LoveLake Festival Taupo 2018 – Yoga, Sustainability & Conscious Business Talks, Cacao Ceremony, Conversation and Dancing, did we say Dancing, in New Zealand

Breathe out.

What a day!

LoveLake Festival Taupo. 4 days of Yoga, Music, Aroha.

It’s 5.30am i’m awake, showered, shaved, fragranced, my new hippie skirt wrapped around my hips thanks to ‘Song’ Claire’s store at New Zealand’s International Yoga Festival a fortnight before.

Tiptoe across the floorboarded hall without waking the babes, man & canine.

And i’m off down the dark road. All of me. The good, the bad, the otherwise.

Podcasts queued up, freshly downloaded so as not to suck the last of this month’s data.

I’m all over the podcast Consciously Speaking with Michael Neeley.

I listen to:
Derek Rydall “Talks about the Abundance Project.”
followed by
Marla Mattenson “Explains why you’re programmed to lie to your mate.”
Audrey Hazekamp “The discussion about getting triggered and turning it around.”
have queued up: Christian Mickelsen “For an Exploration of abundance consciousness.”

Good God i love a roadtrip, especially with ME. Podcasts take them into another dimension. I’m soaking up the sky, the changing light, nature in silhouette, giving me a shadow puppetry show of a giant organic kind, the gum trees, the scent, the steam, the open fields, new trees, fresh shapes and ME.

I’m here.
It feels gentle.

There’s paper lanterns (hand-picked-colours) strung within the trees. Giant silk upside down halfmoon flags hanging in the entrance. It’s Wairakei Resort Taupo. I’ve been here with husband 6 months ago in a race briefing for the 50km Taupo Ultra-Marathon. Back again for more people who love to move, love nature and love to keep developing beyond limits.

‘It’s a conference centre’, someone says, at some point during the day. They’re right it’s a conference centre, built sometime in the 80s or 90s perhaps, judging mostly by the carpet, although i’m not a textiles expert.

I have a wee marketing moment – i think back to the lush Wanderlust images of lakes, hilltops, tall trees, smiles, friends with happy faces and i think – curious the carpet never featured in that nature soaked beautiful imagery. Strategic.

Yet with any shadow, any ‘unwanted’ traits, any unpleasantness –

“Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.” – Joseph Campbell.

For this conference centre is warm, dry, soundproof and has toilets galore (no problem with chemical-scented, full or queues for portaloos here, folks).

And this conference centre comes armed with friendly obliging staff who help you find a computer and printer when you need one. Thanks team Wairakei for going the extra mile in customer service.

I make it to Leo’s talk from Why Waste on ‘Beyond Sustainability’ on time, i forgo the hot cuppa i’m craving (i’ve even brought my keep cup, my zyliss smoothie container, my click clack tupperware, and knife and fork (i’m armed to be ‘beyond sustainable’ this festival, after getting caught-out at Kawai Purapura’s Festival that fortnight before.)

There’s a passionate and mighty four of us sitting on some swirly red carpet in a circle. It’s 8.30am on this Friday Autumnal morning.

I’m stoked there’s an intimate group. This can be juicy. We can connect. I remind myself in future facilitating / teaching moments to not feel disheartened with the quantity of beings with me ‘in a class’ and to allow them to have their unique experience, as for them, this number may be ‘juste’. As for me, this number four is, ‘O for Awesome’.

Luke, Amira, Chloe, Leo (and later Michael, Cashmere and Jonas) and i listen, learn and share. Leo poses the question, ‘Why do we call this “movement” sustainable, what are we trying to sustain?’ And i think how close the word is, to conserve (Department of Conservation) which connotes a lack of trust, a station of lack, certainly a lack of surrender, of letting go and also a poverty of thinking big, of thinking A B U N D A N T. Although whilst proofreading i feel like this is all a contradiction. Abundance is a theme for this day, and i’m tight-tope walking the balance between allowing something to ‘fall away’ and encouraging something, some state, to ‘remain’ to be sustained.

