After the Living Village festival and some back-to-reality days at my parents and the hospital, it was time to leave the Netherlands again. Off to France to Nibana!
The Nibana festival was in immense ride. It started off quite relaxed for Mirte and me. The first 2 days we could just arrive and peacefully land, as the festival started on the second day. We found a lovely place to sleep, a bit secluded from everyone. Most of those first days I spent around my van. I needed to finish some labanalysis computer work and just wasn’t particularly in outgoing mood. Happy with my little van bubble, away from the pretty excited festival energies.
The vibe at the festival was really good. All the people involved in organising, managing and facilitating were helping each other out, a real co-creating energy. The terrain was beautiful and spacious and I got to meet so many beautiful people. All the workshops were given festival tents, some basic, some a bit more dressed, and there were different themes for the workshops, like: body, creativity, dance & movement, self-exploration, community and conscious sexuality. There was a lot of emphasis on consent, voicing boundaries, saying no and saying yes. With a big invitation to explore and share what was alive within yourself. That made for a festival which was sometimes more like a retreat with lots of inner work, than ‘just’ a fun festival. There were loads of lighter, dance and creative workshops as well, but I felt that the tone was set more towards tantra and accompanying sexuality (they were very linked to each other, which I felt was a bit of a shame) This was also seen in the incredible amount of attention the tantric temple had gotten in dressing up. It looked absolutely beautiful and super cosy. The tantric temple, besides workshop space, was also an open space at certain evenings/nights, which means sexuality could be explored in any way (within boundaries and consent obviously). Last year, at Angsbacka, I had experienced a love lounge, which had similar principles although, there, it wasn’t allowed to have sex. But here I never made it to the inside of the temple.
On the night of the opening, Mirte and I were hosting a morehands massage, as a non-sexual, but intimate alternative to the temple. I was actually quite nervous to facilitate something like this. Since, I felt that the vibe at the festival was becoming a bit more sexually loaded (which I had noticed the evening before while holding space at a blindfold dance party) and I really wanted our workshop to be a safe, non-sexual space. I was feeling a bit insecure about being able to create and hold a space like that. It was also the first time for me to host something like this. But we did it, and it was amazing! We really emphasized loving touch. Not just doing what you feel like giving, but giving what the receiver is asking for, if that feels ok to give. Everyone could ask for what they wanted to receive and communicate it, if they changed their minds. I felt so honoured to be present and witness this loving and communicative space, it was absolutely beautiful. Afterwards some people shared that it actually was the first time that they were able to ask for what they wanted to receive and that they could really enjoy the touch and attention. This totally made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and incredibly proud and grateful that we had created this space together. After the workshop, Mirte wanted to check out the freshly opened tantric temple and I was curious enough to join. I was in a complete bliss bubble after our workshop. As we came closer to the temple, I noticed my bubble started to burst and got replaced by a feeling of resistance. So, I stopped and told Mirte I didn’t want to go. As we were talking we heard some spanking, which totally made me feel that it was the right decision for me now. I didn’t want my happy fuzzy feeling to go away.
The next morning, I also needed to get up early (at 7!! I don’t really do activities at 7 in the morning anymore, but here I was, for the second time after teaching mindful movement 2 mornings before) to share a restorative yoga session. I figured it would be a very quiet morning. But slowly people started showing up and I ended up with 13 early birds in the little tent. It was quite a challenge with a lack of supporting props. But with a little help and a bit of improvisation everything worked out fine. This again was an amazing space to be allowed to hold and the feedback was beautiful. These 2 workshops really showed me my strength in holding space, doing less and the power in sharing that with others.
It was now the middle of the week and a lot of (emotional) processes were going on. I was starting to feel a bit tired and overwhelmed. The daily schedule had become quite busy with facilitating, assisting, meeting and occasionally wanting to join something myself. One part of me was feeling emotional with gratitude from the workshops I had given. Another part felt emotional from sadness of the connections I was seeing, but was felt I was ‘missing’ myself. I got along with people, but I was missing the deeper connections I have with people who are really close to me and whom I’ve known for a while. There were also quite some couples, which made me miss Charlie and there was some fear sinking in from the hospital stuff I was going through. I also felt, like I had before at Angsbacka, that this was a place where people were longing for connections, which weren’t always happening, creating a sense of a collective sadness within me. Not sure if this is a projection of myself or not, but I was crying so many tears, also during one of the facilitators meetings, that it felt like too much sadness for just myself. It was interesting to notice that, as soon as I shared how I was missing deep connections myself at the festival, I felt more connected to the people than before. It still wasn’t the way I wanted it, but acknowledging and sharing that, just made the resistance and frustration about it, disappear a bit. There were a lot of emotions popping up in this meeting, so afterwards I felt quite tired and heavy. Unfortunately, the show had to go on and it was time for me to give my Thai massage workshop. ‘Luckily’, it is a pretty intense workshop to give, with a lot of talking, so I put myself into workmode and slowly got into it. Mirte was noticing I wasn’t at my best and was really supportive.
