Life After Burning Man: 8 Steps to Integrating Your Playa Experience
You just landed from a week of epic play, collaboration, inspiration and stretched your limits (or maybe barreled past your limits) of physical fatigue, emotional stamina, and psychological re-organization. However high your highs and low your lows on the playa, you made it. Your hero’s journey rounded the bend and you’ve returned home — that is, unless you’re either 1) a dedicated camp member still picking up MOOP or 2) a lost straggler still wandering the playa refusing to leave (it happens).
You cannot live at Burning Man, but Burning Man can live within You.
So what NOW? How can you integrate all that dust and insight into your daily life? Here we’ve compiled some suggestions.
Print it to PDF. Bookmark it. Treat this like a workbook for your process.
Now put on a fuzzy vest and dirty beats, grab a journal, and make the most of that playa experience:
1.Tell the Story — Take a minute to reflect on the highlights of your playa experience. Journal it, write a song about it, recount around grilled cheeses with your friends, or join a sharing circle. Bring those experiences back into consciousness and share your stories with others who can understand.
For a little while, you may not want to share your stories with those who aren’t enthusiastically supportive or who don’t understand, and that is okay! Let your stories be sacred to you.
Over time, you’re crazy journey stories will develop into life lesson stories, which are more relevant for everyone.
On the playa, I experienced…. (you can write about one moment, one night, one week, whatever feels relevant.)
2. Feel Into It: Flesh it out, bring back the memory into your body through re-membering the sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts. The sensation of faux fur on dusty skin…the feeling of expansiveness and eroticism…joy, grief, fear, relaxedness…
How are those experiences alive in your body now?
On the playa, my body felt like….
Right now (post-playa), I feel….
3. Consciously Release + Renew — This year after the burning of the Man, I ended up inside the long enclosed tunnel Roshanai (Illumination) in a long line of people hugging and saying “Happy Burn. Happy New Year.” (It took at least 30 minutes to get through the tunnel).
For many, Burning Man is a ritual of release and renewal, a punctuation in a cycle. Our habit mind, social masks, and defenses break down and are offered to the fires, making space for regeneration and new ways of being.
What (stories, fears, limitations, beliefs, etc) did you let go of?
What (capacities, qualities, parts of yourself, new depths) did you discover?
Protip: Light a candle while you explore this one to evoke the fire again. You can even write down what you are released and burn it up for good measure.
On the playa, I let go of….
On the playa, I discovered….
4. Anchor It Inside — Spoiler Alert: You will come down from that glorious playa high. Coming back into the default world doesn’t have to mean abandoning the beautiful, open-hearted person you are in Black Rock City. How can you turn those insights into lasting virtues in your daily life?
A. Put a stake in the ground in your psyche, so to speak.
What image, photo, word or phrase, or song reminds you of your experience and what you discovered*?
This anchor will keep you on course when life and work inevitably throw you challenges.
B. Write your Anchor word on a Post-it, make an origami figurine of your favorite art piece, find a piece of fabric that still smells like playa, or make a collage…whatever you do, keep a reminder nearby your room or computer.
C. Notice any stories or voices that come up that nay-say your discovery. Write those down too. Just becoming aware of them burns them up, so we can stop secretly believing them.
5. Commit — Commitment is gathering your energy and attention towards a point. What is your new commitment? How can you practice making it a new piece in your life? Here are some examples: Take a new attitude to an old task or challenge. Start a new practice, such as meditation or running. Take a vulnerable step towards reconnecting with a loved one….
I commit to….
One step I will take towards this is…
6. Collaborate — Cultural revolution starts with your close friends. Pick one comrade or a whole Burner camp and share your learnings, your discoveries, and new commitments, and create a new cultural norm that you all can practice together.
First gain solidarity among your friends and see if your co-workers and non-Burning friends catch on.
Try this conversation starter on for size: “I learned some new insights about (insert your discover here) to help better my life/my love/my world. I am going to make a new practice to (insert your commitment here). Would you be interested in either joining me in this commitment or helping hold me accountable?”
7. Create — Make art. Make love. Make new decisions and juicy new collaborations. Create the world we know is possible.
Did the playa give you courage, inspiration, or a feeling of unconditional acceptance and space to play? Keep it alive by creating from that place right now, and continuing to nurture it.
I will create….
This week, I will take one step to create this by…
This week, I will nurture my creativity by….
8. Support your Brain + Body — You cannot skip this step. Happy brain, happy integration process. Nourish your nervous system so it can grow the hardware to support all that evolution and creativity.
1) Sleep. One of your most powerful tools in integration.
2) Good nutrition and foods that fuel neurogenesis (brain growth): Omega oils, Coconut oil, Broccoli, Blueberries, Almonds.
3) Ground. Calm and soothe the body and nervous system with yoga, walking outside, taking a warm bath with salt, and rubbing your skin in oil if you can.
Most importantly, keep playing, keep discovering, and keep connecting with each other.
I have heard many people say they feel anxiety about “returning to the real world.” My take is that the default world is the “real world” and the playa is the “real world,” too. Black Rock City shows us a possibility for what we can create together and gives us a chance to learn new ways of being to integrate into any part our daily lives.
Integrate is a group of therapists and coaches offering support and education for the integration of entheogenic experiences. We believe in the transformative potential of expanded states of consciousness for healing and growth.We do not encourage or condone any illegal activities and we do support the healthy transition back to normal life after entheogenic use and application of insights into stable new ways of being.
For more information, contact us at SF.Integrate@gmail.com