I just got back from our second annual yoga and mindfulness retreat deep in the jungle of Costa Rica. This was my fourth time in the beautiful country, and the location where we host the retreat offers so much wisdom.
I’m returning back to life in California, but I’ll take with me these lessons:
Spending time in nature is the best way to get centered
The antidote for feeling frazzled is a dose of fresh air and time with Mother Nature. When you stay at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers, you basically don’t go indoors for the duration of your stay. The yoga pagoda is open air, the dining area is outdoors, the showers are outside, and you sleep in tree houses—which have screens for walls—so you wake up with the sun and go to sleep listening to the rain, the crickets, the trees rustling in the wind, and the jungle animals scurrying about.
We hiked, ate locally grown food, swam in the waterfalls, and enjoyed quiet time in nature. It’s very grounding to sync to nature in such a strong way. Although I may not be “lights out” when the sun sets as we did in the jungle, I do plan to spend more time outside.
Disconnect when you need to reconnect
The Sanctuary at Two Rivers is 100 percent off the grid; they fuel all of their power from solar panels. Not only is this healthy for the planet, it is truly healthy to live or spend time in a place with limited electricity. When you have to conserve your use of hot water, lights, chargers, Internet, and more, it helps you to detach from your world and instead, connect with yourself at a deeper level.
Every meal should be a celebration of health
This was not a groundbreaking lesson to me, as I am already a healthy, wholesome eater. But where we stayed in the jungle, we were served three meals prepared with local, organic food and lots of love and creativity. Food that’s not only good for your body, but that you can take in through your eyes, nose, and mouth—artwork in every sense of the word.
High energy and happy bellies persisted throughout the week, thanks to the menu designed with long-lasting nutrients that fueled us well for our active days in the jungle. Not only was it ultra healthy, but the meals were actually a celebration each time we sat down to eat. The excitement of what ornate concoction was to be served next was a popular topic of conversation among the group, and to our surprise, none of us experienced any cravings or hunger between meals all week.
Rain Is magical
Every day it rained like crazy in the jungle. Not just a rain shower—I’m talking about a totally crazy downpour, where you stand beneath the sky for one second and are totally drenched. And somehow, it doesn’t interfere with anything. You see the clouds, you take cover, and you enjoy the rain bath and magical jungle sounds and smells it brings along. I live in San Diego, where it never rains, so this was certainly a change of pace. Check out 16 seconds of the magical downpour in this video:
In the jungle, you (and your things) will get wet. Accept and embrace it
You can bring a raincoat and umbrella, but that will only help so much, so you may as well embrace the rain. And don’t bring anything fancy or valuable, because there’s a chance it will also get wet. That’s right, that laptop you brought, your beloved guitar, and all of your clothes are at risk for getting wet when you head into the jungle. But you will survive and learn to let go of the worry.
Places that are hard to get to are ALWAYS worth the journey.
This is another lesson I relearn every time I travel. I tend to choose places far off the beaten track because I have an aversion to tourist traps.
To arrive at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers, you must take an international flight, a small, domestic flight, a cab, then cross four river crossings on foot. It’s an adventure. Aside from the distance, you must time it just right. You have to cross the river before dark and before weather sets in, otherwise it can be dangerous. But when you arrive, it’s exhilarating, and you are greeted with fresh squeezed lemon water, friendly jungle dogs, and big hugs. Not for the lazy; oh so magical for the adventurers.
While the rest of Costa Rica competes with tourists, we had to share the jungle with no one, except our community and the beautiful animals that called the land home.
Let go of control; it’s useless to plan
Planners at heart, my co-teacher, Lena and I pinned down a full schedule for the retreat, complete with classes, outings, waterfall hikes, wellness ceremonies, and workshops. The one problem is, the river is in charge of the schedule.
You can’t hike a river after a full night of heavy rain, and you can’t go snorkeling or zip lining in the rain. So you wait … and allow Mother Earth to tell you when to “go.” Thankfully, the activities always work their way into the week as sunshine is also part of your time in the jungle. And even more thankfully, hammock time, massages, yoga classes and meals were not weather dependent, and they are always highlights of the jungle retreat.