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Twins of Oak and Lake:

The Global Inspiration Conference 2004
© 2004 Jeremy Youst

How do I begin to describe the blessing, the grace, the diversity, the complexity, the enthusiasm, the love – and the sleeplessness (!) – of the Global Inspiration conference 2004? How could I begin to capture or put into a single line of words the multi-dimensional interweave of such a gathering? The truth is: I cannot. However, perhaps I can at least attempt to tell my story…

For me, it begins with Love. This is the Love that contains all things; it is the potent driving energetic force of the universe, the true essence of our human beingness, and the inhale and exhale of all breath. The inhalation is my intent. It is the effort I expend for life, it is the fuel of my impulse and the source of my motivation. At GIC 2004, Love as inhale was: my calling to connect with others, the effort it took to get to Estonia, the desire to share my love of breath, my thirst for knowledge, the urge to express, to learn, to create and to play, and the pleasure to perform a sacred dance with an amazing international family. Phew! How could I as a single individual possibly engage with all that was being offered? Once again, I could not. However what I could do was to surrender and trust – and that became my exhale!

In its first shape, Love was a beautiful lake. It was a Sacred Lake. It was Puhajarve (which means Holy Lake). It was a gathering place of many waters, a sacred resting place that reflected the sky and the clouds. It was a place of cleansing, ceremony and offering. It was a sharing place to dance, move and breathe, to shout, sing and drum. It was a sound mirror that echoed the quiet, compassionate and tonal beauty of the opening song by Suzanne Hall on Friday night.

Puhajarve: a difficult word for my American lips to pronounce, but an easy place for my heart to understand. It was a place to go around, to walk around, to skate, ski and bicycle around. It was a place to wave and say hello, to greet my world neighbors on the path. This Holy Lake became our “horizontal axis” of community connection, and held the sacred space for the spirit of our One Breath to commingle, exchange and become unified.

On the first morning after my arrival, Love took on its second shape: the shape of a huge, old and majestic Oak tree, located slightly southwest of the Conference Center itself. This ancient guardian stood silently alone, not far from the Holy Lake. On that first morning in the cool morning air, it became the site of initiating what soon became the spirit of the conference for me: the twinship of co-creation and collaboration. I am a twin; therefore it is naturally easy for me to look at the world in terms of pairs and from the perspective of co-relating with another. So, with our backs firmly planted against its massive trunk, my roommate, Jim Morningstar, and I smoked the pipe of peace and called in our intentions for the Global Inspiration Conference.

In that moment this Sacred Oak became our “vertical axis” of personal and divine connection, and held a sacred promise of helping us to breathe Heaven into Earth. On that first Sunday morning, sitting upon the damp, grassy earth with our backs firmly supported, our prayers of Intent went into the sky in great curls of white smoke. We sang a soft chant:

Bring your song to the Oak Tree People
Bring your song to the Oak Tree People
Gather up strength, gather up strength
Bring Your Love to the Oak Tree people!

Our prayers planted, we return to the swirls and eddies of the conference flow, a General Assembly meeting and a group BREATHE. Pilgrims of breath from 22 countries all nestled together, shedding the layers of travel fatigue and distance; we took the first big plunge into intimacy by forming small groups and sharing our air! As we breathed, the wind blew strong off the Lake and rattled the cages of our conference tent and our resistance. I knew we were in for a powerful time!

What divine /human perfection to then take an inner journey into our own moment of conception in the workshop led by Deva Daricha. What grace it was for me to feel so deeply (amidst the roar of rain and thunder!) the simultaneous truths of the divine perfection of incarnation and the very human imperfection of what I saw happening between my mother and father at the time of my conception. I wondered what other people had found during their inner voyages?

Then, to put the journey to conception in perspective, we were led back to the Source with the lecture by Binnie Dansby, who reminded us how “we source in the womb of another human being.” She reminded us of how, when attending a birth without judgment, we can offer the greatest gift of all: our unconditional Loving PRESENCE. Finally, she reminded us to choose what we want, and that by breathing like an ocean with intention we can open our hearts and generate the “life-enhancing thoughts” that initiate our much-needed healing.

