Life works in mysterious ways. After traveling all year still wondering where the next destination would be. In a short snap decision, I went from making plans to go to the beautiful bay islands in Honduras to scuba dive, to catching a 16 hour bus to Guatemala. After arriving in San Pedro, Guatemala. We partied a bit, but finally had this revelation that I needed a change of pace. After briefly meeting a few people and talking to some travelers, the "Moon Course" was brought up several times that takes place in San Marcos as a 28day retreat around the moon cycle. The moon course seemed to be this mystical experience that no one could really explain, but everyone who's done it, said if you have the time. "You have to do it". I tried to do some research, but couldn't find to much on it. I've always had an interest in metaphysics, and learning about one's self. I'd developed a deeper interest after spending time in Asia, but never did I expect to find anything in Central America. One morning I was up chatting with a girl and she invited me to read her blog on it. She completed the course back in March, but again couldn't give an explanation. After reading her blog, I knew I had to do this. There was some sort of reason that brought me to Guatemala, and this Moon Course kept coming up as the reason why.
So after a few days of hanging out in San Pedro, I took the ferry over to San Marcos. On the ferry ride over, right away I started talking to two people. They had huge smiles and a lot of good energy. We all introduced ourselves, and sure enough. After a little conversation. One girl was in the Sun Course which is a 3 month retreat, and the other was coming for the moon course which would start the following day. As we talked, I found out they both were burners or have been to burning man. At that moment I knew I was headed to the perfect place. We ended up talking the whole ride there, talking about how great life is and our experiences we've had around the world.The exact kind of people I hoped to be around. I went to the Pyramids where the Moon Course takes place. Its a 4 week retreat, you have the choice to do what you like, but they offer Yoga, Metaphysics, and Meditation daily. Each week is focused on a different subject. While I write this now, i had no idea how deep it would get. I was mainly focused on the fact you go on a vegetarian diet, no alcohol, drugs or anything of that sort. The last 5 days would be spent in silence to get in touch with your higher self. This is the complete opposite of what I'm used to. So anyways, I believe you should always challenge yourself try things you've never done before. I've had such an interest in spirituality most of my life, and knew that there was a reason I was here. Whats the worst that could happen, gain a bit of knowledge, or understand a different perspective on the universe? Let's see what happens!?
I told myself I'd go in with an open mind and a free spirit. That's the way i like to live life, so why not keep be as open as possible and just enjoy the change of pace. So coming in, there was I believe 12 of us who are going to stay in the Pyramids for the full month. After introducing ourselves to each other, first thing that came to mind is that everyones perfectly "normal" to what western world would say We were evenly split with 6 guys, 6 girls, everyone was from either Australia, Israel, England, New Zealand or the States. After talking for a while most had no prior spiritual knowledge, some have never even practiced yoga before. All around I think that made everyone feel comfortable. Right away we all clicked and got along real well. Shared our experiences. One thing I really love about traveling is everyone has a unique story. It never starts off as "What do you do?" Its always where have you been, what have you seen, where did you come from and where do you think is next?I could write for days about how I feel about western culture, but its so great to know that there's a culture of free spirited people out there who don't worry about technology or the worries of what one has to do to survive in a material oriented world. Everyone had some great energy, right away i think we all knew this would be a month to remember.
Starting off week one. The first day was an orientation to what exactly what we would be doing for the next month. The first evening in the temple was an experience to say the least. Chatty who runs the course, is a mystical lady, all dressed in white. Something about her, she just has incredible energy flowing all around her. The temple is in the shape of a Pyramid. Walking inside the temple there's pictures of Jesus Christ, Buddha, The Tree of Life, Hebrew Scripts, the Egyptian Cross and other spiritual guides and scriptures. Inside the pyramid, in the center was a large round crystal that represented planet earth. In each four corners was the elements of life. Each representing earth, water, fire and air. The first evening in the temple we sat in silence for 30mins. She just told us to focus on our breath. Being the first day and not fully understanding what is going on, my mind was wondering asking a million questions. Why am I here? Who is this lady? Why are we in silence the first day? etc. Then she rings a bell, and has us take 7 deep breaths. This practice becomes a regular occurrence every time we are in the temple but this was all new to us. After 30mins of silence she opens and has us meditate on "Why are you here" After focusing on "why are you here" she tells us the schedule here in the Pyramids, and take seven deep breaths and closes the session. Very simple but pretty intense. Left me with a lot of open ended questions, which will all make more sense later in the course. Anyways our schedule we have Yoga at 7am every morning. Class at 10:15am and meditation again at 5pm. Between classes which I'll get into later, there's all types of activities you can do once you get acclimated with the schedule. What the Pyramid's had to offer was Yoga again at 3:30pm, Karma Yoga on the weekends and a sauna around noon to detox.
