Inspiration, Life

Reflections From the Dust – Lessons Learned at Burning Man

During Burning Man, opportunities kept presenting itself to enable me to turn existing seeds of knowledge into practice. It is where knowledge...

Written by Amy C · 4 min read >
Reflections From the Dust - Lessons Learned at Burning Man - Heart Hackers Club -  - 2016 Burning Man

This year’s Burning Man marked a significant transition in my life as I enter the next chapter of my life both in business, relationships and life focus. My intention going in was to be single and independent – but not for the reasons one might think. This journey was one for me to really stand in my own female power, to not base my fun or emotional state on another person, and to grow existing and new friendships. Here are some of the lessons I learned in the dust that I  intend to translate back into city life.

Trust life’s timing. Pay attention to the people and signs that keep showing up. There’s a message waiting for you.

You could say I’m pretty Type A, and control provides me a sense of safety. I used to force things to happen (or to not happen), using resistance as only more motivation to try harder for something that clearly wasn’t working. You realize quickly on the playa that once you give up your false sense of control, and replace that with openness and curiosity, that you make space for magic to happen. I don’t mean magic in a fairy-dust-transformation sort of way, rather, in the sense that some unexplainable universal force provides the lesson or information you exactly need at that moment.

You may not get what you want, but you do get what you need. Some of my best moments and connections with others were through serendipitous moments of chance. One thing wouldn’t work out as planned, only for me to discover something more fitting was right around the corner. Pay attention to the people and signs that keep showing up. There’s likely a message waiting there for you. If you don’t take a moment to stop and reflect, you might just miss it.

Harness your personal power. Stop basing your adventure, your mood, validation or sense of self-worth around another person. 

For a majority of my life, I have focused my energy and headspace around a guy. If I wasn’t pining over a guy, I was getting over a guy, missing a guy, or wishing for a guy… For decades, the little girl inside me yearned so badly to receive the love, attention and affection that I never received from my father. This sense of scarcity affected my ability to fully come into my female power. This year, I made a conscious decision to not get swept away by a whirlwind playa romance that would likely end just as quickly as it started once back in city life.

I also wanted to be conscious of how addictive the cycle of needing male attention can be. Many women unconsciously depend on being desired in order to feel validated and special. But this is not personal power, because it’s completely dependent on a man giving or not giving you his attention and affection. To be comfortable being by yourself, to feel beautiful and empowered and special on your own – and not as the result of someone else’s attention – that’s empowering.

It’s not easy. I had moments being by myself where I felt extremely uncomfortable. I had moments of feeling terribly lonely too. But it was in those moments where I wasn’t distracted where I had time to really reflect and feel my emotions – both the good and the bad. In that space is where personal growth occurs.

Let people go. If you really care about someone, and you know you cannot give them what they need, release them so they can find someone else who is a better fit.

I knew that during this trip, I had to release someone from my past. Although we had parted ways over a month ago, it didn’t really feel over. I had told him to let me go and release me, when really, I was the one who had to let him go. I took accountability of the fact that as much as I said one thing, energetically I was doing another. It was easy for me to rely on him, run towards him for a feeling of safety and comfort and feel special because of his loving energy. When I ran into him and the new person he was seeing, suddenly any past confusion, anger and resentment dissipated and turned into compassion and love. I felt truly happy for him. I saw that he had met someone who had the potential to love and accept him in a way that I could not, and in that final moment was when I truly was able to let him go. If you really care about someone, and know you cannot be the right person for them, do not be selfish by holding on. Set them free.

Lock in those precious moments of love and gratitude. Create muscle memory from that feeling of gratitude so on a rainy day, you can put your hand to your heart, and relive that feeling. It’s just as real in the future as it was in the past.

There were so many profound and magnificent moments during this burn. I recall sunrise at Robot Heart, during HVOB’s last set. I was there with my dear friend Lona, and the song was so beautiful that we both started crying. It was nothing like I’ve experienced before. Tears ran down my face as I smiled in astonishment of how lucky I was. We embraced each other and cried tears of love and gratitude. I’ll never forget that moment. Another highlight was the night of the burn. I went off on an adventure with some new friends, and we came across this light installation that was synchronized to classical music. We lied there, put our hands on each other’s hearts and basked in the awe of that moment. I felt such an incredible sense of love, peace, gratitude and joy, and that memory will be imprinted in my heart forever.

Bring women up. We all have a responsibility for each other’s hearts.

One morning, a new friend told me about her horrible night, where her ex-husband had come by our camp and said terribly mean things to her while parading around his new model girlfriend. As an empath, I could feel her pain as if it was my own. I knew I had to support her and lend her strength. That day, we went to the temple. I brought beautiful French stationary with me, and together we wrote letters of forgiveness to the men who have hurt us. It was cathartic and healing. I wrote a letter to all the men who have bruised my heart, starting with my father. In the letter I wrote down how I was hurt, and that I was now letting go of the pain. I reflected on what I learned, and how grateful I was for the lessons gained from the experience. I flipped the narrative from one of anger, pain and resentment to one of gratitude and compassion. Throughout the trip, I opened my heart to various women, listened to them, cried with them, and shared insight with them. Hopefully in some way, I helped them in their healing. We have a responsibility for the health of our own hearts. We also have a responsibility to help support the hearts of others. Be kind.

The wisdom you seek is already within you. You just need to practice it.

The lessons I’ve learned are not new revelations that came out of nowhere in the desert. Rather, they were seeds of thought a long time in the making. During Burning Man, opportunities kept presenting itself to enable me to turn existing seeds of knowledge into practice. Lessons without action are futile. It is where knowledge meets action where wisdom is born.

As I acclimate back into reality, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the elements that made this year’s Burning Man such a memorable experience, from the team that poured their passion, creativity and vision into creating camp Cirque Gitane, to my amazing traveling posse David and Lona, to the beautiful humans who shared moments of discovery, heartfelt chats, tears, laughs and sunrise dance sessions with me… thank you. Here’s to many more adventures to come.

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Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

3 Replies to “Reflections From the Dust – Lessons Learned at Burning Man”

  1. I thoroughly enjoy every post you make and it speaks volumes to me and helps center me when needed most. Thank you for the wisdom and love you share with the word.

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