Retreats are for everybody.

Retreats are for ordinary people at any time in their lives, giving them the chance to step aside from life for a while, to rest and become refreshed in a nurturing and peaceful environment.
Socrates says the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

DO IT NOW. Sometimes LATER becomes NEVER.

I attended my first retreat over 8 years ago, on a whim as my life changed suddenly I found myself free from obligations and with an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had a passport so I booked my ticket to Costa Rica at midnight two weeks prior to the retreat start date knowing only the retreat host and barely at that. I didn’t even know where Costa Rica was on a map.

I landed in Costa Rica a day early. I was alone and I didn’t speak a word of Spanish! It was scary at first, but also empowering as I navigated a place to stay, food and the time difference my iPhone didn’t register.

By the time we arrived at our Retreat Center…an eco-lodge… I had survived the night, gotten myself to the group’s meeting location and taken a sketchy 45-minute flight on a 12 passenger hopper where you had to be weighed carrying your luggage to make sure the plane wasn’t too heavy. The plane took off and landed three times at these secluded, small “towns” before finally arriving at our location. I gathered my backpack from the side of the “landing strip” and jumped into the back of a truck with a bench seat for a 45-minute, bumpy car ride on an unpaved road through the jungle of Costa Rica’s rain forest.

let the fun begin!

My home for the next 10 days was a hut made out of bamboo with no walls or a real door for that matter. The bathroom was in a separate building off to the side and you couldn’t flush the toilet paper! There was a bug net to sleep under or risk being eaten alive and don’t even think about leaving food out or eating in your hut unless you like ants and other critters in your bed. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing here, but here I was and here I would be for the next 10 days!

There was no electricity in our rooms, but solar panels lit up the kitchen/dining room/main hang out area. We used candles and headlamps to get between there and our rooms. All meals were served family style at a specific time and we ate together on a long wooden table with bench seats. The sun rose at 6 am and set at 6 pm. The yoga deck was outside with no cover or protection from the elements but a beautiful view of the beach.

In those ten days I practiced yoga twice a day and surfed my heart out on some of the best waves I’ve ever ridden with no one else around. If there were too many people (three) at one break, I paddled over or out to the next one. The water was 82 degrees (warmer than Hawaii) even at sunset. As the sun fell from the sky, the jungle glowed this gorgeous orange before everything went dark. At night you could see up into the endless sky, full of layers and layers of stars not visible when you’re surrounded by city lights. It was amazing and yet words cannot describe it. You had to be there.

I knew I would get to surf and I had always wanted to travel, so I had no other expectations other than surfing as much as I could. However, that’s not all that happened. There were 8 other retreat participants + our host and her little family. Every meal I sat by someone new and learned about them, about their struggles and achievements and they offered me their two cents on my situation. I practiced yoga next to someone different each time and felt their energy. We walked and talked and laughed and cried, hung out, explored and surfed.

My favorite experience was dolphin boarding. We went out on a boat to visit the wildlife sanctuary and on the way back while looking for whales, we came across two different schools of dolphins that were merging together. There were hundreds of dolphins all around us. We jumped into the water two at a time and held onto these wooden handles that were attached to the back of the boat with rope. Then the boat pulled us in front of the dolphins swimming and we held our breath, dove under the water and were literally swimming (well being dragged) alongside the dolphins.

#outofthisworld
#youhadtobethere
#breathtaking

In the 10 days, I was there, I did many things I never expected to do. I met super interesting, creative and inspiring people, a few of whom are my best friends today. Most importantly I learned so much about myself, what I am capable of and the type of person I wanted to become. I chose to step out of my day to day life, step out of my comfort zone and put some faith and money into an experience I typically wouldn’t have gone on. I came home a different person with a different perspective on life. I made new lifelong friends and we’ve continued to go on new adventures and make new memories. I’ve been on a handful of retreats in the last 8 years and each time I walk away with more than I ever think possible.

And then I realized adventures are the best way to learn.