I awoke under a grove of pines while the morning light slivered through the trees, a cool breeze filled the air. A slow and easy morning followed by the last leg of traveling. I found myself on some county road in the middle of Southern Indiana. The scene much like the last few days. Family farmhouses, an abundance of wild flowers and that bright light of sunshine beating it's way through the windshield.
Breathe: A Slackline and Discovery Festival is something I stumbled upon last year [2016 Reflection] after a bit of online poking around. I had just moved back home and was looking for a slackline community to be apart of in the Midwest. I had gotten ahold of Mike, one of the co-creators of the festival, and knew immediately this was a celebration I wanted to be involved with. His words were simple and genuine,
“WELCOME TO THE BREATHE FAMILY, I THINK YOU HAVE JUST FOUND A NEW SECOND HOME AND COMMUNITY TO BE APART OF.”
Another year showing up solo. I drove into the drive, collected my map of the grounds and tied on my wrist band. I slowly sifted through the 18 pages of workshops and classes that were about to commence throughout the three-day weekend.
From yoga to slacklining, beginner to advanced, cooking classes to fire spinning, foraging to an open art studio, drum meditation to gong baths, writing workshops and talk tents. There literally is something for anyone, regardless of age, interest, or background.
I unloaded my car, set up camp and wandered around the space.
This years festival was nestled in the rolling hills of Owen County, Indiana. Stable Studios is the setting - a family owned, multipurpose venue home to weddings, festivals and a commitment to the local music scene. The environment set the tone. With 55 acres of fields, ponds and forest you immediately felt a calm rush throughout your over-stimulated, busy-boiling-blood, fueled by the bustle of city life. There had been a storm Wednesday leaving the ground soaked and soggy, a perfect playground for barefeet, grounding as the mud squished and squirmed through each individual toe. As I explored the space, I ran into handfuls of familiar faces. Instead of the nod-your-head-and-keep-walking-approach everyone seemed to welcome me with open arms and exuberant hugs. At this point it really began to sink in, I had arrived.
Thursday night was spent orienting myself and refreshing last years memories. An early night was called in order to welcome a long weekend of discovery. Evening came and went with a Friday morning rise & shine as the rooster sang his tune. A white haze hanging low on the green field, a slow awakening. I spent the day volunteering in the community kitchen, walking the line in the beautiful 'Yarnia' art installation and basking in an array of random talks with total strangers as we sifted and dug through some of life's simplest struggles and personal secrets.
People are drawn to this festival for so many reasons. On the most basic level, people come to slackline. There are hundreds of lines hung high and low throughout the entire space. Long lines, short lines, water lines, beginner lines, tricklines. The amount of time, energy and money that goes into rigging the setup is profound, a labor of love would be an understatement. Others show up for the yoga and mediation, a hippy festival, the music, the friends. But for most, a common theme threads through the core - people arrive unknowingly to reconnect and transform.
Life is busy, we all know this. The days are packed full and all too often we can't find the 'time'. There is never enough of it, yet it's always there ticking away in front of our face. As we run and race around we forget how important it is to slow down, to be with OUR thoughts, not the thoughts of the TV screen or the social media, or the lyrics or the movie lines..... The noise and distractions of modern day living stifles our creativity and beats our imagination into a submissive box. 9 to 5's and active weekends leave very little wiggle room for spontaneity and going with the flow. Always lost in our plans for what's next, analyzing what's been, until we are so disconnected and irritable we don't know where the source begins.
There is an intrinsic comfort - this environment, these people, this space - holds you and allows you to release the constricting limitations of systems and society. There is an energy here, one that is so over-powering that you let go of your subconscious baggage. The luggage you pick up and drag around in everyday life begins to dissipate, leaving your shoulders a little lighter. Breathe holds space for you to momentarily remove yourself from the noise and chatter, the stories you replay, the distractions, the habits and impulses and conditioning that has molded you. You realize you are not what happens to you, you don't have to play a role or match an identity here. Here you are free to Breathe, to truly take in life and love and laughter with each inhale and let go of the drama's and expectations with each exhale.