“My name is Sabina, and yours?”
I instantly liked her, and not just because I was told I would. She was smartly dressed in island chic, sporting soft wrinkles on her smiling, sun-kissed face. She welcomed all of us with a gentle, articulate German accent, peculiar for the island… but fitting in a paradoxical way. Connecting with her eyes I wanted to say: you’re special (accompanied with jazz hands, clicking heels. Social propriety got the best of me).
We meandered down a long path towards the point, sipping our water in the sweltering heat, pausing to point at the colorful twisted metal sculptures that flanked our procession, much like wedding guests in tacky colors and big hats. We laughed, and quickly hushed ourselves, remembering our instructions to honor the sacred ground we walked on. Ten yogis in all, you would think we could collectively find our silent, meditative breath, but the electric of our budding friendships superseded our understanding of what we were about to experience.
The waves crashed feverishly against the deep blue canvas stretching out as far as the eye could see. A small shiver ran down my spine, noticing the parallels to my procession a few years ago up to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland: Temples on a point, crashing waves on jagged rocks, and a powerfully captivating energy that draws visitors from near and far. However, the experiences held distinct contrasts. The south point of Isla Mujeres is in ruin, crumbling under the oppressive sun, making it more open and free flowing to the organic matter that surrounds and encases it. Edinburgh castle stands heavy, manicured, and frozen after centuries as a fortress to protect Kings.
At the end of the walk we hit a series of spiraling walkways downward and under the temple dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the only female God in the Mayan tradition, it’s believed that she governs the moon, fertility, medicine, and happiness. Years ago at this southern point, where the sun rising first hits Mexico, the government found obsidian, jade, and human skulls, all assumed to be gifts to the goddess from centuries of existence. Today’s ceremony included slightly less ornate or gruesome gifts to the Goddess, as we centered on the staples of creation that make up the Mayan calendar:
White Corn/Rice: The North, representing the Summer, wisdom, air or above, the Feminine
Red Corn/Bean: The East, representing dawn, Spring, fire, new beginnings
Blue or Black Corn/Bean: The West, representing the Fall, sunset and the end or the past
Yellow Corn: The South, representing Winter, the water, abundance, below and masculine
Sabina instructed us to pick up a few pieces of each power. She shrugged, “whatever you need to let go of, you know, or need more of.” I dodged a curious iguana — seeking to surreptitiously swipe the apple propping up our incense — and reached down for to pluck a few seeds from the sandy circle. We were instructed to find our quiet spot to Meditate by the sea, and then join her for a personal cleansing ceremony before throwing our seeds into the water.
Meditation: Let’s get real for a second. Even for those of us who practice meditation regularly, it’s not always easy to sit quietly, let trash bags, broken bottles, and baby diapers from the landfill of your psyche float to the surface. As yogi Alba says, “this shit is hard.” From my peaceful little perch, I started to settle on watching a few turtles in mating season go at it in the crashing waves…
Two years ago, almost to the day, I went on a breakup trip to Belize (just south of where I am on Isla) with one of my favorite people in the world. I spent two years with Alex and at the end of our relationship, we both decided we had enough love for one last hurrah and kept our trip to Belize. The trip was a gift to ourselves for being open to feel the love we had, and hell, we had the tickets paid for. Several of my friends and family thought I’d lost my damn mind: You’re BROKEN UP. “Yes, and we fly out on Thursday!”
In Belize with Alex, our intellectual connection and curiously flared. We booked all the excursions into the Mayan caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal, up to the temples of Caracol, and laughed at night over cervesa as we compared notes on the conflicting folklore. We discussed the deforestation and destruction that transpired from burning trees to produce paste to paint/adorn the large Mayan temples. In a hazy buzz, sticky with humidity, I contemplated the pain a whole civilization felt as they retreated into the caves, begging for rain and mercy from the gods that had surely forgotten them. The Mayans followed their Kings orders out of real desperation, and sacrificed everything. In doing so, the Mayan people separated further and further from the earth they had forsaken. The rain stopped. The forests died.
Ok, so you’re thinking: this isn’t meditation, this is a stroll down memory lane and a history lesson, Amy Lynn. Hang in there…
All the feelings from Belize bubbled up, and I started to feel the pain from the last couple years of my life. The pain and desperation from separating from some deep seeded force that propels me forward. All the small ways I followed orders on what is or was appropriate because I was terrified the rain might never return and the forests might never produce again.
Signaled to return to the ceremony, I waited my turn and met Sabina on a platform at the point. She waved sea water and flowers over my body, right as a storm rolled in and started to sprinkle my body with rain. “Rain anointing, highest blessing.” She shared. She whispered a powerful message in my ear and instructed me to throw my seeds into the sea.
We manufacture to control the process of creation (Ya, like that makes any sense). We end up producing garbage (albeit, sometimes pretty garbage), but we alienate ourselves from the force that allows us to create in the first place. Ixchel, in her crumbling, nearly non-existent temple, reminded me of how easy it is to create. Her temple was grand, because it was truly everywhere — it didn’t require fancy paint, grand ballrooms, or ornate buttresses. It just was, and required little effort from an open heart.
We visited the point on Isla Mujeres, not to pay homage to a castle… not to greet Lords and Ladies, Kings and Queens. We marched, onward seeking to find commitment to ourselves. After learning a bit about my fellow yogis (and I might say this is true for most seekers that stumble into my life), we could all use a little magical ceremony to re-dedicate our lives to the lessons we’re studying, so we don’t make such colossal mistakes in trusting something outside ourselves. For all of us, this trip is less about high consumption of margs and perfecting our suntans, and much more about moving into and creating new spaces. It’s about forgiving ourselves for the years of servitude to others, looking at our child-like self and saying: you’re ok kid. It’s about finding some happy, courtesy of Ixchel in each of us. I fucking love yoga, and trust me, we’ve still made time for margs and sunshine.
Onward and Upward, strange one.
More to come on a private session with Sabina, our ventures into the bowels of the earth for a Temezcal ceremony, and, well, all the other stuff of life.
(Check out more at http://360retreats.com/ for Yogi Alba’s next retreat!)