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Fourteen women, from all over the US, traveled to San Jose where we then took a charter plane (a small Cessna, which I swore I would never do!!) to Quepos. SUVs drove us 30 minutes to the Imiloa Institute, located at the top of a mountain in the jungle.
(I was pushed to the limit with all the travel, and inevitably tossed my cookies on the ride up the mountain. Let's just say I wasn't looking forward to the journey back!)
The place we gathered when we first arrived and then for every meal-an open air space with spectacular views of the jungle. The sounds of creatures was CONSTANT. Birds, monkeys, crickets, frogs...the cacophony of life in the rainforest played day and night.
Our food was all plant based, and no alcohol on the campus. The focus would be art, connection and heightened awareness.
We spent one morning at Playa Dominical foraging for natural materials to include in our paintings. Samantha da Silva (our fearless leader) had a vision of swimming in the ocean....with our blank canvases.
So we did just that!
We swam in the ocean with our canvases wrapped around us, wrote affirming messages with whatever we foraged. And then we brought our ocean-christened paintings back to Imiloa.
Channeling the Rainforest
We were given three 24 x 48" unstretched canvases, paint, rollers, modeling paste and medium.
I spent a lot of time painting with my hands, foam rollers and "nature's paintbrushes" (sticks, leaves and even coconut shell!) The process was about embracing the process and allowing the work to unfold naturally.
Allowing a sudden rain shower on our paintings become an invitation to what might be vs. something getting "ruined" Experimenting with colors I don't usually use, adding sand, leaves, and my favorite, the charcoal remains from a bonfire nearby.
The Blue Morpho Butterflies
I had a Blue Morpho tattooed on my arm when I turned 50 in 2019. Little did I know that 2 years later I would be in the midst of these magical creatures in REAL LIFE 🦋
Friends, these blue beauties are truly magic. And they are HUGE, with a wing span anywhere from 5-8". They are truly epic.
I've been drawn to the symbolism of butterflies for awhile, but the Blue Morpho has been an inspiration for me in recent years. Butterflies in general are a powerful representation of the soul and symbolize spiritual transformation. The color blue is often thought to bring healing and the Blue Morpho butterfly specifically represents birth or rebirth, as you cycle through a new phase in your journey.
How inspiring, right?
And yet, I was worried on the first day that I wouldn't see any Blue Morphos while I was there. My retreat neighbor saw one the first day. She said it floated between our bungalows. Would I get to see one at all??
The next morning, I was writing on the back deck of my bungalow overlooking the jungle. I happened to see a blue flash out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of one!! The next morning, I was having my Costa Rican coffee on my deck, and spotted her again, this time for a few seconds. I went to practice yoga at The House of Masters (an open air platform just up the hill) And I saw another one, this time for a good 10 seconds floating through the rainforest below.
I shared my butterfly sightings the next day before one of our painting sessions. And as Samantha was talking about looking into the mirror of our canvas, using our intuition and aligning with ourselves, another Blue Morpho flew among us. We all were in awe and full of emotion. Needless to say, our paintings began to reflect each of us.
The very last night, we gathered at The House of Masters to show all our paintings and have a closing ceremony. Samantha arranged them into a mandala, and we sat in a circle looking inwards at all the beauty we created. We were given a slip of paper to write what we planned to leave behind in Costa Rica. And then we passed a bowl of fire around the circle and burned those old thoughts and habits. We truly were transformed into beautiful butterflies, each and every one of us. As Samantha told us at the very beginning, "We are all powerhouses"
The morning we were about to leave, I received a message from the owner of Imiloa. He was interested in keeping my butterfly painting to hang at the resort. He said "I was so moved when I saw it, because it was a heart, but also a Blue Morpho."
It made sense to leave this painting behind. To keep it in this space of abundance, and one day I will return to visit my Blue Morphos. 💙
“Become conscious of being conscious. Say or think “I am”, and add nothing to it. Be aware of the stillness that follows the “I am”.
Sense your presence, the naked unveiled, unclothed beingness. It is untouched by young or old, rich or poor, good or bad, or any other attributes. It is the spacious womb of all creation, all form.”
- Ramana Maharshi
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