The moment I laid eyes on the advertisement a friend had sent me, I knew I was meant to experience it. It didn’t matter how much it cost, what I had to do to get there, or whether it made any sense at all. I just had to go.
So I did.
Here is the story.
Conscious Living and Business Mastermind Retreat
And I succeeded.
The retreat lasted five action-and-delicious-food-packed days, and I learned innumerable new things each day. Every morning, we woke up to a delectable breakfast of raw superfoods created by our retreat leader BethAnne, then did Yoga/Pilates fusion with our other retreat leader Amber.
After lunch, we would joyfully devour a raw, superfood-loaded lunch and then attend a presentation with a business leader on how to become successful in the health and wellness online-business world.
The next daily agenda item was a “beach break.” Yup, at this retreat jam-packed with at least 6 hours of intense content every day, they managed to give us several hours of grounding/togetherness time at the beach. The beautiful retreat house was a 20-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride to the beach, surrounded by jungle the whole time.
We ended each retreat day with a session learning about how to make and enjoy raw foods and superfoods with Bethanne, also known as the Edible Goddess.
Now that you know the structure of the retreat, I want to share with you what I learned. Ready? Okay, here goes!
Lesson 1 – The Power Of Raw
And then I ate Bethanne’s food.
The food she served us was like rocket fuel for our bodies, minds and spirits. During the five days when I was eating two meals per day prepared by Bethanne, I felt vibrant, happy, energized, peaceful, connected, and satisfied. She packed our meals full of more superfoods than I could even shake a stick at. I hadn’t even heard of half of them, but she rattled all the food names off like she was reading the grocery list… because she was. Well, from her perspective she was.
The food was scrumptious and almost without equal. Certainly without equal with regard to raw foods I have ever had. Bethanne’s sauces were simply stunning. I’m a big fan of salad, but I can usually only eat a small amount, because of the flavor (or lack thereof) or consistently. Bethanne made raw food taste like a dream, especially this green basil sauce she made, which we all oohed and aahed over for days.
There were a few dishes that weren’t my favorite, but it was because they were heavy on an ingredient I don’t love (uncooked onion being one example) rather than a failing of hers.
One interesting lesson for me was I had to delete the word “cook” from my vocabulary during the retreat. She wasn’t “cooking” us food, since it was all raw. She was preparing it. I caught myself tripping over that difference numerous times during the retreat.
Lesson 2 – The Power Of Community
One of my fellow retreat-goers had contracted a severe case of head lice before coming to the retreat. She had thousands of nits in her beautifully long and lustrous straight hair. Her travel partner, had just a few nits in her curly hair (the nits don’t attach nearly as well to curls). I distinctly remember thinking “oh my God, what would I do if that were me? I travel alone!”
One night, I offered to help combing out the nits. It is a finicky, tedious process that must be done with extreme caution if you are to prevent reinfestation. After half an hour or so, I suddenly realized “oh, this is where the term ‘nit-picking’ comes from!” Unfortunately we were not able to get all the nits, since there were so many, but we did our best. And I learned one more reason for how important it is to have friends, companions and family in your life.
Lesson 3 – Take A Walk On The Wildlife Side
That fully destroyed our concentration on the yoga moves we were supposed to be doing. The teacher didn’t mind, though, as she had never seen a sloth this close, or this mobile before either.
Sure, I had seen sloths before. They are cute, furry-faced critters who hang out in far away in treetops, and never seem to move. I had seen sloths that were moving its their head a little bit, or munching on a leaf, but nothing like what we experienced at the retreat, directly from our yoga deck.
First we saw an adult sloth practically running (for a sloth) directly toward us via the trees. Then a mama sloth came out with a baby attached to her back and clutching for dear life. Then both mom and baby sloth started wandering around the trees, seemingly just playing.
They came within five feet of our yoga deck, and we were enchanted, snapping photo after photo of the contented sloths.
On the same yoga deck at the retreat center, a half a dozen capuchin monkeys were frolicking in the trees within 10-15 feet of the deck. They were super cute and adorable and fun to watch. Then they actually hopped onto the deck itself, practically touching us. I was surprised and a bit concerned when they came that close.
They became less adorable when they started stealing our gear, such as tennis balls and throwing a yoga mat off the deck. I was nervous they were going to get violent, because they seemed fearless and expecting of something. As it turns out, someone had been feeding them bananas on the lower deck. He came up to the yoga deck and started feeding them more bananas, then was surprised when they got angry when he stopped feeding them, because he had run out of bananas.
We got great pictures, as well as a reminder about why not to feed wild animals.
Lesson 4 – Tico Flavor
I don’t even like coconut water that much normally, but this stuff was divine ambrosia, and I had at least one every single day.
