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Lotus Gathering: With a Distinct Festival Experience

By Cynthia Gomez, Lotus Gathering Co-Founder

During a powerful forgiveness ceremony at last year’s Lotus Gathering, we burned a flame-shaped effigy as we released all that no longer served us, making space for better to emerge in our lives.

Lotus Gathering Logo

It started as an idea between friends following one small-group healing retreat by The Gaia Revolution (my company) & The Easy Yogi. Wouldn’t it be great to offer people the kinds of deep, transformational learning and healing experiences we provide during our retreats — typically held in either a huge, oceanfront rental home or a golf resort — to people who don’t have that kind of cash on hand?

During this particular retreat, one returning attendee shared how much her life — and more than that, she — had changed for the better because of the guided inner work in which she participated during the previous retreat. Another — a retired psychologist, at that — told me it was the most healing experience of her life.

A couple of weeks following that retreat, Helen Blaaker (aka. The Easy Yogi) and I met up with the dear friend and yoga teacher from our retreats, to go paddleboarding. A few hours later, it was decided: Helen and I would host our first camping retreat, a three-day woodsy affair with mind-body-soul healing workshops, yoga, high-vibrational art and live music, and a fireside drum circle at night. It would be intimate, to facilitate deep connections and allow participants a safe space in which to be authentically themselves. We would turn the festival model on its head, prioritizing healing and wrapping the personal growth work with music, art, and nature. And we would make it affordable so that anyone called to come could swing the cost.

Life With the Trials and Triumphs of the Lotus

We called it Lotus Gathering in honor of Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, poet, and so-called “father of mindfulness,” in the West, who had died a couple of months earlier. His passing left me with a deep sense that having lost one of its brightest lights, the world was suddenly a little darker without him in it. But from that also emerged the realization that it’s more important than ever to step up and shine brighter, to walk in the footsteps of our spiritual elders, and lead the way for others seeking to find their way out of Māyā, the Sanskrit word for what we might call the Matrix. It’s the illusion that the world is as we perceive it through the lens of our senses, beliefs, programming, and upbringing, and all of the confusion and distractions that come with that. This grand illusion reinforces the ego and keeps us tied to the matrix, but in transcending Māyā, we find deeper truths, enlightenment, and a return to our highest selves.

One of Hạnh’s books, “No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering,” is all about learning to transform the pain that life inevitably throws at us into happiness by leaning into the challenging things with curiosity and compassion rather than running from them. It’s about realizing that because we live in a world of duality, happiness and suffering cannot exist without each other, and where there is one, we can find the other through the practice of mindfulness.

Lotus Gathering is a nourishing soil in which like the lotus flower, we can bloom gracefully together. It is a sacred container in which we can be present with the entirety of ourselves — the inner you-universe — to heal that which pains us surrounded by beauty on all levels. It is about tapping into a bliss of our own making, regardless of whatever else may be going on in our lives.

Following the Lotus

We didn’t have a budget, or any idea as to how we would pull it off; only the sense that this was exactly what we were meant to do. Fast-forward to the first Lotus Gathering, which took place in December of 2022, and I can only offer all the mind-blown emojis as adequate descriptors. It was honestly nothing short of magic.

The people who showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, to turn our vision into reality — music artists, visual artists, healers, teachers, and builders — was astounding. For three blissful days, we learned together, played together, and allowed ourselves the permission to reconnect with ourselves and connect, deeply and authentically. We held space to process and heal and play and just be. It was exactly the spirit medicine so many of us all needed.

And let’s get real for a second here. We barely broke even on costs. Regardless, we knew we had to do it again.

One performer shared that being at Lotus Gathering was the first time he had felt himself among his tribe, and the first time he felt safe enough to forge meaningful friendships with other men. Another, who traveled from the Panhandle to Brooksville, Florida, to perform on his way to a killer job opportunity out west decided to move to the Tampa area instead and work to build a conscious community locally.

One attendee left her job in tech in Miami to move to St. Petersburg and follow her heart’s calling. She opened a kava bar and sober shroom room, and will be vending at this year’s Lotus Gathering. And one vendor, who is now an integral part of our team, shared that her commitment to helping Lotus Gathering grow stems from how meaningful the experience was for her last year, during a particularly challenging period in her life.

This is why we do what we do. When people gather with the intention of healing and growing together, the transformation that can — and does — occur is magnified, many times over. We aren’t just stronger together; we are better medicine together.

Lotus Gathering is a true community co-creation. Our resident DJ — Dharmadrum, is now a partner of Lotus Gathering. One of the few visual artists who showed up to live paint is now working on multiple art installations for this year’s event. The artist who scrapped plans to move out west and instead settled in Tampa to build a conscious community, along with his partner, are now wonderful friends and partners in bringing conscious sanctuaries to big music festivals.

Why We Host the Lotus Gathering


Lotus Gathering is proof that when we show up to do the work of raising the collective frequency by diving deeply into ourselves and being the change we wish to see in the world, the universe responds by meeting us halfway. And in this case, the universe has shown up as a team I could never have dreamed of.

For me, Lotus Gathering has been a medicine like no other — spiritual fuel, inspiration, and confirmation from the universe. Organizing something like this is no easy feat. Yet, I am constantly amazed, and filled with gratitude, to be doing this work, alongside such a wonderful group of people.

And this year, we’re coming back stronger, with more workshops, more art, more music, and much more healing. So, please consider this your invitation to join us in reconnecting with your divinity, forge a path back to wholeness by accessing the innate wisdom within your cells, connect with other amazing souls on this healing journey, and permit yourself to step outside of your daily life and limits, to experience something truly remarkable, and to grow or find your tribe. We are a family of one, and we are waiting for you!

With love and gratitude,

Cynthia Gomez

The Gaia Revolution | Lotus Gathering



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