How I found my hippy boundaries…

Sorry for no post last week! How you all doing? Ok? Work has been a bit mental and I wanted to wait until I’d done something worth writing about… and I was pretty sure that a tribal gathering was going to be it!

Run by the London Spirituality Group, the meeting was to bring together ‘the tribe of many colours,’ ‘of soul brothers and sisters’ to celebrate and heal through scared songs and dance and a Shamanic water ceremony.  I was pretty excited – after all, I’m a pretty pro-bongo player now and can dance in a drumming circle with the best of them! I reckoned that if anything, this was just going to be a culmination of all I’d done so far. I’d never done anything Shamanic before but I was totally down with learning about something new.

I dragged along my friend Kerri – one of my dear Laughter Yoga lovelies – and together we headed to East London.  As we followed the directions to the meet I realised that I’d been in the same area for a few weeks before for a rave… as we went downstairs into the basement of the building I realised that it was literally the same warehouse! What are the chances?! (I’m now pretty sure that there’s just one warehouse in East London being used for underground events.) It was pretty weird to think that where there was now incense, Peruvian drummers and people quietly meditating, only a few weeks before had been filled with sweaty, wasted clubbers. Trying not to let the memory taint the atmosphere, I sat on my cushion and assessed the group – there were almost 100 people there,  a mixture of old and young but perhaps the most stereotypically hippy looking crowd I’ve been to.  We were all given a blind fold and a song sheet.  (Yes, warning bells did ring a little bit)

The introduction was led by a beautiful women, about my age, called Akasha Wacha. Wearing feathers in her hair she explained a bit about Shamanism and the belief in the spirit and how cities remove us from our surroundings, nature and each other. Akasha has spent the last 12 years training as a spiritual practitioner and has worked intensively in the Amazon to learn indigenous South American shaman medicine. (So far, I am so sold. This woman spends half her life in the jungle, that’s pretty cool.)

The meeting started with a water blessing – Akasha put drops of ‘blessed water’ gathered from thousands of ‘sacred sites’ into several jugs in the centre of the room. (Not going to lie, I was pretty suspect of the hygienic consequence of the ‘sacred water’ but reckoned the small amount wasn’t going to kill me and if all was to be believed it might even cure a few things!) Akasha began to chant and we all joined in, creating a moving circle around the water which was being surrounded by about five closed eyed women holding hands. The drummers joined in and there was a pretty good energy in the room.

After 5 minutes Akasha brought the group back together, the now blessed water was taken away for later, and she told us that it was now time to ‘release ourselves’ in some tribal dancing. We were all asked to put on our blind folds and just let ourselves go. ‘It got pretty freaky in here last time – so let’s see what happens this time!’ (Alarm bells ringing pretty loudly.)

I thought that I was pretty open to most things – but turns out that being blind folded in a room full of people dancing to Amazonian drumming… and screaming (not just ‘woo yeh’ kinda screaming, I mean, like AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, screaming) is where my limit lies. I wanted to pull off the blindfold just to see what everyone was doing but I understood that the whole point is a collective but individual moment. I opened my eyes and through the thin black material could make out the guy in front of me jumping around in a crouch position while a women next to me pogo-ed about. I thought that my collegues jokes of groping were becoming a reality when someone brushed past me.

I tried to get into the moment and let myself go… I even let out a little woop! But to be honest, I missed having interaction with other people and spent most of the time (about 10 minutes?!) just worried someone was going to touch me.  Whether I was the only one thinking this I’m not sure.  I found Kerri she told me she had LOVED it and had totally let herself go, perhaps it says something about me that I couldn’t.

After the excitement of the tribal dance I was all ready for some chanting, song and the sacred water!  Instead we all got back on our cushions to listen to a couple of musicians. The songs were nice and the couple’s harmonies were beautiful. I was enjoying the chilled out atmosphere, the guy freestyle dancing to the harp and guitar at the back of the room and the general randomness of the evening… until the girls in front of me began to massage each other…and then a third joined in! Talk about distracting! I’m no prude, believe me, but collective massage was not what I signed up for… and if it was, please can I have some of the Amazonian medicine to kick it all off?!

The night was drawing on… the flyer said 7pm till 9pm but it was already 9.30pm and there was still no sign of any chanting or sacred water! The energy began to dip and slowly people were starting to slip out. When the next part of the night was a Peruvian guy who had come to represent the struggling Shipibo tribe I admit, I had reached my limit. It’s actually a really good cause but when the traditional pan pipe type instrument came out, me and Kerri got the serious giggles and I knew it was time to go home.  I didn’t want to be disrespectful to this lovely guy but I was just sick of sitting on a cushion in a warehouse watching 3 girls get freaky in front of me.