We talk of some writers/speakers to follow:
Charles Eisenstein
Yuval Harari
Nikki Harre
David Suzuki
Naomi Klein
Masanobu Fukuoka

Leo says the ageing Suzuki mostly regrets being part of calling this movement ‘The Green Movement’ and suggests we could call it the small blue dot (cos that’s what our Earth looks like from outer space).

I think about how little our planet or our lives matter on that ‘Universal’ scale. And for some reason it makes it more plausible that we could truly deplete our planet and eco-system to the degree we humans cannot survive.

We leave jamming ideas of the changes we can continue to live. One challenge posed is – ‘We consume consciously, can we produce consciously too. What do we do for ‘a living’, how to we be/live, what do we contribute…’

I’ve made friends with shadow puppeteers, music-impassionists (is that a word?), an American-travelling-tomato-growing-Egyptian, a tiny home maker, a Michael, and a woman who wants to see kiwi women wear more colour PLUS i’ve got to see Leo the red-headed kiwi wearing a pre-loved red-headed stole. What a morning!

I walk in to the already started Yin class with Nik Robson. There are female and male tighted-bodies prostrate over every surface of the floor in this bodaciously sized room. Impressive. Maybe 200+ humans or is that a stretch – bahahaha. His voice is young, and also calm, and wise, and honest, and guiding, and also assertive. He lays down some challenges as did Leo. Can we be with this ‘stretch’ this ‘edge’ this ‘discomfort’? What lies beyond it? Do we want to move away? What happens when we stay? He asks (rhetorically) as we slow down, we breathe, we realise this is where we are, ‘How do we each interact with Mother Earth…’

I breathe. What change can i make today? What change can you make today?

Keep cup?
Reusable bags.
Eat more veges?
Grow veges?
Consume less?
Be still?
Sit with the discomfort?
Notice when we reach for distraction?

Sweet tasting conversation outside the toilets. A non-yoga-like morning tea of some-sort-of-sugared-dairyfilled-glutenincluded-overlyrefrigerated-blackandwhite-cheesecaketart-thing. And i’m down with it.

Mantra, Kirtan and oops i didn’t read the bit about Vinyasa with Justine Hamill so me and my bruised non-cat-poseable post-fall-body (from the off-road run the week before) quietly leave the class and syphon into the Organic Mechanic talk led by Graedon.

Whanaungatanga. 1. (noun) relationship, kinship, sense of family connection – a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group.

We’re now in a porowhita, giving our pepeha, sharing our name, whakapapa (ancestory) and what brings us into the room, with the other 40 curious people.


The hope is we’ll now have the grounds and confidence to approach a new person from the group once wandering around this 4 day festival LoveLake Festival Taupo.

A participant talks to this. Connection. She calls us up – do we (a bunch of festival-goers) truly want to connect? She challenges and says she makes eye contact and meets people’s eyes averted. I wonder if it’s a kiwi thing?

I think how complex communication, human interaction is. How much easier (for many) it is to be led in an activity, to have a person responsible for facilitating something, to set boundaries and shapes for our interaction. I think about how ‘relating’ can ‘fall apart’ when one has to set one’s own boundaries, or communicate one’s own truth.

I’m warmed you wish to connect but i’m processing that last class right now and want to be quiet and still for a bit.

I’m stoked you’re being friendly, i’d like you to know i get a bit nervous talking with new people.

I’d love to talk sometime, but I’m wanting to go to another class, right now.

You wanna grab something to eat and chat a bit?

The conversation of consent and boundary setting, and the tango of truth and kindness cartwheels in my thinking.

The OM talk is slow and simple, like all good things. We chant eight OMs to finish and from somewhere i begin to sing the chorus from Xavier Rudd’s The Spirit Bird and Jason Corliss is with us.

Eh manna yo yo yo yo.

Give it time and we wonder why, do what we can laugh and we cry
And we sleep in your dust because we’ve seen this all before
Culture fades with tears and grace, leaving us stunned hollow with shame
We have seen this all, seen this all before
Many tribes of a modern kind doing brand new work same spirit by side
Joining hearts and hands and ancestral twine, ancestral twine
Many tribes of a modern kind doing brand new work same spirit by side
Joining hearts and hands and ancestral twine, ancestral twine

Slowly it fades
Slowly we fade
Slowly we fade
Slowly we fade

Late lunch is spent on the mats of Coka’s YogaTribe, talking with a beautiful face about the surprising fact that there’s no vegan food available here. I’m sadly or happily enjoying the Indian chickpea curry (obviously with cow’s cream) in my paper/wooden (biodegradable) bowl.

