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Downright Dirty with Myself

Drove up the road home last night from dinner with a friend in a thick pea-soup fog.

Windows down, the cool, heavy air soaked my uplifted cheeks. I must have been grinning. I really like this place. Costa Rica, has won my heart.

It wasn’t easy, at first. I came aboard Selva Armonia Retreat Center three-and-a-half years ago as the Yoga Director. Upon arrival in early December, I was the only woman on the property, with construction still underway. Surrounded by men I could hardly communicate with to tackle a role I knew very little about was overwhelmingly daunting.

I was in a new country with a new culture, a new home, a new job, a new language and I was freshly divorced. I had plunged, hair-flyingly-head-first, into a strange new life.

There were times I was sure I was going to throw in the towel and head back to my home country. Like the first holiday season I spent 5 kilometers up a steep 4×4 road in the rainforest without a car, electricity, internet or company. I was alone for Christmas. There was a singularly clarifying moment for me during that solo week, a crossroads of sorts.

About 1.5 days into the solitude, I recall saying to myself, “Okay, Heidi, you could go very crazy here, or you could make yourself extremely happy.”

In the name of self-preservation, I chose diligently to do the latter. That, I must say, was yoga smarts in action.

That week changed my life. I made a list (I love lists!) and took on the challenge. Noting clearly the things that make me happy and bring me peace, I set aside my fear of loneliness.

What makes Heidi happy?

  1. Dancing

  2. Singing

  3. Practicing Yoga

  4. Creating Art

  5. Meditating

I also:

  1. Talked to myself

  2. Laughed with myself

  3. Laughed at myself

  4. Laughed for myself

  5. Got downright dirty with myself!

Nothing has quite been the same since I became still in the jungle.

Mother Nature is continuously chattering away at us. She’s bubbling up, blowing over and growing into me every day, speaking of clarity and grace. She shows me to myself, into myself and reflects the calm at the center of my every storm. Lightening up my turbulent ocean waters, she drips ease into my sometimes willful mind, tendering pride and crashing down rotten branches of thinking no longer needed, leaving space for fresh new growth.

As nurturing as Pacha Mama’s jungle is, it is also soberingly dangerous in this Southern Costa Rican territory. We are remote. It’s wild and rugged down here. There are crocodiles, snakes, deep potholes and glacially slow unpredictable, systems (like the internet. Remember slow internet?). You’ve got to be resourceful and a little bit tough. This place kind of forces one to build a thicker skin while softening the insides.

Thus, I have learned. A lot. I have come to rely more on myself and others, especially the incredible team of people surrounding me at Selva Armonia (Thank you, Selva Dream Team!). We have built a sanctuary in the jungle that nurtures and changes lives, starting with our own.

I awake in gratitude more often here than ever before. I smile more here than ever before. I feel at peace more than ever before. I am healthier than I’ve ever been, both physically and emotionally.

There is life outside of the complexities of the Western world. Having stepped whole-beingly into the unknown, I know my perspectives will never be the same. Namaste, Human Family,

Heidi Michelle

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