The first week we already become one big family. We were cooking for each other, sharing all our foods, everything was communal. I remember my thoughts before I went in was "How am I going to spend a month not eating meat?" Then to find out, everyone was cooking these incredible vegetarian dishes, making tea, and educating each other on all the different types of nutrients to benefit us. My personal favorite dish my Israeli friend taught me was Shak shuka. Its a dish I've tried in the past traveling with some Israeli friends and its just sOoOooOo good!! Just the first couple days I was digging change of pace and company around me.
As I write this I'm just pulling little bits and pieces out of my personal journal but not as detailed. Looking back now its incredible to see how much I've progressed from week one. The first week, Yoga was feeling great, we were learning interesting things about the planet and the energies all around us. Everything was just so mystic and made such perfect sense in class. Meditation at night was interesting. Every night was something different. It was a bit difficult at first for most of us. Sitting in the same position for over an hour. Your mind is always wondering, leg falling asleep. Its all a battle with the mind. After about 4 days I still had the question in my mind. "Why am I here" and "what do you want from this course" In a sense I knew why, but I knew there was a bigger reason. Another guy and myself for the first few days joked a bit about some of the stuff we were learning, wondering if it was worth staying for a month and so on. Thats when on day 5, everything got flipped upside down, backwards and all around. We went into meditation as we normally do. Sure enough we were in silence for the first 30mins, then starting the meditation Chatty had us doing breathing exercises to relax the mind and body. Then we went back to the question "why are you here" At that moment, she started channeling energy. As I focused on my 3rd eye, I felt as if I was outside my body. It was total mindlessness. This was the first time I've ever became the witness of my mind and more in touch with my inner being. During this meditation my body was vibrating, it was so euphoric It took me hours just to ground myself and write this experience down in my journal. As we left that session, I looked at the other guy who had doubts, and we both knew, Whoa….. Something crazy just happened there. I went back to my room, but couldn't bring myself to walk inside. I sat in a chair outside. My consciousness couldn't take its focus off all sounds around me. Everything was so incredibly clear. I felt like I was on this natural euphoric high. Every bird chirp, gust of the wind between the trees, everything was so alive. I sat for over an hour blank faced, focused on this beautiful flower in front of me. The feeling was unexplainable. After reading books on meditation, I finally got to witnesses what its like to be a witness of your mind. Incredible! Later I talked to my friend who had his doubts, and he felt the same energy as I did. He shared his story how he walked out of the temple and went to the lake to just cry for hours. Never in his life has he ever been moved by such energy. Thats when we both knew the journey was just about to begin.
Closing out week one, after that incredible meditation experience. I started to get more comfortable with sitting. I was reading Osho's book "The Practical Guide To Meditation." This book helped a lot to understand why our mind wonders and really understand how the mind is a complete separation from our being. I had a couple other euphoric meditations where I'd walk out just feeling like I was floating on clouds. It would take hours just to get a proper sentence out. Again this was just the beginning to understanding the art of meditation and understanding ourselves. In class that week which I like a lot, we talked about unity and duality. When we judge one aspect of the world as being wrong or right we are creating duality. When your on a spiritual path, what most find it will take your world from looking at it in duality to seeing the world as one unity. There's so many interesting subjects we touched. The week was spent looking at everything in the physical nature, with our physical body and how we see physical world.
