How to Stop Trying to Make Your Life Work + a Bhakti Fest Tale

I'm sitting here, mostly motionless, on the second floor of the Manhattan Beach public library, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, listening to Trevor Hall’s Hanuman Chalisa, contemplating what to say, what to share, what to give - what internal or external experience to translate into words - and I’m coming up empty - nothing.

Just the Chalisa, on repeat, and the repetitious waves of the ocean crashing before my eyes. 

Yet what I know, what I can ground into, what I find comfort and peace in, is this knowing that nothing, will in time, turn into something.

Something will emerge from this space of nothingness. There will be, as there always is and has been, that pivotal moment when emptiness expands into fullness and when nothing births something. 

Knowing this, I sit peacefully, patiently awaiting delivery of that which the universe sees fit for me to translate and transmit.

Interestingly enough this waiting game, the one that’s happening to me right now as I await, is a reflection of the waiting game we all play, the waiting game life plays with us - in and with our lives - the trip of all trips. 

For me, I’ve been playing this waiting game for several weeks, since early June when my grandma passed away.

Actually, if I were to be fully honest with myself and with you, it’s been more like a year, since I left Wichita, that I've been waiting for nothing to birth something. 

Waiting for the winds of inspiration to fill the sails of my heart. 

In my last article, Why You’re not Healing, I spoke a lot about our cultural obsession with ‘doing’. Is it not true that we all try to some degree, we try to do, we do our best to blow into the sails, hoping that we’ll get some traction, some motion, some momentum - movement of some kind.

What I've observed is that most of us, most of the time, are doing our best to drive ourselves forward. 

Yet the moment we stop trying, the moment we stop doing, the moment we stop blowing, the sails go limp, me, you, the ship, the ship that carries our spirit, comes to a screeching halt and it can often be an abrupt, alarming and agitating experience. It’s visceral rather than conceptual. It hurts, it can be scary and stormy - we’re afraid of not moving and rightfully so.

We’ve been programmed to think and to believe that if we’re not moving forward, that we must be moving backwards - towards what can feel like decay, destruction, or death. 

There's only two directions; forwards or backwards - motionlessness or not moving is not a direction.

This game is an exhausting game to play. Of course we’re all tired, who wouldn’t be when attempting to power the perpetual process of life with a limited, finite amount of resource - will power.

We’re attempting to fuel up a ship that requires the power of the cosmos with the sparks of our own efforts.

And what to say about that space and place within - that internal experience we're confronted by, when we feel like we’ve come to a full stop?

When the engines have turned off. When we’ve exhausted our own fuel source, when the tank is no longer on or near “E” empty, but has moved into that often unexplored and unmarked area that falls between empty and ‘out of gas’ and stranded on the side of the road.

It’s like the more we try, the more we do, the more we attempt to power up our ship, the more in a paradoxical fashion we blow, not into our sails, but blow away, unconsciously the winds that would so effortlessly and gracefully push us forward.

It’s in our blowing that we resist the infinite power and the expression of that power, the winds of the cosmos. A power source that is always available to us, always blowing in, around and thru us.

Many times in my life I’ve said, with an air of surrender,

I’m done, I’m done trying, I give up, I give in, I can’t do this anymore, this isn’t working, whatever I’m doing just isn’t working…please, please, please, help me, whoever and whatever you are.” 

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m tired of trying, I've felt tired for a while, at a cellular level. I’m tired of trying to be the source of the power that moves me, that move my life - and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

This past weekend I attended Bhakti Fest West in Joshua Tree National Park. I spoke with many amazing souls who explained similar feelings - so many whom are so utterly exhausted at trying to make life work, to make a life that feels to be a blessing rather than a burden. 

So lets talk about this, because apparently it’s not just coming up in my life, but in the lives of many, if not all, spiritual warriors.

I think a story right about now would be a nice medicine for me and you.

So like we all did in kindergarden, lay down, get comfortable, take off your socks, and turn the lights down low for this one. 

Often times life gives us an experience that encompasses the totality of the wisdom one would acquire across an entire life. I’ve been blessed to have 2-5 of these experiences in my life, Bhakti Fest being one of them.

Eight months ago I purchased a ticket for a Coaching and Leadership Intensive to be held in Santa Monica, CA, the week of Sept. 17th and that's why I'm here writing from the Manhattan Beach Library. 

