Lightning in a Bottle’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness Creates an Oasis of Explorative Learning; Traditional Education Should Take Note
02 Jun 2015

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The state of education in America is a sore subject for many. Pathetic public investment in grade schools plus steadily increasing costs of higher education combine to make America one of the poorer performing Western countries when it comes to education. New models for education are springing up around the country, and while I’m not saying that music festivals may be the answer to our country’s education woes, I am convinced that progressive festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, which has dedicated half of its offerings to conscious, community oriented education, hold some of the answers to making learning fun and productive again. This review explores Lightning in a Bottle’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness, a veritable alternative university, where fest goers can learn everything from leather craft to particle physics, explore dance and yoga classes, and even get a cooking lesson or two, all from some of the country’s most qualified teachers.

Sound Healing. Photo by Brian Brady Photography

Sound Healing. Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

The Temple is the brainchild of power-woman Dream Rockwell, and has grown into an element of LiB equal to, and sometimes even outshining, the musical offerings of the more traditional side of the festival. This year The Do Lab put together their biggest Temple of Consciousness offerings yet. Besides the return of the Temple stage, where the festival’s keynote speakers presented to an often full house, the Temple area included a Mystery School, Pineal Playground, Learning Kitchen, Meditation Lookout, Healing Sanctuary, and two main Yoga tents. This year, alongside the Temple of Consciousness was The Village, a center of cultural and practical learning in the model of a traditional village, with its own Community Lodge, Permaculture Action hub, Essential Oils school, Ancestral Arts Arbor, and House of Mystics. As far as I could tell, everything at all of these areas ran smoothly and on time, which is remarkable considering that each of the main areas had back to back offerings with different teachers for 3 full days.

Photo by Brian Brady Photography

Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

All of these different “classrooms” were outdoors, and each one beautifully created with obvious love and care. Attendees were sheltered from the sun by colorful drapes, or the branches of the local oak trees. Seating was provided by either benches constructed out of natural materials, or fabrics and carpets considerately covering the Earth. The main Temple stage even had an abundance of pillows and cushions available to ensure our comfort. Each classroom had its own unique design, and often featured a beautiful central altar with statues, flowers, mandalas, and other carefully arranged and inspirational elements. The classrooms of the Village area were, naturally, actual teepees. Everything flowed harmoniously with the natural setting of the San Antonio Recreation Area, the grounds where the festival was held. The level of commitment to the creation of beautiful space that the LiB team exhibits year after year is incredible, and greatly appreciated.

Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

As a reviewer trying to get a comprehensive picture of the festival for our readers, it was actually overwhelming and challenging at times to be faced with so many options at any given moment. I found myself reviewing the schedule over and over, scanning each learning area to see what was happening at the relevant time (having to be aware of time in the first place is not something I usually like to do at festivals). Anything I chose to attend required a sacrifice of at least two other workshops I would have liked to hear at the same time; while it felt like a bummer at times, this is a testament to the Temple and Village team’s wonderful curation of the weekend. In fact, LiB sold out this year for the first time ever, and so it makes sense that the Temple offerings grew along with the festival. Indeed, whichever outdoor classroom I passed, I found that the talks and workshops were well attended.

Sunset 2In talking to other festival goers, it seemed that many were exploring things new to them- attendees of all backgrounds and knowledge were genuinely curious and showing up to learn with open minds and connect with open hearts. I have no doubt that many a mind was expanded—and I don’t mean just by outside substances! This expansion was thanks to the magic that happens when passionate people share their knowledge with curious people. Many of us walked away with practical information to make our daily lives in the default world a little more healthy, harmonious, integrated, and connected, and I walked away hoping that education at the default level would learn something from this powerful movement.

Incredible Main Stage, Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

Incredible Main Stage, Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

I hope the Temple continues on its current trajectory, as I’m sure it will only get better as the LiB team continues to refine its methods. This movement of community oriented, alternative, self-driven education is important. Maybe it can start to influence our future school teachers and administrators; they can start to bring little elements of it into the traditional model, even if it’s just sitting under a tree and talking about life once a week. Hopefully it also inspires each of us to remember that learning is fun, and awesome, and never has to stop. In each of us there is a student, and a teacher! We all have something to share and something to learn. Hats off to LiB for creating a model that can support us in this revolutionary time!

Here are some highlights from each area of the Temple that I was able to check out:

~The Temple Stage~

Photo by Brian Brady Photography

Photo by Brian Bradley Photography

The center of the whole Temple area was the Temple stage, a beautiful yellow and crimson circus style tent built in signature Do Lab style. Beautiful lamps hung from wooden pillars, a beautiful altar to dancing Shiva decorated the stage, and during the day a surreal breeze flowed through the fabrics of the tent like a dream.

