Soul Stretching and Connection at Wanderlust

There is more to Wanderlust Sunshine Coast than good vibes and picture-perfect settings. The tagline of ‘Find Your True North’ can sound a little like an Instagram-ready marketing gimmick but the truth behind it is that it’s impossible to leave the festival unchanged and, in some cases, the experience can be soul shaking. Yoga is the mindful union of body and soul, a practice that extends beyond the mat to direct our lives towards meaning and purpose. While a deeply internal experience, it also allows us to unify with the collective. The Wanderlust collective enables us to breathe as one through a connection with kindred spirits, country and ourselves. Built like a beautiful Vinyasa flow, the Sunshine Coast festival breathed to life on day one with a slow but intentional awakening. Pete Longworth, international photographer and ‘digital shaman’ reminded us in his Speakeasy talk that we get to choose how we see our world; that each of us views it through our own unique lens. A nugget of truth that highlights just how difficult it can be to adequately summarise the potentially transformative four days without individual bias.

Collectively we danced, laughed, pushed our boundaries, sang, stretched and allowed ourselves to sink into a more vulnerable and open place. For some the softening was evident from day one, for others it seeped in with the rain that fell on our final day. There were tears and hugs and smiles and shrugs. Times where we rolled our eyes in disbelief or rolled our tongues across our lips as we tasted something delicious (the Earth to Table Dinner presented by Peppermint, curated by Kemi Nekvapil was the stand-out on this front). Senses were tested as we were led blindfolded to our yoga mats, serenaded by the sound of Sacred Earth, or smudged out of yoga venues in sage-filled ceremonies. The time simultaneously sped by and slowed down all at once as we shared deep connections through massage at the Wellness Sanctuary by WELEDA, donated our bodies as canvasses to the spirit that guides body painter Jason Oakes, explored ethics and business in a talk hosted by our founder Kelley, danced ourselves into a state of Bowie-inspired bliss in Amy Ippoliti’s ‘Ziggy Stardust Asana Explosion’ class, and worked our way through our hundredth down-dog on day four.

Photo by Paul Hoelen

Photo by Paul Hoelen

Photo by Kelley Sheenan

Photo by Rachel Kaye

For John Elliott from TOMS Australia, the drawcard of the festival is that:

The values of Wanderlust and TOMS are intertwined – we both use business for people to reflect and do good. The festivals are a lovely way to immerse yourself in the space and engage with the Wanderlust tribe.”

At the height of our Wanderlust Vinyasa there was an attempt to scientifically quantify our experience as we sat cross-legged, knee-to-knee in the True North Cafe by TOMS and watched the UPLIFT documentary The Science Behind Yoga. In it we stepped out of our intuitive spirits and examined our yoga journey with a rational mind. At one point, the documentary made the bold claim that those who engage in yoga are “engaged in the practice of evolution”, a claim that was taken with a healthy dose of scepticism at the time of viewing. When the energy was full and fiery we danced the night away to Xavier Rudd. A man who, in his relaxed and open Speakeasy talk, told us that:

Ever since I was a little boy I’ve had spirit that came through me when I played music… Sometimes my music comes from a place of my own emotional journey or something that I’m clearly personally putting out, and quite often it’s spirit that goes through me, and I’ve always understood I’m just a vessel for that.”

That spirit was ripe with sentiment and brought together our sacred connection to earth and a reason to boogie in a way that set the night alight with happiness.

Photos by Paul Hoelen and Rachel Kaye

Photo by Kelley Sheenan - Possibility Project

Photo By Bas Van Est

Wanderlust is more than a festival just for the attendees. As a stallholder this year, Peppermint got to experience the Wanderlust lifestyle through the eyes of the yoga teachers, artists, sound technicians, production crew and the volunteers – all of which provided us with enough stories to fill a Wanderlust-wrap-up-book. According to Zenthai yoga teacher Gwyn Williams, having the Wanderlust festival in his home region reminded him that:

The Sunny Coast is a gem of the world. It’s nature’s wonderland and we have to remember not to get apathetic about that.”

This was a sentiment that he really brought home as he shared Gubbi Gubbi knowledge and encouraged us to connect with the sacred land we practiced upon during his ‘big exhale’ class on the final day.

The resident chief of body art, Jason Oakes, was one of the most sought-after talents at the festival. Having got up close and personal drawing on many a yogi, he reflected that for him:

The energetic connections between friends new and old serves as a catalyst for finding our true north, or just confirming the continuing journey.”

Photo by Kelley Sheenan - Jason and Katie, and The Source

Photo by Kelley Sheenan

Photo by Bas Van Est

As we relaxed in our little slice of Peppermint paradise, many Wanderlusters dropped by to share their stories with us. Australian actress Isabelle Cornish said that to her:

Wanderlust means love, passion and gratitude… a place that the soul can shine through. As my first Wanderlust experience I was so at peace with the community around me, a judgment-free space that really lets you dive deep and lets you set free.”

After the rain cleared and the weather cooled, we blissed out on the floor of The Greatest Place as Xavier Rudd serenaded us with a stripped-back acoustic set invoking the spirit of endings. We felt the air in our lungs as an entire room of individuals exhaled into meditative-like reflection. Some cried tears of joy, others swayed to the rhythm as Rudd’s lyrics resonated through their bodies. In this moment, the sceptic dissolved. In this moment, we were unified to an evolved oneness. While a festival may not change the world, it can change the way you view the world and as Pete Longworth asked us on day one:

If I saw the world differently, would I change? If I saw myself differently, would the world change?”