Halcyon’s Tips & Tricks #13: Decompressing

Time to return to our Alter Ego's
Time to return to our Alter Ego’s

Well, that was amazing.

Now comes the hard part: Adjusting back to life in the default world.

I am not going to pretend it isn’t rough. But after 15 years of making the transition, I wanted to share a few things that help me.

1) You can be the same person.
The default world will not treat you the way that the people of Black Rock City do. But you can still treat everyone here the way that you did out there: Be kind. Be wacky. Open your heart and share your gifts. In time, more and more people will respond as Burners…whether they’ve been to BRC or not.

2) Bring back the memories.
As you clean your dusty things and put them away, try to remember wearing/using that item on the Playa. Bring the memories into your Now.

3) Let yourself cry.
This was more than an awesome party. It was a peek at how you and your fellow humans can interact, create, and celebrate. Those are some intense ideas to process. Crying is a perfect response.

4) Prepare for next year.
My favorite week of the year is Burning Man. My next favorite weeks are those leading up to the journey. Why? Because as we prepare and plan, we start to feel the excitement. We start to allow ourselves to be the artists and lovers that we are in the dust. Your imagination is an amazing tool. Let it bring you into the future and start your planning for 2013.

5) Connect, in person, with your local Burners.
There is no digital tool that has succeeded at creating an online vibe that mimics the Playa. Facebook, this blog, and ePlaya are fine tools, but do not allow the snark and complaining of message boards to dull your memories. Connect with fellow burners in a way that allows you to look into their eyes and hear their laughter. If there are regionals or decompressions you can attend, go.

5) Live the Principles.
Burning Man is a different experience to different people. And it is up to you to find ways to integrate Burning Man into your life. For me, I’ve found that integrating Gifting magic into the default world year-round has transformed my life. There is no reason you can’t live life as a Theme Camp.
Look into how you can contribute your resources & talents to Burners Without Borders, local artist collectives, dance parties, and local charities.

6) Enjoy the pics & videos.
Hopefully you didn’t spend too much time recording the experience. But now is the perfect time to share the moments we did capture. Now is when we can take those dusty memories, swirl them around our tongues and take ourselves back for a few magic moments.

Here is a video I made from one of my favorite experiences at last year’s event.

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast HugNation.com. Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at www.PlayaPrinciples.com

29 Comments on “Halcyon’s Tips & Tricks #13: Decompressing

  • Diana Morrison says:

    Great advise & your timing is impeccable :) sometimes default is a hard landing, sometimes a bit softer

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  • DTO says:

    Wonderful wisdom, Halcyon! Thank you! <3

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  • Michele Waldman says:

    Excellent words of encouragement in the return to the default world. Crying is good, but soon turns to giggles and laughter again. Thank you so much, John!

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  • SamsaBee says:

    Also, make “default” world your REAL world!!! No default! Go visit a national park! Did you know that mother nature is burning all year long at Glacier? Celebrate mother nature and all of the other things that are brilliant in the world, not just what is cool and fun at Burning Man. I don’t like separating the two so much, I think it makes for whiny unsatisfied douchey burners, something I do not want to be!! I dont want Bman to ruin my life like that….hahahaaa……Go see some fun live music, and be good to your non burner friends, have some communal dinners and create some art! Burning Man is everywhere…..it is Black Rock City that I miss so much. Work it out!! Spread joy, not snobbiness!! Woohooooooooooooo LOVE

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  • Christoph says:

    Hello John and everyone out there who was part of this experience; for me an experience of a life time so far! I don’t even find the right words to express my deepest gratitude to all my fellow burners; THANK YOU so much for giving me the opportunity to open my heart and let all this beauty touch the most inner side of me. Is it real? I’m still tumbling between disbelieve and a state of being completely overwhelmed. It sounds so cheesy and weird to say that Burning Man changes life; but you know what: I think it does!

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  • Dog Breath says:

    I would add to not make any hasty decisions right away after returning. Burning Man is intense and it stirs up feelings of needing to make immediate change. Instead of quitting your job now, follow Halcyon’s tips here and let some time pass to reflect. Sort of like waiting to send that nasty e-mail or phone call, you will be glad if you wait and think it out first.

