1000 Breathers at Woodford Folk Festival!

breathwork stories Jan 08, 2019

Check out the video above to see the opening circle for our second breath ceremony... over 350 breathers in this group! Between all 3 breathworks we created space for over 1000.

The most amazing teaching invitation I received this year was to share 3 Breath of Bliss ceremonies at Woodford Folk Festival, the biggest folk festival in Australia with over 135,000 participants. I went with an incredible team of angels, Level 2 graduates and a sound healing/shamanic crew. It was such an honor to serve everyone! They were so eager so ready to dive deep into community, connection and their visions for 2019.

Here is our angelic team of LIGHT, full of prayers and love. We miraculously held a beautiful, safe space. If I'd known there'd be so many breathers I would've brought 30 more angels! 

Our Breath of Bliss ceremonies took place in the Blue Lotus consciousness area, and each had a different theme: "Open Your Heart", "Connect with Your Higher Self" and "Feel More Ecstasy." We also had live improvisational musical accompaniment by the delightful Lee Hardisty Band.

Despite the massive numbers and limited space, everyone in each ceremony still found space to dance, shake, sway and undulate during the ecstatic dance portion, flooding their bodies with breath, sensation and energy. There were also connection practices to melt open the heart and help build our our feelings of oneness.

Two participants letting their "angel wings" touch after an ecstatic dance practice to breathe as if angels on Earth...

I'm always floored by the power of circular, connected breathing. Connected breathing brings incredible immediacy and clarity to every moment, such a deepening of self-awareness and holy presence.

Pictured here, breathers diving deep into the unseen realms of Spirit.

Simply connecting the inhale and exhale through an open mouth can open up such intense feelings of oneness, shifts in perception of space and time and even cosmic visions. Suppressed emotions, forgotten memories, divine meetings and so much more can arise.

It also amazes me that no matter how large a group is, when our facilitation team takes the time to pray before the gathering and energetically cleanse and program the space, a cocoon of beauty and security is created that can hold whatever arises.

The journey goes deeper...

Because the group was so big we actually assigned angels to different regions in order to make sure everyone received attention. While supporting, we stay in our own circular connected breath and awareness practice, communing with the Earth, the Sky, our own hearts and everyone in the space. 

Imaged here is one of our Breath of Bliss Level 2 graduates, Trinity, as she supported breathers in the meadow. 

Rhythm can help bring breathers back into their bodies, move stuck energies and deepen the breath. As usual we had lots rattles and a few drums. We also had crystal singing bowls to use at the end of the ceremony to envelop the space in a field of grace.

Imaged here is Sam who joined our facilitation team specifically to provide sound healing.

I'm personally fascinated by the art of impeccable word choices, metaphors, and poetic imagery to gently expand consciousness and increase the possibility for breathers to experience bliss. I love exploring different tonalities and pacing to modulate the experience, singing, light language and shamanic sounds to help unplug breathers from collective viral programming and the urge to go into catharsis. Instead I weave a safe and reassuring updraft into presence, helping the breathers witness what arises from the perspective of their higher selves.

Here I am breathing into my heart while everyone else in the space does the same, connecting... you can see the Lee Hardisty band behind me on stage. They were telepathically responsive to every nuance in our ceremony!

One of the neat things about breathwork at festivals is the age range. It's common to see children or babies breathing on or next to parents, multi generations of daughters and mothers, fathers and sons, and often elders into their 70's and beyond.

How beautiful is this?

It's quite a challenge to create an immaculately held space for an event that sprawls right out of an indoor venue and into a meadow next door! This brings up other considerations we need to plan for in advance, such as: how do we ensure privacy and respect for our breathers from passersby, how can we make sure music and vocal guidance can be heard while competing with other nearby soundsystems, how can we protect people from natural considerations like biting ants? How do we know if someone is touching someone who is their partner or a stranger - when do we intervene? And so much more... To plan for all possible scenarios and review what arose in each session, our team had many meetings and trainings.

Here is a tiny glimpse of the massive group that overflowed out into the meadow...

Grounding and integration is a real concern at massive festivals. Because of this we spent lots of time creating moments of pause and stillness to digest the experience. Sometimes this begins during the final rest portion of the ceremony when some participants organically reach out to their friends to make physical contact. This allows attunement, support, and reassurance.  

Though not for everyone, close holding is a powerful way for some to begin coming back from the journey, especially if it has been emotional.

Once a few hundred people are sitting up, it is important to allow them time in smaller pods to begin processing what they experienced. Asking them to share with the collective is way too overstimulating. Small group time is the solution. At Woodford I let each small group of 4 decide how they wanted to support eachother - some toned together, some spoke about their experiences, some shared healing touch, others eye-gazed.

A pod slowly coming back from their experience...

The next step is the big group share... having time for a few people to share with the entire group is a beautiful way to complete. I invite people to feel inside and sense if they received a medicine teaching that would serve the whole group... something short and powerful that would invite everyone home to themselves. Framing it in this way (instead of just, "who wants to share") tends to invite people to stay in their higher self and speak from a place of grounded divinity

Here I am taking the mic back after a man who just spoke. Its hard not to smile ear-to-ear when hearing some of these profound shares!

Grounding continues! The next important step is actually inviting people to stand, begin activating their vagus nerve to get clear, coherent and embodied. Breathwork can be so disorienting and participants may feel especially vulnerable afterwards in a festival environment. We do everything we can to help participants feel safe. 

Here we are at the last closing moment, after dedicating the practice to loved ones and singing a joyful group song. 

I would love to give a shout out to The Medicine Room who was set up next to our breath ceremonies! Their expert team of herbalists supplied me and our team with immunity boosting herbal tonics before and after facilitating each ceremony... and we all bought massive bottles of their elixirs to continue to use after we facilitate at home. As I teach larger and larger groups, I'm reminded how important extreme self care is. As a facilitator, I have very elaborate shamanic housekeeping practices for my body, mind and spirit to keep my own energy clean before, during and after leading breathworks. More on my routines in a future blog ;)

Probably the most surprising thing that happened at this festival was getting an ongoing stream of physical thank you letters mailed to us by participants while we were still at the festival! In them, breathers shared their stories of transformation and gratitude. How did this happen? There was an actual post office tent at the event where people were supplied with writing supplies and could post letters which were delivered by courier all over the festival. Imagine our smiles as these envelopes kept showing up! 

So incredibly heartwarming to read these notes... stay tuned for another blog soon about what they said.

If you haven't been to Woodford before, GO! This gathering is so wholesome, colorful, family-friendly, fun and celebratory! It features live folk music from around the world, all kinds of arts and craft workshops, so many smiles, massive puppets, fireworks, laughter, incredible food, yoga, sound healing and more. We hope to share again next year. If we do, we hope to breathe with you then!