Once again, Nowhere was a transformative experience for me. It follows that since my life is in a completely different state compared to last year, that my experience was also very much novel. It actually felt like much more than a year since I was last in the dust. I also chose to spend my time differently this year. I didn’t party much, instead choosing to absorb the experience during the daylight hours and (re)connect with other nobodies.
In the first days during build, there was a lot to do, but I never had the feeling of being rushed or stressed. We did the jobs that needed to be done collaboratively and on our own initiative. There was direction from our barrio and art lead, but no orders, no micro-management and no compulsion or coercion. This form of self-organization feels incredibly empowering and at the same time incredibly motivating. I even discovered that I really enjoy digging and even in the burning sun, I found it calming and meditative.
One of my most major feelings there was one of transcendence. I have previously regularly visited a Zen center for meditation and guidance and I have been trying to practice mindfulness. However, even during meditation, my mind will wander and think of other things, even if the thoughts are fleeting. For over a week at Nowhere, I can count on one hand the number of times that my mind wandered and remember each of those thoughts clearly. The rest of the time, I was deeply in the present simply experiencing every moment – the joyous, the uncomfortable, the painful and the loving. All of it.
I think this ease of being mindful came from the complete disconnection from everyday life. A totally new environment with no modern comforts, no internet connection, daily hard physical work, no work and a physical upheaval away from home, dog, laundry and all the stuff that we don’t think about explicitly every day that anchor us to a familiar routine. The complete lack of any of these everyday attachments seem like a very plausible reason why mindfulness was so easy.
Taking part in meme Friday, this went even further. I had such an acute awareness of my own body that I could feel each individual muscle and know exactly how my body reacted to every situation, to every person and to every interaction. This has given me insights that help me better understand my own emotions and triggers and will thus serve to aid my own self-improvement.
This deeply blissful and transcendental experience has also encouraged me to try out other styles of events that could lead to similar experiences, such as vipassana. I would like to see and compare how a similar upheaval from everyday life will effect me.
Finally, I found it wonderful to watch one of my partners connect to another, to bathe in the glow of NRE and to support them both in their love. Actually, I don’t think that I did that much other than soothe their fears of my discomfort or jealousy. I found it absolutely natural to feel such joy watching someone I love deliriously happy with someone else (who I also happen to think is cool). What was most pleasing for me was being confronted with a situation where we had planned essentially a whole week of couple time together and having those plans scuppered by life… and still riding the wave of love without even the need for working through issues or bad feelings.
Talking about it afterwards, we both have the impression that I’m simply naturally inclined towards low attachment. This might also explain my natural inclination towards Buddhist philosophy and agile methodologies as well as why I am very happy to embrace change and flow with it… even if that does drive some people crazy!