We also had opportunities to take part in the local scene, or at least the local expat scene, thanks to the Epic Self staff, who made sure we were invited and felt welcome to attend the local expat bar for their poetry night, and later their open mic night.
The biggest way the Epic Self team helped us connect with the local energy field was by scheduling a 2-hour “beach break” every day. We were using our brains intensively all day long, but because we were so close to the beach, and it is such an integral part of life here, they made sure we went down as a group to play in the water and sand every day.
The first time I went to the beach, I apparently brought all the monkeys with me. I walked up and started snapping photos immediately. No one there had seen any monkeys yet, and were feeling put out about it. However, the moment I arrived about a dozen monkeys showed up to play and hang out (and no, I didn't offer them any food).
We could continue having business discussions while hanging out down at the beach, or simply frolic in the water. Most of us alternated between serious discussions about the materials we were learning and good plain fun, diving into the crashing waves between mastermind discussions. It was a thoroughly grounding experience to step away from the intensity of new yoga/pilates practice, superfoods and business and be fully surrounded by and supported by nature every day.
Lesson 5 – To Pilates: Where Have You Been My Whole Life?
Amber’s yoga classes are mixed with pilates, though, and I connected immediately and strongly with pilates. Pilates integrates much more core balance and strength which I had been desperately needing in so many aspects of my life. Amber’s directions were easy to understand (though often hard to implement!), and within five days I noticed a significant change in my body and how I felt.
I will absolutely be keeping up a pilates practice, or at least some basic elements of it, from now on. I just stepped away from my laptop to do the “pilates 100,” which I plan to do every day from now on. I feel blessed to have found a set of such effective exercises that I can do while traveling.
Lesson 6 – Business Masterminds
We learned from numerous top-notch luminaries in the field, and they were fantastically excellent. The masterminds were definitely a highlight of the retreat for me.
In particular, James Stinson of http://fullpotential.com/ did an incredible presentation where he riffed on business and being playful and following your heart that resonated deeply with me.
One of the core messages for his talk was “it’s not serious, be playful!” He was referring to life, business, and everything in between, encouraging us to be child-like in marveling at the world around us, rather than rigid about how things “ought” to be.
James also talked about meeting your goal in life, and then serving as a helper to others. I have been clear on my purpose in life for a number of years now, and am honored to serve as a helper to others, but had always felt guilty about it, like I’d done something wrong somehow, by having it “figured out.”
Well, I definitely figured out that I was in the right place at the right time for this retreat, that’s for sure!
Lesson 7 – Can Somebody Please Pass Me A Clue?
I started the retreat with “nary a clue” about quite a few of the topics we covered. I had to ask embarrassingly basic questions over the retreat, where the rest of the participants seemed to already have a strong grasp on the content.
This was particularly true for the raw food/superfoods part of the retreat, both in the eating and the learning-about. One of the other participants was a trained raw vegan chef, and another was a raw-vegan-chef-in-training. Unfortunately, this part of the retreat was generally so far over my head that I struggled to even keep up. However, I soaked in as much as I could, and left the retreat with several basic daily action steps that were doable even while traveling.
While my brief affairs with yoga afforded me a basic understanding of a few poses and the general idea of it, I was way behind the curve there as well. In fact, more than half of the participants in the retreat were certified yoga teachers. Though I had to modify many of the poses, at least with the yoga I was able to keep up.
I loved the pilates portion of the retreat, even though it was hellishly hard. It was new to essentially everyone in the retreat, too, so it was easier to stay “afloat” with understanding.
Despite struggling through parts of the above, I was the “shining star” during the business mastermind talks. I was the only retreat participant who was successfully working online, though most of the participants had at least made forays into the online work world. Even though I have only been at it for a few months, that amount of knowledge put me at “the head of the class,” and I was able to sponge up copious amounts of new knowledge on that front.
I was touched and shocked after one of the business mastermind sessions, one of the participants turned to me and said “you’re so inspiring. I hope to be as vibrant and loving as you one day.” I said “ME?!?” She said “yeah,” and explained how she felt I was serving as an example of the kind of person she would like to be. I felt honored and happy and thankful that she shared that with me.
The exchange also provided me with some insight – the person who made the above comment to me was the raw vegan chef of the group, and whose knowledge level about nutrition had previously been intimidating to me. I realized after she shared that she was inspired by me that we’re all in this together, learning and growing and loving and sharing.
I wrote this glowing blog post about the retreat because I had such a fantastic experience there. If you do decide to go to a retreat with them (which I highly recommend!!), I would be honored if you did so through my affiliate link, so they know I sent you.
However, if you want to go to their retreat but don’t want to use the affiliate links, that’s fine with me too. Epic Self provides phenomenal, life-changing, transformative retreats, and you will be so glad you took the plunge!