Interestingly enough I saw that Bhakti Fest, a Yoga and Kirtan festival was the week prior to my training. Knowing I would be flying to California anyway, it made sense to go to Bhakti Fest. Other than the price of the ticket and the lodging it really wouldn’t cost me very much.. So, I bought a ticket. 

I also bought a ticket for the Bhakti Bus, a coach bus that would bring attendees from LAX airport 3-hours east to the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. This was perfect considering the fact that I really wouldn't be needing to rent a car, at least for the training since the Air Bnb I'm staying at is within walking distance to the training. 

In terms of lodging, I did what I often do, nothing. I went with the, “I’ll figure it out later.” I knew I was not going to lug a tent and sleeping bag with me, which left me with two options - rent a space in a men’s dorm or rent a private 3-person room, both of which according to the BhaktiFest website sell out fairly quickly. Despite this information, not feeling pulled either way, I did nothing...for months.

Two weeks prior to the event my mate from Australia told me his intention was to drive out to California and while there he would attend Bhakti Fest. I could camp with him - he had all the gear. Apparently my dilemma worked itself out. 

Five days prior my mate informs me he won’t be making it to California or to Bhakti Fest. 

Shit!!! Now what do I do, all of the cabins are probably sold out.

I reached out to Jamie and Jason, some friends I had met two years prior who were regular Bhakti attendees. I sent them a message letting them know I was going and that I was still trying to find a place to stay. I was pleasantly surprised when they nonchalantly told me they had an extra bed they were looking to fill. If that’s not serendipity, what is!

Two days later, a day prior to Bhakti Fest I get a message from them, informing me that the room is no longer available. It wasn’t their bed, they didn’t pay for it, it was a friends bed and he had say on who it ultimately went to and two of his lady friends needed a place to stay. So wala, no bed for me. 

That same day, I get an email informing me the Bhakti Bus was cancelled because only 7 of the minimum 25 registered. This posed a problem, considering that a week prior I had lost my license while packing up my apartment in South Florida. I literally could not rent a car even if I wanted to. 

September 9th, a day before the festival - no ride and no place to stay. 

In the past I would have freaked out, felt anxious, uncertain and scared - truth be told, there definitely was a part of me that felt uneasy and though I didn’t know how, I knew a solution would in time present itself. I chose to believe this as true.

I posted in a rideshare group that I was looking for a ride from LAX to the festival. I checked a hundred times that day and still by dinner time no responses. 

Fast forward a few hours, it's the night before I was originally supposed to leave and bam, in a flash, Lindsay replies that she’s coming from Santa Barbara and she can make a detour and pick me up in Manhattan Beach. 

Ok, so I am going to Bhakti Fest afterall!

The next day Lindsay picks me up and we drive to the desert in what seems to be a flash - our conversation was the kind that makes time seem like it’s moving at warpspeed.

Twenty minutes away from our destination we voice our greatest overarching desires for the weekend, mine being to just get a clear and strong signal from the universe as to which direction to proceed forth with, amidst a sea of options.

"I'm tired of trying, I want the universe to do for me, I want to align with and be able to to say, 'YES, this feels right!' to whatever is presented to to me. I want direction." 

We arrive around 7pm, as the sun is setting in the desert. I drop my luggage, backpack and huge bag of food next to the registration tent and proceed to get in line. I’m given my bracelet and ask if there’s a place to stay, I have no camping gear and no lodging set up. Apparently Tim, another attendee has a room and is looking for roommates. I’m told to find him in cabin 21.

I mozy over there, knock on the door, Tim answers and I proceed to explain the situation. He tells me to put my stuff down and settle in. BAM - I’ve got a place to stay. What a relief. I can finally just chill, relax, take it easy and lay down on a nice comfy bed, while the AC evaporates days worth of the sweat born of stress. 

I text my friends and let them know I’m in cabin 21 and find out they’re in cabins 18 & 19, literally, right next door to me.

You see, during all of this, the ups and downs, I could have tried, as I did, in fact i could have tried a lot harder, to blow wind into the sails, to make something happen, to make it happen - to fix, correct or solve the circumstances life presented to me.

