The Exploration of Mind, Body, and Spirit:
My Austin Wanderlust Festival Experience
Written by: Robin Huneycutt
Photography by: Dennis Burnett
Feeling restless, I tossed and turned as the dawn of my first day at the Austin Wanderlust Festival approached. I couldn’t tell if it was my nerves getting to me, or if it was the excitement -- or maybe both. Whatever it was, I couldn’t sleep. In anticipation for Austin’s own Wanderlust Festival, and my first yoga centered adventure, I had my four-day schedule meticulously mapped out. After painstakingly reading each class’s informational blurb and not really knowing what it all meant, I blindly signed up for anything that caught my attention. My class schedule quickly filled up with the words: Chakra, inversions and arm balances, breathing techniques, indigo and galaxy, and the Yogaslackers Adventure Race. I secretly worried that my body would give out before the long weekend was over.
I’ll admit, I am not the most seasoned when it comes to back bends and warrior poses -- and let’s not forget inversions and inspirational mantras -- but I will admit, I can do a few rounds of Sun Salutations like nobody’s business. What really sparked my curiosity in writing an experience piece was a simple fact -- I was innately curious. Something was pulling me to have this experience, and now looking back, I cannot thank my intuition enough! I am fascinated by the art of putting together sequences that impact the body in a beautiful and healthy way. The art of weaving in the body and the soul, and the courage it requires to really explore one’s own self is enlightening.
I’m not going to lie; I was in a tough spot emotionally. With all of the things that have happened over the year and the kicker of loosing our beloved Great Dane Marley to bone cancer, I found myself wanting to skip ahead to a time where I wouldn’t feel the way that I do. Struggling with the feelings of helplessness, loss, and guilt for having to let him go, I had to find a way to pull my head above water and breath. The nightmares of his yelps in pain down to his final hours were still all too clear in my mind. I wanted to be able to understand why I was so attached to this animal and regain my happy memories of him. He was my “heart Dane.”
Having been around quite a few inspiring yogis these past few months, I was craving their passion for life and living in the present -- something I was never good at, especially right now. Having been curious about “Chakras” and not really knowing what it was about, I stacked my weekend schedule with the opportunity to explore it -- and myself.
Today I woke up inspired and confident. In really thinking about the classes I had taken just the day before, I have found a few areas within my own life that I could stand to become more brave in. The most promising adjustment is the coping behaviors that the stress of being Co-Founder, Creative Director and C.E.O. of a start up Austin Magazine brings. It’s tough playing the jack-of-all trades and wearing that responsibility hat every. single. day. When I am feeling overwhelmed and burnout it’s hard to find that motivation to keep going.
The idea of facing a fear much larger than the current one I am scouring behind has a literal translation into my career goals. Instead of going into that dark, stressed, and honestly kind of bitchy place, I decide to face my fears. Not really known for beating around the bush in my personal life, I decided to try that approach when dealing with my emotional and stressed out state. I find that if I just stop and reflect on what I have accomplished – literally breaking it down from the beginning – I am left in astonishment. And if I can just appreciate the fact that I just impressed myself, my toughest critic, then I can continue on another day –another project – until I reach that goal.
Approaching the overwhelming feeling as projects stack higher and deadlines grow shorter in that manner makes my goals feel more tangible than a far out dream.
Feeling pretty worn out, I scrambled to hit my 10 a.m. class. Motivated by the clear blue skies and the roof top class that awaited me, I pushed through my hesitation.
Situated in the back row, I found myself placed atop the breezy roof patio with the sun gently beating down against my back. After being in dimly lit rooms for most of the weekend, this sensation felt amazing and my mood shifted into a more engaged state. The “Yoga of Relationships” class was the perfect mix of lecture and poses to open the heart and stretch my tired muscles.
Ashley Turner was our instructor for this morning’s class. Our first task was to create a “fuck you” letter with the intention of letting out any pent up emotional baggage that you may have towards someone. Then, we were asked to address the letter to ourselves and reread it. I found that most of the reasons I was irritated with someone’s behavior was a reflection in my own personality. It may not have been to the same degree or maybe not even in the exact same way, but there were some glaring “shortcomings” that, I myself, needed to focus on before I expected someone else to change.
This class opened my eyes into my own behavior and the power that only I can have over my feelings and reaction.
Another interesting point she made was about expectations and how it affects our view of someone else. Ashley explained that if you find you just really don’t mesh well with a person and have to be around them, there are some strategies to help you turn negative feelings that you may associate with that person to make your interactions more tolerable. Your strategy could be as simple as shifting your focus on the many negative things that you label the person as to the one silver lining that can be found in every person.
The combination of Ashley’s kind and motivating words with the gorgeous backdrop of the Austin skyline was the perfect ending to my Wanderlust experience. As the sunset blanketed us under a sea of purples, pinks, and oranges the impact of my decision to partake in this mind, body, and spirit transformation was exactly what I needed.
Through the guidance of my knowledgeable and inspiring instructors, friends I have made, and my own self-discovery I have learned a lot of important life skills in attending the Wanderlust Festival. Although I am still struggling with the understanding and the general feeling of loss for our pup-child, I can -- at the very least – leave this journey with hope. The most impactful lesson I have learned being, that it was not ok what happened in my past and the hurt, sadness, and level of guilt still remains of our loss, but if I find a way to work through it in healthy ways I will come to an understanding that it will eventually be ok. Just as everything in life, it goes on, and we must find a way to approach each moment with gratitude for what we still have and be grateful for the memories we have made with the things we have lost.
For inquiries: http://austin.wanderlustyoga.com / Instructor - Ashley Turner: http://ashleyturner.org / Healing, Tarrot Card Readings, and Hoop Dance- http://happycreativelife.com / Pants that make you dance- http://www.buddahpants.com / Krave Jerky - https://www.kravejerky.com / High Brew Coffee - http://highbrewcoffee.com / Cazamance- http://www.cazamance.com / Photography by: http://www.dennisburnettphotography.com