Inside the Wellness Festival for Millionaires
Mindvalley people and A-Festers are called change makers, blissful warriors creating a better world. We choose people based on the concept of how powerful a change can they create. [screaming] They have more fun, they make more money, and they give more back. That’s kind of their philosophy. Everyone’s an entrepreneur. Everyone’s a self-help guru.
[heavy breathing] When this many people collaborate to lift your spirit ... [chanting] watch out. [gong chiming] Are you caged in, not hitting your full potential, desperate to make a change? Well, boy, do I have an event for you. A-Fest, formerly known as Awesomeness Fest, is an annual super-elite invite-only festival that promises to radically change your life.
Unlock yourself to really dream big. Run by Mindvalley, this is distilled Silicon Valley alt-wellness marketed to the wealthy and aspirational across the globe. Somewhere between Burning Man and a TED Talk, for the low, low price of $3,000, you can become part of the crop of the annual A-Fest. You will be treated to four days of seminars, which range from stem cell dick injections ...
You can inject PRP directly into the sexual organs. how to tap your trauma away ... I’m open to loving and accepting myself. all the way to how to read a book by simply placing your hand on it.
To sense information, not by reading a book but by touching a book. The man behind the whole business is Vishen Lakhiani. He progressed from selling meditation CDs online to owning a $40 million company with thousands of loyal followers around the world.
You’ve got to go really deep with it. The answer is all within. I have secured a golden ticket to the event in a bid to see whether I can become less negative and less pathetic, setting myself up for a future of corporate and spiritual success. [music playing] [music playing] So I’ve just arrived at A-Fest in Jordan.
I've been given my very large lanyard with my name on it. I’m in kind of a corporate five-star hotel. We’ve got these kind of Silicon Valley tech lords walking around.
And then on the other hand, there’s a meditation element to it. There’s a spiritual healing agenda that just seems to be two different worlds colliding. Today we have “A Reunion of Change Makers Dinner Party.” I hopefully will be making some changes to myself this weekend. I think I’m quite standoffish, a bit reserved, a bit grumpy. I need to get a new lust for life and join the tribe and get stuck in.
Before I get stuck into my schedule, I’ve been granted the honor of an official welcome from the man himself, Vishen. —Hi, Vishen. How you doing? —Hey, Sydney. Welcome to— Are we supposed to hug? OK.
Welcome. Welcome to A-Fest. So let me give you a tour of what’s happening. Everything, everything starts here. —Goodbye, Princess Rym. —Goodbye. —Nice to meet you. —I’ll see you tomorrow.
OK, take care. Bye bye. So there’s so many incredible people here. That was Princess Rym al-Ali of Jordan. The thing about A-Fest is the speakers are amazing, but really, this is all about the community. Talk me through the schedule for the next few days. So, people connect deeply when you have a shared experience of insight or a shared experience of awe.
And that’s what we give. So, the talks are designed to give you insights, new discoveries, new ideas that you want to talk about. And then the evening events are designed to fill you with awe. That is a formula for human connection, and that's one of the reasons why people connect so deeply here, because the higher up you get, the lonelier it gets. To start the event, we have a welcome talk in the conference room.
[upbeat music playing] It’s 9 a.m., and it’s kicking off. I'm successful already. [upbeat music playing] [cheering and clapping] This is not a normal conference.
This is a serendipity accelerator, pressure cooker, social connecting portal of transformation. Please join me in expressing my profound gratitude for Vishen Lakhiani. [cheering and clapping] [cheering and clapping] The adoration in the room for Vishen is palpable.
Everything in A-Fest and Mindvalley seems to revolve around him as a spiritual leader. He is just a genius. He’s just this, like, visionary, creative genius. He’s a visionary. Definitely. Tremendous character. Very happy to know him. Vishen has set the theme for this year’s A-Fest as “making connections,” so it’s time to make some friends.
I spot a target on his own by the pool. So I don’t know anyone here. And I’m looking for some friends. I know the problem, yeah. You want people. You want to connect somehow, yeah. What I like about Mindvalley is, and especially A-Fest, you have people who really want to be successful in all areas of life. So I like this combination of inner and outer success.
