Reflections After our
COSTA RICA GATHERNG
During our gathering in Costa Rica last month, I received a sweet reflection on the nature of our recent metamorphosis. Sound & Silence is a far different gathering now than it was in years past, but how? The answer is really rather simple and so beautiful in its simplicity, and I'm delighted to share it with you here...
There is nothing I contemplate more than Sound & Silence. Since the beginning, a passionate desire to create the world's most unique, transformative and heart opening gathering has driven me to the edges of artistry (and insanity). It has been a healthy obsession which has produced many profound experiences over the years.
And yet, I always felt something was missing or incomplete. Even after our last gathering in Corfu (2017), when for the first time I felt we achieved the perfect program flow, I was still left with a hollow feeling afterwards. It was confusing. On the surface, it was everything I had dreamed of; it was the program I imagined we would have 5 years in the future, when we finally made it to the 'top of the mountain'. And still, I felt unfulfilled.
I shared with friends after, asking them - "Where do we go from here? Do I look for another mountain to climb? One even bigger, greater or more challenging?"
It took some time and a lot of solitude to answer that question, but when it finally dawned on me, it was clear as day - It was time to forget about mountain tops altogether, and instead dive into the vast and bottomless oceans of the heart.
For me, Sound & Silence has always been about that beautiful meeting between artistic genius and open-hearted kindness, leading to an alchemy of deeper connectivity between artist and audience. Thankfully, we often found a nice balance in that. However, I must admit that my focus was always slightly on the side of artistry, leaving matters of the heart to play second fiddle. It was a formula that worked tremendously well, but was flawed and in need of flipping...
And this is where our evolution has revealed its greatest gold. The question now is not which hot new music star we can showcase on our stage, but rather, how can we bring more heart magic into every interaction, every offering, every aspect of our time together?
Or a better question yet - What if Midas, instead of gold, turned everything she touched into LOVE?
Costa Rica was our first experiment in the focus and intention of love. She received S&S fresh out of her cocoon and ripe for change. And what did she experience?
Profound transformation and even more artistic bliss.
Every year we have at least 2-3 people who pass through a deep transformation at our gatherings. Last month in Costa Rica, however, at least 25 teary-eyed souls embraced me and shared their story of transformation with me. I suspect there were many more who kept it to themselves.
I believe this rise in profundity can be attributed to one small change in emphasis, and expressed in the form of a mantra:
Everything done with Love, is Art.
Or to be even more precise:
Love IS Art.
So now we know exactly what to do and where to go - We keep diving ever deeper into the expanses of the heart-sea, always guided by the frequency of love.
And in exactly 4 months from today, we dive into the fiery and watery depths of southern Portugal to explore even more ways to shower our tribe with powerful currents of love.
Whether you join us in the Mediterranean this summer or not, please know that there is a community of kind hearted magic-makers who are meeting at points of light all over the world, heart harbors of love and sanctuaries of the sacred arts, where soul family is waiting for you to return home.
For those who are ready to dive in now, another epic odyssey unlike anything else on earth awaits you in the Algarve. Let's see how deep 222 souls can dive together when focused on the intention of Love. I'm predicting we will go to places we have never gone before...
In Loving Gratitude,
Those first few years, I frustrated quite a few artist and organizer friends. They could not understand why a guy with so little experience would not listen to them. And of course they were all right. They had thousands of concerts and hundreds of festivals of knowledge and experience to draw from, while I had none, not as an organizer or as an attendee. In fact, I had never even been to a festival before I created Sound & Silence.
I was so lacking in experience that I didn't even know what a sound engineer was or how to book a venue. I didn't know the first thing about organizing events and what I was attempting to do.
I just knew that I was guided to create something unique and build something beautiful, and I trusted that I would learn everything I needed to know along the way.
And while I didn't have any experience, what I did have was a clear dream and unshakable faith in the vision, as well as the courage to jump into the unknown, and the determination to keep going through all the painful and often embarrassing mistakes and mishaps.
And when advice came in, as it often did, I would politely say no, thank you, and then keep doing my own thing. I was always grateful, if not graceful, and I sometimes experienced regret for not taking their sound advice, and often wondered if I was wrong to not accept their sagely suggestions.
