Be The Change At Bhakti Fest
By Courtney Aldor
The room was buzzing with expectation as Sri Prem Baba - guru to many, author, and teacher in the Sachcha lineage - was about to get on the stage. He’d come to beautiful Joshua Tree to speak at Bhakti Fest all the way from Brazil and we smushed together like sardines as we tried to make room for everyone who’d come to see him speak. As the music played, friendly strangers smiled at me and we traded words of excitement and wonder about his upcoming speech.
We’d all been asked to submit questions to the former psychologist and shaman at the door and as we waited, I can only assume he had a lot to shuffle through, judging by the turn-out. It felt like all of Bhakti Fest was there! But as he began his delivery, the messages didn’t sound so unfamiliar: choose faith over fear, altruism over ego, surrender to joy and love to find greater purpose, be kind to others even when someone cuts you off on the 405…all I could think was, ‘Yeah, of course!’ And although I seemed to be the odd woman out, I left the room slightly disappointed that we’d been given the advice but not any concrete tools in which to do so. And then I looked around and realized that Bhakti Fest was the tool.
Because when you’re trying to be the change amidst a sea of, well, not always that change, it can feel trying. Sometimes you wonder if you’re the only one. But at Bhakti Fest, you feel among kin. Just walking around amidst a thousand people who would all smile back if you smiled at them, offer you food if you were hungry, and hug you if you were crying makes you want to keep on keeping on. Spending a weekend with people who would cram themselves into a sweat-filled room in the desert just to hear a message of love and trust, reminds me to keep the faith. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about walking this path, it’s that we cannot do it alone. To change everything, we need everyone.
Bhakti Fest rocked my world. Whether I was practicing yoga and breath work with lauded (and hilarious) teachers like Michael Brian Baker, sitting in the red tent crying my eyes out with fellow goddesses like Joanne Ameya, or simply getting stuck in the rain and having a stranger pull me under the tent as we laughed and danced with each other, it didn’t matter. The point of it all is just to do what we love, and to know that even when we go back to our daily lives, we’re still together.