PustUka 2021 - back to the life force
We challenged one of the participants of PustUka 2021 to write some reflections on their experiences. This was the result!
17. September 2021

We challenged one of the PustUka 2021 participants to write some reflections on their experiences at PustUka 2021 💨 This was the result!

I'm up in the woods  

I'm down on my mind  

I'm building a still  

To slow down the time*

For someone who is fairly new to the mindfulness universe (still, three years after first meeting!), the word 'breathing' - said in the right way - can be enough to send a chill down your spine. It's a word that encompasses so much. Life. Core. Calm. Balance. And not least; awe. I believe that for anyone lucky enough to be curious about this wonder - the life force within us - there is gold to be found.   

Anyway, when I was asked to write about my experiences from PustUka, I immediately felt that it was something I really wanted to do. Even though I was only present from Thursday to Sunday, I had big ambitions to get the most out of the long weekend. I wanted to take in as much as possible and absorb all the sensory impressions from start to finish. It was probably a good strategy, because considering the amount of experiences and inspiration, these three days might as well have been three weeks. 

PustUka, which was held for the first time last year, had gone completely under my radar. Maybe because the festival takes place in Tromsø, and I live in Oslo. Maybe because the pandemic was raging and I didn't do much research on events that summer. Or maybe it was fate? Timing is everything, as they say.     

Breathe in 

Already in the air - on the plane - on the way from Oslo, I had a special experience that in a way marked the start of these days. We cruised through blindingly white, velvety clouds while catching many small glimpses of magnificent nature below us. The light was special. It was simply stunningly beautiful, and my expectations grew as my mind adjusted from everyday life in Oslo to a new adventure in a foreign city.   

When the plane landed, it was less than an hour until the first workshop began, so I jumped into the first and best taxi. I decided to take every opportunity to explore and experience the culture of this island for the three days I would be here.

Hold your breath for a few moments

The first stop on the PustUka program for me was the workshop with Laila Stange and an introduction to the Core Quadrant. For those of you who were not present at this, the Core Quadrant is a model that in a rather entertaining way gives you tools to learn more about yourself and your own reaction patterns. For someone who (read: yours truly) is well above average fascinated by psychology, this was definitely a great start to the weekend.

I don't think I'm wrong if I say that several of us had some aha moments in this workshop. There is something very exciting about becoming aware of how we all have so many automated reaction patterns in us, and how it affects our lives and choices.  

For my part, I took with me a dose of new self-awareness when it comes to daring to take up more space, which was really nice. It also made me think of an expression I learned a couple of years ago; 'Replace fear with love'. Because what is it that we are so afraid of when we hold back? When we don't say what we're thinking? When we make ourselves smaller?

The next few days were filled to the brim with new impressions, inspiration, special moments, new acquaintances and a good dose of new knowledge and insight. It should be said that something that added an extra dimension to my experience was the fact that I was traveling completely alone. "Are you going alone to a festival where you don't know anyone?" a friend asked me the day before I left, with barely concealed skepticism in her voice. "Yes, I am", I replied brusquely and felt a little tickle in my stomach.   

I'm lost in the world 

I'm down my whole life 

I'm new in the city 

But I'm down for the night* 

Exhale

I don't know what I was expecting, but my experience of Tromsø was actually beyond my expectations. The city felt like a very small, yet vibrant city, filled with people who welcome you with a big smile and a hello. I got an impression of a unity and a culture where "everyone" knows everyone, a community that is quite far from the big city life where you don't even know the name of your neighbor in the block.   

The Paris of the North may not be the term I find most appropriate (why compare apples and pears?), but exotic - absolutely.   

Anyway - back to the next item on the program. After the workshop with Laila Stange on Thursday afternoon, I had time to take a little break before the next stop was a backyard party at Mack beer brewery. This Thursday evening gave me an experience that I won't soon forget. It's one thing to go to a workshop or two on your own. Going to a party all by yourself, however...

