Pilton Festival – Healing the Masses

When I tell people that I live in Glastonbury I usually get the same question…

How much do you love the festival?

It’s a question that I never tire of answering. The festival is one of the main reasons why I came to live here in Somerset. Although I’ve been to many music festivals all around the world, it’s true what they say: there’s nothing really quite like Glastonbury.

The festival has been running since 1971, when entry was just £1 a go. 1,500 people gathered at Pilton for the inaugural festival that year meanwhile, over the pond, I was just graduating from high school and setting out on my first travelling experience. Things have changed a bit since those heady days of free love (and cheaper festival tickets), a ticket to Glastonbury Festival now has to be booked nearly 9 months advance in a mad virtual rush and when the full price is paid the punter is left with around a fiver’s change from £230.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is head honcho Micheal Eavis’ approach to offering free tickets to the good people of Pilton and the surrounding areas of Central Somerset. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to live in Pilton itself, then you can benefit from free tickets, once you’ve jumped through the online hoops.

Those living in the other areas of Somerset can buy discounted tickets, including bus travel, for the Sunday of the festival at a reasonable £85. I’ve attended the festival every year that I can, although I’ve not always been completely enamoured by the music line up, the feeling of community spirit and camaraderie is truly unmatched anywhere else on this planet. This year’s festival was no exception.

Whilst many complain about the ever growing commercial aspects to the festival, I personally don’t have an issue with it. After all, it’s to be expected that wherever thousands of people congregate (135,000 attendees were recorded last year) there will always be a contingent of eager businessmen looking to make a quick buck.

Walking through the festival this year I was truly astonished by the variety of food and goods you can purchase here. Everything from designer bobble hats to ponchos made with alpaca fur were on sale this weekend. Should you wish, you could spend hundreds of pounds on shopping alone there – this year though, I was attending to spread my knowledge of meditation and self-healing.

I first brought by particular brand of mindfulness to Glastonbury back in 1998. That year Britain was very much in the grips of guitar-rock. Primal Scream, Blur and Pulp were headlining that year – three bands that would go on to become icons in their own right –  and there was a huge amount of anticipation their sets. As much as people were eager to get out in the sun, drinking and dancing, there was also a sense of foreboding that was tough to get to grips with. It felt like the closer we were getting to the Millennium, the more people were worrying about the future and where it would take them.

I spent my weekend at Glastonbury this year in much the same way that I spent that first one, helping revellers find a way to wind down and relax from within the madness. 

Harnessing Music Into Positive Energy

There’s great potential to encourage happiness using Music…

Despite always having a deep love for music, especially the Rock’n’Roll of the 60s, I’ve never had too much skill with emulating the heroes of my youth.

 

kid-guitarThe 1960s were a wonderful time for creativity and burgeoning ambition, a time when the American Dream was truly alive and well.

With the rise of blues music, young boys and girls all across the US (and indeed the rest of the world) were beginning to pick up instruments.

They started out playing simple ditties and rhymes that had been developed and popularised by the subjugated African American population, unwittingly passing on the torch for thousands of tortured souls.

I was no different to any of these kids. Although I had little time to hone my musical skills, in between playing Football, studying and hanging out with my friends – I always felt a strong emotional bond to those that played Music.

I cherished the feeling of well being that listening and playing the music encouraged in me. Although my parents didn’t quite understand the intense fascination that I had with bands such as the Animals and the 13th Floor Elevators – they understood the positive effect that music could have on the psyche and never discouraged my exploration of other musical genres.

Although an argument could be made that all Art, in it’s own way, provides us humans with a sense of cathartic relief – I believe there is no more immediate medium that music to achieve this goal.

Literature may well enlighten the mind, but it takes an intense amount of concentration and hours of study. Film is a wonderful distraction, whose lights and sounds can elevate the viewer almost to the state of an out of body experience – but cinematic representations of life can often misconstrue and confuse, rather than provide clarification in times of need. An appreciation for music, however, is hardwired into our very sense of being. The rhythm of even the most simple tune can easily be traced by any person – even a child with no music experience whatsoever.

The effect of music on a single mind is almost hypnotic.

music-meditation

Played in a quiet, slightly darkened room, with little space for distraction – the mind can become one with the notes and rhythm. Given time, all doubt, fear and negativity can slowly be eradicated from the mind, as the tune and beat becomes the only thing that occupies the listener’s conscious thoughts. This is the effect of simply listening to the music, when the listener becomes an active participant in the aural space – that’s when the magic really starts to happen.

It can be as simple as tapping one’s feet or clapping one’s hand – the pure joy that fills the body with becoming one with the music (even in the most minor way) can foster not only a sense of community within groups of people, but help lift sadness and boost self-esteem. I would never claim to be the next Jimi Hendrix (although I’ve probably been playing guitar longer than he ever got the chance to!) however, I’m always happy to offer basic guitar lessons to anyone who may think that they could benefit from it.

learning-to-play-bass-guitar

Learning to play a musical instrument is an accomplishment that sits on many people’s Bucket List – many feel that it’s simply an unreachable goal – something that they could never really achieve, due to their inherent lack of ‘musical ability’.

The sense of satisfaction and joy that emanates from someone eclipsing their own expectations has to be seen (or felt) to be believed.

Why not give it a try?