Six years ago, I moved to the community of Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, from the country’s capital, San Jose.
Despite being only a three-and-a-half-hour drive away from San Jose, Bahia Ballena is a world apart. Nestled between mountains that burst with green and the vast Pacific blue, it is a small, coastal community where the majority of the roads are still unpaved.
My decision to move here was a direct result of my years of yoga practice, and at the same time, it has changed and enhanced my yoga practice in unexpected ways. The most notable has been my realization that paying attention to, staying connected with and being present in nature is not just important, but necessary.
I moved here because my soul needed an upgrade.
The best decisions that I have made in my life have been made with my heart, not my mind, and moving here was a direct result of my heart’s desires. If I were to have listened to my mind, calculating the risk factor of moving to a rural community during a financial crisis, I would not be here today.
Instead, I took a leap of faith because my heart was asking for it—I needed a deeper connection with nature.
Living in this community allows me to experience nature at its best.
I wanted to admire nature not just with my eyes, but to also involve my senses and my whole being in the process. Our stunning landscape—lush, green and rugged all at once—can be captured by even an amateur photographer; however, no matter how beautiful the photo, it will never reveal the smell, the rhythms, the surprises hidden inside of it.
A picture will never allow me to discover a new insect that I’ve never seen before.
Nor will it allow me to feel the amazing sensation of being barefoot in the sand, or hear how loud the frogs are at night. It is by the experience—not from a photo—that I know now that my favorite smell comes from the Ylang Ylang tree.
Or that at certain time of the year, the leaves of the “Cenizaro,” the big tree next to my house, fall from the tree and when I walk underneath it and creates a sensation of light rain over my body.
Paradise isn’t always perfect, but that’s okay.
This paradise is hot and humid all year long. Many people ask me how I deal with it, as it can be very extreme. The answer is simple: I practice acceptance.
It’s a tradition here, every time you pass your friends and neighbors, especially during summer time, the conversation always begins with, “Oh my god, it is so hot today.”
It’s actually funny the way we seem surprised by the heat everyday. But the fact is it encourages us to enjoy the day, to be outside and be active. And if it weren’t for the humidity, we wouldn’t have this brilliantly colorful landscape. In terms of my yoga practice, this weather conditions are a plus, as they allow the body to open up and make it easier to sweat all the toxins out.
Nature is detoxifying for the body, mind, and spirit.
When was the last time you walked peacefully under the rain?In ancient civilizations, the rain used to be a sacred phenomenon. People would chant and pray for rain, and when it came, they would honor it.
At some point in the human trajectory, we became disconnected from nature: we switched from chanting and praying for the rain to running away from it and avoiding it so we don’t get wet.
When I lived in the city, rain was an annoyance that slowed you down as you rushed from point A to point B. Getting back into nature made me realize that it is those simple things, like the rain, that feed my soul and make me happy.
Rain is so beautiful and refreshing, pure and fresh—like drops of clear water falling from the heavens.
Time spent in nature is the best medicine that exists.
While we may never feel any physical symptoms of it, being disconnected from our essence—Mother Nature—is damaging to our souls. I was never into taking “medicine,” but now more than ever I turn to nature to cure whatever illness, imbalance or unrest I may feel. Natural remedies work because they don’t target the symptoms; they cure the root of an illness.
We tend to think of nature as something apart from us, but we are nature, we are part of it, we are a species and we need nature to survive, not only on a physical level but also on an emotional, mental and spiritual one.
If we honor nature, its beauty, intricacy, and everything it provides for us, we will realize that we’ve been blessed. Just like Buddha says, “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”
I no longer have any need for distractions.
As I look back over the years before moving here, I notice how much I ignored the simple clues and details about the earth beneath my feet and all around me.
I wasn’t paying attention—I was distracted.
Nature provides so much creativity and entertainment that there is no need to look for more distraction. That makes it obvious for me to realize that everything we need is there, in nature.
We just need to pay attention, to be present.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Amanda Fleming Taylor / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Provided by the Author