Blissful Ananda Fest

By Cara Anderson
IG: @carajojo

I remember, vividly, driving past the Institute of Mental Physics for the first time. I was out in Joshua Tree to celebrate Christmas with my family. Upon researching, my excitement mounted; spirituality, a rich history, and mid-century modern architecture all in the desert. The Institute of Mental Physics is a spiritual center that was founded in 1928. It’s worth researching if you are interested.

Since the first piquing of my interest, I’ve moved just a stone’s throw from the Institute, and I had the opportunity to explore the grounds during Ananda Fest. Ananda Fest is part of a 5-day retreat run by Cannabliss Retreats. The retreat took place at the Institute of Mental Physics, and retreat-goers stayed in the lodgings on the 420-acre compound.

For the event, Cannabliss Retreats paired multisensory experiences, top-tier vending, and nurturing meals. Their tagline is “Expand your Mind. Strengthen your Body. Awaken your Spirit.”

I arrived at the Institute with my sister, Jayna; brimming with excitement for Ananda Fest. Ananda is a Sanskrit word that translates to “Bliss,” we were ready for it. We checked in with sweet and helpful staff members, then mosied on to the vendor area.

Some of the cutest humans I’ve ever seen were floating around the event; relaxed, peaceful, medicated, and vibing with one another.

I stopped at the Baceae table and tried one of their 10 mg CBD hemp bars. It was moist, and the ingredients were bound together well; the bite had hemp seed, hemp protein, chia seeds, and cacao nibs, perfect to start the long day.
Baceae was also displaying three other edibles:
Granola bars made with Sativa, pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, peanut butter, raisins, and dipped in dark chocolate- these have 10 mg of THC and 10 mg of CBD.
Chocolate tarts made with Sativa, dark chocolate, an oat and almond crust, and topped with dried raspberries- these have 10 mg of THC and 0.2 mg of CBD.
Turtles made with Indica, dark chocolate, and a raw pecan and date center, topped with Maldon salt- these are 10 mg of THC and 0.14 mg of CBD. I like turtles.

Overall, Baceae’s ingredients, presentation, and flavors were refined and premiere. Baceae also sells raspberry chocolate fudge, peanut butter cups, and truffles. If you adore sweets, treat yo’self to Baceae’s “day and night” sampler.

(I took a Baceae Turtle home. I’m not much for big crowds or getting uncomfortably high, but I did learn how to fix that overwhelmed, psychoactive feeling, which I’ll get to in a subsequent paragraph.)

Jayna and I scoped the rest of the vending courtyard; edibles by Medicine Box, a vape bar, hand crafted pieces by Faerie Jane, Cannabliss shirts, a Dank Canvas table, and Hmblt set up with samples.

Next up; we headed to the Sanctuary for a panel on Medicine by Dr. Ira Price. Dr. Ira seemed to be a man pure love and excitement for healing and educating. He presented two hours of education about cannabis as medicine. I’ll share two bits of information, but they don’t begin to crack the surface of the research and knowledge that Dr. Ira shared if you ever have the chance to attend a workshop with him, jump at it.

It blew me to find out that the frontal lobe for everyone, regardless of gender, does not fully develop until we are thirty years old. I was taught, like many others, that the frontal lobes of men and women develop at different rates; being that men’s frontal lobes develop slower than those of women. Not true. Dr. Ira also pointed out that consuming cannabis before you frontal lobe reaches full development could damage the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe controls judgment, language, memory, motor skills, compulsivity, and behavior.

Um, yeah. Dear Frontal Lobe, please be ok.

Another incredibly valuable thing I learned during Dr. Price’s presentation is that when you have consumed “too much” THC, and aren’t enjoying the effects, you can consume CBD to neutralize those unwanted effects. Everyone’s body has two types of receptors that cannabinoids can bind to, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC can only bind to CB1 receptors, which are primarily in the brain and responsible for psychoactive effects. CB2 receptors are found in white blood cells, among other areas of the body. CBD can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. When CBD approaches a CB1 receptor that has THC bound to it, the CBD competitively binds to that CB1 receptor, essentially pushing the THC off. Long story short: if you’re feeling too many psychoactive effects, you can take CBD products to restore the balance you seek.