In retrospect, however, I'm glad I didn't. S&S is, in itself, a living and breathing work of Art. It's an evolving tapestry, being woven into a magical carpet for those of us who wish to ride its transformational waves. The uniqueness of S&S is a direct result of not being influenced (in any way) by anything done in the past.
As with any artist, I did not want to recreate what others have done. There are already thousands upon thousands of festivals in the world today, I did not wish to add another carbon copy to the list. I was driven by a desire to blaze a new trail, and I wanted to redefine and revolutionize the way people experience festivals and artistry.
In the end, I believe Sound & Silence did just that.
It has not been easy, and after four years we are still trying to find our way through the dense forest of festival madness. But one thing is for certain:
There is no other event on earth like Sound & Silence.
It has become celebrated by our guests not only for the beautiful and often breathtaking artistry they witness, but because of the sweet intimacy, deep resonance and powerful connectivity we experience as a group.
It has become a gathering celebrated by artists not only for its high level of artistic talent and exquisitely curated program, but also for the way it supports spontaneous creativity and improvisation, encourages collaboration, and ultimately gives birth to new artistry.
In the end, S&S is celebrated by all for its loving, authentic and highly creative community, and by those who are looking for those rapturous experiences which takes us all beyond the music.
And while it's open to everyone, we understand that it's not going to be for everyone, and that's OK too. Nothing ever is. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. However, for those dear souls who are resonating with this particular frequency and dancing on our S&S wave, we want you to know that we are waiting for you to answer the call to reconnect with your soul family, and that we will be together again very soon. I can't wait to hold space for and hug each and every one of you as you walk through the gates of our sound & silence gardens. <3
Our 21 Points Of Light
Sound & Silence promises we will always:
1) Be a safe place for highly sensitive people
2) Be a small and intimate gathering. We will never sell more than 333 tickets
3) Be a one stage/space event. No FOMO. At S&S, we journey together
4) Honor the land, people and customs of the local places we gather
5) Be environmentally friendly and use clean, sustainable practices
6) Be a pure and sober event. No drugs or alcohol welcome in our event spaces
7) Be a Live Music event. We only have 1-2 dj sets per event. The rest is pure instrumental & vocal
8) Be a VIP FREE zone. You will never hear or see the words VIP. Everyone is equally important!
9) Be in a breathtaking place in nature, far away from city noise and large crowds
10) Be near a healing source of water (sea, lake, river, cenote etc.)
11) End our nights well before midnight (we start our yoga early!)
12) Be an inclusive event, open to everyone, regardless of background and economic situation
13) Have exquisite artistry, profound group workshops, and offer powerful healing arts
14) Have healthy and delicious food at a reasonable price
15) Be a gathering by artists for artists (and everyone is an artist!)
16) Strive to be a transformational gathering based on authenticity, kindness and love
17) Be a family friendly festival
18) Leave plenty of free time to enjoy the local atmosphere
19) Be a playful interplay between sound & silence, movement & stillness
20) Showcase new and incredible artistry
21) Promise to offer magic in abundance…
It is often said that "one should never air their dirty laundry in public", and in many cases this is certainly wise advice. However, when it comes to community, I feel that transparency, discernment and disclosure are vital. And when it comes to me personally, nothing less than radical honesty and vulnerability is acceptable. Above all else, I am here to grow, and that means passing through the fires of truth and transformation, and dancing with my shadows over and over again.
It also means to face the music.
As the brilliant creator of the Gene Keys, Richard Rudd, always says - "Every shadow contains a gift." And why keep that gift to yourself, when it can be shared and used as a manna and medicine to heal yourself and others?
I would like to acknowledge that we had a rough year behind the scenes in 2017, which I have been calling the year of Agony & Ecstasy. A year which provided quite a few set-backs and seemingly endless difficulties, and also ended/strained some friendships, created a lot of debt, and brought us to our knees time and time again.
Yet through it all, there was an underlying feeling that this was a natural part of our progression and evolution. We were presented with our biggest challenges and greatest tests, and while we were left bruised and battered by the storms, we (most of us anyway) danced through it all to become stronger and more resilient than ever.