Or, on the other hand, I could do exactly as I did, which was minimal at best and instead, trust and let life present new circumstances into my life, circumstances that would be more favorably to the meeting of my needs and wants. 

Here’s where the story gets juicy.

I met Nich and Jessica, friends of my friends, staying in cabin 19. Instantly we hit it off, I felt a deep soulful connection with each of them, like they were a long lost brother and sister. In chatting I explained to them my living situation - how I'm nomadic, a wandering (non-practicing) Jew as my mom likes to say.

I shared how days prior to arriving in Cali, I had packed up my possessions in Florida and put them into storage and bought a one way ticket to California, totally uncertain of what would come after Bhakti and the training.

See, it's not that I don't have options, it's just that none of those options feels right. I feel pulled to none. There's many things I can do, many places I can live, but I feel called to none, which often has left me feeling like I lack direction.

If I'm not doing, then I'm motionless, and if I'm motionless, fear can easily creep in. Is this not so for all of us!? I guess I was directionless and still am in a certain ways, but that doesn't mean there is no movement. There's always movement. 

See, a ship can rotate 360 degrees and reorient without moving forwards or backwards - it's called revolving and it sets us up to move forwards. Even backwards is moving us forward to something. It's a matter of perspective.

On Saturday morning I meet up with the gang. Jessica overflowing with joy tells me that her and Nich talked about it the night before and decided that I'm going to be their roommate in the city their looking to move to, close to San Francisco. Until that happens they have a guest house at their current place (1 hr south of SF) and I'm more than welcome to live there. 

See, it's not that I've been desperate to find a place to live, or that  was operating from a place of 'survival', it's that I was offered a place to live by two loving souls whom I connected with deeply and whom share a similar vision. This opportunity was born from a place of love.

Thank you universe. Not even two days in and my greatest desire is fulfilled - some clear fucking direction that I can say yes to. 

Bhakti Fest - a festival for love, Bhakti.  A festival filled with beautiful women and men. The women, so many beautiful women it was hard to digest, so hard to take in. I was like a dog, no pun intended, at the dog park, over stimulated and distracted - hahaha.

I found myself deeply desirous, beautiful women everywhere, dressed minimally, radiating life and light, laughing, giggling, playing, smiling, just being beautiful.

For the first two days I could not stop talking to my friends, about how I wanted to find a woman to cuddle, to lay, to be intimate and to simply share the bhakti with. 

Women everywhere, conversations, interactions, engagement and not a single one to cuddle with. No matter how hard I tried nothing, no connection, at least in the way I desired, no cuddle buddy.

On Saturday night, the third night of the festival, right before Krishna Das I had decided to go back to my room to relax for a few minutes. I saw Nich hanging outside of his room, so I stopped and we chatted. He was waiting on Jessica and ‘the girls’ who were getting ready to head back down to the festival main stage for the night festivities. 

Nich and I hung for a good thirty minutes chatting about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, women and love. Eventually Jessica and ‘the girls’ emerged. I was introduced to both of these ladies, had a brief chat and instantly felt a powerful resonance with one of them - just another moment at the bhakti fest.

The girls went their way and Jessica, Nich and myself slowly made our way down to the stage as I shared with them the strong connection I felt from a brief 2 minute exchange. Jessica confirmed that she felt we would connect well and had mentioned this to this women prior to them emerging from the room.

By the fourth day of the festival, what was once a distraction and stimulation had become just like anything else. Yes, there were beautiful women everywhere, but no longer was my tongue dropping out of my mouth - I saw them, but was unaffected by them. I had returned to myself, to the fully immersive experience of being with myself and with my friends. 

“Yeah. It would be cool to cuddle, but I’m no longer attached to it. Cuddle or no cuddle I feel complete and content with myself and with my experience at the festival” I told my friends. 

Sunday night, 8pm, Trevor Hall on the main stage. We arrive and assemble. The main stage is packed and there’s very few places to sit. My buddies find a place set the blankets down in front of the central and very prominent sound booth. We’re sitting for about ten minutes and all of a sudden the girl in front of me turns around and says, “Ken is that you!?” Yes, it’s me! Wow, it’s the girl I was introduced to the night before, whom I felt a powerful connection with!

We begin to chat and we chat, and weeee chatttt and continue to so effortlessly converse about the meaty topics of life. At a certain point she tells me she wants to share something personal with me. 

