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Top 5 Takeaways from Lightning in a Bottle

June 22, 2015

Lightning in a Bottle was my first camping festival so I’m sure it sounds absolutely mad when I claim that this is thee festival. But something inside my wide-eyed soul confirms that this event is simply unparalleled. So, now that the dust has finally settled and mostly cleared my respiratory system, let’s talk about why. First of all, camping inside the event is not only wildly convenient, but you and your camp also become an integral part of the festival itself. Lightning in a Bottle is a village, a community, and what it offers the people inside is nearly ineffable. Figuratively speaking, “catching lightning in a bottle” describes a near impossible feat. Can you imagine the ability to capture something so compelling yet utterly mystifying? Something all encompassing but completely intangible? Imagine being able to hold this impossible power and share it with the world. This is what the The Do LaB does with this event every Memorial Day weekend. The dusty recreation area which sits atop a depressingly barren but oddly striking lakebed is transformed into a surreal venue and interactive experience: aptly named Lightning in a Bottle and affectionately called LiB.


The Do LaB, a creatively driven events production company based in Los Angeles, sold out the event for the first time this year so it looks like people are catching on. But even with all 20,000 tickets sold, LiB still felt like an intimate gathering for me. Each camp becomes a part within the whole and there is a “we’re all in this together” mentality throughout the festival. There are many special yet fleeting connections over the course of the weekend, but the family created within your camp is an enduring force. And when we are so deeply affected by our connections, this force can raise our social awareness and nurture personal transformation. I will go out on yet another limb here and say that there is no one who left Bradley, CA that weekend without feeling moved in some way. I know I wearily made my own way back home from LiB with some meaningful insights.

Here are my top five takeaways from this elevating experience:


  1. “ Letting go” – Freedom

Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us develop expectations for nearly everything we do. Freeing ourselves from the consequences of holding on to expectations is when the magic happens. Only when we can let go of the attachment to these expectations, can we realize the freedom to feel it all in the present moment, completely raw and unruly. And that freedom vigorously breathes life back into us and back into the experience.


  1. “Doing you(r part)” – Greening

            Lightning in a Bottle practices what they preach when it comes to “greening” this event. There are no trash cans at the festival and they also rely on attendees to help leave no trace. Even after the music stopped, we were encouraged to remain an integral part of the festival by ensuring we took out everything we brought in. And for me, this cultivated a greater sense of mindfulness in supporting the environment that was hosting us. We are all in this together, but each individual also needs to do their part in order for the whole village and its sacred earth to thrive.


  1. “Rising in love” – Compassion

Of course this festival was complete with unbelievable music, art, lectures, yoga, food et al… but my list of takeaways are stripped of anything you’d see in a lineup or schedule. What I felt was infinitely more powerful than what I saw. Lightning in a Bottle holds its community in this safe space where our individual light can emit a constant stream of illumination. We are all shining without competition, or judgment, or arrogance. We are all capable of compassion, but in this space it becomes more of an intrinsic responsibility to the whole. It is here that we starve the ego and begin manifesting a profound love based on the understanding of another’s suffering. And from there, we rise.


  1. “I like this” – Creativity

Woven directly into our festival wristbands were the words “I like this.” When temporarily living in an environment that is so visually stimulating, we are constantly inspired by the creative energy in everything around us. Even the stages are works of art. I believe that we all become like a child in that sense, incessantly feeling the urge to explore and interact with all of it and find out how it makes you feel.


  1.  “I see you” – Union

First there are those you most directly and intentionally share the experience with, aka your tribe. These people will really see you and be a driving force in your experience from moment to moment. And still, throughout the festival you are also actively participating in a collective consciousness encircling the whole. By offering your vibrations to the communal energy, we achieve the ultimate yoga: union. There is a willingness of people to embrace you at LiB solely based on the fact that you are both present at such an event. Even if it is fleeting, the willingness is evident and the good vibrations are strong. And through freedom, greening, compassion, creativity, and union we will not only remain in this together, we will rise and thrive together.

So let the love flow freely and the totems fly high! We could have been anywhere in the world but we chose to wash ourselves in the soul-stirring beauty and insufferable dust of Lightning in a Bottle. This is thee festival—a beacon of awaiting elation. Now go follow it before it sells out.



By Amanda Anspach

Featuring photos from