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Exploring Somatic Healing in the Heart of Costa Rica's Jungle

Setting Foot in the Jungle: Dive into the transformative realm of somatic experiencing through my recent journey to Costa Rica. In this post, I'll share practical insights gained during my nine-day retreat in the vibrant jungle, where encounters with wildlife, daily somatic sessions, and exhilarating adventures converged to shape a profound personal and professional path forward.

My journey actually started a year before when I signed up for this retreat hoping to spend uninterrupted time healing my own wounds. As a therapist and a parent, I focus much of my energy outwards often yearning to direct more energy on my own healing journey. Taking the advice I usually give my clients and friends: to prioritize my own wellbeing was challenging, and in the end, incredibly rewarding. I saved up for a year, organized my life enough to travel out of the country, and took off on a healing adventure of a lifetime.

Costa Rica has been top on my list of travel destinations since I was in middle school and adopted a frog whose native habitat was the jungle of Costa Rica. I've always been drawn by lush wilderness and tropic climates. I got a full dose of both on this trip. The average daily temperature was 85 with (what felt like) 100% humidity. We experienced a few torrential rainstorms; no joke, when it rains there, it dumps water! When I was invited to practice with Peter Levine and his master somatic practitioners in the heart of the Costa Rican jungle I had to jump on it.

Encounters with Wildlife: Beyond a doubt, the best part of this experience was living deep in the Costa Rican jungle where I encountered tons of diverse wildlife. Countless times, just walking from my geodome (shared room) to the meeting areas I would stop mid-step in awe of the raw, natural beauty all around me. Dangling vines, enormous green leaves, equally enormous insects on those leaves, singing birds, bubbling streams, waterfalls...

I learned pretty quickly that you MUST look down before you look up in the jungle. I was eaten alive by swarms of ants until I learned that lesson. It's dangerous to be distracted by the beauty of the jungle- you must get grounded first! A useful lesson I've internalized since returning from the jungle- wellness starts with grounding.

Eating lunch in the open-air dining space, we were greeted by the resident sloth leisurely traversing the canopy. My friend Brian got the best pictures! Later that day, we had exciting encounters by enthusiastic, white-faced monkeys jumping, swinging and screaming in the trees. These noises and movements punctuated our somatic sessions with extra life energy. Each encounter felt like the jungle calling out to connect, teaching us that, in fact, we are actually all interconnected.

Journey into Somatic Experiencing: The heart of my journey was daily immersion into somatic experiencing, a holistic approach to healing that integrates body, mind, and spirit. Through one-on-one sessions and group workshops, I came closer into contact with myself and others. Somatic experiencing is an in-the-moment, present experiencing of past and present in ways that brings about transformative insights and growth. I was able to contact memories and buried emotions that fostered a deeper connection to my inner self. Also, I learned skills to remain grounded with myself while also authentically connecting with others.

The reward was living with more vibrancy and life energy. I became more light, playful, and bubbly in an authentic and really enjoyable way. I found myself spontaneously dancing to music or following through on subtle impulses to explore, share and enjoy the environment. I started waking up earlier, exercising, practicing yoga and swimming every morning. I was living in alignment for the first time in a long time and it was amazing!

Thrilling Adventures: After the retreat, I spent two days exploring a nearby town and went ziplining (when in Costa Rica). This exhilarating adventure was truly unforgettable. The people of Costa Rica live up to their friendly reputation. They really do live my their country's motto: Pura Vida. Unlike the restrained zip lines in the US, here in the heart of the jungle, we soared through the treetops with an unparalleled sense of freedom. The highlight? Flying upside down, feeling the rush of adrenaline as we defied gravity amidst the lush canopy and spotting another sloth! It was a thrilling reminder of the joy of living life fully and embracing new experiences beyond our comfort zones.

Embracing Transformation: As my time in Costa Rica drew to a close, I found myself

profoundly changed by the experiences and connections forged in the jungle. Inspired by this journey, I have committed to furthering my expertise through the three-year Somatic Experiencing Practitioner program, eager to integrate these learnings into my therapeutic practice. This practical step forward reflects a deeper commitment to facilitating healing and growth for both myself and my clients.

Closing Thoughts: Costa Rica's jungle offered more than just a backdrop for adventure; it provided a fertile ground for personal and professional growth. Through encounters with wildlife, immersion in somatic experiencing, and thrilling adventures like zip lining, I have emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Join me as we explore the practical applications of somatic healing, rooted in the wisdom of nature and the depths of human experience.

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