There is a saying, that if your dreams have not brought you to your knees and made you want to quit a dozen times, then you are not dreaming big enough. I spent so much time last year on my knees that I now know this to be verifiably true.
And, I know I am not alone.
I have heard countless stories from individuals who were/are also being tested and forged in the fires of transformation this past year. Thankfully, we are still standing. I don’t know if we are out of the woods just yet, maybe our knees have a few more kisses to give the ground, but I do know that we are walking an honorable path, doing the work of Spirit, and heading in the right direction!
And we are NEVER alone!
I have a feeling that 10 years from now we will look back in time with a sense of appreciation and nostalgia, and see 2017 for what it was - not as that terrible year of failure and pain we pray to forget, but as that awe-inspiring year that defined who we are as individuals and community, and set us on a path towards increased abundance, inspiration, creativity, refinement, sustainability and expansion. A year that showed us what we are made of!
Regardless of all the difficulties, we had our most beautiful gatherings yet. The Sound was seductive and the Silences were oh so sweet. The classes, workshops and performances were presented in perfect harmony, and were flawless in their unfolding. Many of our musicians and dancers gave their best performances ever and the sound engineers were spectacular! Everyone played their part with kindness and competence and did a wonderful job. Overall, it was as good as an organizing team could ever hope for.
As one guest said to me - "100 years from now people will still be talking about this amazing gathering.” I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that I will certainly never forget it. The closing ceremony alone was the most beautiful night of my life, the icing on a very exquisite and delicious cake.
And even though our team was buckling and crumbling under the weight in the background (holding space for three intense weeks, while amassing €30,000 in debt will tend to do that), I am grateful that we managed to keep it (mostly) from the eyes and ears of our guests. And if the most sensitive of you felt that there was something “wrong” under the surface, there is your answer.
For me personally, our low ticket sales and subsequent debt, led to the most stressful and disappointing time of my life. We put together a jaw-dropping program and yet we only sold about half our available tickets. Everyone involved believed this was the year we would celebrate our first full house, but instead, we fell flat on our face. Never had I felt like such a failure and fool. I felt like I let our team down. I felt like I let our whole community down.
During the LISTEN week, Ellaya and Netanel spread out some two hundred Rumi cards during their morning concert. I was the very last person to pull a card and this is what it read:
“Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere. Submit to a daily practice.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.”
Until I pulled that card, I was ready to quit. In fact, I was contemplating with friends to announce that same evening, that 2017 would be our last gathering. As tears rolled down my face, I stared out to the beautiful Corfu sea and vowed to keep digging for water, and that is what I have been doing every day since.
Thankfully, after a few months of processing in solitude, I found peace again, and forgiveness for myself. Time had given me enough distance and perspective to see the bigger picture, and the incredible gift this experience had given me. It gave me even more motivation to do and be better, and gave me a renewed vigor to make these gatherings even more powerful, beautiful and transformational.
However, after building a beautiful movement in Corfu, it became crystal clear last summer that it was time to leave the nest, and start digging elsewhere. Admittedly, it’s a little scary and of course risky. But nothing is as scary or risky as staying in the same place, when you know in your heart it’s well past the time to move on. No bird has ever experienced the glory of flight by staying in its tiny little nest…
I can understand that some of you in our tribe are wanting and waiting to see some stability and successes before committing to a future with us. I just want to remind everyone that we are still in our infancy, and since our inception only 4 years ago, we have grown considerably, and each year we have offered an increasingly more beautiful event. This year we have taken a well needed break, but in 2019, I promise you all that we will return to create new and even more powerful gatherings with ever more bounteousness, exquisiteness and depth. With the help of our planetary kin, we will create a wave of love and beauty that will circle the globe and light the cosmos on fire for years to come.
Dear Ones, it is time for us to fly to the farthest reaches of the planet, discovering new lands and meeting new peoples. Guided by the heart, we will feel our way over the seven seas to plant our seeds of unity and creativity. To you who have read this far, I say thank you, and please know that you are welcome to be with us every step of the way…
I recently pulled another Rumi card which hammered everything home for me:
“Gamble everything for Love if you’re a true human being.
If not, leave this gathering.”