Week two, the element we worked on was water and the emotional aspect of life. Chatty touched on the the seven spiritual bodies within and chakras. We worked on our Ora's and the manifestation of the spiritual bodies around us. The most interesting subject we focused on as well was illusive and astral dreaming.This is a subject completely on its own. We were told to write our dreams down every morning, taught how to explore different dimensions while we are dreaming and ask questions and understand why we have these dreams. This subject everyone was mesmerized by. I could get detailed, but this week everyone in the course was having interesting dreams. We spent the week sharing our dreams with each other, doing practices to dedicate the evening to astral traveling. It was very interesting to say the least. The question of this week was "How can you give a positive contribution to planet earth?" This ended up being a bigger question than what it seems. We meditated on this for days between learning about Dreams. Toward the end of the week, Chatty asked us again "How can you give a positive contribution to planet earth" She asked us to meditate on it, and we found out the next day was going to be the temple's 21st birthday. On that day we were to go in silence for the whole day, drink only liquids, and write on a pyramid piece of paper on how we can contribute to the planet earth.
The day of the temples birthday. This was an experience. This was our first time going into silence just for one day. There were other people in the retreat who were in silence the time we were there. After some have completed the 3 month sun course, there are others who continue there journey and go into silence up to 100 days. I heard in Tiibet monks go into silence for years, and Vipanassa is ten days of silence but this was the first time I've ever been around it. So the night of the birthday everyone dressed in white, when we went to the temple, I noticed almost every spiritual healer was there in San Marcos. You could feel all the intense energy everywhere. People were hugging each other, some crying, a very emotional. Inside the temple that night. Wow, where to begin?! Everything was laid out differently, as we entered the temple, a storm started to come through, and you could hear the rumble of the thunder in the sky. To this day I doubt words will ever express the feeling from that evening. There was drum beats, and we found out one of the guys who just spent 100 days in silence was about to complete that journey. During the meditation in the temple. Chatty was channeling energy, we were chanting "Om" and the vibration was so intense you could feel it up your spine into your crown. As she was channeling the thunder continued to roll, i couldn't tell if i was in Harry Potter or the Blaire Witch Project. We went around in a circle and each shared "How can we give a positive contribution to planet earth" then lit a candle in front of us. There was incense everywhere, some healers were positioned behind each element pyramid reading scripts from each cosmic dimension. Again to this day I didn't fully understand everything that was going on but it was intense. At the end of the meditation they did a ceremony for Tito who was from Switzerland to celebrate him completing his journey and silence. I slightly squinted my eyes and saw him showered in rose petals and incense. It was pretty incredible. Once the ceremony was over, we meditated a bit more. When we closed the session, everyone was hugging each other, crying, a lot of emotions and energy going around. Us in the moon course, i could tell didn't know what to think. But then as we started talking a bit, hugged each other, everyone was so kind and it was a really a unique experience. That evening we all cooked for each other a massive pot luck of vegetarian dishes. The food was absolutely incredible. As we got to know all the people in the sun course, teachers, other spiritual people in San Marcos it was very comforting and very communal. We shared stories and as interesting as the evening was everyone is very normal. I got a chance to talk to a lot of people who kept acknowledging how special our group was. Our group in the moon course we all were like one big family. We were told by many people our energy was very high, and most groups don't connect as quick or as well as we did. This was something that i believe stuck with all of us, and toward the end of the course meant even something bigger that none of us would expect.
Completing week 2 we had a couple others join us as well that brought incredible energy to the group. On the weekends, we went out to different events around the town together. They would have sketch comedy nights, live music at different restaurants with worldly music with unique instruments. One thing I noticed is all the families in town. There were so many little kids during the day especially on Sunday fun days. Its cool to see kid's get together, learning arts, hula hooping, playing with paint, dressing as clowns, jumping on trampolines enjoying life. There'd be juggling workshops and acra yoga, crafter noons, dancing, chanting and just letting yourself be free. Shamans would be at gatherings sharing their knowledge on crystals and the universe. I couldn't help but think in western countries all the kids would be glued to their iphones playing angry birds or watching TV. Here in San Marcos, none of that stuff exists. At night we'd hang out on the pier. Star gaze and count how many shooting star's we'd find. Most nights you could see almost every galaxy in the sky over the lake. One night we sat up chanting songs over the lake while multiple stars feel from the sky in a sequence. You could just feel the energy coming from everywhere. We all had a great time together. A girl in the group came up with the idea to write something positive about each other that evening and at the end of the course she'd put them together to take back with us which we all made good on. Great energy all around.
