The average person wouldn’t expect a music festival to be a huge teaching experience, but Envision Festival in Uvita, Costa Rica has taught its attendees a thing or two. The first thing to consider is that Envision is a conscious festival, meaning it takes measures to make sure it is running as sustainably as possible; the message of “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a massive theme throughout the festival. There is no paper or plastic dishware allowed, the stages are made out of sustainable materials like bamboo, and composting and recycling is enforced throughout the grounds. These are some of the more obvious lessons the festival teaches, but if you dig a little deeper, the event has so much more to offer.
For me personally this year, 2016, Envision taught me the lesson of the importance and strength of community, and also the importance of being in the present. Envision has an incredible sense of community, which is probably due to the intimate size of the festival or the feeling of being together in a foreign country. Or maybe it’s just the feeling of so many passionate people coming together at once. Everyone you came across at the festival had a smile on their face. The saying “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet” carried pretty heavily with me at Envision; there was no division between friends and strangers. I met so many people over the course of the weekend that I talked to as if I had known for years. Everyone acted like there was no differences between us, and that is someone that I want to take home to my everyday life. Often times when we meet new people we immediately judge them, write them off in our own minds, and find flaws. I want to take the spirit of Envision into my life by accepting new people, letting them in, and including them on my journey. It helps me step outside of my comfort zone, meet new people, and experience new things. Understanding those around you, however different they may be, gives your perspective, and helps build community by showing support and love towards strangers instead of shutting them out or tearing them down. Without these divisions we are able to come together and accomplish anything. I have Envision to thank for reminding me of that!
Perhaps even more important than the lesson Envision taught me about community was the lesson the festival taught me about the importance of being in the present. It has been a bad habit of mine to not live in the present. Checking my phone, thinking about something I need to be doing at home, even being excited about future events instead of being happy and enjoying the event I was at. In Costa Rica, not many people had good cell phone reception, if any reception at all. It was a nice break from the world back home, and experiencing a festival completely phoneless was a beautiful thing. I was in the moment, with my full attention on the things around me, surrounded by people that were dancing and not standing with their phones in their hands. This feeling of being present was something I really needed to bring back to my everyday life.
I wasn’t the only person that learned a thing or two at Envision Festival this year, after the festival I sat down with a number of attendees from different walks of life to ask them the question 'What is something you learned at Envision that you are able to take home and apply to everyday life?" Here is what they had to say:
“Envision renews my faith in humanity. There are so many creative, open minded, loving people who attend. It makes me think there's hope for the human race.” - Dolores P.
“I learned that the best things come when you allow yourself to simply be. When you are fully enthralled in the now and disassociate yourself from your ego and stream of perpetual thoughts, you are able to be the best, happiest, most magical version of yourself. And guess what? That attracts more happiness and magic to you, often in the form of beautiful kindred spirits.” - Karyne S.
“I gained experience (the deepest form of wisdom) in how to love myself. When self-doubt came up, I loved myself more with self-belief. When I became judgemental, I loved myself more with forgiveness. I got better and better at loving myself, which I am able to use every day!” - Mitchell R.
“As someone that is older than the average festival goer I realize that there is such a beautiful strong spirit of acceptance and drive to improve conditions on our planet. Everyone shared such wonderful stories and gives an everyday sense of hope and creativity in the world. Everyday I think of Envision Festival with a smile on my face !” - Beth S.
“Firstly I learned that it is okay to be sweaty and dirty. Second I am a yoga teacher so it was really cool doing and learning yoga with such talented teachers I spent pretty much all 4 days 9-close in the yoga area and I'll have a lot to take away from each and every class I did, from acro yoga to letting my inner goddess out. And lastly I learned that sometimes universe leads you on a path you don't expect or want” - Dasha B.
“(I learned) to let yourself feel every emotion and feeling that comes your way. Don't be afraid to cry when you're happy or sad. Don't be afraid to feel sadness. And definitely don't be afraid to dance like a fool when you feel it through your body ! It's important to allow yourself to accept every emotion and feeling as they come. Just be ! Be yourself!” - Kelly S.
“Always wear sunscreen…. And always be kind to those around you...and never leave a friend behind” -Brian G.
Perhaps one of the most interesting responses I received was a response from a Costa Rican native, Carlos. I loved hearing a the perspective of someone native to the country. His words about his skepticism of the festival and how the experiences taught him so much inspires me and reminds me how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and try things you normally wouldn’t!
“Envision came in a very interesting point in my life. I had many, many questions, and the answers I was opening myself to were taking me to anxiety, pain, existentialism and guilt. I had so many questions and was in need of much peace . I hadn’t planned on attending Envision. I hadn’t ever been to Uvita and hadn’t planned on being there, but once I got there, I decided to be somewhat true to the journey I had embarked upon, to give into the flow, to open my eyes to opportunity, and, alas, I bought a ticket shortly before they were sold out. My more cynical and logical self was, at first, rather critical and skeptical about some of the festival’s more commercial aspects: the existence of VIP areas, the hedonism regarding the mindless consumption of psychedelic and stimulating drugs and empty casual sex, the whole surf culture, the cliché of new-age cliché in some of the art and in the constant mention of quick-fix “spiritual journeys,” the lack of Spanish or of anything actually Costa Rican, etc. I was, however, able to overcome said cynicism and give in to the festival’s transformation – to seek everything it could teach me. I entered the realm of destiny, of spirits and energies, and found a bounty. In fact, I am still overwhelmed.
In practical terms, I learned the practice of meditation, passive and active, and how to apply it regularly. I learned to appreciate yoga and the many aspects therein not only as a physical exercise, but also as a spiritual and contemplative practice that I am incorporating into my life (I’m currently looking for yoga teachers and schools around here that incorporate the spiritual side into the physical postures). I learned about the body’s intelligence, how the body can be a channel and how dance can be a meditative, spiritual practice. I was exposed to wonderful music I had never heard before that will now be a part of my life. I learned to ask myself questions and to be mindful of the answers.
There were many, many teachers, and many lessons. The most important lesson, however, was that of community, of connection and sharing. I connected very deeply with many people, something remarkable in such a short time. I was happy to share with them many things, from food, to utensils, favors, but also knowledge, experience, appreciation, emotions, space, something that was only possible from a place of no judgment and full acceptance. I navigated through many different worlds, beautiful worlds, filled with openness, acceptance, appreciation and love, and through that I grew. I found a boldness I lacked, or rather, learned to listen to a voice that I had been deaf to. I came to understand and appreciate the power of generosity, trust and kindness, as well as the benefits of expressing gratitude.
Now in front of my desk, facing my computer, it feels as though I was in a different dimension, as if I am awakening from a wonderful dream. The challenge remains now for this dream, full of truth and life, to permeate into the banalities of my practical life (or does my life have to banal?). To keep this energy of change and love flowing in all things (big and seemingly small (there are no small things)). Perhaps even to take this change into its ultimate consequences as a seed has been planted, and it won’t stop growing.” -Carlos S.
Photos By Madi Lawton
Written By Madi Lawton