I Love these gatherings and the sweet, gentle tribe that has formed around them. I have and will continue to gamble everything for this Love, a love that is energized and galvanized by purpose and passion. I hope you will join me in this great gamble, and help me spread these seeds of love and joy to the four corners of this planet.
In closing, I would like to apologize to a handful of individuals who left our tribe this past year feeling hurt, unseen, or unrecognized. You know who you are. I acknowledge that I have been an overbearing father - quite stubborn and hard at times in my attempt to protect this gathering and its vision. At times I also did not listen to the needs of those yearning to be heard and seen, and I am sorry for this. I have come to know my shadows and shortcomings well, and included in those are emotional reaction, anger and intolerance. Within those shadows lie the gifts of forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, patience and (inner) revolution. I wish to share these gifts with you once again too. I hope this declaration serves as a balm to reach healing and closure, so that we may continue the work of creating a more beautiful world TOGETHER.
In the meantime, my door, and the door of these gatherings is open to one and all, now and forever more.
In PEACE & LOVE may we TRUST.
Season’s Greetings dear friends!
I hope you don’t mind me sharing a long love note with you here, with some announcements about the future of Sound & Silence and a little embellishing of some of the details of my inner journey these last couple of months. So nice to come out of a prolonged silence with the sun shining on my face, pregnant with ideas, brimming with creativity and delighted to share with soul family! 😊 For the past 22 days I did not lay eyes on another human being, no contact at all. In fact, since December 1st, I have not left this property here by the lake in Hungary. No sound, only silence. And in the absence of all distraction, the gifts of gratitude, clarity, insight and simple joys returned to my now overjoyed being.
I arrived here back in late October as if lost and shrouded in a dense fog. But it didn’t take long for that fog to lift. This mystical land, the playground of my ancestors with its rich volcanic earth and abundant thermal waters, immediately began to sooth and heal my soul.
Even before my silent retreat started this month, the holy grail in my heart once again began to overflow with love, light and gratitude. Countless times I danced without music and laughed without any reason. Such bounteousness in this blessed world! This quote by Albert Camus perfectly describes the feeling – “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me, an invincible summer.”
These days also helped me to become clear about the future of Sound & Silence as well. I don’t know where and I can’t say exactly when, but we will return in 2019, with fresh eyes and a renewed vigor. In the meantime, there will be no official gathering in 2018, although we will certainly support other beautiful gatherings hosted by our dear friends in this tribe. More on that soon.
Soon I will be on the move again, and my intention is to find our next few locations. I use the plural because I see the future of Sound & Silence expanding quite dramatically over the next years, with us offering multiple events all over the world. It has never been my intention to create one big event rooted in one place, but rather a community organized network of many small and intimate gatherings peppered around the globe. It’s now time for S&S to embark on its own voyage and “Follow the song of the humpback whale” around earths waters. There are many places on this planet that need healing and can use our medicine. We will bring our love where it is needed the most.
My first stop will be in Costa Rica. The call to be there is loud and clear, and if my intuition is correct, our next gathering will be held there a little more than a year from now. I would like to ask for your collective prayers in guiding us to a beautiful new home there. I will also be looking at other locations in South and Central America, and I feel the time has also come for me to bring S&S (for the first time) home to North America where I was born.
It has also become clear that we will no longer host our 3 events together at the same time. While it was an incredible initiation for those of us who passed through that fire of transformation, this past year it became abundantly clear that three consecutive weeks is simply too much to organize and not financially sustainable either. From now on we will spread them out and only offer one week at a time, and yes, the intention is by 2020 to host one every month, so in that year we hope to have 12 small(ish) gatherings, all in different locations.
I will spend a lot of time in 2018 working together with organizers, putting together teams in various country’s/regions. If you are feeling inspired to host a gathering (Move, Listen or Be) please contact me, I would love to hear from you.
I have also downloaded two new festivals that are near and dear to my heart. One will be focused on storytelling (poetry, spoken word, song & theater combined with high quality music) and the other will be focused on the metaphysical arts (Astrology, Human Design, Gene Keys, Mayan Dreamspell, Enneagram, Numerology etc, with great music and dancing to support). I will be sharing more on those shortly too.
So as it turns out, 2018 will not be so much of a resting period for me, as an active gestation period. After these last few months of silence and solitude, I am feeling fully energized, recharged and ready to share more transformative and exquisite events with our global tribe.