With some slight nervousness, I say to her,

“Ok, as long as we cuddle while you tell me”

She looks up, puts her hands into the sky and smiles silently. She shares with me that all weekend she’s been craving for someone to just hold and embrace her!

"Me too...me too"

So, we cuddle and have a rich conversation while listening to the beautiful live music of Trevor Hall under the stars and cool breeze of Joshua Tree National Park. I literally could not have planned such a beautiful night cap to Bhakti Fest - it was a magical experience with a magical woman.

The universe being the trickster it is, had to make it clear to me that I’m not in control. Hundreds of women at the festival and ironically it’s the one from the room I was supposed to be staying in, room 19, that is the one I would come to cuddle with. 

It's also room 19 that Nich and Jessica were in, the ones who would deliver something into my life that finally feels right.  

Yes universe, I get it. Thank you very much. I’m not in control and you've got my back. Thanks Room 19 and those of 18 who brought 19 into my life :)

We are not the one who orchestrate - sure we can try, but the universe always trumps our best efforts. It’s when we let go - of attachment, of doing, of the need for things to be a certain way, that we’re ultimately delivered the things and experiences we desire. 

It’s in ceasing to so forcefully blow into the sails that our sails are filled. It’s when we’re not trying, forcing, manipulating, controlling or shaping circumstances that life happens, it’s then that life orchestrates the creation of new circumstances that can deliver to us our desires.

A to the M to the E to the N - AMEN and Thank You.

On Monday morning I went to a post Bhakti Fest Intensive led by Govind Das and Radha. During the group share, I shared my magical and mystical bhakti experience. 

Afterwards a sweet women named Deidre approached me and expressed how beautiful my story was. I told her I was going to write an article about it (voila here it is). She got all excited and told me she runs a yoga magazine based out of San Francisco and would love to share my story on their site. Actually she would love for me to blog for their site. In fact, she's looking for someone to attend the festivals and events in the bay area and write short articles reviewing the events. Cali is calling.

Moral of the story?

We're always moving, even if that moving is a revolving. Just because we don't have direction in this exact moment, does not mean we won't in another moment. We're moving even when we don't notice it, because it's not forwards or backwards.

In arriving here at the end, let us come full circle by taking a moment to acknowledge that, "everything really is always working out" - as the events of this story have so beautifully demonstrated to me and hopefully to you.

 

So, How to stop trying to make your life work?

1. Get clear on what you desire

Write it, speak it, meditate on it, tell your friends, whatever - just give it your attentionI give you full permission to dream big, go wild and to let your mind run free like a stallion. Forget about rationality and logic. What do you want!?

2. Let go of the ‘how’ - release your need to ‘make things happen’ 

You do this by finding peace in the moment, by finding peace within, with yourself. Your job is not to orchestrate the delivery of your desires, your job is to get clear on what you desire and then to live life, to follow what you feel called towards. Maybe that’s going to a festival, going to the beach, or going to the 24 hour grocery at 2am. Just live your life as feels good for you.

3. Surrender and allow nothing to birth something

If it’s not you that orchestrates the unfolding then it’s something greater than you - universe, consciousness, God, Spirit, The One, whatever you choose to call it. Surrender to this magnificent force, believe, trust, know and EXPECT that this benevolent force, a force that cranks out miracles is literally, need be, moving mountains to bring into manifestation your desires. 

Practice taking your hands off the steering wheel. Engineer into your life, if you need to, more 'unknowns', more open ends - this gives the universe the opportunity to present to you circumstances, situations, and people that otherwise would have been blocked out of your experience by your need to control and plan. Welcome mystery. Is it uncomfortable? It can be, but the more you practice the easier and more familiar it becomes. 

 

ARE YOU READY TO TRANSFORM? CLICK HERE TO Learn more about working with me

Ken Fried

Ken Fried is a lifestyle and wellness coach and has been referred to as a Modern Alchemist by many. Ken is fiercely committed to supporting clients around the world to find freedom from their most pressing health challenges by leveraging and aligning with the laws of nature. Every Wednesday he publishes an article on his growing blog about living freely and healing fully. You can learn more about Ken and subscribe to his weekly newsletter at www.kenfried.me