Speed Bumps, or more Appropriately, TOPES!

Down yet another crazy “road” -that threatened our beloved car with every pump- we finally arrived at The Rainbow Gathering. The camping, outdoor kitchen, main circle, numerous trails and sacred spaces were all nestled in a palm tree orchard that was hidden outside the town of Palenque. We rolled in late at night and the first people we see through the darkness (out of the 800 people already there) were none other than The Honey Bus crew. More road magic!

So in the mornings at the Rainbow Gathering you can mosey on down to the kitchen where twenty plus people are preparing breakfasts for the entire gathering. It is a complete vegan diet with option of raw or lightly cooked food. Every morning for breakfast we cut lots of tropical local fruit and make oats and every night for dinner was a dish served from a different location around the world (to honor that this, indeed, is a world gathering). Then, “The Family” congregates in The Main Meadow, the 800+ people make a circle, sing songs, do a long Om together, and then we are served food. The whole production takes HOURS and is very stressful even though the idea is unity and peace. Man, getting all those people on the same page and preparing and serving a meal?! Chaos! After a couple days of that whole song and dance Fred and I pretty much decided we were done with it. The free, healthy food is amazing but you could spend your whole day just trying to get fed. Not that it is anyone’s fault, and it’s a magnificent idea but it just didn’t work at this gathering, however when people cooperate and work together wonderful things result.

While there I participated in a women’s group – we talked together about what it means to be a women and our role in our individual lives. The leader of the group was an amazing New Zealand woman that touched base on the fact that as women we are biologically more equipped to absorb sadness and hurt from those around us. We are nurtures, and as such we are constantly bombarded with outside pain that we regrettably carry around with us. And that we are emotional beings while men are more cognitive; electronically wired –which is good, it’s the natural Yin and Yang. In my opinion, men are trying to understand, decode, and navigate the world, while women are feeling it and always trying to put the world back together. All of this is beautiful, but –she continued- we women have gotten off track due to societal pressure and individual failure to let ourselves accept and experience our emotion. That for some strange reason we are ashamed of our emotion and instead of trying to work through it and understand our feelings we mask them and push them down. Only later to explode out on our partners or manifest into self-loathing. Heavy! We did a deeply calming meditation in which we were supposed to call upon any negativity we were housing, and then we did a little exercise to release that negativity. We got into a group of four and talked a little about what came up during our meditation and then expressed to one another that we were all in a safe place, and that the negative emotions we were feeling were okay but unnecessary to carry any longer. So we took all that sadness, discontent, confusion, and unhealthy thoughts out of our body and mind and into the ground –the earth is amazing; it can absorb anything that will make us lighter (it loves us that much). I focused on a frustrating inability of mine to feel confident to make my needs heard (later to suffer the consequences of non-assertion), a block I feel to voice how something or someone is making me feel (good or bad), and the general confusion I’m sure most people feel about why self-love isn’t easier. The other girls had their hang ups too –and together, being side by side we cried and screamed all that ugliness out of our hands and into the ground. The animalistic sounds from the other groups of women from all around the world were absolutely horrifying; wailing, screaming, crying, and punching the ground. It really intensified our group; everyone letting out more upon hearing the other women’s release. It was like not only  did we have pain and sorrow but, wow, everyone here had a generous helping of it too, which made things seem sadder but yet somehow more comforting –like an you’re not alone vibe. It was really surprising because this was a big hippie event, full of happiness and love everywhere you look and looking at your fellow sisters, they all appeared collected and at peace doing their perfect yoga possess, taking care of their children, and playing music. But during that ten minute period of powerful relief all composer and masks were nowhere to be found. Once I and the other girls in my group felt drained and the tears seemed to run out we all hugged. My hands and feet felt achy from whatever but I did feel lighter. Kind of like all the emotion was out and all that was left were the words that described that emotion –and words are accessible and more useful, capable of depiction and purpose. We all came back to the circle and danced to drums and guitars for at least an hour. We swayed our hips and flailed our arms in silly, sexy, organic ways that seem to ring out any lasting discontent hiding somewhere in our easily permeable skin.

Emotion from within or absorbed from the environment is a very beautiful thing. It is an amazing God given gift that we can feel the things we feel and nurture the people who need it. But emotion, like all things, should be flowing. I’m a visual person so I think of it as hurt hitting you in the heart first then travelling through your body as you feel it then travelling up to your brain where you process, understand, and find a logical response to it and then (with practice) the hurt flows out of your hands and feet. Blocks and categories in your mind become blocks and categories in your body and soul and they serve no damn purpose but to protect your ego and keep your relationships easy. And after that exercise I decided I was just done with that whole charade. No more “nothing’s wrong, don’t worry about it, I don’t care” nonsense that all us ladies out there are guilty of.

I shared all of this with Fred, and he said, “Good. That way no one gets confused and your feelings can’t snowball.” He’s totally right.

Not only did the group session have a positive effect on me but it also really harmonized the women of the Rainbow Gathering and we agreed that the next day we would all do a Tamaskal ceremony together! Very far out stuff to stumble upon in a palm tree orchard in the jungle in southern Mexico, huh? I think my comfort zone fell out of the car during a Tope back in Veracruz, lost forever. ImageImage

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