I would just like to sound one final note – as most of you know, we took quite a large financial hit the last three years, (this summer especially) which is quite normal with any new undertaking. After speaking with some organizer friends and doing some research I consider us quite fortunate. Most festivals never make it to their 4th year while others take on debt much more substantial than ours.
Nevertheless, I realize that we do need help. Until now, I have carried 100% of the financial burden on my shoulders alone, and have avoided sponsors and investors, wanting to establish our uniqueness without any outside influences. But I feel the time has come to find a middle way, and to share the weight. I am looking for a partner(s) and I’m ready to accept financial support in a way that does not negatively affect the integrity of our vision, but enhances it.
So I would like to ask for the support of our tribe in finding financial aid. It can be in the form of patronage, donors, investors and/or sponsors. If we are to continue co-creating extraordinary and transformative gatherings with high talent and small, intimate crowds, then I think this is our way into the future.
If you have managed to read this far, I thank you. Sometimes long silences give birth to too many words ;) I thank you for being a part of this special tribe. I thank you for believing as I do, that a more beautiful world is possible for all of us. And thank you for answering the call to participate in this joyous co-creation. I look forward to hearing more from you soon and I can't wait to celebrate on the wings of Sound & Silence with you again.
Wishing you all a Happy Holi Days, and may this final week of the year gift you with peace, presence, communion, forgiveness and closure. And above all, in love may we always trust.
In loving service and gratitude,
I have something I would like to share with you, you who are waiting for The Call. You know who you are. Four years ago I stepped out of my fearful little shoes and created Sound & Silence with one focused intention - to create something beautiful, unique and pure in this world. An offering of Love, something that speaks directly to the heart and soul of those resonant, selfless and loving beings who are meant to gather in unity consciousness together. Yes, you know who you are. You can feel it in your inner most being, in every cell of your body, in the voice of your deepest yearnings, in the ancient blood coursing through your veins - You know that there is a beautiful new world waiting to be birthed and that YOU have a significant part to play in midwifing this process.
You also understand that Sound & Silence is not a festival. At it's core, it is a mystery school, an alchemical process. We are not here for the music. The music is only a powerful tool we use to support our own transformational process. We are not here to simply enjoy a good party either, although we will certainly enjoy this celebration very much. You know deep in your heart that we are gathering here to bring our own ecstatic joy, love, light, artistry, mastery and magic into this transformational pot, because you believe that together we will radiate enough love and light to heal the most wounded parts of this planet.
Yes, you know who you are, and I am asking you to come forth now. I am asking you to come home.
I know you are out there, I can feel you. Many of you are hurting inside, you are desperately wanting to come so much it pains you, but you can't see how. It is too expensive, it is too difficult, it is too much you say...
The time is now.
Your presence is needed.
Please do NOT let money be your obstacle. I will make sure it won't be. If it is, I invite you to write to me now. Share with me your story, and we will find a way together. Having our tribe here is more important than any financial considerations on my side.
If you are meant to be here, you will not be denied passage.
I love you. You are my soul family. You are my reason for being here. Together we will create the more beautiful world we all know is possible. It will take courage, faith and resolution. It will take fierce love. But first it will need you to say yes and make the long journey to Corfu.
I wait for you with open arms and a wide open heart.
In Love May We Trust,
Sarvaan ((( <3 )))
7 years ago, I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, starting in a small village in the French Pyrenees and ending near the Spanish Atlantic Ocean 6 weeks and more than 800kms later. It was the greatest (outer and inner) journey of my life, and to this day leaves a deep imprint on my soul.
But one day in particular stands out above the rest, an experience I will never forget. Like all previous days, I woke up early with the intention to walk the usual 30kms. On this day however, after only 7kms I came across a small village with a cute little church with inviting energy. As I approached the door I was greeted by the shining eyes of the volunteer host who was stewarding that “Donativo” (a donation based church hostel).
