Last November I visited Costa Rica for a yoga retreat and tacked on an extra week for myself. I couldn’t afford it, I couldn’t justify it, but I made the leap before I could talk myself out of it.
Something told me I had to.
For such a small country it is positively crammed with wildlife and vibrancy. From stunning views of the imposing Arenal Volcano shrouded in clouds, to secret waterfalls, to some of the best damn coffee and chocolate in the world.
I felt like everything happened in the precise order it was supposed to – each new moment opened me up and prepared me for the next.
I was forced to pause and breathe in what this agnostic might just call a religious experience.
I also found great importance in relishing the small wonders.
On the Caribbean coast in Playa Chiquita their connection to nature is pure. For the first time in my life I felt my constant inner fluttering slow and I dropped into the present moment.
But it was integrated pain relief therapist, Carlos Duran, I was predestined to meet. Recovering from a troubled past, Carlos uses plant therapy, meditation and a kind relationship to the earth to heal trauma. He is able to see things that make you swear he must have psychic abilities. He knows what it means to truly listen, both inwardly and out.
In the middle of the jungle with a family of howlers calling out, I bathed in tobacco smoke, oils and other mysterious concoctions as the thick dusk set around us. He released to me a clear vision of how to go forward. How to love myself. How to forgive.
Something profoundly magical happens when you connect to the world.
Taking the epic un-air conditioned public bus ride back to the city brought reality into focus. Sitting in the airport I knew this euphoria would soon be slipping away, I wanted a way to hold onto the lessons I learned from the jungle.
At home when it’s grimly cold and I feel the city has broken me down, I slather myself in coconut oil and surround myself with beautiful scents. I have tried to live more honestly. I have slowed my inner hamster wheel. I breathe. Most of all I try to love myself.
Other people do, so why can’t I?
This combination of banana and cinnamon takes me back to the morning after my first session with Carlos. I awoke to the smell of Costa Rican coffee, practised yoga by the tall trees littered with howlers and began my day with a fruit and cinnamon kissed smoothie.
Is there anything more beautiful than being handed something made with love?
When you need soothing, relish in the small delights.
GINGERBREAD BANANA SMOOTHIE
I don’t know what it is about this little concoction, but it feels like drinking a cake, in the best possible way.
Freeze up a big tray of sliced bananas and pop them in a freezer bag to use anytime. They’re great to puree with a little sweetener for a quick dairy free sorbet or add to any berry smoothie.
- 1 banana
- 1 1/2 c milk or dairy substitute
- 1 tbsp real maple syrup or honey
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Slice banana and lay flat on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze an hour or until ready to use.
Add all the ingredients to a blender and whirl until smooth.