“We are the guides we seek. We are the love we yearn for.
Our beauty is here in our own reflections, if only we are to look.”
At the end of October, I headed out on another profound journey to a new land to meet new and old friends. What I did not expect was how incredible this trip would be in more ways than I can express. Not only is it an honor and privilege to have this ability to travel the world, leading people deep into their bodies, hearts, and souls while experiencing a new outer landscape, but it is also amazing to me how much I learn and understand each time from the sharing and friendships that form while we are all experiencing our new inner landscape as well. When we pull away from our day to day routines, the hectic pace that most of us live by, and let ourselves pause…things change inside. The shift is real! The clarity is so potent, one has the ability to make new relationships with self and with others. We have less fear to move through the world and show a much greater capacity for trusting and loving all. Maybe just maybe we can hold onto this new sense and continue to spread this love like sunbeams out to everyone in the entire world!
The incredible group that formed for this trip could not have been more perfect. Isn’t it funny how the right people magnetize together to hold space for themselves and one another for transformation when the time is right?! And so our retreat week began on a Saturday as they most often do. Several of us arrived together by shuttle van then onto our little boat taxi for a 10 minute cruise across the lake from Panachel to be dropped off at the Villa Sumaya dock. From one location to another, our eyes were wide trying to take in the majesty of the lake and mountains surrounding us. Only to land in the most magical of all Villa Sumaya. The property is beautifully laid out with paths weaving through the hillside, gardens and an abundance of large crystals everywhere on the property (you all know how crazy in love I am with crystals). Cozy nooks to lounge in everywhere and hammocks spread out near the lake to laze the day away! More about the retreat center to come.…
Lake Atitlán is believed by the Maya to be the center of the universe; the place where God’s seeds of mankind evolved. They also believed that this majestic lake represents the belly button or manipura chakra of the Earth. In human beings the manipura chakra is located at the solar plexus. In both cases, the location on the earth and the place in the body are characterized by the element of fire, which governs all processes of transformation. Cradled in the embrace of 3 majestic volcanoes, Lake Atitlán holds the potential for profound metamorphosis of mind, body and spirit. Here, we were supported in finding a deeper connection to the heart of the Earth, and therefore, our own heart, which allows the song of your soul to be clearly heard and wholeheartedly celebrated.
“Everything becomes fire, and from fire everything is born” - Herakleitos
Our first yoga practice began Sunday morning in our stunning yoga temple on the top floor of our house. With the energy of the land, I thought it was a perfect time for us to journey through the chakras. I had planned our practices many, many months in advance, with this intuitive sense that this was the right place to dig into this work! Being located in a temple high above the ground and which also represented the upper chakras, we began with grounding into our root! The root chakra also known as Muladhara (mul = base, adhara = support) is the chakra of the earth. It is the source of our earthly connection and survival, vitality and strength, our sense of belonging and trust. Metaphorically speaking, this is our most Primal Self; the instinctual animal parts of our being. Our fight, flight, freeze fear responses, and our sense of being grounded and secure.
Perhaps you can see why beginning with our root was relevant here. Not only to help us establish a connection to the earth and land we were residing on, but also to help release and remove the fear that had many questioning if this trip was safe. We practiced a mountain meditation, grounded with asana, re-centered and established our connections to self, each other, and the beautiful Guatemalan culture. All fear dissipated as we landed in our root and felt deeply content in our new home and in our hearts.
We continued our chakra journey day by day, connecting the second chakra with the water element and the lake energy. Our third chakra and the power of the sun and fire. Only to find ourselves midweek ready for the heart. Coincidentally, this was also our cacao ceremony day, which is also heart-centered. The heart chakra connects the lower and upper chakras together and is considered the first energy center that focuses inward and moves beyond the body, toward the center of compassion and love. Anahata, means unhurt, and is associated with healing, nurturing, and opening. Once the body feels safe, grounded and centered, it is able to open.
And open we did!
Our ceremony was led by 2 woman, Red Hawk and White Condor, who skillfully guided us through several rounds of sharing, cleansing, and clearing of our heart spaces. Needless to say, during the first round the tears were flowing, and we were ready for some of that cacao heart energy to be moving through our bodies.
Cacao was cultivated by Mayas more than 2,500 years ago and it was called “Ku-Ku”. Ku in Mayan Language means Sacred and Ku-Ku “above sacred”. Aztecs learned from Mayas how to cultivate and prepare it, they called Cacao “Cacahuatl” and the bitter drink that they obtained from his fruits “Xocolatl”. This drink was consumed just by Emperor and Nobility and is called Kakaw in Mayan Language that means “Drink of the Gods”.
According to Mayan Elders and Archaeologists, Spirit of Cacao is one of the most powerful Deities of Mayan Cosmology. With the Spirit of Cacao we can travel towards our Innerself where our Wisdom and Love live. This ceremony is oriented to reconnect with Beauty, Sweetness and Love in ourselves. Cacao Goddess is our magic companion that will invite us to open the Heart Door: it is up to us and our level of consciousness if we will be able to cross the Door.
The cacao ceremony left us with full bellies and warm open hearts!
On Thursday, we had planned to travel to the ChiChi market, the biggest market in the area held only on Thursdays and Sundays. Everyone was excited to shop for some colorful gifts and tapestries. However, after the long and winding bus trip through the mountains, all were a bit deflated and nauseous on arrival. The market was certainly colorful and bustling from end to end. Also just a bit of shock to arrive to the frenetic energy and the constant soliciting when coming from such a peaceful environment prior. Fair warning here…if traveling to Guatemala know this is not a necessary thing to see unless you enjoy haggling and being packed like sardines in the street with people and dogs. With all that we made the best of our time and many of us bought some great gift items for our families back home.
Exhausted upon our return back to Villa Sumaya, we took the evening to enjoy a nice dinner together and rest. The food at Villa Sumaya was wonderful as well as the staff! Our meals had variety for the vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dairy free. They were creative, nourishing and always delicious!
Friday was our last day and most of us chose to soak in the land and peaceful nature of where we were. I took a walk on an ancient path on the sacred land, along the lake through the jungle of leaves and vines, roots and rocks. Hoping to carry the essence of this great land, our time and practices together. Carrying this home and into our daily lives.
Remembering our way back to self is often a tough road when we feel buried under so many stories or ideals of what we think we are and the stressors of life in general. At times we may have to go far beyond familiar ground to find that place we call home. And sometimes traveling outside of your comfort zone is just enough to shake you out of your slumber to begin the transformation.
A reminder to all my retreaters and to my future retreaters…
Take whatever awareness or realization you acquire in each moment and use it to guide you out of any uncertainty in life. Aim to move from a place of compassion in your thoughts, words, and actions. Set up your conditions to receive grace. This is like practicing the correct form in a yoga pose. The flow you feel is the flow of grace, raining upon you when have set up the right conditions.
If we are gentle with ourselves in our daily lives and in our interactions with each other. If we are balancing grace and effort, we may also live life like that!
Connect to the purpose of your heart, sit still, learn to listen…pure listening. Draw your maps from there and then bound forward.
Traveling gives one a passport to the soul, it peels the hardened edges away from the heart, it softens ones entire being to an incredible awakening and truly shows us how interconnected we all are!
Let’s choose love always!