I traveled alone to Nosara, Costa Rica on Friday, February 18, 2011, and returned Saturday, February 26. While there I visited the jungle, rode the longest zipline in the world (conquering a fear of heights and fear of taking risk in general). I swam in the ocean, learned Qi Gong, sang kirtan (meditative form of singing) and had enlightening workshops with inspirational teacher and performer Krishna Das every day. Plus I met some beautiful, wonderful people who opened my eyes and helped me to see new perspectives.
The following list is my "lessons learned." Much of this list, I knew intellectually before I left for Costa Rica. I had heard these nuggets of wisdom from many teachers and books. But I hadn't truly processed, integrated or experienced them to such a depth as I did in Costa Rica. For me, this trip was about growth, spirituality and discovery - both the trip as a whole and my in-depth experience of Kirtan, Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion (despite what you might find on the internet, kirtan is truly a spiritual practice no matter what your faith. You are not asked to believe any particular dogma or system. You are simply called upon to listen and sing, and feel what you will feel - a connection, the source, God, and experience a deepening of your own beliefs, whatever they are).
I hope this list inspires you or brings you insight. I write it with an open heart.
1. Let Go of Fear. Fear and obstacles in life are there for you to move through them, and if you can do that, the world opens to you; you experience growth. If you are held down by your fears, you will not grow.
2. Surrender. Let go of the idea that you have any control over anything. Allow life to unfold before you without planning every minute or waiting with anticipation for "the next big thing." This is a really challenging one. Surrender is a practice of letting go, one thing at a time. And remember, there is strength in surrender, not weakness. Strength to let go of our judgments & story lines.
3. Quote from Krishna Das in Costa Rica, Feb. 2011, "Faith is confidence. Confidence that everything is as it should be."
4. Less is MORE. Take your time. Enjoy moments. Do less, and enjoy it more, feel it more (the touch of your feet to the ground, the wind in your face, the sun on your skin.) Even eat less, and enjoy it more. Savor each experience.
5. No matter what happens, know that it was meant to happen. Ask yourself, what am I being taught in this moment? What can I learn from this experience? Everything truly does happen for a reason, even if we can't see it at the time. And each person you meet on your path, you were karmically meant to meet. Even if you don't know why, we are all entangled as soul friends for a reason.
6. Nothing is good or bad. It just IS.
7. There is Grace and Light in each of our hearts and it is our job to open up and SHINE. This is where and how we find joy and connection.
8. Before reacting to ANY situation, try to pause for a moment. You can choose to react from a place of love, or from a place of fear. Absolutely everything boils down to love or fear. Which will you choose?
9. Simplify. To be happier, we don't need more stuff. We need less stuff. Down size. The simpler your life, the less stress you'll have. Fill the hole in your heart with less stuff.
10. Again, LET GO. Everything changes and nothing stays the same. Accept this. I found myself wanting to cling to this beautiful experience in Costa Rica, but alas, I must return to real life. Someone said it to me perfectly.. that "I'll have this experience forever, and never again."
If you're still reading, thank you for sharing your time with me. I am still "raw" from my experience. Everything from beautiful music, to the raindrops on my skin, to the smiles on my boys' faces brings tears to my eyes. Not in a sorrowful way, but my heart feels so open, there is no guard or protective layer. Costa Rica cracked me open and my heart shines. Peace, love and light to each of you.