Before going to burning man, I hadn’t really heard much about it besides that it was intense. There wasn’t much information on it other that it seemed like a cool place you could go to wear wild costumes. It wasn’t until one of my favourite bloggers went and shared her in depth experience of Burning Man that I really started looking into it. The second I started doing research on it I got this overwhelming urge inside me that said I HAD to go next year no matter what. I would stay up till 3am every night reading every piece of info I could soak up on it and became more excited for this then any trip I had ever gone on before. I shared some in depth highlights about my experience this last week at Burning Man on my Instagram stories (Click here to watch) and the amount of feedback I got on it was crazy. You guys were saying you had zero idea that’s what BM was all about and after seeing what I shared that it was also on your bucket list. My hopes with this blog post is that it can educate you on what BM really is and if you want to go next year you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Everyones perception of this is a little different, because you take away experiences based on what you need but here’s what I loved and I hope you enjoy reading all about it! (PS, sorry for the quality of some of these photos. I didn’t have my camera on me for a lot of the time because the playa dust sticks into everything and can ruin cameras, so lots of these were taken on my phone.)
Flying into the playa on the burner express. So excited to land
One thing about BM a lot of people don’t understand is that first and foremost you need to survive. You are camping in the desert and there is nothing around you! The temperatures are 100F (38C) in the daytime and can get very cold at night. There are no stores to buy food or water from and you have to bring every little thing you will need. If you shower, you can’t just dump your grey water on the ground and call it a day, you need to deal organically with every piece of waste you make. The theme is “leave no trace” this means adopting the motto no MOOP, which stands for material out of place. If you are biking or walking and you see a piece of trash or anything at all that doesn’t belong in the desert, you pick it up (regardless of if its yours or not) and you deal with it. Everyone is a team at BM (all 70,000+ of us) and come together to create a sustainable community for the week, that is all inclusive and honestly like family. Theres no camps or events you’ll ever walk into and not be allowed to participate in. I think I crashed three weddings at burning man and was welcomed into the receptions with open arms and love. Besides being a community first, I would have to say secondly its all about radical expression and a lot of that expression is shown through art. Personally, I expressed my creativity and individuality through fashion and my outfits, but there were others who showcased theirs through building camps or art cars. An art car, like the one pictured above, is anything that moves. They can be three stories tall, breathe fire like a dragon and fit hundreds of people on it, or look like a cupcake the size of a laundry basket and only have one driver cruising around on it with his knees up to his chin. The thing they all have in common though is that they are all unique, crazy, and have bright lights and music radiating from them. At any point if you see one of these art cars driving around you can simply run up to it, hop on, and join the gaggle of people partying on it and they will welcome you like they couldn’t wait for your arrival.
A word of wisdom to you if you are at burning man and randomly jumping on art cars. My friend and I did this not thinking the car would be driving around anytime soon. We are on the third story of this art car and our bikes were below us in the sand. (not locked up beside any landmark,) when we feel the car starting to move. We had to barrel down three levels of this rickety art car (safety is a foreign word at BM, everything is at your own risk) and jump off the moving car to go grab our bikes. It ended up taking us too long by this point and our bikes were already fading in the background, so we decided to just stay on. The sun was about to rise at this point and we were too in the moment to want to miss such a beautiful event. Everyone had told me that partying all through the night to stay up to watch the sunrise was a must for BM and I am so happy I took that advice, because this was one of the most magical things we did. We were sitting high above the playa listening to music and watching the desert go from black to periwinkle, to pink, and then to yellow and orange. There was a whole group of people sitting below us on the sand, strangers all cuddled up together on blankets. When they saw the sun finally peek its head over the horizon, everyone broke out into cheers and the applause they gave the sun, just for rising was magical. The energy of that gathering was so strong, that my friend and I jumped off our art car (with a few new friends we had made on it) and went down to see what everyone else had been up to all night. As we passed by I would look at peoples faces and they all had a common similarity. They were all slightly tired looking but had a rosy glow in their cheeks and their eyes were sparkling. Everyone was in big fur coats and hugging each other and laughing exuberantly. Music was playing on the horizon and it seemed as if the party really hadn’t even begun to die down. The morning still had a cool breeze to it and I came across this beautiful couple who had set up a hot chocolate bar. They were handing them out to people who looked cold. Like I mentioned before, money means nothing at BM. You can’t buy things and it doesn’t even run on a barter system like some people think. It’s simply people being generous from their own hearts and in turn someone will do something kind for them when they need it the most. Theres a saying at BM “The playa will provide” and I can’t stress over how true this is. There were instances where I was sitting next to someone and heard them say they had a blister and I just happened to have a band aid in my bag to give them. Also times where I was out of water or needed my bike fixed and someone would randomly come up to me with tools or a water bottle and fix me up. This happened randomly in every possible scenario you could imagine and it was one of the coolest things to just go out with no fears and trust that you would be provided for. There was not one instance where I was in need and left in want and I think that is so amazing. Its one of the things I am going to take with me into the real world because I truly believe that if you are helping people in need and trusting in the universe, you will ALWAYS be taken care of.