I'll definitely admit that I wasn't feeling particularly high for the first hour/half of this evening, where I was a 100% loner wobbling around Mack's backyard trying to find some new PustUka friends. With very loud music, it was hard to start a conversation in the first place, and combined with my attempts to point down at an imaginary festival wristband (which I hadn't gotten hold of yet) to check if we had anything in common, was not a success. 

After X number of questioning looks from hipsters in their early 20s, I eventually realized that I had to change strategy. I eventually also realized that the party was merged with an event via DebutUka for new students in Tromsø, students who obviously didn't quite understand what I was doing. I ended up giving up on finding a common ground and joined the dance instead - literally.   

So - new experience this Thursday: If there's one setting where you don't really need to have anything in common (read: hanging around like Viggo Friendless), it's the first proper party after a year and a half of pandemic and lockdown. I was lucky there.  

There was so much joy in people's eyes this evening, and a very special atmosphere. It was like a kind of reunion with the break from everyday life that a party can actually be. A time and place where everything stops for a while and you stop thinking. Just be. Just enjoy the moment. Forget everything else. It was like a kind of collective bliss that everyone seemed to just melt into. A special moment I won't forget anytime soon.   

And speaking of atmosphere: The fact that the evening's DJ was playing happy party tunes from the last century on a cassette player(!) while grinning along with the lights in the backyard didn't make it any less memorable. It really felt like we were celebrating life.   

Feel the silence after exhaling  

The next day I got the chance - via a waiting list - to join what was called The Shaman's Workshop - A journey into your inner self. Despite being a self-development nerd, the word "shaman" was not really something that had caught my attention when I looked through the program, but after tips that this was going to be a highlight, I became curious.  

My preconception of a shaman (to the extent that I had any thoughts about it, I actually had to google the definition) was that these were slightly semi-shabby types in flowing clothes, with a fiercely happy Christian vibe. This shaman, Louie Valotti (founder of Genesis Holistic Medicine, modern shaman, mentor and visionary) was definitely on a different street. In terms of appearance, he might as well have been a PT from Oslo West, but his steady gaze and confident aura did something to the atmosphere in the room and in the circle we were sitting in.   

I think most people who have been involved in something like this know that it's difficult to retell or explain. It's kind of hard to put into words what's happening in the interaction and in the room, because so much is happening in the moment. Something that is almost indefinable. It becomes an interaction with so much more depth than most of us are used to sharing with strangers, and it's unfamiliar. It's simply as far away from the trivial small talk of everyday life as you can get. It's a space - in a double sense - filled with openness, safety, emotional freedom. A space for learning. A space for new insights. A space for reflection.   

There are many opinions about sitting in a circle like this and sharing very personal things with strangers, and it may not be for everyone. But if you're open and curious, it can be a pretty intense experience.  

On Saturday afternoon, the workshop was rounded off with a bonfire ceremony outside the Port Terminal, in glorious afternoon sunshine. After two days of gray weather, the sun came out as the closing ceremony was about to take place. It was so beautiful down there by the sea just then, as if nature gave us exactly the mood we needed. Sometimes you can wonder...   

On my way home to Oslo on Sunday afternoon, I was completely overwhelmed by impressions and impulses, and it was nice to have some peace and quiet to digest it all. PustUka gave me a large dose of inspiration, learning, aha experiences, goosebumps, music experiences, new friendships. And last but not least, hope. 

When you meet so many warm and beautiful people in one place, with many of the same values, I'm convinced that we're heading towards a world with more generosity, genuineness, understanding and connection.   

THANK YOU for a magical few days in Tromsø, everyone!  

I'm up in the woods  

(Run from the lights, run from the night)  

I'm down on my mind  

(Run for your life) 

I'm lost in the world  

I'm down my whole life  

I'm new in the city  

But I'm down for the night* 


Tip for more mood report: Check out the full song *'Lost in the world' by Kanye West and Bon Iver while you look through the rest of the photos from PustUka.

Author: Minna Fjeldskår (PustUka participant, southerner and text creator)

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