Life Lessons Learned From Costa Rica
Whenever and wherever I travel too, I'm always learning something new about myself. When your taken out of your culture and dropped into somewhere unfamiliar, a lot shows up mentally and emotionally.
When I came to Costa Rica the first time, it was for my YTT (Yoga Teacher Training). I was 20, travelling alone for the first time and bunking up with two strange girls in a Villa and sharing a studio space with 40+ international students. Phew, I remember the feelings. I was overwhelmed. I was introverted and unable to really socialize or share experiences because... well, being there was my first life experience.
I cried my first night or two. I was home sick. I felt like no one liked me.
The judgments and stories I created carried on. It took me some time to adjust to the fact that I made this choice to come here and work through my own walls I built up and my spiritual chains that held me back.
The villa I stayed at was on the top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. By far this was my favourite place I stayed at in all my trips here in CR. It was always a trek to get back up to the Villa so I had to plan my time between training sessions accordingly.
There was a steep winding dirt road that led all the way up, which was super difficult when your my size carrying a big bulky backpack, a yoga mat and an umbrella (cause it rained a hella lot). But my saviour on this trip was a never ending staircase that was hidden behind a shack at the bottom of the mountain.
It probably was just as difficult as the steep road, but the perspective looking up changed my way of thinking.
1. First Steps First
Looking up from the bottom or down from the top, you cant see where it ends or begins. The staircase, as you can see in the picture below, is smack in the middle of the jungle. With creatures galore and unsteady wooden platforms. Scary and unknown. So, every time I made the walk up or down, I would look at each step mindfully with the mantra, "first steps first." Before I knew it, that next step was the last.
That first time I used the mantra, I had an AHA moment when I reached the top. Thinking to myself, Universe I get it. I get that I'm supposed to take first step first. First step in introducing who I am and why I'm here. First step in life, of acknowledging my newness to travelling and being alone AND recognizing that it took courage and a leap of faith to be on an adventure in a YTT.
By the end of my training I was a new person. My strange roommates became my sisters. The studio became my second home, and those 40+ students... well, I still talk to many of them. They have become my best friends all over the world and I have met up with them on more than one occasion.
2. Trust The Process As The Practice
My second time around, I was back for another YTT. This was in March 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami hit off the coast of Japan. During this training we had 6 teachers from Japan join us. They arrived late and shaken up to say the very very least. They each shared their stories of what they experienced. Water filled streets, monkeys robbing people out of their cars, grocery stores empty and chaotic, children devastated. Just writing this brings tears back.
I had the privilege of spending time with each one, and learned something so valuable during that stay. One man shared how much he was grateful to be with all of us, learning and living Yoga. His face was lit up one moment, then he cried the next. He said that coming to CR was a journey and he didn't know if he would make it and he didn't know if he wanted to. Than arriving in CR and being in the training, changed his perspective.
He quoted our teacher Don Stapleton, "All I had to do was trust the process to lead me here." The universe took care of him and his group.
At this point in my teaching, I hadn't found my voice, I was still a bit scared in leading a group of students on a safe journey on their mats... I created more stories that I wasn't good enough YET, I can't teach YET, etc. But that time spent with that man, sharing his words of wisdom, changed my perspective for not just the remainder of my time at the institude but for my life itself.
Another mantra I now live by with a little twist, trust the process as the practice.
3. Pura Vida
Pura Vida is a Costa Rican way of life. It's said saying hello and goodbye, and in-between conversations (almost all the time).
So my third time around, I was in a life coach training. The practice, the art, of living Yoga. Living an inspired life — a pura vida lifestyle.
I went through a breakup that was heart shattering. Most of the time there I was coached on it. They all said the same things, that I need to be the change first. My life teacher new him, and plenty of my friends there I had been with before in India with him, so they knew who I was talking about. It was an especially difficult time. And the greatest gift that could have happened to me.
At this point in my teaching I was really just becoming comfortable, but like my life teacher says, I was not living my Yoga.
The act of living your yoga is to remain true and authentic to your values and core desired feelings. When we stay true and honest to what we feel, think, say and do, we are in harmony with our most authentic self… your yoga.
I valued community, ambition, perseverance, commitment and discipline. I desired to feel freedom and passion in my work and my personal life. At this point I was not living any of these things. My realization and snap back to reality was that I needed to take responsibility for my life to live a pura vida lifestyle. An inspired life.
After being coached, coaching clients and coaching myself, I made dramatic changes in all areas of my life. My yoga practice took on new shapes; my relationships were healthier; I said NO a lot of the time when my gut told me that this or that wouldn’t serve me; I said YES to this and that when I was scared of the unknown, knowing that it would serve my highest self.
Pura Vida every damn day.
4. Life Is Magic
Spending my 26th birthday here this time around, my current realization is this:
Life is magic. Synchronicities is the universe saying YES to all that you are and that you are becoming. Meaningful ‘coincidences’ that are guiding you on your path to your most authentic self.
From my last trip here in 2012, to now 2016, I have spent the in-between establishing a business and a brand. I have created a community of inspired Yogis. I took responsibility for my life. Some might say that I took A LOT of responsibility becoming an yogi-preneur. But what better way is there to line up your truth than to create the life you want yourself?
Now, all I do is think in magic... in pursuit of the extradordinary. The miraculous.
You may think I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Shout out to all the magic makers, life shakers, trail blazers and artists of all trades that took the road less travelled. It’s hard but at the end of the day it’s worth it.