Going into week three we were all pretty comfortable with the schedule at the Pyramids, a lot of us decided to take up some classes on the side. I decided to take an 11 day breathing course from Jenika who was an incredible Yoga Instructor and also get my Reiki Level 1. Another person joined the class going into week three named Dustin. He was from Colorado. One thing everyone noticed about him is he was different from the rest of the group. He told us he did the course in the past. He wouldn't show up for meditation, but was in class, and always asking strange questions. This person would have an impact on the course forever……
Reiki Level 1
Reiki was a 3 day course. Reiki is a healing therapy where you can channel energy into the patient, to activate the natural healing process of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well being. In Japan it stands for "Universal Life Energy" I started to begin an interest in this a while ago, but after talking to one of the girls in the class who was completing her Reiki masters it kept coming back to me. So four others and myself decided to take the class together. It was a 3 day course for 4 hours a day. Kathryn who was the teacher had a cool background. She spent a lot of her life living in Dive Resorts around the world, was born in Hong Kong, and had a unique ora around her. She was very knowledgable with crystals and had them all over. The outside of her house had a grid of crystals around the parimeter, in the garden, all around the windows and of course in the room where she gave Reiki at. Before going into the class she offered a free Reiki Therapy. This was my first time ever getting Reiki so I didn't know what to expect. I went there three days before the class started to get the my first Reiki. She explained Reiki to me, I told her I had an open mind to whatever may happen. Before she started I could feel all the energy in the room. As soon as she put her hands on my crown, I instantly started feeling energy shooting down my body. It was incredible. I was completely mindless during the session. Totally speechless. Everywhere she channeled energy into my body it just felt incredible. It was like lightning rods of energy streaming from head to toe. I didn't know if i was a little to receptive to the energy, but it was awesome. After the session, i told her how i was speechless, we were both happy and told her I'd see her in class. When arriving to day one for class, she cooked us an Indian dish called Kichadi. Everything she cooked was always awesome, but this was a dish to remember. Day one she spoke about the background on Reiki. It was more of an introductory day. Day two, when we arrived, she informed us that we would be getting tuned to Reiki that day. We were all pretty excited. When we came into the meditation room, she had the room all gridded with crystals. She had the 4 elements in the center along with a beautiful rose quartz crystal. In front of the rose quartz was a tray of crystals for us to pick. We each picked three of our favorite crystals. I choose Laramone, Dioptase and Moon Stone. The moon stone was by far my favorite and shaped into a pyramid. Once we started meditation, she asked each one of us to sit in the chair. While we were in the chair, she tuned us with Reiki and sent loads of energy into each parts of our body. After being tuned, I was grounded for hours after. It was another euphoric experience. After the class we were all chatting about our experiences and what I really liked that stuck in my mind. Everyone has a different Reiki experience. Everyone feels the energy differently. A guy from the sun course was telling his story where he never feels the energy during the session, but always 2-3days later. His last experience after Reiki was he had an epiphany and dumped his apartment, quit his job and left to pursue his dreams. On the third day, Kathryn taught us the 5 Tibetans which is a yoga practice. The five tibetans is also known as the fountain of youth. This practice was given to us to keep our energy levels going for when we practice Reiki on others. We practice Reiki on each other that day and it was incredible. Me and my partner were in awe that it was working. We both felt waves of energy down our bodies and were sent into these euphoric states.