Would you be up for maybe being my friend? Yes, of course. That’s great. Well, I’ll see you at dinner. If you get there first, you have to save my seat —and vice versa. —I will. I’ll put a bag on it. –All right. Thank you very much. –You’re welcome. Success! A friend.
This means I won’t be alone at the change makers dinner party tonight. So we’ve gone for the CEO dress and then, like, a bit of fun with the hat. And it shows I’m kind of coming out of myself, and that’s a sign of change. [upbeat music playing] Do you think it’s a bit much, the “Icon” hat? I think it’s OK. [upbeat music playing] OK, I’ve seen my mate. I’m going to go over there. We had an arrangement.
[upbeat music playing] Oh no, he’s talking to someone else. [dramatic music playing] He said he was going to meet me. I think it might be the hat possibly putting him off, so I’m going to get rid of the hat. [upbeat techno music playing] My new friend is socializing with no fear. I need to do the same, and I’ve spotted some fedora-wearing future mates.
—Hi, guys. —Hi. Erm, hi. Can I sit here? —Absolutely. —Thank you.
How are you finding everything? It’s amazing. So many beautiful people, connection. Yeah. I keep hearing that word a lot.
—Connection. —Yes, I can imagine. What are you most looking forward to? Connection. [Sydney laughing] No, it has to be. It has to be. Like, I mean, it's probably what everybody's going to tell you.
And what do you think of Vishen? One of my goals was to meet Vishen in person. So as soon as I saw him at A-Fest, immediately I told him, “We need to take a picture.” I manifest this moment. [techno music, pipe playing] [techno music, pipe playing] [spiritual music playing] Look at that what I created, such a beautiful— What do you mean you created me?! I created you with my mind. Can you explain your theory a bit more about how you created me? So I think everything, we can create it with our manifestation.
You know, we can think about the thing what we want to happen. I, exactly, when I wake up today, I’ve said, “I’m going to create a greatest day of my life ever.” And then everything start aligning. But when people go out and say, “Oh, no, there’s bad shit happening all around.” I said, “That’s your creation. Doesn’t happen to me.”
That’s a big cop-out from some big world traumas. No, it doesn't happen to me. Can you manifest positivity for me? No, I cannot. You are the one who is going to put your jigsaw puzzle together.
I can’t do that for you. It’s the end of the night, and my new friend has had no time for me. Too busy making connections with other change makers. But it’s fine.
I don’t care. [cheering] [music playing] It’s day two, and I’ve got a big day of personal development ahead. I’ve signed up for workshops with three of the most prominent Mindvalley authors.
First up, we’ve got Niraj Naik. He’s an ex-drum and bass squat rave organizer turned breathing guru, teaching his many followers how to achieve orgasmic bliss through an ancient breathwork practice called Soma. [applause] So, are you ready to get fucked up on oxygen, or what? [laughing] You may enter into a state when the music breaks down which is called the breathless state.
And this is the point of absolute ecstasy. That’s what we’re going to get to. OK, so lets begin. And notice as you bring your awareness of the sound, the worries about the future generally begin to fade away, drift away.
Breathe ... [spiritual music playing] out. [spiritual music, chanting] The breathwork is most definitely in full swing, and I’m struggling to get into it. [spiritual music, chanting] In fact, I think I might have a panic attack.
[shouting] [chanting] [screaming] [heavy breathing] [heavy breathing] [heavy breathing] [heavy breathing, chanting] [heavy breathing, chanting] I can’t. I feel so anxious, literally. I thought I was going to cry, but not in the way they want me to.
Like, I can't close my eyes and hear that music. It literally will trigger me into a panic attack. But everyone else seems to be OK, so I’m just going to let them do it and ask them how it was. [applause] So how was that for you? That was really intense. I’ve done breathwork before, and the thing is, you never know what’s going to come up.
People start crying. People start, you know, shouting, screaming in ecstasy. You really come alive. You realize how much your thoughts restrict the expression of yourself.
So what was your experience in that room? It was wonderful. Like, my heart now is full of love and gratitude. Breathwork is such a modality that is very, very useful when it comes to getting some emotional release and also just connect to others as well.
