We will gather peacefully for silent meditation the morning of July 4th, 2018 from dawn until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the southern Appalachian Mountains. DIRECTIONS TO THE GATHERING ARE HERE (and contain road closure info, and other critical information. This post is updated frequently so check back for the latest.To learn how to get into the gathering without getting a mandatory court appearance ticket, click here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Trip of It All

I've often thought that going to a gathering is a bit like taking a trip. Advanced preparation helps -- after all you don't want to be out in the Rocky Mountains with no jacket at 2:00 a.m., but is preparation the key to a successful gathering?

Yes and no.

For those of you who recognize the phases of a good trip, many people have an idea of what they want to happen. Perhaps stocking the fridge or cooler with fruit juice and pizza is your idea of preparation. Maybe it's the music. You want to be listening to your favorite band. Location can be key. Do you want to be at home with close friends, in the woods, or on the dance floor at a concert?  All these things matter, up to a point.

You start out with all your preparations. Excitement builds, you start feeling the effects of what you are doing.  You try to stick to the plan.  And that my friends is the crux of the problem.

The trip like the gathering often has a different plan for you. Perhaps the trip comes from the center of the universe speaking to you in hushed tones. Other times, it's waves crashing on the beach. Getting bigger and bigger until you are caught in an under tow and getting your head bounced off the bottom of the ocean like a basket ball (not so subtle).  The more you resist, the worse things get.

When you first realize you're struggling, panic can set in and you can resist what is happening. This moment is when your friends can help you relax, surrender to the universe and where it is trying to guide you,  and you can open fully to the magic.  Don't just go with the crashing waves, BECOME the crashing waves and you will land on shore safely.

The gathering is no different. Many of us arrive with an intention, a focus, a plan.  Great ideas like an art camp, a huge bank of shitters near the main meadow, a kitchen that will kick out dank zuzus in the wee hours of the morning.  Planning for these things is great and I do it all the time.

Having the sleeping bag and tent, a warm jacket and thick socks can make the chaos enjoyable. However, just like when trippin, at some point you need to latch onto your Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.

But what does that mean?  

It means being present to what is happening around you and plugging in to the best of your abilities.

It means listening to what the universe is trying to teach you and I guarantee that every gathering is trying to teach you something. It's your choice how you want to learn the lesson. If you are actively listening to what the gathering and hence the universe wants you to learn, then the lessons may be challenging but not painful. If you close your mind to the words of the universe, then the universe will probably speak about a bit more loudly and with more force. 

Make your preparations and once you are home, be prepared to altar the plan significantly. Take time to walk through the gathering in silence and listen to the wind in the trees, the sounds of children laughing, and the pain and suffering in many hearts. Open your heart to those who need love, share your food with those who are hungry, lend an arm or shoulder to those who need help, and the messages from the universe will ring as strongly as the bird songs in the early morning.

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