From start to finish, my first Wanderlust Festival experience didn’t stop to amaze me. Going solo to the yoga festival in Great Lake Taupo, New Zealand last February 2-5, I didn’t know what to expect except for a jam-packed schedule of yoga activities mixed with live tunes. However, there’s so much more to this special occasion of celebrating mindful living where I was able to feel a strong sense of place and community togetherness. Throughout the days of beautiful experiences, I’ve summed up my favourite small moments that blew me away.
Maori warriors and every attendee pressing their forehead and nose against each other – eyes closed – exchanging and intermingling the breath of life. After the powerful, spiritual Maori opening ceremony of song and dance to kickstart Wanderlust Festival, all the attendees (manuhiri meaning visitors) including myself lined up to greet the Maori people with hongi so then to be considered as people of the land. With respect to the land and its people, it was now that we would commence festivities. When we gazed into each other’s eyes before closing them and breathed together, it’s like the sharing of souls. I then noticed many of the Wanderlust crew were greeting their friends and family the same way – even if it were just two ‘normal dressed’ looking dudes. Such a touching sight.
Toddlers sitting still, meditating. Once at the True North Cafe, two little boys were sitting still on the ground, legs crossed, eyes closed, beside each other while the world was moving about around them. Once more within the grass fields, there was a young girl meditating with her mother, face to face. Golden magic hour shone behind them, their long brunette hair blowing in the wind. How wonderful that we can raise a generation of grounded, conscious humans. I wished my parents taught me how to meditate when I was little.
Ny Oh holding the audience spellbound as she sings tear-jerking words about consciousness and freedom.
Just when I was about to tuck myself into my tent after some incredible acts on Thursday evening, a young woman with nothing but her guitar arrives on stage and I was unexpectedly hit with her message. I sat still and listened intently to hitchhiking busker Ny Oh singing I See Change. You might have gotten teary or even laughed at the subtle comedic element, whatever you’d feel no doubt everyone was swayed with spoken truths.
Jonnie Halstead, Director of Wanderlust Australia New Zealand, taking part in the spiritual opening ceremony, dancing on stage, talking to attendees… Basically, anytime I saw Jonnie. During the opening ceremony, the Maori people and manuhiri (us) were divided into two sides. Leading the Wanderlust Festival attendees pack was a topless Western man. As the Maori warrior would place a leaf on the ground before us as a symbolic offering of peace, our leader would bend down on one knee and accept the rautapu going on to perform a haka. Then, “Hello, my name is Jonnie Halstead. Thank you for welcoming us into this land.” I was stunned, I didn’t know that was Jonnie. You would think the director of a major events company to hide in the office talking operations, marketing and numbers. But here’s Jonnie. So in it. Throughout the long weekend, you would see him hands on with just about everything. It just gave us a much more personal, family-oriented connection with the team behind Wanderlust Australia New Zealand.
The spontaneous 150-person chain of linked arms during Elijah Ray’s closing acoustic performance that broke out into this flash mob free-spirited dance. After Jonnie walks around the fields rounding people up into ‘The Greatest Place’ (the main stage) for the festival finale, 10 people in the middle of the dance floor linked arms over each others’ shoulders to sway to the music. Strangers linked themselves on both ends. It grew, and grew… They needed to step back, and back… It grew so big that at least 150 of us got into a giant circle. After some minutes, we ran into the middle and fully expressed ourselves in song and dance. This linked energy, this oneness… This immediate participation. I can’t even begin to explain how deeply that touched my soul.
Images kindly provided with thanks to Wanderlust Australia New Zealand.
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