So we waited until the songs had finished, left out donation and quietly slipped back into ‘normality.’

No sacred songs, no chanting and No SACRED WATER!  BOO!

I was genuinely disappointed to leave early but it was only Tuesday and the incense and the harp music had clearly taken its toll.

I would like to go to something else run by Akasha, I think what she does is really interesting. As for my first tribal gathering? Definitely the most surreal thing I’ve ever done.

Sorry for no post last week! Work has been a bit mental and I wanted to wait until I’d done something worth writing about… and I was pretty sure that a tribal gathering was going to be it!

Run by the London Spirituality Group, the meeting was to bring together ‘the tribe of many colours,’ ‘of soul brothers and sisters’ to celebrate and heal through scared songs and dance and a Shamanic water ceremony.  I was pretty excited – after all, I’m a pretty pro-bongo player now and can dance in a drumming circle with the best of them! I reckoned that if anything, this was just going to be a culmination of all I’d done so far. I’d never done anything Shamanic before but I was totally down with learning about something new.

I dragged along my friend Kerri – one of my dear Laughter Yoga lovelies – and together we headed to East London.  As we followed the directions to the meet I realised that I’d been in the same area for a few weeks before for a rave… as we went downstairs into the basement of the building I realised that it was literally the same warehouse! What are the chances?! (I’m now pretty sure that there’s just one warehouse in East London being used for underground events.) It was pretty weird to think that where there was now incense, Peruvian drummers and people quietly meditating, only a few weeks before had been filled with sweaty, wasted clubbers. Trying not to let the memory taint the atmosphere, I sat on my cushion and assessed the group – there were almost 100 people there,  a mixture of old and young but perhaps the most stereotypically hippy looking crowd I’ve been to.  We were all given a blind fold and a song sheet.  (Yes, warning bells did ring a little bit)

The introduction was led by a beautiful women, about my age, called Akasha Wacha. Wearing feathers in her hair she explained a bit about Shamanism and the belief in the spirit and how cities remove us from our surroundings, nature and each other. Akasha has spent the last 12 years training as a spiritual practitioner and has worked intensively in the Amazon to learn indigenous South American shaman medicine. (So far, I am so sold. This woman spends half her life in the jungle, that’s pretty cool.)

The meeting started with a water blessing – Akasha put drops of ‘blessed water’ gathered from thousands of ‘sacred sites’ into several jugs in the centre of the room. (Not going to lie, I was pretty suspect of the hygienic consequence of the ‘sacred water’ but reckoned the small amount wasn’t going to kill me and if all was to be believed it might even cure a few things!) Akasha began to chant and we all joined in, creating a moving circle around the water which was being surrounded by about five closed eyed women holding hands. The drummers joined in and there was a pretty good energy in the room.

After 5 minutes Akasha brought the group back together, the now blessed water was taken away for later, and she told us that it was now time to ‘release ourselves’ in some tribal dancing. We were all asked to put on our blind folds and just let ourselves go. ‘It got pretty freaky in here last time – so let’s see what happens this time!’ (Alarm bells ringing pretty loudly.)

I thought that I was pretty open to most things – but turns out that being blind folded in a room full of people dancing to Amazonian drumming… and screaming (not just ‘woo yeh’ kinda screaming, I mean, like AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, screaming) is where my limit lies. I wanted to pull off the blindfold just to see what everyone was doing but I understood that the whole point is a collective but individual moment. I opened my eyes and through the thin black material could make out the guy in front of me jumping around in a crouch position while a women next to me pogo-ed about. I thought that my collegues jokes of groping were becoming a reality when someone brushed past me.

I tried to get into the moment and let myself go… I even let out a little woop! But to be honest, I missed having interaction with other people and spent most of the time (about 10 minutes?!) just worried someone was going to touch me.  Whether I was the only one thinking this I’m not sure.  I found Kerri she told me she had LOVED it and had totally let herself go, perhaps it says something about me that I couldn’t.

After the excitement of the tribal dance I was all ready for some chanting, song and the sacred water!  Instead we all got back on our cushions to listen to a couple of musicians. The songs were nice and the couple’s harmonies were beautiful. I was enjoying the chilled out atmosphere, the guy freestyle dancing to the harp and guitar at the back of the room and the general randomness of the evening… until the girls in front of me began to massage each other…and then a third joined in! Talk about distracting! I’m no prude, believe me, but collective massage was not what I signed up for… and if it was, please can I have some of the Amazonian medicine to kick it all off?!