On Saturday the Temple stage featured a Sustainability panel moderated by Sean Sean Ahearn, and featuring the founder of Thrive Market, Eco SuperHero, California Baby, and the editor of LA Yoga magazine. Some of the thought provoking topics covered were how a conscious company can keep its soul as it starts to expand, seek investment, and go public, and also what conscious entrepreneurs’ responsibilities are in the political arena.

My favorite presentation on the temple stage was by legendary CS_Nassimphysicist Nassim Haramein, who presented his findings regarding “space,” our ability to influence the entire universe, and the future of physics and space exploration. Nassim’s work has been dedicated to the discovery that space, which is 99.9999% of what’s out there, and even 99.9999% of what we are- is not empty! It’s actually full of super concentrated energy packets that oscillate between eachother, essentially breathing together. We are living in this energetic soup, and every-time we lift a finger, Nassim said, “the whole universe is informed so it can stay perfectly coordinated.” Thirty years of his groundbreaking research is all available online through The Resonance Project and we invite you to check out YouTube videos of his talks.

~The Mystery School~

CS_Festival LawyerUpon arrival to LiB we got to catch a cool talk by self proclaimed “Festival Lawyer” Cameron Bowman. He took the time to bust some fest law myths for the audience, and even break down the most relevant of our Constitutional rights. He also had us practice saying the only things we should ever really be saying if we find ourselves talking to police. This was obviously a brilliant talk to have a festival, and indeed every festival should probably have one. Festival Lawyer has several resources on his website, including tip cards you can carry in your wallet in case you find yourself face to face with the Po!

~The Learning Kitchen~CS_Learning Kitchen

All weekend long the Learning Kitchen featured tantalizing cooking classes and informational packed presentations about food- the best kinds, the best ways to prepare it, how to honor it, and how to make it work optimally for you. I attended a talk called Superfoods for Festivalers, which came complete with yummy samples. Inspired, I even went home and bought some probiotic Kraut to replenish my tummy bacteria for post fest recovery!

Photo by Karl Baba

Photo by Karl Baba

~The Meditation Lookout~

The Meditation Lookout was at the top of a hill overlooking the entire festival grounds from end to end. The meditation area was surrounded by a next of branches, and the ground was lovingly covered with carpet and soft fabric for comfort. Each corner of the space featured a beautiful altar, and participants sat in the shade of the surrounding oak trees. I attended a wonderful 1 hour meditation class with LA Yoga magazine editor and YogaGlo teacher Felicia Tomasko. By evening, the meditation lookout became the spot for sun gazing during sunset.

~Pineal Playground~

Aptly named, the Pineal playground was “a gateway that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness.” It featured many a sound meditation, mens’ and womens’ healing circles, shamanic journeys and important lessons in communication.

~Yoga Om and Yoga Namaste~

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Photo by Patrick James

There were 2 main locations for yoga classes this year- the huge Yoga Om tent, and the more intimate Yoga Namaste stage. The Yoga Om tent was paved with the forgiving interlocking block tiles you often see in kids play areas, and so not having a mat with you was never an excuse to not drop into a class. Besides traditional Yoga classes, both areas featured dance and movement classes, including contact dance and ecstatic dance. On Friday, I went to an awesome Vinyasa flow class with Los Angeles based teacher Kishan Shah, and the vocal harmonies of Elisa Rose. While it was a great class, it kicked my butt and I took a break from the yoga tents on Saturday. Note: if you are going to take yoga classes at a festival, make sure you give your body time to rest and recover for a few hours after class or that night. On Sunday I joined Felicia Tomasko one last time for a much needed restorative class.

Kishan and Elisa. Photo by Karl Baba

Kishan and Elisa. Photo by Karl Baba

~The Village~

Photo by Brian Brady

Photo by Brian Bradley

BESIDES all of the above (hard to believe they were able to fit more) there was a Village area with a few more learning areas. It looked like a native American village center, with white tents and teepees, and a fire pit in the middle. The festival guide described the purpose of this area beautifully:

The Village is a cultural experiment born from the shared aspiration to explore what village life means and how to bring that into a contemporary context. Our intention is to learn by doing, and be engaged, individually and collectively, with how to create and sustain a village.

And indeed that’s what was created. A modern day village of learning and cultural celebration. The Village had a Community Lodge at its center, which served as an art gallery, tea temple and elixir lounge, and held the primary speakers. There was a Permaculture Action Hub, where participants learned about regenerative ecology, community building, and social change. The House of Mystics celebrated cultural rituals, and the Essential Oils learning lab is where you could go to learn anything and everything you need to maximize the benefits of essential oils in your life. Finally the Ancestral Arts tent is where you went to learn hands on, earth-based skills such as leather craft, fire making, weather reading, and medicinal plants.

Phew! That’s a wrap! If you are looking for a transformative and informative way to spend your festival money in 2016, make sure LiB is on your list!

 

Thank you Brian Bradley Photography, Patrick James, and Karl Baba for lending your photos to this article!

 

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