What I Realized In The Desert

As you may have heard, I went back to Burning Man…. and I did not break my leg!  What you also heard was it was a hard year because it was so windy, dusty, and freezing.   I attend Burning Man first and foremost for the desert, the art, my friends, and the fire rituals that occur throughout Black Rock City.  But this year…. It really was ALL ABOUT THE DUST.  I was one of the Early Arrivals to the event in order to help build my camp and help other camps out. By day 2, the weather was so perfect we were able to build almost our entire camp which included putting up our massive Moroccan style tent for our daily life coach workshops.  By the next morning, up to 50 mph winds had blown through knocking over our Moroccan tent and many other camps’ tents, domes, and even an RV!   We waited out the wind and dust storm for a whole day.  Eventually,  the winds slowed down but never stopped.  We rebuilt the tent with an even stronger method of tying it down…. but it soon became apparent that the winds were here to stay for the week of Burning Man.  The Dust seemed to come everyday… people were saying “We haven’t seen white outs like this in a decade!” ,etc , etc.  At night, we would get a reprieve as the winds died down but then the temperature DROPPED.  Whereas the nights used to feel safe because the dust died down, we were now fearing the days’ dust and the nights’ cold.  There was no escaping the elements.  When I start telling people how Burning Man went this year, they would ask me “Why would you ever want to do that… it seems way to harsh!” ”I could never go due to the deserts’ dust and lack of water.”  

I participate because it is an environment that invites expanding ones consciousness.  2 of the 10 principles of Burning Man are Radical Self-Reliance and Immediacy - “Radical Self-Reliance - Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.” “Immediacy - Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

Raja Yoga is considered the type of yoga that encompasses all the different paths of yoga.  “It concerns itself with three dimensions - the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Through the methods of raja yoga one achieves mastery of all three realms and is led to full realization of the Self.” Swami Rama.  Raja means “Royal”.  It also means “one who removes the dust”.  Full realization of the self comes through a process of removing the veils that prevent us from seeing our selves truly.  Through the methodical process of Asana (yoga poses with breath) , we wipe away the “dust” that is obstructing our energy.   Once we truly balance our energy,  the dust of our Minds is removed… balanced, unattached… unaffected by the turbulence of life.  And when we finally experience a deep, lasting freedom of our mind, the dust on our Spirit is removed and we are finally free.  Freedom comes in different forms -  Freedom from whatever is holding you back from thriving and feeling fully expressed as a human all the way to absolute freedom from Samsara -  the cycle of birth, life, and death.

The practice of yoga demands that you see every little part of yourself. Everyday, yogis ask themselves “What needs clearing? How could I be more authentic?  How could I be more ME?  What can I do to reveal what is really running the show at any given moment - My highest self or my Story, my past, my habits, tendencies or my attachments?” 

The way I see it, for a Yogi, Everyday is Burning Man.  Every day is a chance to look inwards and become more Self-Reliant and this reliance is discovered through Immediacy - acknowledging that every second of our lives is to be explored in order to “overcome barriers that stand between us and recognition of our inner selves”.

Most yogis would agree, Yoga is harsh. I like to imagine that Yogis made up the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss”.  Just as there is nothing easy about going to the Desert and building Black Rock City from the ground up in the crazy wind, dust, and whatever else Mother Nature offers up every year; there is nothing easy about getting to know your “Highest Self”.  And just like every day I wake up and choose once again to remove a little more of the dust off the brightness of my Highest Self, I will put myself right back into the actual dust at Burning Man, along with 70,000 others, simply as another form of daily practice.

Love and Light,


Brenna Geehan, 500-E-RYT, teaches weekly hatha flow classes in San Francisco at Yoga Tree Stanyan, Yoga Tree 6th Avenue and Yoga Tree Hayes. Brenna co-directs Sri Yoga™ Teacher Trainings and Retreats with Jean Mazzei and travels nationally offering Yoga seminars. To inquire about an upcoming retreat or training, or to schedule a private consultation with Brenna, contact her here. Learn more at www.BrennaGeehan.com