I’ve been back from Costa Rica for about a week and I am still Feeling Good. Hands down, without comparison, the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica was one of the best weeks of my life. Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember. We remember, that our essence is Wise, Wild and Free. We reclaim our bodies as the pathway to spirit and enjoy expressing ourselves as embodied soul. Seeing over 30 women take the journey into themselves through their body and emerge with bright sparkling eyes, strong toned bodies and ecstatically expressive hearts was an honor to witness.
Qoya is about turning up the volume of each woman's inner wisdom, of her creative spark and of her desire- first through her body, then in her life. In Qoya, we focus less and less and less on how “it looks” and more and more and more on how it feels. When it feels good is when you’re doing it right. This is a shift from being previously dependent upon external validation and transitioning into a place where you trust your body as a guide and not only approve of it’s messages and desires, but you listen to and follow them!
Once you truly know the messages of your body- once you truly trust the messages she gives you in the form of your intuition, your instinct, your gut feelings, your zing- then you can fly. You can rely on your own sensation as your compass. I think I may have quoted Shakira on this blog before, but here it is again, “Your hips don’t lie.” Neither does your heart, your yoni, your gut or your full body zing. However, be wary of the monkey mind that loves to loop you around. If the mind starts to sound like a used car salesman trying to sell you something, that is probably your ego trying to recruit you for team fear. If your inner voice's guidance feels expansive and timeless and bold, that is probably the voice of your inner wisdom.
I want to share with you a couple of profound moments where I followed the zing in my body and the consequences of doing so. These are times where it made no rational sense to make the decision I did, but I just did it anyway. I took bold action in the direction of my desires because I felt a strong hit of intuition. It started with a deal I made with myself around 12 years ago where I decided that I believed that the universe would always support me in the pursuit of my true heart's desire. Therefore, all I had to do was figure out what that heart’s desire was and leap in that direction. Before you read these stories, imagine what it would be like in your own life or what it would be like if we all believed the world is conspiring on our behalf. What if we all believed that whenever we step out of our comfort zone and stretch in the direction of our biggest dreams that we are sacredly supported? It could be fun.
I hope as you read these stories your awareness of the ways you are supported and the remembering of the courage you have already modeled in your life arises. What I really hope is that those dreams that have been a soft whisper start increasing in volume and begin to howl like a wolf for it’s pack.
Once upon a time, I had a feeling that enrolling in Shaman School at the Four Winds Society was my next step. Please note, this did not make logical sense to use all my savings to travel around the country and then to Peru for 6 months studying energy medicine. However, I felt the zing in my body and I am devoted to answering the call when it arises, so...off I went.
After a passionate study of the divine feminine for many years, I found myself in tears in my first introduction to shamanism. This was an unbroken lineage of energy healing for thousands of years all in service to the divine feminine. The divine feminine being mother earth. Many of the metaphors of healing are done through connection with nature as a way to connect with spirit. One of my most powerful overlaps of the divine feminine and shamanism was during a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain Salkantay (pictured to the left) outside of Cusco. All of the mountains around Cusco ground a particular energy and this mountain was said to hold the energy of the "Undomesticated Feminine." Shamans (of the Andes) believe that when you die your body goes back to the earth from which you came, your spirit goes to the heavens, but all the knowledge you acquired goes to the mountaintops. Many medicine men and women will hike to the tops of mountains and meditate to access insight to their questions. We hiked 16,000 feet over 5 days, took breaks to be in awe at the wild avalanches and at the top of that mountain is where I received the clarity of my message for Qoya: that our nature is wise, wild AND free. It was there that I saw that Qoya is an opportunity to express and embody the full range of woman as kind and wise, nurturing and soulful, sensual and erotic, fierce and protective and wildly wildly creative. All of us.
After hiking Salkantay, I went into the heart of the Amazon jungle to study with the Shamans there and here begins a beautiful synchronistic tale.
1- I meet the co-founder of Omega, Stephan Rechtschaffen, but I didn’t know he was the founder of Omega. I just knew him because he came to my yoga class, we chatted a little and then went our separate ways.
