Day One World Cultural Festival

2 Jul

Well yesterday was the first day of two at the World Cultural Festival at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.  And my body is still reminding me that it rained….  A lot.  And it was cold.  It was really cold.  I was not the only one in the women’s room hanging out by the hand dryer, warming up my hands, drying hair,  shoes and socks. I heard the temperature was 17 degrees celsius.  I haven’t done the conversion yet for my American mind to determine what that is in farenheit.  At any rate to me (and not just me for those of you who know how cold I can get!)… it was COLD!

That being said, it was one of the few places I was willing to be cold and wet for an extended period of time.  There was something overwhelming and joyful about people gathering from all over the world… connected.  I met up with a friend of mine from New Orleans who also participates in The Art of Living.  She had made plans on her own to attend and we easily connected at the event.  We took refuge in the Yoga tent for warmth, but the time there was not in vain.  While there we saw two Kirtan concerts (David Stringer and the OM Ensemble).  In both concerts people were singing, standing, dancing.  People were waving flags from their counties and you could just feel the spirit in the room and see it on peoples faces.  We learned a little about Ayurveda as well as scientific research on the impact of Yoga and breathing techniques on wellness.

There was a woman doctor there from the United States who has been working with American Soldiers who had been in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.  Before any treatment they were hopeless, couldn’t sleep, hyper-sensitive and barely able to function.  She then taught them the Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya and after they began practicing it they reported dramatic increase in capacity to sleep and feel good again.  One soldier reported that “he felt like a kid again…”

I’ve been staying at a youth hostel in Berlin called City 54 Hostel.  I haven’t stayed in a youth hostel since my meanderings in the United States about ten years ago…  My hostel home is cumfy and safe and my neighbors are a group of women who are folk dancers from Latvia here to participate in the event.  There is a free breakfast downstairs and… it is warm and dry!

In the evening was the big event at the festival inside the Olympic Stadium.  The seats were filled with optimistic enthusiasts as the wind blew and the rain came down like ice.  It was too cold for me to sit in the seats, so I remained under the pavilion for refuge… and occasionally in the bathroom by the hair driers!…  But even amidst all of that, it was something to see.  Hundreds of folk dancers filling the scene, musical performances and the enthusiasm and experience of being present to thousands of people gathered to celebrate life and the Art of Living from around the world!

And today, well today is a new day.  Another day of celebration at the Festival.  It will be cold and rainy today … and I will be dressing warmer!

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