Being on the road again is great, even though it felt a bit uncomfortable in the beginning with my half new engine. The plan to go to Berlin was cancelled, but instead I drove over Hamburg to meet up with Isa, whom I had met in Spain in winter. I really enjoyed catching up again. Even though it was just for a day, because I had to catch my boat to Sweden. That was one big boat… with trucks and everything. It took Lotje and me to across the sea in 6 hours.
Arriving in Sweden felt peaceful. The pace feels slower and everything is more spacious. I had 5 days to get to Ängsbacka, which turned into 3 driving days and 2 relax days. This was the first time driving through a country where I really didn’t understand the signs and language, which felt kind of strange (not that I could read Arabic in Morocco, but they also had French).
The first stop was a military training ground along the Eastern coastline, that is party open to the public in summer. It’s really spacious, lots of nature (yummy cherry trees) with some free roaming cows, horses and sheep and the sea. There were also quite some campervans and tents, but with all the space it was fine.
When I continued inland, I found a beautiful lake and parked there. Unfortunately for me, 2 German vans joined me with babies and toddlers. So far for the peace and quiet… The next day I found another lake where I had my other rest day. In Sweden people seem to be much more ok with swimming naked. I really enjoy that. I’m always a bit self-conscious about swimming naked and would never do it unless I see other people doing it. I don’t feel ashamed about my body anymore, it just doesn’t feel right to ‘force’ my nakedness onto people who do not seem to be ok with it.
Even though Sweden is beautiful, it’s not particularly varied. So, I felt grateful that I had spent the past 3 weeks with my aunt (although I wished the circumstances had been a bit more relaxed). There would be enough time to explore in August and September.
Then it was time to make my final stop for a month and arrive at Ängsbacka. Feeling excited, hesitant, curious and happy I made it in time. I arrived during the campdays (only volunteers and staff) before the Yoga festival. This would be followed by several campdays and then the tantra festival, followed by the beginning of the course season. There were about 200 volunteers (the Netherlands were surprisingly well represented), so quite some people I could potentially get to know. But since I was still feeling a bit stressed from my engine trouble and accompanying hasty journey, I took it easy and spend quite some time by myself and in my van when I wasn’t working or eating. Compared to last year, when I was at the surfcamp in France, I feel so much more comfortable with not making the effort to try to fit in and meet people. I got to meet a few lovely people through the volunteer healing circle I was in, with whom we had daily sharings. During other times, I was either by myself or people came to me for a chat, instead of me trying my best to engage in conversations. The whole place, the number of people and the bodywork sessions I was giving, were intense enough to have to be in, especially once the yoga festival started. And me, allowing new connections to happen appeared to work really well.
At the end of the yoga festival I got a bad cold that left me sick for (just) a day. I spend most of the day in my bed with a sore and tired body. To my surprise several sweet men came over to check on me and keep me company with cosy cuddles throughout the day and night. I really felt cared for. I can get used to that.
Being at Ängsbacka was something I had really been looking forward to, but, as I said, I was also feeling a bit hesitant, because of the stories I had heard from the free love practices and with the sexually-vibed tantra festival coming up. My practice would be feeling and respecting my boundaries. I really love the tantric practices, but for me they are about intimacy and connection, not sex. It’s beautiful when it can be combined (I wanted to say when they come together… but that sort of ruins the point), but for me, the practice is non-sexual. Also, I can get pretty confused when people talk about sexual energy. I always wonder if they mean the ‘feeling horny’ kind of sexual energy or the ‘feeling alive’ kind of life (kundalini) energy. For me, this life energy feels like a gentle tingling/flowing sensation throughout my whole body. When it becomes sexual it’s much more located around the centre of my body. At least, that’s how it is now, but who knows how it will evolve.
During the first two workshops I joined (one about boundaries and one massaging with the feet), I quite quickly met my boundaries. Allowing men to get too close (even without physical contact) without it feeling right/safe. This was a good reminder that in order to feel and know my boundaries they have to be (ever so gently, but still very much) crossed. And making me more aware that my limit can be reached quite quickly. I need to communicate that, or make sure I enter a workshop with someone I know and trust. It’s great that there are sharings (not always easy), also during workshops. Here, you can share your experience of what has just happened. A few times it turned out that my partner had felt more sexual during exercises where I had gotten uncomfortable and had felt something was off. That was a good practice. During the first workshop I left after a while (having the feeling that so many more boundaries were being crossed, which isn’t really any of my business, but was still making me feel uneasy). The second I stayed, while my head and body were hyper alert and unable to relax.
In the end a friend said to me “if it’s not a full YES, it’s a no”, meaning that feeling a maybe is also a no. She looks really badass, but is also a sweet and gentle soul. We did a shibari (bondage) workshop together. Tying each other up, wanting to learn and experience it (more). Most people around us were more experienced and turned it into a much juicier practice. I was happy we were in our own little, non-sexual bubble. As I was laying there, tied up and not so able to move, I felt a bit disillusioned. Thinking, well here we are, now what? I can see the art in tying and surrender in being tied and could see the (sexual) excitement during the demo, but doing it myself… not so sparkly. Maybe I just need to practice more, I felt pretty clumsy with the ropes as a first-timer. We had fun though.
During my day off I joined a yoni healing and a lingam massage workshop, which were beautiful experiences. I went together with man, whom I had met during my first days. We had been enjoying each other’s company. I felt comfortable to explore these intimate workshops with him, where we both wanted to learn more. The yoni workshop was slowly built up. I felt safe and cared for and could enjoy the practice of surrendering and opening up. The lingam workshop started with loud and active, kind of masculine music. Not really not the mindset I was in, after my yoni healing. Luckily, neither was he, so we chilled out and observed from the side. In the end it turned into a beautiful gentle massage workshop. The day after I felt really happy, open and strong, as if my confidence had been boosted. I had chosen, communicated and done what felt right for me, while feeling safe and pretty vulnerable. I’m grateful for that.
Boundaries were (still are) a thing for me. I had had a conversation with one of my sharingbuddies. He asked me ‘who are YOU?’ and ‘what’s holding you back?’, in response to me being afraid of not being able to take care of my own boundaries. Which led to a whole train of thoughts that ‘my’ fear is fuelled by experiences of the old version of me (maybe only just as old as a few hours or minutes ago). That I can still hold on to things that I used to be afraid of. But I’m not that version of me anymore, I’ve learned and grown. I can look at every situation with the experiences I have had up to now and choose what feels right, without that fear of the past-me. That every situation is a new one even if it looks the same, so I can choose to do it differently. That felt quite powerful and helped me in allowing myself to experience more pleasure in the connections with other people.
In hindsight I feel that there was not so much need to feel so hesitant. I realise now that with all the trainings and workshops I’ve done so far, I’ve already learned so much. Even though the vibe feels sexual and there are a lot of sexual interactions happening around me, I can hold my own space with others. I can give myself a bit more credit for that 🙂
I’m grateful for the beautiful month at Ängsbacka, there is so much more I’d like to share. The bigger processes I was fearing might happen, never did. Most experiences were a lot more subtle, but still intense. I’ve had beautiful connections, made new friends and learned a lot from them, about them and through them about myself. The bodywork sessions were a gift to share, receiving the trust to do what I love to do. I’ve learned so much from what all these bodies had to say. Ängsbacka felt like home and a bit like a bubble, where I dared to open up and become softer. As I’m back on the road with Lotje, I also noticed I was feeling a bit spacy and ungrounded while being there, and feeling stronger, more confident a bit hardened and clearer now.
Time to take some time to integrate it all and who knows, I might just want to go back there next year… <3