2- Two weeks later, my inner voice demanded, “Go to Omega this weekend! Go to Omega this weekend!” “Ok, ok! I’ll go!” I conceded. I arrive and the first person I see is Stephan. I am amazed at the coincidence of meeting him in Peru and then running into him a couple of weeks later at Omega. He mentions it’s not such a big coincidence because he founded Omega and is there quite often. Ha! I express my gratitude for him co-founding one of my favorite havens on the east coast, a center devoted to the evolution of consciousness and bringing like minded people and teachers from all over the world together. He mentions he also started a place in Costa Rica called Blue Spirit and that he runs groups there too. I shared with him my vision for Qoya as a way to evolve how women relate to their bodies and feel their spirituality by embodying the feminine. Later in the conversation, I voiced my desire to bring women on retreat to Costa Rica. He said, “Let’s put you on the calendar.” This was the beginning of a dream coming true. The picture to the right is one of the gorgeous women on this last Qoya retreat fully embodying her wise, wild and free self dancing on the beach. Nice.
3- During my first retreat in Costa Rica last December, guess who stayed in the room next to me? Alberto Villoldo! Alberto is the founder of the Shaman School I attended, The Four Winds. He was vacationing with his gorgeous wife and teacher Marcela Lobos, who led the trip I went on in Peru a couple months earlier. Can you believe it? I invited Marcela to be a guest at my Qoya class one morning. She came and she loved it and then invited me to teach Qoya at her next Women’s Altar retreat in Utah in April 2011. I love how this story keeps intertwining and unfolding.
4- I had the most amazing time in Utah doing my first sweat lodge and going through the rites of passage of the feminine from maiden to mother to crone, with Marcela. I loved the opportunity to learn about the feminine through the experience of being in a true circle, where each woman was honored for her voice, medicine and unique expression. It was a powerful and transformative week to be initiated through ceremony into the feminine rites of passage. Click here to see about a similar class Marcela is teaching in her native Chile this fall. I took many of the gifts of the Women's Altar into the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica. See picture below from one of our fire ceremonies at the beach where we stepped into the timeless tradition of gathering around a fire.
5- After the Women's Altar class, I took a red-eye from Utah back to New York and attended an amazing event put on by my dear friend Janine Francolini, the founder of the Flawless Foundation. The Flawless Foundation is devoted to seeing the perfection in every child, focusing on bringing more loving and compassionate care to children with mental illness. One of the speakers was Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy who spoke right to the heart of everyone in the audience. Mr. Kennedy was addressing the topic of mental illness as a civil rights issue and asking each one of us to open our hearts and minds to see the “spark of divinity” in everyone and to truly treat others as we would like to be treated, with dignity and respect.
With the 50th anniversary of his JFK’s speech, Patrick Kennedy will be launching this decade’s “Next Frontier,” as exploring the “inner space” of brain disorders –– “a moon shot to the mind.” This event is to be a catalyst for a unified, all-fronts effort like his uncle’s, President Kennedy's, space program. The moon shot to the mind program is needed to combine research, build awareness and explore neuroscience to understand and heal neurological illnesses.
I spoke with Mr. Kennedy after his speech about how moved I was with his asking everyone to wake up to see the “spark of divinity.” What I heard was an invitation not only to see the “spark of divinity” in these children with brain challenges, but I heard the call to wake up and see the spark of divinity in all of us. I asked him if he had heard of the recently published book Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment by David Perlmuetter and Alberto Villoldo. The book combines the perspectives of a medical anthropologist and shaman with a neuroscientist to come together to explain the ever emerging connections between spirituality and science in a way to heal and power up your brain. (I highly recommend this book and sent a copy of the book to Patrick Kennedy's office as a gift).
The moral of this story is like the most morals of most stories. Trust yourself. Take incredible care of yourself by clearing your mind, opening your heart and feeling good in your body so that when your intuition arises, you know yourself well enough to clearly hear and trust it. Then, take bold courageous leaps in the direction of your desires. Follow your bliss. Follow the flow. And write thank you cards to those that help you along the way.
- What synchronicities in the past have lit you up?
- How much do you call on your own intuition?
- When a synchronicity happens, do you pay extra special attention like it is a dialogue with the divine or do you write it off as a mere coincidence?
I invite you to invite in more synchronicity, more miracles, this week. Let the magic unfold!
Since my passion is in movement, here is a video to get you back into your body feeling good in your hips. Do this once a day or several times a day, but the most important thing is to do it. Through movement, we remember.
Join us on one of Qoya’s next adventures!:
- Classes in New York City at Sacred in Brooklyn Wednesdays and Sundays 7-8pm
- Launching of EmbodyQoya.com (an online Qoya studio) in May/June 2011
- Labor Day Weekend Qoya Retreat in Woodstock, NY September 2-5th, 2011 with an option to participate in a Qoya Teacher Training September 2-7th
- Qoya is going to India in October 28th- November 9th, 2011!!!
- The next Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica is officially April 21-28th, 2012 with an option to participate in Qoya teacher training.
I so look forward to dancing together,