Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Mask First

I just recently returned home from an evolutionary trip to Costa Rica. I say evolutionary because I don't feel like it changed me. I feel like it allowed me to evolve.

It really was an extraordinary experience. I went for a women's retreat lead by the beautiful and amazing Jennifer Grace and the charming and radiant Michelle Alva. I didn't know what it would be like, only that there would be yoga and meditation daily. I went with no expectations, only with hopes of coming back a new woman. I knew exactly what I wanted out of it. I wanted the empowering feeling of being comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to come back glowing. I wanted to walk with my head held high and with full confidence in my creativity. I wanted to come back knowing and believing that I was capable of creating anything I want to experience.

Those were my intentions. To feel unafraid to express who I really am, and to do it without an ounce of doubt in my being.

Jumping for Joy at the Poas Volcano
Well, I did... but I sure learned a lot in the process.

You see, this was the first time that I travelled abroad by myself. I arrived in Costa Rica a few days before the retreat, and was able to do many of the fun and adventurous things there is to do in Costa Rica; from taking on the white water rapids of the Pacuare River, to surrendering to the power of the giant waves of the Pacific Ocean, to relaxing and rejuvenating in the natural hot springs, and admiring and the sight of a real life active volcano! I did this of course as a tourist, but also as a human being experiencing life and sharing life with other human beings whom I had never met before. I enjoyed meeting people and making friends.

People are such a big part of our life experience. People can be our teachers and they can be our students; we always have something to learn or something to teach. I wanted to learn as much as I could.

It's amusing how life works. It's like it already knows the lessons you need to learn, and it puts people in your path that can teach you.

One of the most interesting people I met in Costa Rica was a healer at the Pura Vida yoga retreat and spa where I stayed with the rest of the lovely ladies in my group. He is a warm and tender guy named Tim. He is originally from Australia, but has lived and travelled all around the world. He wants nothing more than to help people. He is the type of person whose heart can be seen and felt by those he is around.

Among other things, Tim is a Shamanic Sound Healer, and I was lucky enough to have been treated by him for a 90 minute session of gong, drums and energetic ceremony that allowed me to release some emotion and have a renewed sense of wellbeing and lightness. I had the opportunity to speak with him over lunch one day at the retreat, and this conversation gave me better understanding of what it means to "put your own mask on first". You can't help others until you have helped yourself.

Tim left his hometown of Melbourne at the age of 21 to New York and studied "self psychology" at the Option Institute. He knew he had to help himself first. He studied modalities for his own inner healing work, self-knowledge, and consciousness. He then went on to study massage in Thailand and continued his journey in healing arts in places like India, Mexico and Guatemala before ending up in Costa Rica, where he initially went as a tourist at the age of 23. A month into his trip he found the yoga retreat and was able to get work there because of his ability to lead a drum circle. He had been in bands as a teenager. He loves music. He had also been exposed to yoga very early in life by his mother, and had been practicing yoga since the age of 8. He created his own style of yoga called Shaman's Heart Yoga. He has been in Costa Rica 11 years now, and his goal is to teach people and get them certified to teach his yoga style in Costa Rica and the U.S. He is now traveling the US by car realizing his dreams.

I realized while speaking with Tim that as much as we all might want to help others, we really need to help ourselves first. He certainly did that. He freed himself of whatever it was that held him back. He left his home country to find himself. He found compassion for himself and now has compassion for others. He has set himself free in doing this. This was so inspiring!

Tim says that the world is full of infinite possibilities. I believe him. He says to follow your heart, and I am doing that.

I am more motivated than ever to help myself, to put myself on a pedestal for once. I'm inspired to love myself as much as I love the world around me. To devote more time and attention to my own well-being. After all, how can I change the world, if I can't even change myself?

We all find encouragement and influence in others. Who have you met that has changed your life or your philosophy on life? Who has crossed your path and illuminated your way? What have you learned from those you have encountered? Who will you meet next and what will they teach you?

This is something we can always have an open mind about. Instead of judging each other and resisting each other, let's open our hearts and our minds to our fellow human beings that share this wonderful home we call Earth. Allow the messages to be heard by your heart, not just your ears, and don't let them stay with you. Share them.

Happy trails my friends, happy trails.


  1. LOVE!!! Thank you for sharing so I can live through the experience again!

    1. Thank you for reading Jen, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

  2. Beautifully written! It was such a pleasure meeting you !

    1. Likewise Michelle! You are such an inspiration!

  3. Love love love Tim !
    He is a pure open person , who
    only wants the best for the
    people he helps!
    thanks for posting this --
    sounds like you got Pura Vida'ed

    1. Hi Joy! I sure did! It really was such a pleasure to be around Tim. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and I welcome you to continue reading as I continue sharing inspiring stories from around the world!

  4. So inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. Real inspirational stories about real people makes it so relatable. How do I become a follower? :-)

    1. hehehe click where it says "join this site" but stay tuned for a new and improved name and website :)

      Thanks for reading!