Returning From the Forest

A week ago I had the magical opportunity of sharing a walking meditation experience with the people of Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. It was a delightful experience to share these teachings in such a setting.

EF MedWalk2

When I became certified (200-hr) back in 2015 I dreamed that one day I would get to share and teach in a festival setting. I daydreamed of that opportunity happening at one of my favorite festivals, Electric Forest (EF).

A few months ago I applied to the EF Brainery Workshop program. About a month later I was just getting off work when I received an email stating I had been chosen to give the workshop I had applied for. My heart dropped and then ascended quickly back up my body. I drew a breath in and felt it expanding into every part of my body and beyond. I had not gotten my hopes up about being chosen for this honor as there were, no doubt, many applicants all with brilliant ideas of what they could share with the Forest Family.

I ran across the street to where a friend was. We embraced and whispered into their ear, “I just received confirmation that I will be teaching a walking meditation at Electric Forest.” They was elated. My excitement was boiling within me but their’s was boiling in every direction!

The workshop gifted us with two tickets to the festival. We both put our requests in for time off and before we knew it the day came for us to make the 7 hour trek to the Forest.

The Walking Meditation Workshop was scheduled for Sunday at 10:30 am. This was like the Universe winking at me, because Sundays at 10:30 am is when I teach a weekly Ananda Yoga & Meditation class in Iowa City. What were the odds that I would be teaching at EF at the same time on the same day of the week!

We arrived on Thursday morning to set up camp and enjoy a few days of the festival before sharing the workshop experience. After checking in with the Brainery staff, receiving our wristbands, and a couple of security check points we were guided into the fields where thousands of people were setting up (and already enjoying) camp. Due to some miscommunication between one of the vehicles and the staff who was telling cars where to park they required the people in our row to reverse and reorient our vehicles closer together. There was some over-compensation in this movement and it left our vehicles with barely any room between them. Which meant we wouldn’t have that much room to set up our tents.

This year at the second weekend of Electric Forest there was a record heat wave for the event. With our tents staked on top of each other, the sun beating down, and no breeze sneaking through the walls of tent mass, to say we got hot does not begin to express the experience. This was my fourth time at EF, first time being involved with the Brainery. I have never experienced heat like that before, and I hope I never have to experience it again. There was no point where we weren’t sticky with sweat. The heat seemed to creep into our bodies and brains. It muted my senses. Even now, attempting to recall those first two days is difficult. I can’t seem to recollect the artists we saw, what we did during the day, or our neighbor’s names. The heat never ceased. Sleep was a drift between consciousness and only brief moments of sinking into those joyous places of subconsciousness. The sleep deprivation only added to the discomfort and delusion of the day.

By Saturday morning around 8 am we were both awake, sweaty, and miserable. We craved sleep but new it was nowhere near. We attempted to go to the waterpark near the festival grounds, but after enjoying the A/C of the building while waiting in line for 2 hours we decided to call around to see if there were any rooms available.

I have never stayed in a hotel during a festival before. I love camping during festivals and throughout the year. I usually don’t enjoy the effects of air conditioning and find hotels to be stuffy. We came to the hotel decision only after days of heat exhaustion and sleep deprivation. I have no regrets.

We did not enter the water park. As soon as we booked a hotel (30 minutes from the festival grounds) we headed back to tear down camp, load up and head to the place we knew we could rest our weary bodies. We slept, we ate, we even enjoyed the pool and hot tub at the hotel. After an hour worth of showers we drove back to the Forest to enjoy a show before hitting the duvet for a full nights sleep.

Sunday arrived and I can actually recall all parts of that day. We arrived to the Brainery tent an hour before the workshop. I centered and handed out fliers that gave a description of what attendees could expect.

To say the workshop went off without a hitch would be false, but I had the energy and centeredness to handle the workshop as it unfolded.

EF MedWalk3

I am so grateful to have had this experience at such a wonderful place with such open and gracious human beings. The heat was difficult, but shaped a unique Electric Forest experience I have never had before. I am grateful for every part of the experience. I hope to return in the future and continue to share the teachings of Ananda Yoga and Meditation.


To those who attended the workshop I hope it was a centering and peaceful experience for you. I hope you took the practice with you and gained an understanding of how you can use walking mediations in your every day life to develop qualities of awareness, even-mindedness, and observation.


Blessings to You All,

Emily Basili

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