North of Germany, and has speakers including Ken Wilber, Ervin László, Diane Hamilton, Barbara Marx Hubbard and many other integral luminaries of the evolutionary spirituality tribe.
It’s a field that brings together people who value an integral, grounded approach to spirituality (and to life generally), many of whom are highly practiced at being present and authentic, which means that connections there tend to lead to deep insight and forward movement far more quickly than in regular life.
One hour in, having arrived late on Friday evening due to car troubles, thrown down my tent and rushed to the opening party, I was already in the process of re-discovering an old friend of mine whom I thought I’d kicked out a while back, but who seemed to have found a back door to sneak in by again. I danced with him for a while, thinking he’d leave soon having had his fun in startling me with his reappearance, but incredibly, in this enlightened space, he stayed. Hello 15-year-old Steph issues.
I figured I was tired and that after a good night’s sleep (in my soggy tent wherein literally everything was damp as I’d arrived in a thunderstorm) I’d shake off the ghosts of yesterday’s shadows and be all radiant and joyful and shit.
The next day it was worse.
I hurt my foot pretty badly dancing like a maniac (multiple tendonitis it turns out. Yes you can have that. In a foot. From dancing), and this in combination with the fact that I accidentally missed morning meditation (somehow didn’t see it when I checked my soggy schedule in my soggy tent sometime in the soggy hours of the early morning), couldn’t find my friends, got overwhelmed by the crowds at breakfast trying to get some tea, and the leftover frustration from the evening before all combined into a vortex of ick, and I was forced to retreat to the chill-out tent at the lake to breathe deeply and come back to solid ground again.
I discovered that when I’m in a situation where I’m already feeling a little unsure, everything becomes magnified. It’s like I become even more transparent, thin-skinned – everything is louder, more invasive, and I hover on the edge of overwhelm.
The day held beauty although I didn’t manage to transmute my energy fully, and I went to bed fairly exhausted.
Sunday morning I attended meditation, but due to my lack of groundedness was completely overpowered by the energy in the room; I sat there with my eyes open and head on my knees, and was faintly annoyed that I couldn’t profit from the intensity rather than being overwhelmed by it, but then gave over to complete surrender and was at peace with the situation.
For about an hour.
Life is fucking beautiful
Then another old friend came back to me, a somewhat pathetic little thing, whining about how tough life could be and how much that foot was hurting, and a myriad of other fairly trivial things that she considered wholly unfair.
And just at the peak of the internal soggyness I walked past a wooden fence, adorned liberally with wildflowers and brambles, and looked over into a wheat field glowing golden in the morning light, and a crack opened in my forlorn little heart, and suddenly I started to laugh because it was just so obvious; everything was just perfect!
The field, the sun, the flowers, life, my life, everything was just perfect – the only thing making me think it was anything other than absolutely glorious was my illusion that my pain was a problem.
No problem. Just pain.
Everything is perfect. Beautiful. Life is fucking beautiful, even when it hurts.
This simple truth washed over me like a gentle cramp; powerful but infinitely reassuring in its raw honesty.
And I let go.
I let go of the belief that my pain is a problem, of the illusion that my desires in that moment held any importance, of the tangle of emotions that were grasping for my attention.
Deepening, integration, transformation
Later that day we did some triad work on the topic of how well we are able to let our creative energy flow through our structure (our physical channel) and manifest in the world, and I was offered the possibility that I underestimate the capacity of my structure, that in fact perhaps it is already wide enough to let the intensity of my creative drive flow through.
It took about 20 seconds but then that Oh. Yep. Truthbomb feeling socked me in the stomach.
The day was full so I didn’t have time to process, but that evening on the drive home the letting go continued. Like a steam engine that pulls out of the station with a great belch of smoke and starts chugging forward, slowly gaining in speed, I started letting go of other things too – of all those limiting beliefs, of all those stories I’ve been telling myself for ever that have nothing to do with who I am or what I can do, and I laughed til I cried, over and over again, exultant and amazed, shedding loads carried far too long, and savouring the mounting feeling of infinite freedom.
I dropped into my own essence deeper than ever before, and it was like swimming in honey.
One weekend. So rich.