Nourishment, nourishment and more nourishment – in body, mind and spirit! On the physical hunger level, it meant the dining hall at the Puhajarve Conference Center; and the hardest part was getting there! It was like life itself: some right turns, some left turns, a few ups and downs, and sometimes, you were even locked in! Once there, I soon learned that breakfast was when protein happened: pieces of sliced cheese, cottage cheese and dripping eggs, some toast and of course, coffee! I learned that salad was a thinly sliced and shredded affair, that vegetarian meant creamy pasta with colorful vegetable bits, that you had better take desert with the meal if you wanted any, and that it all seemed to be tied together with potatoes. Yet I so gratefully appreciated what it must have been like to attend to the finicky needs of diets from 22 countries! Many blessings to the food staff at Puhajarve!

As the days ticked by, a sea of people became many individual faces, individual faces became names, and names took on meaning, character and purposeful connection. The potential for intimacy and connection seemed endless, and presented itself like a beautiful buffet of international flavors. How could I possibly make enough room for it all, and what new flavors would I be fortunate enough to taste?

Morning attunements were beautifully led by the gentle and caressing voice of Jessica Dibb. And there were many delicious offerings before these attunements as well: morning movement, Tai Chi, swimming, Indian chanting, overtone chanting, etc. But that’s if you could wake up early enough for them! I truly believe that sleep must be a wintertime affair in this part of the world. The few hours of twilight they call “night” just didn’t cut it. By the end of the week, my body was so aching for sleep! But then, maybe this sleep deprivation was another part of the divine orchestration (and made us more vulnerable to open up and share!). Who knows?! In any case, God bless the mothers (and fathers) of newborn babies! My hat is off to you!

The Oak stood firm and tall, even in the storm, and kept connecting heaven to earth. With every inhale there must be an exhale, and on Monday, the generosity of life was met by its often painful companion, death. Jim found out that a close colleague and personal friend, Regi Boehme, had passed away. That evening during his lecture on spiritual community, we held an open chair for Regi as well as for all those who of been close to us, taught us and were now on the other side.

I was reminded of how our spiritual community spreads out not only through space, but also through time; and of how, in the end, we are simply the carriers and transmitters of truth, not the truth itself. Jim also reminded us of how right now, as “The Roots of the Future” (the conference theme), we must to embrace and plant the seeds of our spiritual community through conscious collaboration and sharing. Now is the time to share our vision, our values, our actions and our experiences as a team, not just as single individuals. As I gazed over to the grassy knoll, I noticed how the Oak had lost some of its larger branches, but how as a single tree it still held many more strong and powerful ones high into the prevailing winds.

With youthful enthusiasm and graceful intelligence, the business meetings (AGM) took place each morning. Several were stepping down from their positions as officers, and Tilke graciously released her position as president of the IBF. For the first time in 11 years, another historic collaboration was established: a co-presidency with Robin Lawley (Italy) and Nemi Nath (Australia). Once again, I could see our “adolescent” organization stretching its muscles and flexibly adapting to the needs of a new era; once again there was a shift to collaborative teamwork of body, mind and spirit.

Then came Tuesday, the day of my birth (along with another amazing woman who I found out was born that day): a magical day of hugs, best wishes, gifts, ceremonies and even a very powerful ending. I was truly surprised and found tears of gratitude for all those who acknowledged me in some way. Bless you all! It began with the sacred pipe ceremony in one of the two teepees that were set up for us, where the warmth of the fire joined with the heat of our heart-felt prayers. The intensity of everyone’s desire was palpable, and I am grateful for everyone’s eager willingness to learn the ways of the sacred pipe and pray for the unity of our One Heart Vision.

This amazing day ended with the first international viewing of Rachana’s film on Lotus Birth, where we watched the birth of fraternal twins in a warm water tub. My heart pounded as I witnessed the birth that I wish I had had: Conscious, safe, supportive and totally attentive to the needs of the newborns. Several loving attendants all focused on what was happening in the tub. Little did I know how these rich, fertile images were to prime the pump for my afternoon rebirth session the next day!

Developing the next stage of IBF business felt like building the second floor of a new house. Break out groups were formed in which various enthusiastic members rolled up their sleeves to iron out future benefits for the organization. What seemed amazing to me was the tremendous variety of creative intelligence in our international community: a veritable symphony of passionate voices held carefully within the skillful facilitation of the Integrity committee, group leaders, board members and other dedicated individuals. The early evenings saw more amazing lectures: Bo Wahlstrom spoke about the need to return to “Eco-centric ethics”, Eirik Balavoine pointed us in the direction the Authentic Self, the Higher Self and how to touch emptiness, and Jessica Dibb spoke about the ever present return to Essence.

