It came early in the morning and out of a sudden. When bowls of porage were getting empty and bellies started to feel up with joy, the darkness, laid upon them. Some thought it was an accidental bump into the light switch, but no. Electricity was out and candles quickly crawled on the table. With darkness in the room and light in everyones hearts, all twenty of them awaited sunrise.
The blackout encouraged everyone to work together and as soon they finished with their daily contribution, it was time for a walk of forgiveness. Everyone looked for a person they didn’t know and paired up for a walk. The falling snow melted on its way to the ground and soaked into every jacket while participants worked on forgiving themselves for the things from the past. Once everyone had found peace within, it was time for another sharing circle.
No power meant no water, but people looked for alternatives to restore balance. Despite the unexpected blackout, all twenty of them held together and took care of each other. It was a surprise that united them all. After taking care of each other, everyone received alone time to take a walk, and dive into their own thoughts – all of them deserved it without a doubt.
When everyone had spent some time by themselves, they gathered together and were given the task to brinstorm the next day's activities in order to share their knowledge and awareness practices with each other. Through a pile of ideas, the group found a common ground and started preparing for the next day.
At 8 a.m. snoring stopped and everyone crawled out of their beds, so they won’t miss out breakfast. No one was in the hurry for mornings sandwiches as if they knew that everyone will be coming down at their own pace.
When the breakfast was over, it was time to get to know each other – more personally. All twenty beautiful souls gathered into the spirit house. Excited for the next day and the beginning of their shared adventure they sat in a circle next to each other. Nothing gets people closer than sharing circle. Rota, their magical fairy, introduced them to the talking stick, which drives the groups attention to the one who’s speaking. With rules and practicals out of the way, the group dived into their first shared reflection, sharing what they had gotten out of the last year. In the next hour participants bravely poured out their challenges, fears, regrets, and accomplishments. Everyone got out what laid underneath. To move on from the past, they all stood up and helped each other heal by singing a powerful mantra and releasing their fears in the comfort of others’ compassion.
When lunch ended, it was time to return to the spirit house for the afternoon activities. However, this time it wasn’t about shouting out mantras and releasing their emotions into the air. During the next hour and half, Rota, Laura and Kristaps introduced the group to the five places we can focus our attention on: the chatter of the inner critic who constantly judges us, the desires of our inner child, the sensations of the body, the guidance of the inner compass, and ultimately, pure awareness. “What is pure awareness,” some wondered. One of them described it as “zoning out”. Another saw it as body and mind working together, shutting off every thought that travels through. Importantly, participants discussed different approaches to arriving at pure awareness. They discovered that it could take many forms – from creative expression to playing basketball or cooking.
When the train with the 20 international participants in the Hibernation youth exchange reached Tukums, the participants were welcomed by the breeze of Latvian winter and the people behind the project. Rota, Kristaps, and Laura, the three lovely souls who had put months of hard work and inspiration into the creation of the project greeted everyone and handed them fresh apples. Their wide smiles left an unforgettable mark for Latvian hospitality.
The organizers gave the group several maps and sent them on a 13-kilometer hike to the place where Hibernation would take place. The road ahead of the youth was dark and long. The participants left their bags with Rota, Kristaps, and Laura and embarked on what would be a more than a two-hour walk, having nothing but the road, maps and each other. That was the moment to get to know each other, they realized on the way. The black sky brought everyone together and shortened the distance from one heart to another.
The twenty young people were starting to form unity while following the railroad track. Eventually, that track would lead them to a sacred place, where their unique winter hibernation adventure would take place. None of them knew the road, but all of them trusted the map. In small groups they walked the track, signaling each other when the train was coming. Some encouraged the train driver to honk the huge machine and everyone loved the sound of the passing beast. No matter how cold or slippery the night got, the group held it together and bravely walked in the dark supporting each other. Not even the frozen field could stop them.
Once they had crossed the field, the youth saw the shimmering light in the distance and heard an unknown but friendly dog barking. They knew right away – their home for the next week was now close. They had arrived at the projects picturesque venue, but their journey to inner peace was just starting.
Just another soul who likes to create stories and enjoy life.