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There is a magical lake in Guatemala called Lago de Atitlán.
It’s surrounded by powerful volcanoes and traditional Mayan villages where people still wear traditional handmade outfits. By this picturesque lake, I did a silent yoga and meditation retreat that could be described as, well, mind-blowing.
I knew where I was going and what I was doing, as this was my third time in the mystical meditation center, Las Pirámides del Ka. It’s a center in San Marcos dedicated to teaching metaphysics, meditation, and yoga with a vision of spreading light to planet earth.
This is a place where everyone is welcome, regardless of their background, nationality, or religion. There are no gurus or I know-it-all preachers; the Guatemalan owners and the international group of teachers are some of the most humble and beautiful people I’ve ever met.
All the classes are taught at the temple, which is an impressive wooden pyramid by the lake. We are not allowed to bring in anything else than our notebooks, pens, and candles. The energy is sacred and must be guarded. Inside, we can see symbols from different religions and traditions in harmony. Someone has understood that there is common wisdom in many different traditions.
I keep coming back because it’s a place where I can enter an accelerated process of transformation. It’s like a portal where I enter with my current challenges, desires, and intentions—go through a journey of lows, highs, insights, and revelations, and step out as a new version of me.
I like progress and expansion (or maybe “like” is a modest term to use in this context). I think progress and expansion are, in some ways, the meaning of life. We are in a constant process of creation; new things are born, they grow, and then they eventually die, creating space for more new things to be born. We are evolving beings by nature and possess an infinite potential inside of us, so why not explore the possibilities we can become as humans?
Deep dive into my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual planes
The retreat is part of a month-long Moon Course, and it puts together all the work done in the previous weeks. The course consists of studies of metaphysics, yoga, and meditation, and it’s divided into four sections. The first week is focused on the element Earth (physical dimension), the second week is about the element water (emotional dimension), week three explores the element air (mental dimension), and the fourth week is focused on the element fire (spiritual dimension).
I came back only for week four, the retreat part, because I’ve done the full course before. The week is carefully designed, with a clear program and individual exercises for each day. Many elements are blended in—meditation, yoga, juice fasting, silence, and a daily sauna session. The retreat culminates in a powerful full moon ceremony.
We are on a light diet during the week: we get a glass of juice at 9 a.m. in the morning, light vegetable soup at 1 p.m., and another juice at 4 p.m. We are encouraged to drink plenty of water and tea. Also, coconut water is available for those who want it. On day five, before the full moon ceremony, we drink only tea, water, and coconut water.
The fasting diet is a recommendation, but we are encouraged to listen to our bodies and add some rice or fruits if we get dizzy. I had a handful of extra nuts in the first two days to help me get adjusted to the lighter diet.
During the week, we work with ourselves and go deep. Day one is dedicated to our goals and ideals. We meditate and journal about our desired state for each level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
During day two, we evaluate our current reality and have honest development talks with ourselves. On day three, we meditate on the things that support us in reaching our goals and ideals. Day four is about the challenges and obstacles: what prevents us from reaching our ideal states?
Day five is about light. We meditate and explore what the light means for us and how we can connect with our internal light. At that point, everything, including life, starts to feel quite light.
Machetes, boredom, and channeling
We entered the silence and started the fast on Tuesday evening after a meditation at the temple. The beginning was the hardest—day one being almost like torture. I felt exhausted, weak, and foggy. My body certainly noticed the missing cup of coffee in the morning. Focusing on the ideals and goals during the first day is a good idea, giving us something to dream about.
From the second day onward, I was surprised by how well the days flowed. Everything felt easier compared to my previous experience. Silence is no problem for me; I’m a Finnish introvert, and unplugging from the world for a little bit is almost a pleasure.
While the days passed rather fast, the evenings were slow and often boring. We were encouraged not to listen to music, read, or take any external inputs during those days. After the evening meditation, I sat in the garden and stared at the trees and plants. I was in this dreamy bubble where everything slowed down: my breathing, heartbeats, and the flow of my thoughts. But in a strange way, I felt part of the surrounding nature. After dark, I did some journaling and went to sleep around eight.
I like my food, and I have regular eating habits, but the fasting wasn’t too difficult this time. At times, I felt hungry and weak, but it was tolerable. The only problem I encountered was when I wanted to have a coconut. I had to open it myself with a machete.
On the first days, someone from the staff was around and kindly helped me do the job. Then, on day four, when I was working on my challenges and obstacles and was grumpy as hell, nobody was around when I wanted a coconut!
I took the machete and started chopping. I’ve never touched a machete before, and I have no experience using an ax either. So, I wasn’t shining in this task. I kept the silence while struggling with the machete, but the spirits surely heard all the swear words floating in my head. My chopping and sighing seemed to be loud enough as someone appeared to finish the job for me. This process was repeated a few times. I had my coconut water, and my fingers stayed unharmed.
During the week, I worked on my exercises and had some powerful meditations where I received some helpful insights and beautiful messages. Sometimes, journaling after the meditation was just pure flow. Insights and realizations just came out of me, accompanied by chills; I think they call it channeling.
Expanding my consciousness and lifting my vibration
The retreat serves many purposes. It’s a detox, not only on the physical level but also on the mental and the emotional level. We all have different things we are willing to let go of (I was working with some resentment and negative thought patterns).
Those days are also dedicated to healing. In addition to the physical benefits of fasting, we get a unique chance to sit with ourselves and explore what’s inside. We can form new connections—in our brain, to ourselves, and to the spiritual realm.
After all, it’s the week of the fire. We explore and connect with our own spirit and the strong, powerful fire element within us. That was my key intention: to connect with my internal power and find my queen energy again.
By doing all this work, we can raise our vibration and expand our consciousness—step into higher levels of consciousness.
The culmination of the retreat was the full moon ceremony on Sunday evening. All dressed in white, we entered the temple of el Arka, which is the second center of Las Pirámides, in the mountains close by the lake.
Chaty Secaira, the founder of Las Pirámides led us through a powerful ceremony, where prayers were recited, messages channeled, and mantras chanted. We sat on our meditation benches the whole time, soaking in the energy and the thick smoke of copal.
Chaty delivered messages about the importance of loyalty and firmness; no matter what storms blow in our path, we should stay firm and continue walking. She also talked about humbleness and reminded us that no matter how far we get in our path, the path is eternal, and there is always more to walk. At the end of the ceremony, we all lifted our candles up and chanted “light to planet earth” seven times together. I’m sure that the energy created at that moment dissolved many shadows.
Our retreat was over, and we were allowed to speak and eat again. Outside the temple after the ceremony, I think I witnessed a human condition that could be called “awe.” I experienced the awe, and my retreat group seemed to share the experience with me. I think it breaks down to bliss, gratitude, and the feeling of oneness. I felt love that wasn’t attached to anything specific.
While it was an extraordinary moment for me, experiences like this have a wider impact. When we reach higher vibrations and higher states of consciousness, many of our problems dissolve, and some of our pain and shadow get transformed. This, in turn, impacts how we show up in the world.
I believe that the world would be a better place if people took the time to explore their internal worlds. The world is a reflection of our internal realities, and I wonder what would happen if we all could elevate those realities, even just for a little bit.
I, for sure, continue working with my internal reality. Acknowledging with gratitude that my work and intentions have borne fruit, this next version of me today feels possibly more comfortable in her own skin than ever.
And if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for anyone.