To me, one of the beautiful aspects of kombucha as a living and volatile being can be found in a basic biological inspection. Kombucha is the product of micro-organisms, a culture that produces the beverage seen bottled in grocery stores and natural markets, that results from the action of bacteria and yeasts. The acronym that’s been created for this type of biological phenomena is SCOBY - symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Yeast and bacteria are involved in a symbiotic relationship, or long-term interaction, with each other, in which both benefit and thrive.
Last week, driving towards Vermont’s Wanderlust Festival, as my kombucha cohort and I traversed winding mountain roads, appreciating shades of green we were sure were long absent from Brooklyn, something struck me about our journey and the days to follow. Something wholly fractal was happening. We, having been sent to distribute hundreds of gallons of fresh kombucha, were a minor part of the sustenance that thousands of festival-goers would receive during the 4-day fest. Others also brought their wares for trade and exchange - whether they be crystals, music, jewelry, tapestries, pizza, or knowledge.
I would say generally that all festivals are gatherings which are hubs for the transformation and trade of energies, en masse. There are of course strong and lasting connections made in observance of the most basic of human necessities, such as food, drink, and social interaction - these create the lasting bonds that are the basis of a healthy organism. In having fortified this base of relative bounty and satiety, people flocked to yoga courses all across Stratton Mountain to contort their bodies, often painfully, for 90 minutes at a time, multiple times a day.
It goes without saying that there’s some sort of irony afoot. The baseline at the festival was very easily set, the basic necessities of existence met. So, after the second day of the festival (and the dynamics of joy, gluttony and pain were successfully assimilated), I was left wondering - what’s the big picture? Is it enough for us to simply rekindle a too-long archaic sense of community and rejoice in calculated comforts and blessings of humanity? Is Wanderlust a reaction to a possibly more retracted existence, the Grand Daily Drudgery? Or is the hallmark of the festival, yoga, indicative of some other, less easily-defined facet of human desire and evolution?
Didjeridoo artist Tyler Sussman of Didge Project
heals a festival goer with a brain massage
I came to somewhat of a conclusion after hours of serene meditation, body-straining poses and nigh-impossible stretches. In focusing our minds and bodies strictly on physical sensation, the clearing of the mind and the sharp awareness of our bodies, we achieve a clarity very difficult to achieve under normal circumstances. It became clear that yoga is not a practice whose sole purpose is in bodily health, toned appearance, or peer validation.
The truest form of yogic effect is in the experiences that come when the mind-chatter of terrestrial existence is silent, when we are able to parlay the undistracted mind. As practitioners of yoga and as members of the human race, I realized we have a duty to explore and relay the discoveries of the subconscious mind; whether it be a profound realization of the absolute necessity of love, the ever-present flow and balance of subtle universal energies, or the observation and dissolution of boundaries. And, of course, this knowledge issues into appropriate action.
We, like the culture of our beloved beverage, had acted out an exchange of energy and sustenance, for the wellness of the whole. Kombucha played a small but integral role, and like the other energies, set a standard of operation from which yoga-fied minds could catapult into the subtler, more imperceptible realms to attain clarity, enlightenment, or whatever was sought.
As we packed up our booth at Wanderlust Vermont, finishing the last sips of Green River Ambrosia’s Liquid Sunshine, the sky darkened and it began to rain. Enlightened and now cleansed by the warm summer rain, our mission complete, I pondered the changes our collective experience would affect.