Summer is finally here and some of us are lucky enough to kick back and go on holiday, whether in the Bahamas or Bognor Regis. There are festivals aplenty in the conscious sexuality world, with Queer Spirit, Osho Leela, The Summerhouse and many more offering opportunities for fun, connection and expansion to a playful and curious crowd. We have put together some tips to survive the summer season and make the most of these opportunities. We hope they are helpful in preventing at least some emotional sunburn along the way!
Drop Your Expectations
You’ve got your tickets, tent, flip flops and phone charger – ALL your friends have told you it’s going to be AMAZING and you’ve been waiting all year for this. Maybe you’re newly single and you can’t wait to get away and meet some hotties in hot tubs. Well, this all sounds great, but what if there is less hot tub action than you imagined and more singing by the fire? You never know what’s going to happen, who you will end up connecting with and what that connection will look like. Staying open, curious and allowing is the best way to have fun and avoid the disappointment of things not going *exactly* to plan. And you never know, reality could exceed your wildest imaginings by a long shot. Noticing expectations and letting them go is the easiest way to be pleasantly surprised by life.
Beware of Workshop Overload
It’s exciting to look down the programme and wish you had a clone so that you could just attend EVERYTHING and not miss one word. So you pack in every possible workshop, leaving just enough time to get changed before heading to the ecstatic dance gathering in the evening. By day three you look like you haven’t slept for a month and there’s an entire colony of ants living in your hair. This is what workshop overload looks like. It can be tempting to want to learn it all, but there are many ways of learning (including having some chill-out/integration time). Trusting that if you need to learn something it will probably find you, in one way or another, is helpful to be more relaxed and enjoy the adventure. And, there’s always next year…
Managing Workshop High
“OMG, I met this human and we had this thing I’ve never felt before. We were so connected, it was like they could see all of me, our connection went so deep. It was basically cosmic, I felt connected to everything and everyone, truly incredible. *10 minutes later* I need to follow what feels right and be with them, I mean after what we’ve experienced it would be crazy not to, right?! I’ve found the real deal!”
This is what workshop high looks like, see paragraph one on dropping expectations. Workshops are awesome, they provide a gateway into new parts of ourselves and they can be deeply transformational. Nevertheless, they exist is a suspended reality and at some point you will have to go back to ‘real life’ and starting integrating your experience. If you’ve met someone, things may look very different in the cold light of day and you may need some time figure out what your mutual needs and desires are and whether they are compatible.
Find Your Learning Zone
There is the freak out zone which feels like the beginning of a heart attack and there is the bored-and-barely-awake zone where you’re wondering if the process of making a nice cuppa could just be automated so you don’t have to move. The learning zone is where you are most receptive take information in. It’s somewhere between these two polar opposites and finding and staying in it may take some fine tuning. It feels like a zingy hipster juice, packed with raw goodness and all ready to drink with a stripy straw. It’s cold and there is just the right amount of lime to keep you alert and ready for more. Ahhhhhh! The perfect addition to a hot summer’s day! Becoming aware of the subtle signs of when your juice is turning into a heart attack or when your energy has dipped and you’re collapsing isn’t easy when there’s lots going on. It takes practice and it’s a process of trial and error worth engaging with if you want to learn the most from the workshops you’re going to.
Consent and Boundaries
Be extra mindful of your consent and boundaries (and communicating them) when:
- It’s your first time at a festival/play party/workshop
- You are taking drugs/alcohol or playing with people who are
- You’re communicating with people who don’t speak English as their first language and may misunderstand what you’re saying or vice-versa
- There is loud music/noise and you’re struggling to hear someone or be heard
- You’re playing with more than one person and/or there’s lots going on
- You’re poly/non-monogamous and playing with a new person or partner
- It’s the first time you’re playing with that person
Don’t Be Cliquey!
This one is for ‘experienced’ festival-goers who make a beeline for their friends at every available moment and get so deep in conversation, they don’t notice the person who is by themselves, shuffling in the corner of the room or standing right next to them. We’ve all been new and found it awkward/terrifying/difficult, so be compassionate and friendly. Introduce yourself and invite them into your social group, as they say, sharing is caring.
When things go wrong, and they inevitably always do in one way or another, give authentic feedback if you feel safe enough to do so. This helps the person/organiser/organisation to learn from your experience and change their behaviour/system for the future. Giving feedback can be vulnerable and problematic, especially if the culture doesn’t support it or you’re met with defensiveness or aggression. In those cases, choosing how best to give feedback and who to speak to is really critical in looking after yourself during the process.
How am I doing?
These are some questions that you may want to ask yourself as a temperature check of how you’re doing:
- How am I feeling right now?
- What do I need to communicate about how I’m doing right now?
- Do I feel safe? If not, what do I need to feel safe?
- Do I need sleep, food or hydration right now?
- Do I need to take a break and have some fresh air?
- Have I consented to this?
- What would nurture me in this moment?
- What am I afraid of right now?
- Who can I talk to about this?
Last, but not least…Have Fun!
In the U.K, summer is really only around for one week per year, so make the most of it! Grab that inflatable crocodile and dive into the sea of delights, enjoy the colours, sounds and creatures you will encounter on your way! Have a great time!
Want to brag/vent about your summer fun? Send us your stories.
Editorial Team @sex+