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Going Off-Grid in Costa Rica

It was not so long ago that I fell in love with Costa Rica.  Specifically, I fell in love with an off-the-grid, self-sustaining community located in the heart of mountainous rainforest.  While facilitating a retreat there a few years ago, I encountered a mystical and awakening experience that changed my life.  I’ve been reflecting on the magic of the place ever since, and thinking about what draws me (and many of my yearly retreat clients) back each year.

You are connected to all people and all of nature here, and you feel that connectedness deeply at every turn.  And, it changes everything.

rancho margot bridge pathPeople often ask me what it is that’s so special about this little ranch in the middle of nowhere.   I think the answer has something to do with going off-grid in the midst of mountains, clean water and pesticide-free, lush landscape.  Going off- grid, even for a few days, feels equivalent to something like a full year of good therapy, proper meditation, and many nights of deep and uninterrupted sleep… all rolled into one.

No fast-food, no shopping, no TV watching, no news.  No distractions, no escape.  The old rules don’t apply here.  Going off-grid means going slower.  Much slower.

An off-grid retreat is not for everyone.  If you’re someone who likes the idea of pool-side bingo, loud music, and drinking games each day of your vacation, read no further.  An all-inclusive somewhere is calling your name.  If you’re aching to get away from the worries of your job and replace them with worries of what to buy at upscale vacation shopping outlets, again…going off-grid is probably not for you.

meditation space

Meditation space

If, however,  you’re interested in a vacation retreat that does not involve a pillage of the earth in as short a time as humanly possible, you might also be interested in what I consider as the top 5 reasons for going on an off-grid retreat.

1. It’s a Trance Breaker:  Many of us are walking around in what I define as a worry trance.  The multiple stressors of modern living and the constant noise of consumer culture weigh on us more heavily than we are consciously aware.  The silent hum of the rainforest – once you allow it to replace that constant buzz of regular EMF activity, endless advertisements and traffic –  is an extraordinarily novel sound that shakes you out of your comfort zone, instantly commands stillness, and essentially wakes you up.

2. It’s a Game Changer: No fast-food, no shopping, no TV watching, no news.  No distractions, no escape.  The old rules don’t apply here.  Going off-grid means going slower.  Much slower.  Everything is more deliberate and thoughtful.  If you’re going to eat something, you’re going to look into the eyes of the person who tended the garden and picked the herbs that go into your salad.  You say Thank You, because appreciation sets in as you realize that the ranch helper working the land for you each day is the same woman who teaches tourists every morning about permaculture and sustainability.  You are connected to all people and all of nature here, and you feel that connectedness deeply at every turn.  And, it changes everything.

Retreat participants regularly report experiences of profound visions,  a sense of spiritual balance, and resolutions of long-standing emotional pain.

3. It’s Healing Medicine: The rainforest jungle is well known for its powerfully healing medicinal properties — not only in the vast array of botanical and herbal remedies that can be found literally outside your door-step, but also in the very energy of the place.  Each year, I am amazed by the depth and clarity of dreams and insights that are brought to me at my rainforest retreat.  Retreat participants regularly report experiences of profound visions,  a sense of spiritual balance, and resolutions of long-standing emotional pain.  I’ve facilitated many mindfulness and meditation events, but leading a meditation retreat off-grid is like discovering fire after years of learning how to live in the cold.

bridge

Rancho Margot bridge

4. It’s About You: It’s just you and the rainforest.  Whatever neurotic ways of thinking and self-delusional ways of talking that you might have held previous to your retreat, nobody here will respond nor listen to your crap.  The rainforest has a beautiful way of lovingly taking all of your shit and holding it up for you to see clearly.  Then, if you choose, you simply and effortlessly release it.  Because, after all, it’s just you and the hummingbirds and that warm embrace of the surrounding mountains – and they are all screaming the same thing: this is all about you.  It’s time.  Let it go.  

5. It’s Home: You feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore, but you’re definitely home.  This largely untouched corner of the earth reminds you of what our shared planetary home must have looked like once.  It feels a little heartbreaking, but at the same time, everywhere around you is teeming with life.  The ebb and flow and feel of every step and sound call you inward to listen for a vaguely familiar rhythm that matches this natural one: the rhythm of your own heart.  You can hear it again.  And, perhaps for the very first time in your life, you’re really and truly living from your heart.  That’s what people call a homecoming.

 

About Karen Day

Karen Day is the President of Daybreak Therapy and Training, an international network of mental health professionals offering integrative and holistic psychotherapy. As a Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counselling Hypnotherapist, Karen specializes in anxiety and trauma related issues including: panic, fears, phobias, OCD, and chronic stress. With her colleagues at Daybreak Therapy and Training, she believes strongly in the innate wisdom and healing potential of every individual, and the unique inter-connections of body, mind and spirit.

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