It was very emotional, but in a positive way. With my breathwork-induced panic attack successfully averted, I’m excited to be meeting Linda Clemmons. She promises to revolutionize my body language so people take me more seriously and do business deals with me. So how are you reading my body language right now? Well, what I love about you, Syd, is that you could be 100 years old and you will always have that little girl in you, that playful spirit. Now, the other side is people taking you serious, and that first impression is often the most lasting one.
We’re in a world today with so many distractions. You know, technology is great, but high tech will never ever replace high touch. Let’s do an exercise. So there’s a party.
The party started at 9 o’clock, but it doesn’t start till I arrive. So when you walk into the door, you enter the door. I always say to the women, “Pause.” Look around the room.
Give the room, the world the chance to know ... yes, I arrived. And ladies, there are different kinds of walks. You’ve got your sultry walk. —You want to see that? —Yeah, OK.
Now, I want you first to practice the sultry walk like you’re the star, you are the one, you are the power. [sultry music playing] [sultry music playing] Look at you! [Laughter] —Did you see her eyes? —Do you like my, like— She’s got the eyes. People looking in the room, “Who is that?” [sultry music playing] [sultry music playing] [laughing] Very good.
Thank you very much. Now I can do sexy walk and be taken seriously, I have an appointment with Marie Diamond. She’s a Belgian feng shui master who is going to teach me which direction to face at all times. Get yourself a bubbling fountain, and put it in the west of your office or the west of your living room.
We have students online in 190 countries. Some of my celebrity clients are, like, Jodie Foster, Steven Spielberg, Big Sean. So I have a free app. It’s called Marie Diamond. And we’re going to check out your energy number and then see what you need to do in your home to activate your energy. In order to do that, I need to get your birth ... day.
So if you can fill that in. Yeah, confirm. You confirm. And gender ... female You calculate. —It’s spinning. —It’s spinning. You’re number eight.
—Is that good? —Yes, it’s very good. So it actually means you are a connector. That’s the perfect place to be then, is A-Fest. It is. And so your success direction in your home
is actually southwest. And so ... Yeah, so over there, in that corner. So anything that is there needs to represent success. So you have a garbage bin there, literally, you’re throwing all your success in the garbage.
What’s programed in it in order to kind of get— Well, there’s a calculation based on your birthday. And then based on that calculation, we know what are the right energies for you. So I started the morning with a good session on body language, which I feel is, like, quite a tangible thing to kind of get my head around. But there are some things at A-Fest which aren’t so tangible, like potentially the energy app, which I can’t quite get my head around. It’s interesting to see these two sitting as neighbors on the schedule at A-Fest. The sun is now setting over the Kingdom of Jordan, and that can only mean one thing.
It’s time for the Bedouin tribe-themed party. [Arabian-style music playing] [Arabian-style music playing] This is a bit awkward. There are a lot of guys with headdresses on that shouldn’t be wearing headdresses. And women, actually.
And that camel looks like it’s had a huge dose of ketamine. [Arabian-style music playing] So, talk me through your outfit. My theme tonight was Bedouin, and it’s just about being a nomad. Do you think some people could find it a little problematic? It’s problematic for white people that think too much about those things. But I think people just have a lot of guilt, and that’s why they’re sensitive about things like that. Is that part of my A-Fest experience to be less sensitive? Your experience is up to you.
My own experience has not yet yielded any proper connections. Meanwhile, my so-called friend is off making profound connections with other change makers. Again. You’re chatting to everyone.
You’ve made so many friends. Yes. Yes. Haven’t you, too? No! [laughing] No, I have ... I have loads. I have loads, yeah. Yep.
Drowning in them. [Arabian-style music playing] [Music playing] Over the last couple of days, with the help of the authors and attendees, I’ve done my best to become one of the Mindvalley tribe. As I wash away my sins in the Dead Sea awakening ritual, I realize I may have been too cynical. I have made friends.
I have made connections. Am I finally becoming a, dare I say it, change maker? How’s your healing going? My healing is going good. Good! Maybe I am. Before I go to the closing party and fly home to my new, positive life, I have an opportunity to sit down with the Wizard of Oz himself for a final check-in. Vishen has been so busy during the festival that he hasn’t been able to see all the changes I’ve made.
