onsdag 13 juli 2011

Ängsbacka No Mind Festival

So we're just back from Ängsbacka No Mind, a festival sprouting up every year in the forest of Värmland county, Sweden. With a focus on personal and spiritual growth, reconnection with nature, exploration of relationships and communion, and much more, Ängsbacka is unlike any other festival I'm aware of.

The main tent where the most popular workshops are held.

And oh, it's drug, alcohol and smoke free. (Well, if you're gonna smoke, you'll have to drag yourself off to the dedicated "smoke temple.") And the food? You guessed it ‒ vegetarian only.

The Ängsbackian laid back and accepting atmosphere.

Initially, we went to Ängsbacka simply because of how new-age-wacky and odd it seemed. We expected mysterious shakti energy healing, talking to the dead, tarot-cards, mind-reading, ghost chasing, and various other magical investigations. While there were some of that around, we were pleasantly surprised at how downplayed the new age portion of the festival turned out to be. And, neither were folk generally how we had anticipated—somewhat spaced-out, balmy, aloof—but very intelligent, present, warm. Actually, just ordinary and unpretentious people. Albeit sometimes with a nice hippie or new age twist.

Some of the food is grown on site.

The days are quite regulated; various workshops to choose from are offered to the thousand festival attendees at set times throughout the day, punctuated by tasty vegetarian meals, intimate sharing group sessions, and open events. Rarely do you find yourself with nothing to do, for better or for worse.

Fire dancing.

The workshops, the first ones starting at 7 a.m, are numerous and varied. Some are challenging, some relaxing, some intellectually stimulating, some informative, others just plain fun. We've been meditating, singing, playing improvisational theatre, dancing, fire walking, attending talks and satsangs, sweat lodging, drumming, tantra exploring, yoga practicing, and chanting long into the night. All this in addition to the various activities just spontaneously forming around the festival area.

Forest walking. (If it weren't for smartphone GPS tech, we'd still be out there.)

If you enjoy meeting a lot of new great and interesting people, spending time in beautiful natural surroundings, and challenging a perhaps constrained and shy sense of self to become more open, unassuming and free, why not book yourself a ticket to 2012's Ängsbacka No Mind Festival? Maybe we'll see you there!

Lunch together in the sun.

More pictures:

Pictures: Integral Monastery