The Elements of Finding Yourself: It’s Not the Place, It’s Creating Space

The Elements of Finding Yourself: It’s Not the Place, It’s Creating Space

Last year, I quit my office job, boyfriend, and Netflix subscription to try to find myself in the jungles of Costa Rica. I didn’t know why I was going, I just felt like I needed to go. It was your typical, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, I better drop everything, get on a plane, and figure this shit out.

One month turned to six months of hiking volcanoes, 10 days of silence, swimming in my underwear, and enjoying many sunsets with stray dogs. Although it was nothing short of magical, it became clear early on that what I needed to find myself wasn’t found in the place.

It was found in giving myself space.

Space to explore and act on my curiosity.

Space to be a bit primal and uncensored.

Space to quiet my thoughts.

Just a space to be.

Costa Rica’s nature was the place I chose to help me find this space within myself, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be your yoga class, your backyard, or the nearest forest you can find. Whatever you choose to do, here are the three elements that are fundamental to creating space and finding yourself through your adventure of choice.

1. Decide to Do It Alone

There’s power in going at it alone and not because there won’t be someone there to influence your decisions, but because the decision itself to adventure alone allows you to recognize and honor your power.  When I first moved to California, I looked out into the ocean to see, in the distance, several specs of the landmass. I wanted to see what was on the other side so I asked brothers and friends if they wanted to go, camp, and explore the Channel Islands, but I always got the same answer of, “yeah maybe next month.”  I waited because I needed someone to go with me, you know, to start a fire, fend off crazy, to not get lost on a trail, etc.  But after a year of waiting, I said, screw it, I’m doing this and so I gathered everything I needed, I went, met people along the way, and had an incredible journey.  The gift of the solo journey is the power of knowing that you are everything you need to go after what you want in your life.

2. Remove Distractions

In a world where we get pinged by our phones and seek for answers from the internet, it’s really easy to lose ourselves in vast information. To create space to explore ourselves, we first need to purge our minds of the trivial stuff that keeps us from going beyond the surface of our consciousness, thus making it essential for you to go into your adventures with zero distractions from a phone or computer. For example, if you are going on a hike, leave your phone in the car or put it in airplane mode. If you are traveling for a week, don’t bring your computer. In today’s era, we are addicted to our devices and a lot of the time we use our electronics as exit doors for avoiding boredom or unpleasant feelings, preventing ourselves from discovering and processing ideas, thoughts, or emotions that come up. Removing these distractions will allow you to fully immerse your mind in the flow of the adventure.

3. Breath and Observe

Going on an adventure to find yourself can result in many enriching experiences, from to discovering new passions to moments of feeling fully connected to your inner voice.  However, adventuring can bring up disagreeable thoughts and feelings, as well. This is normal and is part of the process of releasing what no longer serves you. Two weeks into my sabbatical, when I was climbing the mountains of Lake Arenal, the scenery was beautiful, but my mind was racing with thoughts—thoughts of missing home and all the things I left behind. I breathed and let myself sit with the feelings of missing and longing. The process was nothing short of painful, but when I walked down to the other side of the mountain something had shifted inside me—a lightness and contentment for what lies ahead. On your adventure, just observe yourself and your surroundings, be present with what comes up, let your self become it, and go on to let yourself become something else.

A lot of times we travel miles, crossing seas and mountains to find what already exists inside of us—this space. A space that exists between our Self and the world, an inward sky that fosters strength,  clarity, and calm. While adventures to exotic locations have an uncanny ability to unleash this part of you, it’s important to know that, wherever you are, this space exists inside, making the journey to find yourself never far away.

Top Places to Find Yourself in Costa Rica

Top Places to Find Yourself in Costa Rica

The process of finding yourself is also a process of expanding yourself, which means: getting outside your comfort zone. The types of discomfort may vary—you may process uncomfortable thoughts & feelings or you might be challenging your body physically. Whatever it may be, if you are dedicated to expanding your self it will be helpful to do it in place and with people that help guide you through the process. These are the top communities and retreat centers I recommend to find yourself.

1. Pachamama 

Pachamama is a sanctuary for the soul. From its yoga, vegetarian food, and daily meditations, this place makes it easy for your inward self to feel right where it needs to be. Pachamama host various workshops and retreats that help you dive deep: silence retreats, ayahuasca, body cleanses, breathwork, and vipassana. If you are looking for a place to totally detach from civilization, get out of your comfort zone, and do some deep healing than this is the place for you. 

