My final preparations for the 2023 YTT with Keepers of the Earth are underway. Part of that included me taking time offline and away from all "work-related" activities. I signed off and sent my last messages a week ago, thinking I'd be away from all technology up until today when my assistants arrive.
My plan was to go far up into the mountains to a very lonely and cold place that I became acquainted with, back in July.
A mentor and friend of mine owns a massive chunk of mountain here at the end of the road in the Chirripo area of Costa Rica. Him and his partner have been stewarding land here for the past 25 years. Their homestead is the cross between a hermitage and very humble retreat center: a place that has become very special to me over the past 1.5 years that I've been making the steady pilgrimage to this sanctuary.
I will not reveal more details of their property as it is their wish to remain under the radar and somewhat hidden from the public's eye -- which I totally understand and respect. They are truly guardian angels of the sacredness of our Earth and I have much to learn from them. I'm grateful to know these people.
As fortunate would have it, there is a tiny little cabin at 6200 feet up on their land, built solely for the purpose of solitude and practice. Not a cozy place, not even a comfortable place. A bare bones wooden A-frame on the ridge overlooking the majesty of the Costa Rican mountains.
Further fortune would bless me with the opportunity to invest time in this cabin. Not to escape... For introspection, self-inquiry, deep inner exploration and good ol' fashion work.
I spent 9 days there in July when the vision for KotE first came to me and I had the insight that this mission would require a tremendous amount of shakti to bring through in a good way. So I decided to secrete myself up to the mountains and do loads of sadhana to prepare for what was ahead. I didn't even have the website or accreditation through Yoga Alliance yet... I just knew it was time to go. I'd been sitting on the egg, waiting for it hatch, for two years -- the egg of my first Yoga Teacher Training program. I knew I would be training teachers, eventually... it just took some additional pieces to fall in place, and, above all, a deep inner alignment & communion with Spirit.
Fast forward to now -- my plan was to get all my final loose ends wrapped up, take care of things at home, set the plans for my business in 2023 in motion and have my entire strategy mapped out so I could completely unplug, go up into solitude and into practice and properly prepare my energy for the 16 people who are flying from all over the world TODAY (January 13th) for our 3-week immersion beginning on Sunday January 15th.
What happened was not what was expected, but it was exactly what I needed!
Last Friday, January 6th, my departure day to go up was here. I'd packed my back, I'd had everything arranged. I spoke with my assistant about any last loose ends, I let my group know I'd be offline, I sent out my last e-mails, I packed my car, and I set out. It was the Full Moon.
On my way out, my neighbor and his Sundance buddy "sweat me out", which is the term used to describe the process of going into the dark inipi of a Temazcal to pray and prepare for a journey ahead. I went in in silence, received the prayers from the hot rocks, the steaming water and the songs, got a final good sweat in, and took the 45 minute drive up to the very end of the road to start my hike.
I arrived to the cabin out of breath, sweating from the exertion of climbing up the trail with my heavy pack. It was about mid-day on Friday January 6th.
My first step was to unpack all my goods and set up the space. The cabin is maybe 12 feet by 9 feet with a small little area with a faucet and platform to cook and clean, a ladder upstairs to the loft where a single mattress lays barren, and a small downstairs area to practice. A tiny porch overlooks the expansive view of the mountains. It is cold.
I put my sleeping back upstairs on the mattress, laid out my altar, got out my food for the week (a bag of red lentils, a bag of white rice, some salt, a jar of ghee, and some turmeric). My only treat was some rooibos tea and honey.
When I went to the sink to fill up some water and drink -- I was already thirsty from my trek up -- I noticed the water was a tiny trickle. I turned the faucet all the way and let it trickle out, filling up my water bottle slowly. Then... it stopped. No water. I looked around. I went to the back of the cabin to look if a hook-up had gone off, followed the black water hose up the hill a bit to see if I could discover the source of the problem. I noticed the black hose wandered way back up beyond the hill and further into the mountain. I thought, well, I better go follow this to see if it hooks up to a spring or something so I can get the water on -- I am thirsty!
I start walking up what seems to have been a trail at one point but now is completely overgrown. The only way I knew where I was going was that I was following the black hose creeping along, sometimes obscured in the underbrush and sometimes hanging from low branches. In Costa Rica they often have this water hoses snaking across a property for hundreds of meters to be hooked up to a spring of water emerging from the mountain. I was determined to find a solution to my water-less cabin.
An hour of trekking later and nearly slipping down several times, covered in bug bites and a few nicks and cuts, I was forced to turn back. I had reached an impasse -- the trail had all but disappeared and the hose vanished above a ridge. I was water-less.
So I decided then and there I'd just stay in the cabin until Monday without water or food and make the most of my experience. After all, my intention was to purify and open my channels to be completely open and ready for my YTT. I've heard "dry fasting" is a very effective form of fasting for inner purification, I've even done several day-long dry fasts, but I've never done longer one longer than that. I wondered how it would impact my severe schedule of sadhana. I was a bit apprehensive but I was determined.
There's much I could say about this experience but all I can say for now is that I got what I needed. It was freakin' challenging. Waking up thirsty every day... dealing with an elevated heart rate and a shakiness that wouldn't go away... sleeping very little... all I could do was pray and ask for support to get through it. And somehow I managed to do exactly that -- get through it!
Monday morning after my practices I made my departure, literally kissing the floor before I left. I'd made it and the cabin had held me.
My neighbor "sweated me in" when I got back. My first drink of water was in the darkness of his inipi. I'd never prayer so much over a glass of water before. I drank half a large cup with such relish and gratitude. I could feel the water reaching the deepest corners of my body. I could feel myself being re-programmed. The dry-fast had really "wrung me out" and cleared some deep-seated toxins in my body that I don't think could have come out any other way.
The sweat was excruciating. If you're wondering if you can sweat after 4 days of no water, its true, you can. I don't know how. I also peed 5 or 6 times in those 4 days -- with zero to drink. The body was cleaning itself out on such a deep level.
But when I made it out of the sweat and got back to my house to have my first juice, I was feeling absolutely reborn.
Clear. Ready. Totally prepared for the training ahead.
And here I am writing this just to document this before I forget. I wasn't going to write about it but it might be nice to have it on my website for future reference. These initiations help not only us but others who feel inspired to take the leap.
The path requires courage and determination -- this is no surprise to anyone. Spirit demands of us the greatness that is dormant and when we rise up to meet those inner calls, there is a reward beyond worldly pleasure. I simply don't know how else to say it. It's not like I wanted to not eat or drink for 4 days. But my soul knew what it needed to grow and I've learned to listen to it's messages.
This is why I do what I do. I know there are others out there who won't settle for normal or ordinary. That's who I want to work with. The determined ones. The courageous ones.
If that's you, you're in the right place.