The shaman screamed, and the crowd screamed back. He gesticulated wildly, sweat beading down from his brow under the bright lights of the stage.

“All.. of my problems… have solutions!”

The crowd repeated his mantra with gusto, again and again.

“All.. of my problems… have solutions!”

That was the exact moment I wondered if I had joined a cult. And that was before the shaman told us to walk around the room hugging strangers and greeting them with “eyes of love.” For most of my adult life I’ve lived in Boston and New York, places where eye contact with strangers is an invitation for disaster.

I didn’t think attending a “wellness festival” in Ibiza would be up my alley, but with enough persuasion from a few friends and a dearth of vitamin D just as my seasonal affective disorder started its annual ramp-up, I threw caution to the wind and booked myself in for Alma, the inaugural festival produced at the Six Senses Ibiza. I’m not the woo-woo type, but I am a curious person, and I like to think that I would try anything once.

Photo: Lighuen Desanto

What had started as a fun friends’ trip to Ibiza ended up impacting me much more deeply than anticipated. I won’t go so far as to say that an hour of kundalini was the equivalent of a year of therapy, or that a single weekend at Alma changed my life—but I’m also not not saying that. Wellness is neither a one-size-fits-all nor a one-stop-shop. It is the constant journey of self-optimization, of experimenting with what works for you and what doesn’t, and having the courage to articulate the difference.

Coming away from Alma, my key takeaway was that a wellness festival is not intended to “heal” or “fix” you. It’s about giving yourself permission to catch your breath from the routine of quotidian life, and taking the time to look inwards—because even in a beautiful setting like Ibiza, you step off the plane carrying all the baggage you brought with you from home. Stare long enough into the kundalini, and the kundalini will stare back into you. You might just go home thinking—maybe even believing—that all of your problems have solutions.

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