When I think ‘interactive art’ I don’t always think of a safety hazard. I should have adjusted my thinking of that this past week because BM is anything but conventionally safe. I like to compare it to an adult playground with no rules and it’s a play at your own risk type deal. I climbed 100 ft tall art structures with no harness that started shaking when you got close to the top. I was thrown upside down and held there with nothing holding me back except some straps on the tops of my shoes. I climbed up rickety wooden stages on upside down scaffolding and had tea atop a Dr. Seuss house high in the air with holes in the floor and chairs hanging off a 70 foot drop. Also got dangerously close to the biggest fires I have ever seen, but compared to the rest of the shit I saw, the fires seem relatively safe. I loved the balance between trusting yourself to stay alive and also the rush of adrenaline you got knowing you could essentially kill yourself if you weren’t careful. Like I said, Burning Man is a trip. Safety third, and play at your own risk.
After talking about all this danger you would think its not a very kid friendly zone but I actually saw quite a few kids there camping with their parents. There are so many different kind of camps at BM and they are all so interactive and stimulating. Anything you could possibly want to do, you will find there. I personally spent a lot of time in the healing camps. We would stumble across random meditation domes in the middle of a booming nightclub, or reiki masters willing to gift you a session, alternatively there were people who would give you massages and teach you how to do gamma breathing which was a personal favourite of mine. We sat through one of these courses where the instructor taught us how to do breathing sequences so your brain would produce more DMT, serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Some scientifically proven benefits of gamma breathing include, developing skills more rapidly, reversing diseases such as Alzheimers, helping with anxiety, and addictive behaviours etc. I could go on and on because this course was SO interesting and taught me so much, but that is a whole different blog post for a different day. Another course I found to be very enlightening was a talk I sat in on with a few trained psychiatrists and psychologists where they shared their studies on how psychedelics in controlled doses were actually reversing signs of traumas in their clients. The way this is happening is mainly due to the active ingredient in magic mushrooms called psilocybin. A trauma can occur whenever something happens that our brain doesn’t have the capacity to deal with in that moment. Emotions and energy in that moment are charged and intense enough that this will create a deeply engrained pathway in your brain that is holding this strong energetic imprint of the pain that happened in the past- resulting in a traumatic experience. As you relive this, by talking about it, thinking about it, or sometimes dreaming about it- as we sometimes do as a way for the subconscious to process- the neural pathway becomes stronger and more engrained. Remember, the brain doesn’t know whether an experience is real or we are just thinking it, so every time this thought occurs it could potentially trigger this person with this trauma to relive it all over again. The good news though is this all has the potential to change and heal if we could find a way to create a new neural passageway around this traumatic memory. If we could create a new memory path around the negatively charged one, eventually the old traumatic passageway would just disappear. Enter psilocybin. Brain scans have been done and shown people that are given doses of this drug. They watched their patients brains rapidly producing new neural passageways to help them permanently get past their traumas and go on to live normal lives! This can happen in as little as one treatment! Compare that to years of traditional therapy and this is truly a miracle. To me, this is a topic I have previously been fascinated about. In the past, doctors have always told us that the brain is unchanging. If you are born with a low IQ you’re going to struggle for your whole life. If you have PTSD you are going to have to find a way to cope because you now have this disease forever. Now we know that we can change the plasticity of the brain to create new neurological passageways where patients could relive and talk about their past traumas without being affected in the prior negative ways they once had. Isn’t it so exciting that studies are now being proven that our brain is plastic and responds to change? Essentially if we really wanted to we could change anything we wanted about our brains. We have the ability to raise our IQ levels and even get over deep rooted traumas. I could go on about this for so long because it has been something I have been studying for a while now, but it was great to hear these speakers who hold so many credentials affirm that we are living energetic beings and that we can create and heal anything we really put our minds to.
Aside from very scientific, brain stimulating tents. There were also things such as (yes, the orgy dome) and tents like the Dr. Bronner’s showers where there’s booming music and two hundred naked people dancing around in foam and washing the playa dust off one another. Like I said before, you can really get anything you want out of BM or even do it all! It is academic, crazy, wild, out of this world and at the same time so liberating and exhilarating.
^ You, exhausted after listening to my Ted Talk.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for still reading! I’ll wrap it up now because I know this is one of my longest blog posts but I wanted to leave you with one more memory of my favourite night. This was the night me and my BFF stayed up all night to catch the sunrise. We had initially went off on our own, and in our travels adopted two beautiful humans on the way, one first and then the other came into our little gang a few hours later. It was truly amazing to me how someone can be a total stranger and then in the midst of riding around on your bikes through a psychedelic desert, they become so close to you. You learn all about their life’s struggles, their pain and their accomplishments, all while laying on your backs out in deep playa beside the remains of an art sculpture that had been reduced to glowing ashes and watching the vast stars in the middle of the night. I remember laying there with my best friend of 10 years and two strangers who I had only known for a few hours but somehow feeling deeply connected to them all. If theres anything I want to take back with me into the real world its this feeling of human connection. When it all boils down, we are all humans made out of the same energy. We are all at a level interconnected but it’s only our views and beliefs that keep us separated. I want to learn how to accept and love people exactly as they come to me with no judgements. Viewing them as the perfect entity they they are. We are all the same and we are all here to love and support one another. Beautiful things can happen when you adopt this viewpoint in life and love your neighbour as yourself.
Thanks for reading!!! xoxoxo So much love to you all!
Again, if you want to see a more watered down version of BM along with more videos to capture the full experience, please watch my IG stories here!