2.  Cashew Hill 

Cashew Hill will welcome you like a long-lost family. A place to relax and remember the good life, Cashew Hill’s location in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo allows you to join a yoga retreat or teacher’s training, as well as, go out on the town, snorkel, surf, and hike in the national forest. This is a good option if you would like to have the relaxation of yoga retreat but also want the opportunity to be in town and not too far from other activities. 

3. Soma Divine Healing 

Soma is a healer, reiki master, and teacher who is exceptional at his craft. You can visit Soma to do therapy sessions or join in on his 7-day Master Healer Training where you will learn how to do Reiki healing, as well as relax and heal yourself in paradise. If you are looking to learn about energetic healing and want to have a more one-on-one healing journey than this is the place to go. 

4. Yoga Farm 

Yoga Farm is a yoga center, community, and sustainable living project opened from January to June every year. Located in the southern Pacific near Osa Peninsula, it is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Its less touristy location, allows you to really settle into the alternative living lifestyle, do yoga every day, go to remote beaches, and connect with yourself and the surrounding habitat.

5. Punta Mona

Punta Mona is an off the grid community dedicated to botanical regeneration and permaculture. Curated by the Co-founders of Envision Festival (kinda like the burning man of the jungle), you are sure to find some spunk in the way of coming to yourself. Punta Mona is situated on the Caribbean and sits between two ecosystems—the coast and the rainforest lending itself to a diverse habitat and a variety of activities. At Punta Mona, you can participate permaculture workshops, yoga training, and medicinal plant workshops. This is the place for you if you have a calling for plants!

6. Orpheus B Retreat

This retreat, designed to create a deeper connection with the self, happens twice and year, in January and in April. Daily activities include meditation, tai chi, 3 raw food meals, and an evening ceremony, as well as treatments in acupuncture, reiki, and energy channel message. This option is for you if you are interested in experiencing a wide variety of healing modalities but only have a week for your adventure. 

 

Ultimate Female Packing List Central America

Ultimate Female Packing List Central America

You’ve got your ticket to somewhere in Central America and in a few weeks you are about to depart for some exploration. During your adventure, you want to focus on your adventure and not on your stuff!  This means that carrying heavy luggage, deciding on what you want to wear, or bandaging your feet from those cute but incompatible shoes are all things you want to avoid. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that every single item in your backpack has been vetted for comfort, lightweight, functionality, water resistance, and love —whoa love?  Yes, love. Let’s be honest, if you don’t love the things you bring with you your chances of carrying them through rain and storm, through mountains and ocean is pretty much zero. Loving your things will also help you not forget them when you have to scramble for a 6:00 a.m. bus ride. 

This packing list contains a list of suggested items that I’ve personally vetted for comfort, lightweight, functionality, water resistance,  and, of course, love.

Clothes

Central America, 95% of the time, it is moist and hot! So you want to bring clothes that dry quickly and try to avoid clothing that retains moisture (jean fabric, cotton, etc). However, sometimes you may head to the mountains where the air is a bit crisp and, on this occasion, you may want a long sleeve or pullover. 

  • 1 Swimsuit—Would need to be useful for water sports
  • 2 Sports Bras
  • 1 Real Bra—You probably forget to wear this. Lol. 
  • 1 Jean Short
  • 2 casual tops
  • 2 athletic tops
  • 2 athletic pants/shorts
  • 1 Photoshoot dress—You are visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world so find time to work it!
  • 1 Sarong—A Sarong can be used as a beach blanket, a towel, and a dress. You’ll definitely want to bring one!
  • 1 Party Skirt—A cute skirt that could go with your casual top. 
  • 1 light sporty pullover 
  • 3 pairs of wool socks—Even though it sounds hot, wool is the best to bring because it breathes easily and absorbs moisture from your feet to keep them dry. Plus, wool resists odors!
  • 7 quick dry underwear
Electronics
  • Computer—Only carry if you work, of course! Otherwise, you can leave at home.
  • Phone
  • Waterproof Case—This is for rain, I do not recommend dunking your phone in water even with a “waterproof” case. Many people leave Central America without a working phone. 
  • 2 phone chargers in case you lose one
  •  E-reader to download your favorite books
  • Waterproof Watch
  • Go Pro—So your phone doesn’t have to get close to water!
  • UBL for ambiance music to play your tunes
Accessories
  • Bottle Opener—To open that wine bottle or beer on the beach. 
  • Head Lamp—You will need this to get around at night. Don’t buy a light with less than 200 lumens light emission.
  • Small Flashlight—It’s helpful to have a second flashlight. 
  • A Lock—To lock your hostel locker.
  • Sharp Pocket Knife –This was my go-to knife for cooking, cutting fruits off trees, and a weapon to attack potential danger (though that never happened lol).
Shoes

First and foremost, you want to bring shoes that are tried and proven—there’s nothing worse than breaking in a shoe on the trail. Secondly, you will be doing a lot of walking on gravel and hiking through waterfalls so the ideal shoe will be fitted for adventure, lightweight, and will dry quickly. Thus, I do not recommend hiking boots as they are clunky and do not dry quickly.

