Over the past three years Lightning in a Bottle has become a staple in my life: a time to rejuvenate my spirit and reignite my creativity and passion every spring. Music festivals have been a part of my life since I moved to California seven years ago— but, when I went to Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) for the first time everything shifted a bit and other festivals just didn’t stand up to the transformational experience of LIB.

Today as I glanced over the lineup announcement in my inbox I recalled how three years ago that was all I cared about— when would I see which artist? How could I fit everyone in? What times of night would I want to be the most obliterated to better “enjoy” the music? Now, I realize that the music isn’t the most important part. Of course, I can’t wait to drift away alongside beautiful souls while Rüfüs du Sol plays alongside the lake (Yes, there is water at LIB this year and it’s ridiculously exciting) or completely lose myself to Stephen Bodzin’s scintillating techno— it’s just that Lighting in a Bottle is about so much more than that. It is a festival which celebrates consciousness and human connectivity. It requires one to connect more deeply with themselves through the transcendence of the mundane we can only fully achieve outside of our lives in a space like a festival. Then through that self connection we connect more deeply and authentically to each other.

This may sound like a bunch of hodge-podge, and if you are heading out to Bradley for you first LIB experience you may just be thinking I cannot wait to rage with my friends. I was there three years ago. What I found was what my heart had been truly yearning for all those years I went to Coachella. Finally at LIB the carefree and charismatic energy found at the Do Lab stage made sense to me. It was connected, it was awake, and it was rooted in community. My first LIB all of this took me by surprise and it took me a while to digest the whole experience. Here are a few tips on how to mentally prepare yourself so you can flow into the festival and get those most out of this transformational experience:

1. Set An Intention For Self-Growth

LIB involves a lot more than just music. There are two yoga stages to help you connect your body to your soul daily at this festival. Use them. Prepare for them. Take a few minutes every day to either think or journal about where you are in your life and where you want to be. When you are exploring and wandering LIB the inner child in you will inevitably come out to play (with or without the help of various substances). Taking the time to recognize where in your life you feel stuck will help your exploration of the festival open you up to move forward more quickly in your life once you return.

2. Set Aside Time To Be Sober

These festivals are fun— they are meant to be. However, this is not a festival where you want to numb yourself out the entire time with the help of alcohol or drugs. Yes, it is still a party and you WILL have the time of your life. It’s just this is a deeper more connected party than others you might have been too. This festival just isn’t about the drugs. Give your brain the space to comprehend what you may be learning from whatever transcendent experiences the festival brings. Set aside a day or even just an hour to explore your curiosity without stimulants. I know that sometimes at festivals this can take a lot of courage because everyone around you may be partying. I guarantee that if you take a bit of time each day during the festival to really check in you will receive a lot more from the trip (or trips) as a whole.

3. Let Go

This may take a bit of work even during this week before the festival if you are anything like me. I used to spend days planning out my attack once the lineup came out. Pick a few workshops maybe that you might like to attend. Know what artists you will be disappointed if you miss. But, avoid planning every moment of the festival. Life throws so many surprises at us and it can be rather terrifying. It’s why a lot of us become control freaks. We control everything we can in order to hold onto some semblance of our sanity. LIB, and all transformational festivals, are not about planning and preconceiving. They are about being present to the moment and allowing curiosity to guide you towards the areas in which you most need to grow. There will be moments you are uncomfortable. You may get lost. You may end up “alone”. Before you even drive out take some time to release any expectations and give yourself permission to get lost in the moment. Let go. Stay curious. Let it be fun. Let it be free.

These little things may seem small, but once you re-enter reality after a long weekend in the sun lakeside amidst a blooming community of free spirits you will find that you are more able to bring that same energy into your everyday life. In fact, that is what these festivals are meant for. These aren’t the fuck-all festivals which you are still hungover from a month later. Lightning is a festival to rejuvenate you and wake you up to your full potential. So set yourself up for success and get yourself to that giant adult playground. If reading this made your heart cry out to be a part of it tickets are still available! Grab one while you can and find me floating around on the lake.

Featured Image: Jacob Avanzato