Six deep lessons I learnt at Burning Man about visioning

The sun rises over the playa, silhouetting the temple in white light. The dust rises off the flat earth. As the first light hits, I run off, skipping up to a stranger for a bear hug.

The Burning Man festival is held every year in the Nevada desert, where 70,000 people bring RVs tents, food, water, and their most outrageous costumes for an eight days of exploration and realisation.

No money is exchanged at the festival, instead everything is based on a gifting economy. One moment I’m reclining on a saloon porch slurping a delicious a triple shot margarita, then the next moment receiving an invitation to camp with 15 year burner veterans.

Burning Man is just one way to experience what could be, an opportunity to dive into our dream world when we abandon the shackles of our little everyday selves. Here are six things I learnt about visioning from this unique festival.

The art of intuitive travel

I was just blessed by the Dalai Lama, I tell myself triumphantly.

Then a voice of doubt creeps in. Be honest: he waved his hand in your general direction. But I’m almost certain we made eye contact, I repeat reassuringly – so I’m still counting it as a sign.

Warming my hands by the fire on the porch of the Clay Oven, I watch the Tibetan monks shuffle past in paprika robes and knock off Nikes. We give each other the secret nods and mental high fives of the spiritually elated.

My jubilance spills over onto the table next to me, and I strike up a conversation with two Americans, Dawn and Yasmine Habash. We compare notes on our vantage points at the morning’s teaching and discuss our mutual love of esoteric self-help.

Hearing the purpose of my trip in India, Dawn tells me I have to visit Nepal, the home of misty mountains and unexpected adventures. Compelled by her insistence and perhaps the buzz of the butter tea, I decide on the spot to fly to Kathmandu in April.

That decision – a flippant choice made on a tiny rush of feeling – changed the course of my life.

Why holding space has nothing to do with rockets

Holding space has always seemed like a made up thing — like the way you tell kids to go find the magical fairies in the garden because what you really want is some peace and quiet.

Recently, I was attending a workshop where the term ‘holding space’ came up. The presenter slowed, scanned her eyes around the room, and said — with a honeyed inflection— that now she was ‘holding space’ for everyone.

All the other participants glanced knowingly at each other, as if we could all now see an invisible bubble of ‘space’ enveloping the group.

And then there was me — wondering if I’d accidentally stumbled into the briefing for Portland’s meteor shower that night.

The joy and frustration of making magic happen when it doesn’t matter

When it comes to manifestation, I’d be the author writing the chapter in The Secret on getting what you want when you don’t care if it happens or not.

One of my most interesting creative tensions, you see, is reconciling the intense desire to manifest dreams that really matter versus making flippant ideas happen with ease.

Let me explain.

Last week, my partner Matt and I were sitting in San Francisco’s Mission-Dolores park, eating low sugar dairy free chocolate ice cream (all the taste and none of the depressing guilt afterwards).

It’s fair to say it was a pretty average evening. An apocalyptic fog was rolling in and my hair was being slowly whipped into a beehive by the gusts coming from Twin Peaks. Just an aside: the oddest aspect of mist is that you’re convinced at any moment it’s going to start raining — your clothes take on a gooey dampness that confirms this— yet it never does.

Anyway, we sat down at our favorite viewing spot, watching the city lights shimmer like fireflies trying to attract the Oakland Bay bridge.

We discussed what we should do that night. It had been a tough work week for both of us, so we really wanted an adventure, but weren’t up for spending lots of money. The free section in TimeOut magazine was looking particularly grim — a church meal event, an obscure film festival, and a night nature walk that sounded like a preview to a horror film.

Just above us on the park’s incline, a boisterous group made up of artist types settled onto the grass, whooping and laughing gleefully.

“Wow, we need more of that in our lives here,” I said to Matt, as we peered longingly at the fun loving posse.

What it actually feels like to have lots of free time

The truth is, these days, I have time — tons of it. My Google calendar is creamy white, and lightly speckled with pantone appointment colours such as: “check your emails”, “meet a friend for coffee”, and “go for a run”.

I choose to uncover a life based on who and what I really am when all there is, is silence.