He welcomed me inside and gave me a short tour. When we reached the large dining hall, the first thing I noticed was the donation box, a small and humble wooden container which was wide open and filled with cash. What touched me the most was not the openness of the box and the trust of the volunteer, but the beautiful note written on it –
“Give What You Can, Take What You Need”
This message deeply touched me and I knew I was in the right place, so I dropped my backpack and settled in. Not long after, I was in the kitchen joyously making dinner with about 15 other pilgrims, making new friends and soaking in the beautiful energy of that loving place. I learned that all the food we were preparing that evening was paid by the pilgrims who passed through the previous night. That when I too continued my journey, the next group of pilgrims would be eating from my donation. That some nights they have a huge feast and some nights a very modest one. Everything depends on the generosity of those who walk before us. Powerful!
While some meals were meager, what was never in short supply in that little haven was love, caring, support, devotion and someone to share food and a good story with. I also learned on that day that there is a lot of abundance in living simply, walking slowly and giving what you can.
This experience is coming up for me a lot lately, as I organize these gatherings that many judge as being too expensive, too inaccessible, only for the rich etc. I hear all these complaints and each of them leaves a bruise in my little ego. I never wanted to create something expensive and exclusive. Like all artists, I wanted to create something unique and pure, something extraordinary to be enjoyed by all, regardless of financial situation.
Not many people know the incredibly high costs of creating something like Sound & Silence. I have not spoken about it much, as I’m always advised to avoid this topic of money. But I don’t agree. I believe in transparency. I believe in honesty, openness and authenticity above all else, and I don’t feel that financial matters should be hidden in the dark and whispered about in secrecy.
The truth is, I also feel Sound & Silence is too expensive. I have not yet figured out a way to make it cheaper. I have not figured out how to offer a high-quality program with exceptional artistry, on a Greek island paradise and with a limited number of tickets (300) to keep it small and intimate.
We are not like other festivals with huge sponsors and deep pockets selling thousands upon thousands of tickets for an event near a big city with millions of potential guests. Unfortunately, for us to offer such high quality (we are not willing to lower it) in such a small and beautiful space (we will never be big or near a city) and to be sustainable we have to have higher ticket costs. Either that, or we need to find donors, benefactors and patrons who do have money and resources and want to support our mission and vision.
But maybe there is another way. I would love for all tickets of Sound & Silence to be donation based. I believe we can live in a world and operate in a way where “Give What You Can and Take What You Need” is our new sacred economy.
In order for this to work, however, in order for anything to work, we need to find balance. We need to be sustainable.
Yesterday a friend contacted me after reading a recent post I wrote similar to this topic. Without being asked, she opened her heart and her wallet to support this vision that she deeply resonates with. Not only did this move me to tears but it created a spark in me.
Yes, there is another way.
I know there are people out there, people with more abundance than most, people looking for a reason to give, searching for an honorable and pure project to support with money they are not using. If you are one of them, please contact me, I ask for your support to help me build this tribe into the transformative force I know it will be. That it already is.
And please know that I am not an ambitious man. I am no business man. I am not interested in fame or fortune and I do not covet material things. I am a man driven by Art and Beauty and with a mission to connect extraordinary souls who share a loving heart resonance. I don’t want your money, I ask for your love, essence, purity, passion, purpose and generosity. I have learned that I can build beautiful things, that I can manifest my dreams. But I also know that I can’t do any of this alone. And while I do not feel comfortable asking for it, I need your help.
This year we had almost 200 volunteer requests, 200 people who wished to offer their skills, talents and hearts to this vision. 200 people who could not afford the price of admission…. Unfortunately, we can only welcome 25 volunteers. We offered huge discounts to the rest, and a handful will come, but for more than 150 people it was still too much.
It is too late for most of them now, but there is still time for some. Is there anyone out there who is resonating with this message and wanting to sponsor some of these rejected volunteers? Anyone ready to “Give What You Can” so that 1, 5 or 25 of these selfless souls can make the trip to Corfu and experience the wonderment of Sound & Silence with us?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, thank you for taking the time to breathe all this in. Thank you for waiting in the wings and providing a lift for those of us who want to fly higher. Thank you for being the Dreamcatcher for a thousand splendid suns who do not yet know the power and radiance of their light. Thank you for Being.
May you be blessed where you are, and in Love may we all Trust.
Sarvaan is the founder and creative director of S&S Gatherings, and he loves to write! Here is a collection of some of his writings, musings and sharings. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you!