In the days of meetings, proposals and the votes that followed, I witnessed strength, passion, attachment, confusion, detachment, sadness, judgment, forgiveness, understanding, and ultimately, a return to the One Heart Breath Connection of our global family. Part way through, however, the warmer winds of our mental activity blew hot and intense, drying all of us out. It was time for rain. It was time to reconnect with the reason why we came here in the first place – it was time to BREATHE! It seemed like the wind-blown Oak was thirsty.

On Wednesday afternoon the rains came again – hard and loud – with darkness and wind and claps of thunder. The 4 ½ hr. group BREATHE was the most powerful event for me all week. The images from the Lotus birthing film wouldn’t leave me alone. The powerful image of the firstborn boy gazing into the eyes of his father for the first time burned in my mind’s eye, and very quickly, after just a few minutes of connected breathing, I found myself spiraling down into that old familiar vortex of a rebirth. My deepest gratitude to Jim and the two other spirits (were they physical?) who were present and helped me get through to the other side. With some of the most amazing, seamless, guided facilitation I’ve witnessed, we were led on a four and a half hour journey of opening, intensity, periods of wild dancing, periods of calm, grieving, holding and Love as one giant breathing organism. The mist from the lake enshrouded the Oak in love; and by the end, the energy definitely had shifted.

Another high point for me was Thursday’s National Coordinators meeting where 20+ enthusiastic representatives from around the world came together to physically, mentally and spiritually support and uplift each other. Several times it was mentioned, “The NC’s are the blood of the IBF”. Sitting in that circle of world representatives, it certainly felt that way. Brilliantly facilitated by Marga Perellada, Robin Lawley and Ann Harrison (the NC Coordinator), I felt we addressed and corrected many of the significant shortcomings that NC’s must face, as well as create an enthusiastic solidarity of team members ready to carry the IBF and to the next spiral of international membership.

Early on in the 4 hour workshop, we were asked meditate on a vision for the NC position as well as identify our personal motivations for taking on the role. It was during this meditation I saw emblazoned in my mind’s eye a powerful image of the ancient oak tree, which “spoke” the following words:

“I Am an Oak Tree of Life,
connecting heaven to earth,
guiding the gift of the Spirit of Breath
to my “commune-I-tree”,
children of the earth.”

Once again the Oak seemed to be calling to me to remember that nourishment for our community must come from above and below, that our loftiest ideals need to be grounded with positive, affirmative action. We were then asked to share with our partners our strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities; and then we were given an action plan to follow and an outline of a “members kit” (beautifully modeled after the work of Catherine from Ireland). Choosing NC “buddies” topped off this synergistic workshop, and Jim offered an excellent update on the status of the International Breathwork Training Alliance.

Lastly, early on Friday morning as I sat quietly by the lake preparing for my long journey home, I felt sorry that I would have to miss the amazing variety show that was to happen that night. Once more I had a chance to reflect on the beautiful images of the twins being birthed in the Lotus film from Tuesday night. I thought about the IBF and the emerging organization of international breathworkers growing around the world. This is what I came to notice:

  • We all come from the same universal place: our Mother’s womb.
  • Eventually, we must all learn to breathe on our own.
  • Our primary orientation is to grow next to each other, not away from each other.
  • Some of us must take the lead and go head first into the challenges of life.
  • Some of us must follow, and perhaps enter challenges from a breech position.
  • All of us are loved equally, regardless of the position we enter from or the role we eventually must take.
  • The one who has had an easier time of it does not necessarily need to leave himself, but can stay compassionately present for the one who is struggling to emerge.
  • It is always better to have someone else in the tub when giving birth.
  • In time, even with different backgrounds, cultures, positions or even sexual identities, we all become healthy, happy and naturally undistressed when there is enough Love present to guide us through.

I feel truly blessed to have been able to participate in such a wonderful Global Inspiration Conference. Liina Lugus (the conference organizer) and her team did an amazing job to plan, organize and serve the needs of our diverse community. Personally, I feel her vulnerable and honest sharing on Friday morning about the reality of the finances only added to the mix, and it forced us to move through our innumerable money fears and creatively and collaboratively put our hearts together to come up with an elegant solution. (If on a family outing one of our children fell down and scraped her knee, would we turn our backs on her and ignore her cries?) Thank you and bless you Liina for your courage, willingness and ability to surrender and receive help.

Finally and especially I want to thank Amrita for her ruthless and compassionate organization of the Notice Board, Robert Moore for DJing his amazing dance sets, and Inga Raie for making sure all our travel arrangements worked out smoothly! Blessings to the IBF Board and all those unmentioned who contributed to a magnificent gathering! I look forward to next year in St. Petersburg!