This past weekend, one of my best friends in the entire world (who also happens to be a distant cousin of mine) came into town to spend the weekend with me. When she arrived, we had so many plans- so many places to go and people to meet and adventures to be had. Little did we know, our weekend had so much more in store for us than we expected, as we made the spontaneous decision to buy same-day tickets for and attend “YOUniverSOUL Fest 2019”.
Technically, YOUniverSOUL Fest is a festival that, on the outside, seems no different than any other festival with outdoor food, entertainment and vendors. In reality, the experience of it was so much more. The event description on their website is as follows, (slightly paraphrased):
“YOUniverSOUL Fest is a one-day mindfulness festival empowering attendees to live their best lives through a unique blend of Yoga, Art, Enlightenment, Movement, Music, Dance, Philosophy, Spirituality, Healing, Social Community, Plant-Based Food, Sustainable Living, Environment, and Children’s Programming…(It is) a celebration of love, life, consciousness and togetherness.”
And it truly was, every single one of those things. Just reading the description had me excited, since these are all my favorite areas of focus both in my career and in my personal life. A festival dedicated not only to each aspect of holistic living, but also one in which like-minded people from all around the city came together to bond over common interests and create a community that was genuinely uplifting and inspiring.
The event also included 10 hours of non-stop programming, 50+ workshops and presenters, 35 conscious and plant-based vendors, 2 hours of children’s programming, 6 hours of “Red Tent” experience to recognize, respect and admire the Divine Feminine, 24 empowerment talks, 9 artists in the art gallery, meditation station, community tent, healing by massage therapists, chiropractors, essential oil specialists, energy healers, reiki masters and more, henna tattoos, face painting, hugs, dancing and yoga every single hour. Wow, that was a mouthful!
I think one of my favorite parts, aside from going with my friend and meeting so many new people, was the fire that was reignited in my soul after seeing so many spiritual, holistic and service-based entrepreneurs sharing their unique products and services in hopes of making a real difference in the world. This was perhaps the most motivational aspect of this experience for me.
There is one other significant aspect I’d like to mention about the event that had a major effect on me, and that is the concept of “spirituality” in this setting. I understand that spirituality means different things to different people, but after meeting so many people who’s practices were different than my own, I initially felt that I was left with more questions than answers.
I consider myself to be extremely spiritual, so much so that I give it the utmost importance during my life. However, I do not have any special crystals, or speak to my spirit guides in my dreams, or need incense or essential oils to enhance my spirituality, or have much understanding about astrology, tarot, or moon phases, like many of the people I met that day. How spiritual was I if I did not engage in any of these practices, and worse- if this is all it took for me to question my spiritual strength?
Don’t worry- after speaking to a very special friend of mine, I quickly came back to my senses very as I was reminded of my own truth. My religion has always taught a balance between material and spiritual worlds, and in the worldly sense, I feel that open-mindedness, education, health, love and service to others and being free to enjoy my life as long as I am not causing harm to myself or others, are ideas to which I give great importance.
But my spirituality, or the vast Universal peace of God that comes only from deep within myself during times of stillness, is my saving grace. My own personal, special, spiritual beliefs and experiences require little other than the alignment of my own mind, body and soul. It is my journey of conscious awareness and presence in each moment, regardless of outside circumstances. It is my hope and refuge when the world is caving in around me, and my meaningful purpose when I aim to spread this light to others who need it the most.
That being said, none of this took away from my enjoyment of this unique event. If anything, I gained an even deeper understanding of myself and my purpose in life and for that I am eternally grateful. So, we spent that entire beautiful day at the park exploring the various workshops, presentations, artwork, vendors, vegan food, yoga and more…and we still had enough energy to dance the night away with the kind souls and free-spirits we had the pleasure of meeting so spontaneously.
If any you ever get the chance to go to this event, or any other mindfulness or holistic-themed festivals like this, I highly recommend you take the chance and attend the event because you never know the ways in which it can have a profound and lasting impact on you like it did for me. If that doesn’t convince you, maybe some of these pictures will (or not- either way, hope you enjoy)!