What’s all the fuss about Burning Man? You know there are costumes involved, no showers (ew) and it’s supposed to be this life-altering experience where you leave looking at the world in a completely different way. But if you’re like most people, roughing it in the desert sounds intimidating. Plus, your friend of a friend mentioned it cost like $10,000, and honestly, you’d rather go on that Mediterranean cruise you’ve been saving up for. So maybe Burning Man isn’t for you. But, whether you have lots of friends going or none at all, it’s easy to feel left out when it seems like everyone is heading to the Playa. Here are 5 ways you can get a similar life-changing feeling, all while staying in the comfort of your own town:

 

1. Floating

 

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If you haven’t heard of floating, well, you’re not alone. It’s an old practice, pioneered by mega-hippie scientist John C. Lilly, but it’s recently become trendy. Floating is basically hopping into a sensory deprivation chamber, submerged in super-salty water, and floating in darkness for an hour. It might sound weird to spend your free time in an isolated pool, but trust me on this, it is an experience unlike any other. I recently tried floating at Pause in LA, where they told me “have no expectations,” and I came out feeling incredible. Whether you meditate, sleep, or just ponder your own existence, it’s worthwhile just to see if you’re capable of spending an hour alone with nothing but yourself.

 

How to try it:

  • Pause is a new float studio with relaxing, spa-like amenities. From the calming guidance before your float to the green tea they hand you as you emerge, it’s the best float experience in LA by far, pausefloatstudio.com
  • Reboot is a great studio in San Francisco with a few locations,rebootfloatspa.com

 

2. Volunteering 

 

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I’ll try to say this without sounding trite – volunteering can be one of the most eye-opening activities you’ll ever try, and once you find your calling, you’ll never look at life the same way again. If you think about it, spending thousands of dollars on unicorn-related paraphernalia and retreating to the desert with other privileged trendsters can hardly be construed as productive in a broader sense. Instead of succumbing to self-indulgence, volunteer – studies show it can actually have life-changing benefits for both your mental and physical health. I’m guessing that ten days in the baking sun at Burning Man consuming who knows what isn’t fantastic for your body.

 

How to try it:

  • Try to volunteer for something that you’re already passionate about: animals, children, the elderly, and then try something you know nothing about. Check out VolunteerMatch to find projects that need your help, volunteermatch.org

 

 

3. Acrobat Aerial Classes

 

01-16-12 --PROGRESS Aerial Yoga 01-- Vita LoFria, center, leads a unnata aerial yoga class in the aerial wheel pose at Vita-Prana Yoga Studio in Smyrna. STAFF/JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN
01-16-12 –PROGRESS Aerial Yoga 01– Vita LoFria, center, leads a unnata aerial yoga class in the aerial wheel pose at Vita-Prana Yoga Studio in Smyrna. STAFF/JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN

In the most literal sense, aerial can turn your whole world upside down. Aerial yoga, lyra, and aerial silks use suspended cloth or rings hanging from the ceiling to create an incredible workout while you’re hanging mid-air. It’s tougher than it looks, but I’ve never felt stronger in my life, and there’s something very primal and sensual about flying around in spandex.

 

How to try it:

  • Aerial Physique has studios in Los Angeles that provides beginning through advanced training in all things aerial, aerialphysique.com
  • Aerial Artique is a studio for the circus arts in the heart of SOMA in SF, go give it a whirl, aerialartique.com

 

 

4. Digital Detox

 

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Ready to enter a new state of mind? Have someone take away your phone for three days and see how that feels. That’s what happens at digital detox retreats. We’ve heard from several people that one of the most liberating parts of Burning Man was that they didn’t have email or cell service, and they now bemoan that wifi and hotspots are becoming part of the Burn. Get those same effects without riding an illuminated bicycle across a flat landscape at a digital detox program. They started in San Francisco, where techies have realized how toxic their own products can actually be, but there are now “digitox” programs across the country. Do your mind and body good, and give that iPhone addiction a break.

 

How to try it:

  • Digital Detox provides retreats and adult camps for people seeking time away from the digital noise, digitaldetox.org

 

 

 

5. Go On A Date With Someone Who Isn’t Your Type

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You want to change your life for the better? Surround yourself with people who make you stronger and who make you laugh. It sounds like common sense, but most people don’t acknowledge the most life-changing experience can be someone new entering your life – and I don’t mean a temporary Burning Man husband. So, give it a whirl. Take a leap and go out on a date with someone who isn’t your type. Try someone fresh, and you’ll never know where that path can take you. And dating lots of types will make you open-minded in a way Burning Man just can’t compete with. Without the human shower. Check out matchmaking startup Three Day Rule, which curates matches and helps open your mind to the people you’re really destined for. One good date can affect your whole life.

 

How to try it:

  • Sign up for a free meeting with a matchmaker at Three Day Rule, which has matchmakers in cities across the country, including SF and LA, threedayrule.com

 

See? There are plenty of ways to stay grounded and embark on spiritual journeys without going to Burning Man. And you won’t even have to barter for them.

 

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