It's hard to describe why my week spent in Costa Rica was such a magical experience, but I'll do my best to put it into words!
This was so much more than a writing workshop. The retreat description promised daily workshops with guidance and coaching, as well as movement classes to help us break through creative blocks, combined with plenty of unscheduled time for writing. Along with the retreat's main organizer, the bios of several other contributors were posted on the website, and I knew that each of them would contribute unique gifts and expertise. The roster of teachers ended up changing, but the way it turned out was perfect, with all our guides' gifts fitting together and complementing each other as perfectly as puzzle pieces. In addition, each and every one of the participants contributed their own gifts and unique perspective that ended up influencing my experience and the book project I worked on during the retreat. I have no doubt that every element of that retreat was divinely guided.
The retreat began with a ceremony where we learned about the medicinal powers of cacao. With drumming, singing, and delicious hot cocoa to drink, the retreat was already feeling magical!
Many of our workshops were held under a formidable banyan tree. It was such a beautiful experience to have this workshop about the power of our stories while taking in the wisdom of this very old tree!
The retreat center itself had mystical and inspiring energy. Located on a plateau in the jungle high above the ocean, it was replete with small touches that set a reflective tone.
The retreat center consisted of a large open-air lodge building with different seating configurations: a dining table, small cafe tables, couches, armchairs, hanging chairs. Aside from this common space and an enclosed upstairs yoga room, our platform tents (not the most comfortable to spend much time during the day due to the heat) were the only other space available to us. It made for a lot of togetherness, but somehow I still always felt I had space for solitude when I wanted it. I think it was because everyone in the group was very respectful and didn't take it personally if you said you were in the middle of writing and would rather continue the conversation later.
Although I still don't consider myself a morning person, I started waking up with the sunrise on this retreat, and have continued since I got home with 5 a.m. wake-ups! Now I use the time for devotions, journaling, and enjoying a cup of coffee before my workout. I don't mind the early wake-up at all and I love that it reminds me of Costa Rica.
During the retreat we had at least two movement or meditation classes each day (usually more). In advance of the retreat, I thought I'd only partake in one per day, since I didn't see a need for that many classes and thought I'd rather have more time to write. As it turned out, 3 to 4 hours of focused writing time is plenty for me, and it felt good to take a break and exercise different faculties once I'd reached that quota.
Each day's workshops specifically fed into the themes of our books. For example, we had a workshop where we pulled tarot cards and considered how those could guide the narrative of our story. On another day, the workshop topic was desire and how we enter our full integrity and power when we own our desires, and how desire can be used as a tool to help us break through our fears. Each day I felt like I was having new breakthroughs of inspiration that I never would have had, had I tried to write the same book at home.
We were supplied with three delicious meals per day, lovingly prepared by a staff that (from what I understand, since I don't have any myself) was very accommodating to special diets and food sensitivities.
We also had access to this amazing swimming pool at the retreat center, but barely anyone used it!
Our closing ceremony on the last night was truly magical and it's an understatement to say it's an experience to remember. I've stayed in touch with the participants in this retreat and I feel like we were all transformed and bonded by the experience. I did make significant progress on my first book thanks to this retreat—but it transformed me and my vocational path in so many ways beyond that.
If you like what you've read about this retreat, another retreat in a similar format (although not with all the same teachers) is being offered in March 2020 and is currently enrolling. Unfortunately I'm not able to attend because I have another trip already planned at the same time, but if you're interested in checking it out you can find more details here.
I will say that the power of my experience in Costa Rica has made me want to create similar experiences for other people. More on that soon! Enter your email address to be notified of offerings as I plan my own retreat experiences to lead or co-lead!