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  • Coryon says:

    I appreciate the tips and support of the BM community in getting adjusted to the default world. Fortunately, I work for myself (thus it is hard to get fired) so I spent today writing a blog about the game I brought to BM with a couple of instructive videos. Go to http://www.coryon.com/blog/jedi-training-school-at-burning-man-2012 to learn about Jedi Training School. I hope you saw it . It was beautiful and more fun than a crashed ship full of cops.

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  • Franko says:

    Dog Breath (above) and Halcyon speak truth.

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  • Jessica Malousek says:


    I loved your tips and your video, I needed those tips so badly, I knew other people were having the same troubles I was but to see you address them and let me know its alright was so appreciated. This was my first burn.. and I really haven’t stopped thinking about it since I left. I cried at least 5 separate times during your video, happy tears though, knowing I have all of this to look forward to next year. Keep the spirit alive and enjoy your year, hopefully I’ll be seeing you sooner than I think.

    Love, Jessica

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  • Yuri Mazur says:

    Halcyon: Thank you for another great video, but… it is NOT making me feel better… at least not at THIS moment. My inner self feels raw, and ripped open… just is it felt at the moment I was leaving BRC this year…
    Thank you, brother!

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  • badbob says:

    I brought back so much more than I had thought I would,I’m just trying to gather it in and not let any slip away. The hive mind is real, I feel honored it spoke to me, I want to contribute, to create, to share, I hope I can hold on to that feeling.

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  • @Chistoph – It is real… and transitory. As is everything. But that does not diminish the glory of it.

    @Dog Breath – Very true. But write down those hasty decisionas and revisit them in a month. Those impulses could be profound and exactly what you need!

    @Jessica – Thank you! Welcome home. And good luck with the transition.

    @Yuri – Being ripped open is a gift, too. ((HUG))!!! <3

    @Badbob - what a gift to touch that feeling - even for a moment. Good luck holding on!

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  • E ric Cross says:

    Fantastic video!

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  • NickB says:

    This hit home I was in need. Thanks peace and love

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  • TarraByte says:

    My second year and all the videos were helpful but encouraging. Attending Burning Man is consenting to whatever cathartic process Ms Playa “gifts” you. This year that meant dust, dehydration, vivid dreams (never have vivid dreams), delight in the genius of others, appreciation, and opportunity. It also seems that the alchemical effects are at work long after departure.

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  • Anthony Morlando says:


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  • commonoddity says:

    Lovely video filled by lovely people doing lovely things

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  • Salamala says:

    Thank you Halcyon!

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  • DB says:

    This is so appropriate right now as I try to assimilate and incorporate my last two weeks into my default world experience. Thank you Halcyon for sharing your insights! Great video!

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  • All well said. Thank you.
    I also put together some sillier tips for those taking a trip OUT of Black Rock City for a while; I hope they bring a smile!

    Thank you again, for all the wisdom and foolishness.

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  • Jeff Burdges says:

    I’m extremely grateful that you’ve done so much work articulating tricky emotional aspects of becoming a burner. Thank you Halcyon!

    There was however another take on decompression posted on the portland email list that I found helpful as well though. ;)

    “Do Not Divorce Your Parakeet Yet.”

    Dusty Hugs, Jeff

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  • Karissa DeDecker says:

    Wow. What an amazing video. Really well done. It was my first year this year and loved every minute of it. I can only imagine what my 15 year will resemble. Thank you for you thoughts and inspirations.

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  • Flakey Foont says:

    I bow to the light & love coming through you. May they sustain you.

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  • Laura Sawyer says:

    not cool but i got my car today

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  • Mayfly says:

    Nicely written. Well said. Experiencing all those same emotions.

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  • Hajji says:

    Thank you, as a first time burner… I needed this. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is okay to ‘feel’. Thank you Halcyon. You actually helped me before the burn too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdIDVqkoLXA). I truly appreciate your contributions.

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  • william says:

    Thankyou fellow burners for such a wonderful amazing time i never have had an experience like this even though it was my second burn it was like my first so many wonderful people and so much amazing art im still reeling. Also for any other asthmatics on the playa the small tent inside a big tent really worked for dust cut down and in really bad storms wet the bandana over your mouth or use a full respirator.

    Cant wait to meet up with my dusty flirty desert mistress the playa once again. I spent most of the time on the open playa i know i missed alot of the city but cool stuff happens out at the fence to-shouts to those two guys from london whose names i forgot cheers mate. Or is it mates?

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