After a very emotional day, everything slowly became lighter again. I finally made some time to enjoy some contact impro workshops myself, which got me right back into my body. I also joined a woodcarving workshop. My neighbours had lent me a book on how to make spoons from fresh wood. On the day I had left the Netherlands, I received the woodcarving set I had ordered. I was so happy to be able to try it out! And I can happily say that I have found myself an awesome new hobby. 🙂
The last workshops to give were a basic acro yoga workshop and an extra morehands massage. The acro yoga was so much fun! The emotions had settled for me and I was back full power. We really stuck to the basics and the beginning of acro yoga, building trust and connecting with each other. Quite some people didn’t have experience, some of them were even a bit reluctant. In the end, time flew by and some people had experienced things they thought they wouldn’t dare. Again, I felt so grateful. Our final morehands massage was also, a beautiful experience.
Interestingly enough, at the beginning of the festival, my neck had become super tense and I could barely look over my shoulder all week. As the festival slowly came to an end, my neck also slowly started to relax again. It felt like my body was making sure I wasn’t going to lose my head/mind while being there…
I must say I am very happy and proud to have been part of this incredibly intense first edition of Nibana. It has been such a great learning experience. We were all happy that in the end, instead of 2 weeks it was ‘just’ 1. We, as the facilitators, were also all a bit sad that the program had been so full that we barely had time to get to know each other better and enjoy each other’s workshops more. I really hope to get to properly meet everyone again, what an incredible team we had!
After Nibana, it was time for some peace and quiet. Mirte joined me a bit longer. We went to a lake, which I had been to in April while it was just 1 degree, now it was about 30 and we were swimming every day. It was really nice to stay together for a while and be able to share about our Nibana experience. Another 6 people from the festival came, but I mostly kept to myself and hung out with Mirte. The mood for bigger groups and socializing wasn’t there. A few days later, everyone went their own way, and Mirte left too. It was strange to see her go, but it also felt good to be on my own again. Slowly, the time had come to go to Switzerland, to meet up with my sister. I had a week to get to Switzerland, to work a bit and chill out. My sister and I hadn’t seen each other since Christmas, due to some bugs that had gotten in the way of meeting up. Fortunately, we were all clean now and were able to share a beautifully sunny weekend together in the Swiss Jura.
We went canoeing down Le Doubs, a beautiful river with melting water from the mountains. Quite chilly, but in the week before I had spent several days along that river, taking a fresh meditative dip every day. During our canoeing lunchbreak we found a little beach where we made a small fire to grill the hamburgers that we had brought. Very typically, a pretty brisk wind pulled up as we were trying to get the fire started. It was quite a challenge, but we managed! We felt quite sleepy, but satisfied, after our 15km canoe trip.
The day after we visited Saint Ursanne, a small medieval town. It did have a train station, where my sister and I said our goodbyes again after our lovely weekend together.
I was ready to go south now. To meet up with Mirte and Ollie, a friend of hers. Together we would drive to the rainbow gathering in France, where I would finally be reunited again with my love. They had been staying in the middle of nowhere with a Dutch man on a beautiful piece of land. The road to get there was really narrow though and I could barely get up. At some point I couldn’t go any further and had to go back a bit in reverse to be able to park. Apparently, I hadn’t realised that I had to park a bit further down the road. But since there wasn’t any reception there to keep communicating, it went the way it did. Luckily, I know Lotje well and managed to not get stuck or completely freak out. It had been sticky, driving with 35+ degrees the whole week. Thinking I had arrived, looking forward to a cold shower, turned into a pretty sweaty final 20 minutes of the journey.
My visit turned out completely different than expected (this is becoming my new mantra, because many things are not going as expected…). Mirte had just received the news that her cat had been hit by a car and was in pretty bad shape, so she also was in an overwhelmed mood. In the, approximately 24 hours I was there, we mostly sat on a hill in a field. The only place with phone reception. Being on the phone with her ex, several vets and a friend who was helping out. It was heartbreaking sometimes, to hear the conversations and the tough decisions that needed to be made. In the end, her cat died soon after I had left together with Ollie. We left Mirte behind, who wasn’t in a rainbow gathering mood anymore and needed some time by herself.
With mixed feelings, from leaving Mirte behind, we drove to the Pyrenees. To meet up with Charlie, whom I hadn’t seen for way too long and lately hadn’t been in contact with much either. It really was time for us to reconnect again.