Feb 25, 2018

Restival - Arizona

Where do I even start? You know those experiences your friends try to explain to you, but there just aren’t words in the English language to elaborate it to the point that you could understand and share their excitement? Well Restival is exactly like that… a “you needed to be there” situation. However it is my job to spread the word about this magical event, so I will do my best to explain Restival in the next few paragraphs.

I feel like these days “wellness retreats” are a dime a dozen… doing yoga in a beautiful location, drinking fresh pressed juices, and influencers ending their captions with #blessed. When Coyuchi asked me to document Restival, not knowing much about the event, I was skeptical I would fall into that world where people were taking selfies showing off how much better their life seemed, without really getting much out of the experience. Boy was I wrong.

Restival stands out from the pack in so many ways. The most blatant difference is the aspect of incorporating indigenous tribes into their events. For this Restival in Arizona we were staying right on the border of the Navajo Reservation. Not only were we experiencing their land, but there were several members of the Navajo tribe involved in the event… from artists, cosmologists, horse whisperers, and peacemakers. Through workshops and conversations, attendees of Restival were able to get an intimate perspective on their culture, how they view the world, wisdom, and life in general on the reservation… something few outsiders would ever get the chance to experience, and definitely never be able to read about in a history textbook.

Restival is considered an “eco-luxe” event… meaning that it is both environmentally friendly and confortable. And they lived up to that description. Attends stayed in either private bell-tent or a shared teepee. And instead of cots, everyone was able to rest their bones on top of memory foam mattresses, bundled up in Coyuchi linen. The whole camp was run off either generators or solar power in order to leave the smallest footprint. And we certainly weren’t eating hotdogs cooked over a fire… each meal consisted of a mouth-watering spread of the most delicious and healthy dishes, prepared on site with love by Mama Moon.

Rather than providing a narrow scope of wellness, Restival offers a smorgasbord of workshops, talks, and practitioners… so you could cater the experience to your specific interests and curiosities. From the more common practices of yoga and meditation to more unique methods of healing of crystal healing and an ancient Taoist technique called Chi Neil Tsang… Restival provides you options for whatever avenue you want to go down to come out transformed in some way.

Beyond the incredible classes, food, location, and accommodations… what really makes Restival is the people you meet there. After spending 5 days in close quarters with this group of people, and the lack of distractions, whether that is your phone or other obligations, you really get to know both the amazing staff and attendees at the event. One thing that I took away from the event is how the internet changes humans’ social interactions.  There was zero cell reception and only one area where you could use Wi-Fi in case of emergencies… so when you meet someone new, you don’t have the internet in the palm of your hand to allow you to form an opinion about them or think you know who they are based on how they curate their life of social media. It completely leveled the playing field where number of followers and what you do for work didn’t affect your interest in someone… which in this day and age it was so refreshing not to have the internet as a “shortcut” to getting to know someone. These sense of community developed at Restival was so incredibly heartwarming.

In a time where it seems like there is so much bad in the world, Restival is exactly what we all need. A huge thank you to Restival founder Caroline Jones for being willing to put it all the work to bring this event to life. I for one feel like I came out of the experience a better person and with more clarity. We all know humanity collectively could use a minute to close their eyes, take a deep breath, cleanse out the negativity and appreciate the world around them… and Restival is certainly a step in the right direction.

This year (May 3-6th) I will be leading a workshop at Restival in Joshua Tree about the empowerment solo travel can bring, and give you some interactive tips on how you can document and share your story on your own. Click the link below to learn more about the experience.