The psychoactive effects he spoke about are what I like to call being “too high for society.” This is the type of high I love to avoid. I’m not a noobie; I’ve been smoking weed for over half of my 24 years on earth. I simply don’t enjoy smoking flowers because I find it harder to control the density of my high. I do love microdosing with edibles. *Cue Dave Chappelle’s voice* I love Mary Jane!

Lunch was held inside the Institute’s mess hall. The event was catered by MBombo, a company owned by Chef Gladys Nyoth. Nyoth created MBombo a nomadic restaurant and is now expanding into catering retreats. MBombo’s vision is to utilize health conscious nourishment to unify people and reinstate the love and essence inside all of us.

They had fruit, chips, cheese, and hummus out to start, as well as coffee, matcha tea, and cucumber water. The entree was rice, collards, salsa, hummus, and a delicious crispy ball that had chicken and vegetables inside. Each table had a bowl of cannabis-infused olive oil to utilize at your discretion. Top notch!

It was both my and Jayna’s first time going to an event like this, we took a break and floated in the Institute’s glorious pools. Then we headed back to the main area for the next events; I went to Dank Canvas’ painting workshop, and Jayna attended a yoga workshop.

Dank Canvas’ workshop was run by Jennifer Korsen, a painter from Los Angeles, the “Queen of Hearts.” She paints murals, does live painting, and teaches workshops.
As I got situated to paint, other workshop attendees hit the vape bar to medicate before the session. Jennifer gave step by step instructions on how to paint a desert sunset with a Joshua Tree in the foreground. Everyone was awarded a canvas, and it was pure relaxation; we painted, chatted, and observed each other painting style. I would absolutely go to another painting class with Jennifer. She has radiant eyes, a mellow vibe, and is a patient and thorough teacher.

While painting, I sat next to Ayesha Ophelia, creator of The Girlfriend Manifesto. Ayesha, at a glance, is a goddess. She is remarkably pretty and carries herself with confidence, serenity, and love. Ayesha does branding, consultation, website design, and graphic design; if I weren’t involved in the same fields, I would be requesting her services. The Girlfriend Manifesto also holds an annual women’s retreat aimed at winding down from the demanding, high-speed lifestyles of our current time.

Jennifer offered me a second canvas, and most of the group drifted to another area for a Yom Kippur ceremony. I sat with two women, and we continued to paint while we spoke about change, the moon, relationships, manifestation, meditation, and growth. The Yom Kippur ceremony quite literally got interrupted by a rattlesnake that slithered into the group. The event was held in the wild Mojave, after all.

Dinner was outside; we sat at a long chain of tables that were situated on a walkway in foliage-tunnel. String lights were hung above the table, carafes of water were set out, and the meal was accompanied by live music. The entree consisted of proper proportions; a few tender slices of basil infused lamb, chili-infused cauliflower, a simplistic chicken leg seasoned with lemon, honey, and Herbs de Provence.

To round out the day, there was a sound bath meditation by Kyle and Toby. Everyone laid on blankets, in a large circle with our heads toward the middle. Kyle played music from one area, and Toby walked around the interior of the circle, playing various instruments. I wasn’t quite prepared for the cold as I didn’t know there would be an outdoor evening sound bath, but I did get to drift into space. I cried when Toby walked around the circle with a rainstick; it reminded me of living at the beach; it was a gentle and cleansing feeling. Kyle finished up the meditation with some kind reminders such as “Do it fully, do it now” and “It is your true nature to shine. It is your birthright.”
Afterwards, Toby brought everyone a cup of water from the quartz singing bowls; the water becomes infused with the healing vibrations of the bowl.

I stayed for a moment longer to speak with Paul Palodichuk who is coordinating the Palm Springs Cannabis Film Festival and Summit, slated for April 2018. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on this event!

I headed home, wishing I didn’t have to leave. Then, with the information that Dr. Ira offered, I decided to experiment.

I took a shower and got comfy. I ate my Baceae turtle; about an hour and a half later, the edible hit; I was responding to an Instagram DM from a guy I hardly know. We were talking about something mildly scandalous that I would’ve otherwise thought was funny, but I started to feel the online version of “too high for society,” known as “too high to DM” ( or text.) So, I got up, sprayed three pumps of BeTru organics Ginseng Berry CBD spray under my tongue, and waited. My psychoactive effects decreased after twenty minutes, I felt a wave of relief, and I stopped overanalyzing my DM’s.