The night was drawing on… the flyer said 7pm till 9pm but it was already 9.30pm and there was still no sign of any chanting or sacred water! The energy began to dip and slowly people were starting to slip out. When the next part of the night was a Peruvian guy who had come to represent the struggling Shipibo tribe I admit, I had reached my limit. It’s actually a really good cause but when the traditional pan pipe type instrument came out, me and Kerri got the serious giggles and I knew it was time to go home.  I didn’t want to be disrespectful to this lovely guy but I was just sick of sitting on a cushion in a warehouse watching 3 girls get freaky in front of me.

So we waited until the songs had finished, left out donation and quietly slipped back into ‘normality.’

No sacred songs, no chanting and No SACRED WATER!  BOO!

I was genuinely disappointed to leave early but it was only Tuesday and the incense and the harp music had clearly taken its toll.

I would like to go to something else run by Akasha, I think what she does is really interesting. As for my first tribal gathering? Definitely the most surreal thing I’ve ever done.

More soon. Next time, something just good ol’ plain fun.

Peace

x

To read more about Shamanism click here

To read more about London Spirituality Movement click here

To read about the Shipibo tribe click here

Who’s that mad girl giving out cake?!.. oh its me.

Aside

So, it’s been a couple of months since I embarked on this ‘journey’ and as I was crammed into my daily commuter train (sandwiched between the girl tweeting offensive things about her fellow passengers and the man breathing on my neck) I started to think about whether I’ve actually gained anything or moved forward in any way –

Tentatively I would say yes. I’ve definitely put myself in situations I wouldn’t have done before!

I’ve learnt to meditate (although I have to confess that my daily practice consists of 5 minutes positive thinking on the way to work rather than any prolonged period of time at home, but it’s a baby step I guess) I’ve laughed so hard my cheeks hurt, danced in a drum circle, been inspired by some great mentors and leant to make a conscious effort to be kinder, more generous and more trusting. (I definitely wouldn’t have stopped to ask my Big Issue seller if he wanted a homemade chocolate banana muffin on my way to work this morning!) I’ve met a community of like-minded people (both on and off line) and discovered that you don’t have to live in a tree-house or wear tie-dye to want a happier, more fulfilling life (man, I wish I could live in a tree house.) I’ve made new friends and re-connected with old ones. No doubt, these are all awesome.

Don’t get me wrong. I have not become a perfect person. I have not turned into the quiet serene girl I always admired in school (then I’ve always said mysterious is over rated) I still get quite outrageous road rage, I’m grumpy when I’m hungry, I judge people who I think are idiots and I tut at people who jump into the train carriage as the doors are closing when there’s clearly no room left (just a few things to work on!)

When I started this project one of my main sources of unhappiness was feeling like I was on the wrong path. I now work in a job, which although isn’t perfect, strives to combat prejudice – who wouldn’t forgive the office politics when you get letters from people telling how much your project has inspired them. I also used to hate living in London. I try not to use the word hate very often because it implies something venomous, but I really was miserable. Despite having met the most amazing person who I hope to spend the rest of my life with and having a large wonderful group of friends – I felt like the city was sucking my soul. Boyfriend used to tell me that it was more in my head than where I was, and turns out he was right (oh how wise he is. ggr) Having started to get out and explore the city I have found that I can appreciate it’s diversity – there is SO much to do here and so much of it is free! Although I know I can’t live here forever (I need to live near the sea…) I’ve accepted that I have to be here for a while and have to get out of it what I can.

‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim

and end of human existence’ – Aristotle.

 And, what have I learnt about happiness? There is literally so much to read about the topic that’s for sure. Just when I find something which I’m certain is true something else comes along and changes my mind! A girl I met told him something interesting when I told her about this blog. She said ‘When you ask people about happiness, they tell you about sadness. When you ask about love, they tell you about pain.’ I thought about this and I understand what she means – both happiness and love are what we, as humans, are all programmed to pursue – yet they the hardest things to keep. When we have them we are in a state of high and if we lose them, then it is as if we have lost a piece of ourselves. Does that sound too deep (clichéd)? If there is one thing I have learnt so far is that happiness isn’t a state of continuous bliss. It’s just impossible (and just unrealistic) to try and stay ‘happy’ all the time. Happiness is about becoming internally more positive so that when something bad happens it feels less like falling off a cliff and more like a bump in the road. I also think it’s about finding things you like doing and making time to actually do them. And it’s about having a future goal and working towards it. I’m still searching, I really want to have my own (ethical) – business (hey, u can’t take the hippy out of the girl what can I say?!)and just waiting for the right idea, but in the mean time I try to be thankful for the good things I have now.

There’s still so much I want to try – trapeze swinging anyone? There’s bound to be more dancing with strangers.

And so the journey continues!

Thank you to all those who have got in touch to say how much they enjoy my posts, it’s always awesome to hear from you.

More soon.

Peace

x

May happiness always win