Every time I go to Oaxaca I am plagued with doubts and concerns. I never am sure if people will truly enjoy the trip. I wonder if they will feel comfortable with the rituals and ceremonies that Elizabeth leads in nature. I am anxious about the trip being so wild, so natural, and so remote. I hope that they will want to be present and participate fully in the circles and sessions that are so profound. I get concerned that the family style living will be unsatisfactory or that maybe I have been kidding myself about the beauty of the place.
Then everyone invariably has an amazing time and all are full of thanks and gratitude for the experience. We sing, we share, we laugh, we play, and we grow closer together and engage on a deep level where transformation happens. And the beauty of the place astounds us. And our wild souls love the natural beauty and the remoteness. And everyone is blown away by the rituals and ceremonies in this beautiful place- in the river, with the earth, in the cave, in the jungle, in the dark night with the full moon, in the small adobe temple, with candles and flowers and great connection to spirit.
This last trip I led eleven women on this profound retreat and the magic and medicine of Oaxaca touched us all deeply. There were so many stunning moments that are etched into my consciousness, moments of vivid experience where we felt life and all its synchronicities calling us to be ourselves fully, asking us to forgive, let go, release the past, open up, and receive and share the huge love that was holding us in a container of joyful possibility.
I remember each person and the gift of themselves in a given moment- the sweet innocence and openness of Jen as she reached with open arms and heart, with conscientious intensity into the dance circle to sing, “Come, come, whoever you are, this caravan is not of despair.”
And Jenny’s wisdom and generosity as she reveled in the community gathering that we attended to celebrate the opening of the community library, a gift from our hosts to the community, made possible in part by our tourist dollars, enjoyed by the darling chattering children and appreciated by all.
And Aneesha leading us in pranayama by the riverside on the new viewing/meditation platform with the rushing river below.
And Malia, lovely and giving, always noticing a need and being there to help.
And all the rest of us, each of us bringing ourselves and our gifts to the circle and feeling the support to be ourselves and confront our edges, working to soften and grow and lending a hand to each other on the path. It was an amazing group and I love each person and what we were together.
Claudia handled the logistics with such aplomb, it always seems so easy, to move large groups over the landscapes, with meals and events emerging seamlessly, so that we floated along in bliss, attended to and cared for, knowing that our comfort and concerns were considered.
Elizabeth was a huge presence for us, our hostess, although her home was not on the grounds of the plantation house where we all stayed together, but nearby up a steep hill. She is insightful and intuitive and somehow knows what we need and what would help. And she is willing to encourage us to do the hard thing, to face fears, to work through resistance, to listen to the truth. She holds up a mirror where we can see ourselves and then she takes us to her special places, deep in the jungle, in the river, in the cave, where we can work through our restraints with the water, the stones, the plants, with shouting, and beseeching, and dancing, with joy, with tears, with upturned faces finding the sun’s first rays as it skirts the horizon and emerges into the day. Whatever it is that she does, that she leads us to do, it is amazing and cannot be described with words or even pictures because it is something that is felt by the spirit and it changes everything
People were so sad to leave the retreat that we had enjoyed so deeply. I was really worried that the trip would be down hill after the wonderful high of our time with Elizabeth and her family at the plantation house in the jungle. Then we arrived at the beach and I laughed and sighed- it is so incredibly beautiful at the small beach town where we go, one of the most magnificent places on earth, really. And we had a lovely, lovely time, with time to integrate, time to explore on our own, with boat trips into the lagoon and out onto the waters of the Pacific to see the wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty.
The last thing we did together was another deeply moving spiritual adventure, a temezcal or sweatlodge, and as we prayed and sang and sweated, and as our spirits were lifted by this ancient healing practice, I rejoiced deeply about our whole experience, knowing that my doubts and concerns had helped me to be more attentive and present, and knowing that the offering of this trip is a rich gift that I can share and that it is part of my purpose. It is only for the few who are ready for something wild, remote, and natural, but for those few, it is deeply transformational and will never be forgotten.