No, my team says I have to be at the closing, so we have 25 minutes. So I’ve met so many amazing people, and a lot of them are so desperate to get a piece of you and get a photo with you. You seem to be like a kind of self-improvement guru, and I just want to know what your journey was of self-improvement. Well, firstly, I don’t like that word, “guru.” And out of 400 people over here, only 20 have asked me for a picture. So it’s not true that everyone wants to get a picture with me.
And it is absolutely not true that everybody wants a piece of me. But what I create is a container where people want a piece of each other. Normally in wellness, you kind of— No one wants to talk about the money or the business side of things. And I feel like here, those two worlds kind of come together. People think self-improvement is just about being healthy or being happy. It’s not.
Self-improvement is the secret to making money. Money should motivate us because money is a measure of the value that you’re contributing to the world, right? But money shouldn't be the only motivator. Why is the wellness industry so popular right now? I think it’s because we’re understanding that the world in the way it’s run from the past generation, it’s pretty messed up. Millions of people work to produce craptastic products to induce other human beings to put these products in our body at the expense of our health and the health of our planet.
So at our next event, we are completely banning all American bullshit drinks, all craptastic products. We’re going to war against Coca-Cola, if we can. If you’re talented and you work for Coca-Cola, you should be fucking ashamed of yourself. —You hate Coca-Cola. —Or McDonald’s. —No, no, no. I don’t hate anyone. —OK.
But I have a righteous anger against the system. And if you don’t have a righteous anger, you don’t create change. Mindvalley people and A-Festers are called change makers, not “wellness enthusiasts.” If the Buddha was alive today, the Buddha wouldn’t just be meditating under a Bodhi tree. The Buddha would be an activist.
The Buddha would be the CEO of a company creating change. The Buddha would be a badass. It’s about bliss, but it’s also about the fist.
Oh fuck. Why didn’t you just tell me you were here? No, tell me. Tell me. Don’t make me guess. No, no, no. You can see I’m not checking my phone. Come tap me on the shoulder.
We can always do a retake. But just keep me informed. OK, thanks, B. But in future, just remember that tip, OK? So just remember the tip. Communicate. Thanks.
[hands rubbing together] [moody music playing] Of all the people I’ve spoken to at A-Fest, that was the neggiest energy. And that’s the leader. Sorry, not leader. Owner of Mindvalley? I don’t even know what words to use anymore. I feel like I’ve been corrected on most things.
I feel like he switches on his nicey-nicey, and then as soon as the camera stopped, he just went. He just didn’t even look me in the eye and just went off. I’m quite glad that’s the last day. But I’ve actually met some really amazing people here, and everyone has such a refreshing, positive outlook on life. And he created it, so I can’t fault him for that.
[music playing] It's time for the final party. I have to put everything I’ve learned into practice. You are the one who is going to put your jigsaw puzzle together. You have a playful spirit. I am the power of the universe within me and around me.
You’re the star. You are the one. You are the power. [chanting, music playing] You deserve to be here. You deserve to be here.
Where is the flow the strongest for you? You are a positive person at A-Fest. I love my life! I love my life! I love my life! I love my life! [singing] I love my life! [singing] I love my life! I love my life! I love my life! OK, so let me get Marie’s app out ... and find out which way is going to best serve me. That way. So what do you think of my walk? Your walk? Oh, my goodness! Girl, you own the room. When you walked into the room, the men all paused.
I want you to practice becoming like sexy liquid. Yeah! Who's this? This is Robbie. Robbie Smiles. He represents love and happiness, so every person that hug him will connect with all his positive energy and love. And you will feel his heart beating. Oh my gosh! So tell me what you feel. [Sydney laughing] I feel a little heart.
Ohh, give a hug. A-Fest has been a trip. Am I more positive now? Probably not.
Will I be a change maker? Again, probably not. But did I make some good friends along the way? Absolutely. Apart from this traitor. And these are friends who seem genuinely happy, with a go-getter world view that I could only dream of. A-Fest is part of a new wave of transformational festivals where partying needs to have some sort of spiritual development packaged in.
Whether these epiphanies will extend past the hangover is yet to be seen. It's definitely not for everyone and features some questionable wellness beliefs, but everyone finds inspiration in different ways. And if you’ve got a spare $3,000 and a decent collection of adorers, this might be the event for you.
[cheering] [manic pipe music playing]