FRESH!, for twenty-thirteen, you SUCKAS! 

This is how I imagine an old-school MC would have ended the festivities, which was Bhakti Fest Midwest 2013.  Now, many days later, I’m still feeling the effects of a weekend full of connectedness and  pure open-heartedness. 

On any other day or weekend, I’d give a smile and a half nod to anyone suggesting that I was blissed out, but on this weekend, I was completely in the bhav.  It is said that when the physical, mental, and emotional states of being come into alignment at the highest vibration, brought on by the surrender of self and devotion to God, the devotee experiences the bhav.   Blissful.  Loving.  Amazing. 

Have you ever seen someone smile with their eyes?  What about their whole body mind, and spirit?  Hanging with upwards of a thousand people that have taken on this state of being, I noticed something immediately.  Simple glances between strangers moved away from habitual everyday judgments, critiques, and non-acknowledgement, and moved towards positive, happy, glances that seemed to create a constant whisper in the very air we breathed.  That whisper said “I see you”.   

Attending Bhakti Fest feels much like attending a yoga class, workshop, or kirtan around town, except for a few small differences. 

First (and most obvious), is the scale of things. Forty-something hours of yoga; twenty-something hours of workshops; and forty-something hours of kirtan.  There was so much to take in.  On any given day, I try to carve out a little time for various yoga events.  These are sort of a treat, but mostly they’re a way to bring balance to a busy and scattered day.   

On this special weekend, I make no claims about balance.  The whole day, better yet, the whole weekend gets carved out and experienced as a treat, with hopes of bringing some balance to a busy and scattered life.    

Secondly,  I will say, without pedestals and praise, that I appreciate the well-renowned gurus who came to guide yoga, lead workshops, sing, and play instruments.  Recognizing modern day masters doesn’t mean I’m star-struck, it just means I’m full of love and appreciation.   (I was a little star-struck though.)  They taught me (again) by example that the way to guide others along the path is to do so with serious open-heartedness. 

Lastly, I was witness.  I was witness to seeds being planted on a grand scale.  I witnessed the newly opened and curious heart being coaxed by songs and tales of love and devotion.  I witnessed the strong, wise heart speak of the Divine Mother, enlightenment, and the path.  I witnessed the softening of an otherwise guarded heart in the company of friends.  I saw the over-flowing heart, free and expressive.  I saw myself in so many others.  This is what I consider the deepest of benefits.  That is: when the collective enters the bhav, Oneness becomes easier to realize. 

There were SO many highlights for me, too many to list.  But there is one…. 

It was late on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band were up on stage, straight rockin’ it.  We responded as an audience with joy, and – from the heart.  Then Sean responds by busting out with a bit of beat boxing.  Not some corny middle school playground stuff, he came with some of that “this white boy got soul”  kind of skills. 

I, and I’m sure countless others allowed surprise to pave the way from joyful cheering and chanting to outright elation.  We cheer more.  We feel more.  We are fully present.  

Here’s the other thing I realized.  In that moment, with no actual conversation, no words, no physical touch, no script, we engaged in spirit talk.  He said “Let’s sing.  Let’s be one”.  We said “Yes!”  He said “Let’s have fun!”  We said enthusiastically, “I’m in!!!”.  He said, “I see you”.  We responded in kind, “I see you”.  

I love that shit. 

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