Day Three: Love of Life
The concept of Biophilia is an interesting one to explore. The theory was made popular in more modern times around 1984, but the term was first used by Eric Fromm who described it as an orientation, innate in humans, to become attracted to “all that is alive and vital.” Aristotle was again one of the more earlier figures of history to summarise such a concept as a general Love of Life. The term philia which means friendship, teamed with Bio means a process of reciprocity and relatedness – friendships which are mutually beneficial to both parties, especially in the way of happiness. Therefore, Biophila as a festival can be thought of as an opportunity to connect with all that is alive and vital, the environment surrounding us, the energy of aliveness that is within us all as well as experiencing a feeling of happiness that results from connectedness with one another. By the third day the concept had lived up to its name, well and truly. I felt quite a lot of dismay that we would be leaving to go back to our modern comforts of beds, hot showers and heat pumps. As enjoyable as these things are, they do not bring the level of happiness one finds in the experience that we had at Biophilia.
The final day began at a leisurely time of 10am with Boom Shiva Breakfast, a breakfast revolution hosted by Ben Dessard and partner Marlene Kemper. We were put into groups of 7 to create and share our delicious breakfast. One person in the group gathered all the ingredients and Ben led us through his passionate evocation of why waking up with a positive morning ritual is so important to setting up your day right. He also explained the importance of the nutritional elements making up our breakfast. Their breakfast mix was included in the ingredients and on sale as a Biophilia special. We mixed up mashed bananas, pumpkin butter, coconut yoghurt and the powerful Boom Shiva breakfast mix. The taste was incredible, and the entire group agreed that we found ourselves satisfyingly full from a bowl of goodness. What was also apparent was how uplifting it was to share breakfast with a group of people who didn’t know one another, another aspect of connectedness which gave us a great burst of energy for the final day. Ben’s passion and aliveness was as big as the mountains surrounding us and had a noticeable affect on all who were participating, leaving us grinning as he shouted ‘Let’s embrace these fucken mountains man!’ You got the impression that the concept of Biophilia was personated in this exuberant Frenchman.
Next up was a Dynamic Hatha Yoga class taught by Clarissa Benke of GoYoga. We both managed to get some time on the mat, finally, with the kids going between us. I was able to really get into the class after such a nourishing breakfast; it was my ideal way to start the day. There’s something special about practicing yoga in the great outdoors, as your body flows from one posture to the next with the rays of the sun warming your skin and the backdrop of the mountains providing the perfect Drishti point of focus. I have always been a fan of Clarissa’s classes but found this one exceptionally enjoyable and I could see how much Clarissa and all of the teachers thoroughly enjoyed teaching in the stunning setting of Biophilia. We tried a bit of AcroYoga after lunch, with me faceplanting badly many times. I had wanted to try Acro most of all while at the festival but had missed the earlier beginners class, so going straight into a class involving making ‘machines’ with three to four people was overwhelming to say the least! It was amazing to watch people getting into such intricate designs with one another, even if my partner and I stayed attempting stage one and two! He was very patient with me having done a fair bit of it in the past. I am committed to keeping it up at home and nailing it eventually! Another highlight especially for families was the kids yoga offered by Niki Goile of Little Yogi’s and organiser Anna Molly’s family yoga class. I love being able to instill the positive properties of yoga in my offspring, hopefully building a future where yoga is a part of their lives. Kids certainly love it and the classes are a fun way to learn about body awareness as well as challenge kids to different poses. The afternoon blazed on. I felt hot, tired, and sore but most of all, happy and content. We decided to freshen up in Moke Lake and ventured off towards the lip of the lake where many other festival goers were enjoying a refreshing dip. We arrived just in time to see a large group strip off naked and dive into the still frigid water, swimming out deep. I heard someone, perhaps an instructor, shouting ‘Just focus on your breathing! Embrace the cold!’ It was admirable to watch indeed and struck me later as another example of Biophilia in action.
The afternoon came to a close, with a final yoga class which was very different to many I have tried before. Lauren Wilding lead us through postures which embodied the strength of the mountains and mystical creatures such as dragons, the style of it was energetic and potent – ultimately leading to a big dance off where everyone was invited to have one last rage up before the festival ended. A dank drum and base set played backdrop to the frenzied festival goers paying homage to a weekend worth celebrating. Everyone gathered for one final experience together to close a fantastic weekend. We formed a giant circle and the organisers had some last words to say, concluding that this had been by far, the best and the biggest Biophilia – amid hoots and shouts of celebration. Damian commented on the foundation needed for Happiness – which is what we are all seeking. He cited Nature as one of the strongest components for experiencing joy. ‘Choosing Happiness’ and ‘Allowing the Moment to Be’. Sound ingredients for a solid happiness base. Damian’s wife Anna also commented on how grateful she felt to have shared the weekends festivities with all who came, she said “Thank you for coming to fill each other’s cups.” Other festival goers were invited to comment on how they experienced the weekend, in an open and non judgemental space people shared from their hearts – one woman saying “every workshop session I attended, I cried,” crying again while sharing this….someone else said they felt incredibly energized – “on top of the world, like an energizer bunny!” Another man spoke of how beautiful it was to see the artspace created by Luca and Tun being used by the children, to witness them fingerpainting and being so totally present in the moment. “What a wonderful gift it is to give to the children, this festival experience, setting a bar of generosity, appreciation and love. It’s a beautiful gift to give future generations.” This last comment bought tears to my eyes, all the hard work, the energy spent and the difficulties of immersing our young family in a three day outdoor festival in the South Island of New Zealand in March, well and truly paid off. Finally, we were invited to join in a huge group huddle – the warmth felt in that immense hug was not just from the number of people there but from the energy of the collective, alive with connection and Universal Love, warm with the feeling of Whanau. Again, precious Maori words rang out across the valley, a token of gratitude for Papatuanuku, the sacred Earth Mother, a song of appreciation for our sacred connections with Nature – as we closed the circle and Biophilia came to an end, I feel it’s affects will permeate us long after….