  • Water/Hiking Sandal—I recommend these Classic Chacos
  • Flip Flops for showers
  • Cute Sandal (optional for going out on the town)
  • Running Shoes with good grip (Great option for hiking if you prefer closed toe, but tend to take a longer time to dry)
Bags

I strongly recommend not bringing a suitcase. The reason for this is that you will be in many situations where you are going to be walking on a dirt road or loading your stuff on a ferry—you want to be able to carry your own weight with a backpack. 

  • Osprey Backpack AG 65 —The anti-gravity feature on this backpack makes 50lbs of stuff feel like a feather!
  • Osprey Day Pack—This will be important for carrying items you want accessible such as snacks and electronics.  
  • Travel Money Belt—For going out and not losing your shit.
  • Tote Bag—To carry your phone, towel, and phone when you go to the beach. My Longchamp works well for this as it both waterproof and cute, as well as zips to provide more security. 
Toiletries

I prefer to have two bags that contain my toiletry items.  One that I have easy access to and contains everything I need to get ready in the morning and go to bed at night. The second bag is to carry refills, makeup, and items used periodically.

  • Toiletry Bag—I like this one because it neatly organizes things and can be hung the door. 
  • Toothbrush
  • Small hairbrush
  • Diva Cup–So you don’t waste space with tampons and pads!
  • Leak-proof Containers—For shampoo & conditioner 
  • Quick Dry Towels—Long one for the body and small for the face.
  • Deodorant 
  • Face Sunscreen
  • Lotion
  • Contact Solution
  • Makeup Remover
  • Shaver-Get one with a bikini trimmer… you’ll thank me later!
  • Soap ContainerContainer—I don’t like the clunkiness of soap boxes so I use a retainer box to hold soap.
  • Makeup—You will hardly use this so bring minimally!
  • Nail Kit
  • Camp Suds—Great to have if you ever need to wash clothes by hand. 
  • Natural Perfume—When things get stinky! 
  • Bar Soap—I cut mine in pieces so they fit in my box.
  • Razor replacements 
Health & Safety Gear

The most common ailments when traveling through Central America is dengue, food poisoning, and bacterial infections. Nothing too crazy and you are not going to die. However, it is good to be prepared and bring items to keep your immune system strong. 


Camping Gear

Whether it’s a backpacker hostel or a national park, there are a lot of opportunities to camp, which I recommend in the dry season. If you have light and comfortable gear, it could be a great way to get a front-row view of nature, as well as, save some money. 

  • Small Tent—This tent is sturdy, will weather the rain, and only weighs 1.15 pounds! 
  • Sleeping pad—For good nights rest, I recommend this pad.
  • Sleeping Sleeve—If you are sleeping on a couch or a hostel bed doesn’t look so clean this is nice to have.
Wet Season Extras

If you are traveling anytime from Mid April to November, you will want to bring tools to protect you from two elements: rain and mosquitoes. If you are not traveling during that time, don’t bring these things, they will be extra weight.

  • 1 long pant—breathable and loose pants will save your legs from mosquitos
  • Umbrella
  • Small Rain Boots—Not completely necessary, but if you are staying for an extended period of time, these will keep your feet clean and comfortable. 
  • Rain Jacket
  • Bug Repellent for Clothes—This is necessary to keep mosquitoes from biting you through your clothes, which you can spray on before departure.
  • Petroleum Jelly—To repel moisture from feet

Solo Travel for Women: Why Discover Yourself in Costa Rica?

Solo Travel for Women: Why Discover Yourself in Costa Rica?

Unlike the outward self, the inward self is very sensitive to the world and bringing her out of her shell can sometimes require a complete change in place. I believe Costa Rica is the best place to do this— it’s healthy vibes, lack of rules, abundant nature, safety, and endless adventure makes it an oasis for the inward self to thrive. Here are my top five reasons why you should ditch whatever you are doing and come find yourself in Costa Rica. 