I bump into ‘old’ yoga friends. Jane (who we finally work out i first met at Papakura Marae on the Landmark Forum back when i was 18 years young) but later practices Ashtanga at the same place i did off and on for 15 years – Auckland Yoga Academy. And then there’s Suzi Carson, getting ready to do a class whist i faff trying to email documents via my phone. Suzi is quite possibly my first ever Yoga teacher in an Iyengar class when Auckland Yoga Academy lived above Cause Celebre and The Box (the underground conjoined-twin nightclub) on High Street.

The day is rounded with Connie and Lucy’s Cacao Ceremony where i sit in a ray of raw sunlight, giggling silently with Savannah (a new OM friend, kia ora that whanaungatanga worked wonders). The chocolate beans (white and dark) are passed around the full room for us to sample. We’re not sure if we’re supposed to eat them, or quite how, it has the courage and mystique and clumsiness and self-consciousness of any ‘altering-substance’ i’ve ever met. It’s cacao baby.

A little terracotta handle-less-cup finds her way into my palms, and i touch the warmed earth to my lips and heart. The taste is smooth, hints of cinnamon, and looks glossy like all things rich. It’s delicious and definitely shifts me. Connie and Lucy ask us to allow the cacao to invite…

What will the cacao teach us?
What wisdom do we want from this cup of cacao?
What do we wish the cacao to invite into our lives in this moment?

Did this come from the cacao? Did it come from me? Did it come from…?

A feather is passed around – a speaking, telling feather and we tell the feather silently or we tell the feather out loud…

The feather reaches my fingers.

Words part from chocolate lips:
I wish
to fall in love with myself.
I wish
for Pleasure.
I wish
to invite inappropriate sounds.

It’s a happy ending, another circle, eye contact, sealing the occasion.

The day is turning into night.

It feels less ‘gentle’ now, a bit more hustly-bustly, there are further festival-goers arriving and ‘normal’ people frequenting Wairakei Resort also.

An international food ‘buffet’ is peppering the lawn in front of Zeenya and YogaTribe stalls. Greens are being tossed into the darkening air with cracks and hisses from the wok and sesame.

River Roots are playing on the deck and as the songs build tempo the dancers move bolder, barefoot and joyful until it’s like a sea of tall children jumping, skipping, kicking their feet into the air and yahooing. We love it.

Now DJ Mia takes the stage flagged by naked florescent bustiers, nipples and all. Setting the mood for night-time, and sensual, and masculine meets feminine and the dancing goes wild.

Music winding from around the most dancing pockets of our planet. Latin, Eastern European rhythms and harmonies propel the dancer out onto the D floor. We’re smiling wide.

Finally it’s 9.30pm and i’m thinking of the 2 hours of podcasts and trees i can no longer see.

It’s time.

Thanks for having ME LoveLake Festival Taupo.
It’s been a pleasure.
I’ve made inappropriate noises.
And i’m falling in love with myself.

I’ve enjoyed coming to this inagural event.
This festival that claimed the space that Wanderlust left.
The gentleness has worked deliciously for me.
I have felt that sweet spot of having enough stimulation and social, and enough quiet and unassuming.
It hasn’t felt like a party, where i don’t know anyone, one where people are standing in groups laughing and looking loudly comfortable and i feel like a by-stander.
I, like Jackie and Jo from the Organic Mechanic Whanaungatanga, have come alone to this festival, but felt like i fitted in just fine.
I’m imagining it’s going to be busier in the weekend proper, especially Saturday, i feel grateful the right day for me right now is the gentle Friday.

Home i drive through the black to the sleeping babes, man and canine, to tiptoe across floorboarded hallway and eyebag on… drift into the land of dreams and processing of a day of transformation.

Until we meet again.

Written and photographed by Emily with wild & grace


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