Festival experience

When I turned 50, I promised myself that I would try and experience as many new things as possible. My rationale is that you only get one shot at life and why would I want to end my days regretting not doing something? I’ve done pretty well with it so far and I’m still finding lots of new things to try.

Having just said that I only have one shot at life, that doesn’t exactly sit within the Buddhist philosophy! Not that I am a fully fledged Buddhist yet; I am fully at ease with some of the concepts, particularly the reincarnation one…

I tried a few Buddhist orders before deciding that the one I most identified with was triratna. They are more western in their approach, the retreats they run are beautiful. I’ve been several times and always come back feeling wonderfully peaceful and relaxed.

So, when I listened to the stories about Buddhafield, I was keen to go. And that’s where I have been this week, to a Buddhist festival in Somerset. I’m not sure what I expected actually, I probably thought it would be like the retreats only bigger and with more to do…

And while I did have a wonderful week and enjoyed the festival, there were some aspects that were surprising and some that were unpleasant. The brilliant aspects were the blazing hot weather which was perfect for camping and for a festival; the meditation spaces; the talks by ordained Buddhists; the music (especially the drumming workshops run by a South American musician, who taught me until my fingers were numb!)

However, the festival overall was more of a ‘new age’ thing. Less of a Buddhist retreat, more of a New Age travellers camp! I’m not complaining about that, I love new experiences, it just wasn’t what I expected.

I will try and put up some photos tomorrow, showing what I mean, but the whole feel of the place was new agey, upper/middle class families getting back to nature, doing the ‘whole Buddhist thing, yeah…’

There was a definite ethnic dress code. And tons of ‘healing’ practitioners, set up in a big area, doing everything from reiki, reflexology, and massage to colour therapy, angel healing and Native American sweat lodges.

There were only three shower cubicles for the whole place – well three partly enclosed ones. They were heated by people sawing logs and burning them! The other showers were out in the open, freezing cold affairs, where everyone just stripped off completely and stood under the icy water with seemingly no inhibitions! I queued for the partly enclosed ones…

Talking of no inhibitions, I have never seen so many totally naked people in my life! Just wandering around completely naked, as if in a naturist festival. And not particularly young people ,either…

And don’t get me started on the compost toilets. Enough to say that in over 30degrees temperatures, the smell and the flies…. I had to wrap a scented scarf around my face every time I walked past, never mind when I had to go inside….

More of my adventures later in the week. But for now, I am luxuriating in a comfy bed, having just had a real shower, an extremely long real shower…

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