Lack of Rules & Enforcement

My inner jungle likes to be free and wild so rules really aren’t her thang. And this makes life in Costa Rica a forever spontaneous interlude that is full of possibilities. Do you want to take the 9 dogs that are following you to the beach? Done. The popo isn’t  going to make you put them on leashes. Eww…leashes. You want to get a 6-pack of beer and watch the sunset on the beach? Done. The popo will drink one with you! Want to make bread and sell it at the farmers market? Health & Safety isn’t going to stop you. Your inner voice relishes in a world where innate ideas aren’t hampered by regulatory garbage, allowing you to expand whatever comes to mind.

Healthy Vibes

Believe it not, your inner jungle likes to be one healthy girl. Yeah, the occasional drink or two gives her the liquid courage to bust moves on the dance floor and feel alive for the first time in months since taking that boring office job. However, continual loud music and lights, hangovers, late-night pizzas, and sleep deprivation are more than enough to make her retreat into a deep dark place, unretrievable to the world without the help of a therapist. Costa Rica is rupturing this habit because everyone there is serious about their surf…stay with me for a moment.  When you surf, you have to be in tune with rising sun, the tide, and the energetic force of the universe. You can’t be staying out late, getting drunk, and then waking at 5:00 a.m. to align your board with a Tsunami—it just doesn’t work. The culture in Costa Rica is to be in sync with the natural rhythms of the earth and this extends into to every aspect of life there—your food, water, sleep, nature, and relationships. Everyone and their crab is on the same page, and this is a synergy that invites you to become the most healthy version of yourself. 

Nature Lives with You 

Once I was dining at a restaurant in on the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, where the restaurant had a giant tree in the center of it. The waiter ran over to our table and told us to look into the tree. Through the tree’s corridor, incoming into the restaurant, was a momma sloth and her baby sloth, curiously and courageously becoming the lives of the party. Unlike most western nations, these spontaneous interactions with wildlife in Costa Rica are far from rare. With 25% of Costa Rica’s landmass being protected areas, it is home to some of the most diverse populations of plants and species on the planet. And integrating ourselves into their home is what Costa Rican culture is all about. The love of nature in Costa Rica transcends every aspect of your experience from the clean and fresh rivers that flow through Arenal to the protected beaches of Tortuguero where turtles come to lay their eggs at sunset. Every day in Costa Rica is an opportunity to celebrate with the diverse and spontaneous characters that surround you. Just don’t be let them fool you into thinking you’ve been transported to another planet. 

Safety

Doing things on your own, (nature walks, hiking, etc) is an important part of removing yourself from the outside world to let the inner voice come out and you want to feel safe as you do this. As a woman who’s traveled to many countries, I’ve never felt quite as safe as I do in Costa Rica. In my eight months of traveling through the country, I’ve stayed in the homes of people I met on the bus, partied in hostels, walked around towns at night, etc., and not once have I been robbed or harassed. Of course, there were men that would catcall and blow kisses, and while this was embarrassing, most people in Costa Rica see this as flattery and rarely is it an indication of a threat. Like anywhere you go traveling, you want to be mindful of your surroundings and keep your personal belongings (iPhone, passport, money) near you, especially in areas that are more touristic. Every town will be different in terms of the level of safety and you will want to ask an expat or local of the “do’s and don’t” in the town. I wouldn’t do anything they wouldn’t do, which in some towns will be to not walk on the beach at night. I would try doing things they believe are safe to do, for example in the town of Santa Teresa it is very safe and common to hitchhike. Not only will you get a free ride, but you’ll meet some amazing people as well. Known as the Switzerland of the Americas, there is a strong mix of expats and locals and you’ll find that they are genuinely kind and honest people willing to help. Being a very safe country, Costa Rica is a beautiful introduction to the Americas, allowing you to go beyond in jungle with the confidence that the culture and people really do have your best interest at heart. 

Adventure

There’s nothing that makes your inner crazy say Hallelujah more than an adventure! Do I even have to explain this one? Your inner jungle is a thirsty girl for the thrill. It’s like that feeling when you’re riding your bike, and you see the green light turning to yellow and you are like hell no! So you clench your handlebars and thrust yourself full speed into a red light, causing all traffic to seize, momentarily, as a sweaty flower child warps through, screaming “Hallelujah, I’m alive!” Yeah, Costa Rica is this feeling all time but with much cooler stuff like jumping off waterfalls, snorkeling amongst the stinging coral, flipping your raft on white waters, and catching a two-foot tuna. The cool thing about Costa Rica is that its varying geography, but small country, and cheap bus tickets, allow you to easily climb a volcano at Arenal one day and then white water raft yourself to the Caribbean for snorkel the next day. Costa Rica has all the adventure you need to engage the wild in you.