Week three of the Moon Course. This week was an introductory to Kabbalah, Tarot, Numerology, Astrology and the Kybalion in class. The Element of the week was air, and we were working on the mental aspect of our lives. Starting off the week Dustin who was new to the group joined us. He was a bit different than the others. He would show up for classes whenever he choose, never came to meditation at night, and rarely Yoga in the morning. At night when everyone in the retreat would be cooking dinner in the kitchen area, he would show up a bit intoxicated. One night he was comparing himself to serial killers and Jesus. He had a couple of the girls scared, but it always seemed as if he was looking for attention. So as the week progressed, we were learning so much in class. It got to the point where it seemed like everyone in the class had arranged classes mid day, where we were all either doing yoga, learning about medicinal plants, doing breathing, reiki, hypnosis and so on. One night when we were in breathing class, we were chanting with Jenika at her house. Tom another teacher came in to joint us for just a bit. About half way through the session. Tom asked if we could have a moment of silence. He informed us that someone has drowned in the lake earlier that day. As we lowered our heads, he informed us that it was Dustin. What a shock this was. I think almost everyone in the group didn't know how to react. It was very awkward at first. When he came into the class, we separated ourselves from him because of his drinking. We all knew he had a drinking problem, but did not anticipate this. Jenika had us do a couple chants for him. We later found out that he went kayaking with a couple friends across the lake and he had a seizure and fell over in his kayak. This was shocking news to everyone because he seemed very healthy. They had police helicopters out looking for him, and after a day they gave up. The next day in class Chatty let us know all the details with what happened and how to move forward. Still I don't think it settled in with anyone. One girl was crying because of the way we treated him. It was very strange, the day prior Chatty was giving examples of how drinking can distort things and everything that was going on in the course was so coincidental. The day before he passed away he was telling another girl how he wanted to be at the bottom of the lake. Once everything settled in a bit, the following day in class Chatty asked if she could talk about life after death and what she believed why this happened. Dustin was here for 1 month in the moon course and also did the 3 month sun course a year ago. He has been coming back and forth to San Marcos for a while. It was her belief that he came here to die. His spirit knew he was going to die. In class he was asking a lot of questions and always seemed very confused about life, but wanting to learn. So after all this, Chatty let us know that we just can't close our eyes and act like this never happened. She set up a memorial at his pyramid and dedicated the rest of the retreat to Dustin. Each night during meditation we sent love and light to him, and closed in memory of him. This really set a whole different tone for the course. From the very beginning everyone said this was a class not to forget and sure enough it was. Days after, a lot of us still didn't know how to react.
Week 4 of the Moon course. After Dustin's passing. We were to go into silence the last five days of the retreat. During our silence, we were on a liquid diet, ate very light and the 5th day drink only water. During this time, there was no talking to others, no use of the internet or communication with anyone. We would still have yoga in the morning and meditation at night. During the day, we were to spend our time in the garden, at the lake, in our rooms and in the temple. Each day was focused on a different part of ourselves. The subjects were our ideals, reality, positive and negative thoughts to be recognized in our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. of our lives. These subjects kept us very busy writing during the five days. The day before going into silence, I was out walking around town wondering what to buy for the liquid diet. I was fortunate enough to run into a friend from the course at the market. She had a huge handful of vegetables. Enough to feed an army! I asked her what she was going to cook for her meals and she so kindly offered to cook for me. She was already planning on cooking for another friend in the class and asked if i wanted to join them. I asked her if I could help any way and she only insisted to help her carry the vegetables back. Let me tell you, this was probably the best thing that had happened to me. I was planning on making fruit smoothies for the five days. Our friend had much bigger plans.
Day one of silence was actually a lot of fun. We all did a pretty good job not speaking to each other. Others in the class went into complete Zen mode and totally separating themselves from the few of us that felt the need to play sharaids in the kitchen Between going to the temple, the garden and swimming in the lake, it kept me quit busy thinking and writing my thoughts down. For breakfast each day our friend cooked up this incredible tasting baby food. Yes it sounds a bit funny eating baby food, but it was so good. For lunch she cooked us cold cucumber and tomato soup which was so refreshing, between lunch and meditation, The sauna was open to detox. Everything was set up perfectly to ensure your body and mind to be relaxed. At night she cooked us carrot soup and blended potato soup. Every meal was so mouth watering it was amazing. Sometimes I forgot I was even on a liquid diet because the soups were so incredible. During the meditations at night between the first and the forth day. We choose four cards from the temple. Each card had a significant impact on our lives, whether it was past, present or future. We got to pick four cards each meditation and the following morning look them up in the book to get a better understanding of each card and meditate on them throughout the day. At night we still went to the lake. Whenever we went down there to stargaze. We had a little hand motion to signal to each other to go down to the lake. We all did a pretty good job at staying silent.
The forth day of silence a friend signaled to me to join her and take a hike up into the mountains to meditate and relax. Of course I took her up on the offer. That morning we hiked up through the mountains along the lake. It was cool because neither one of us could talk to each other. We just signaled to each other where to go like two kids in wonderland. When we got to the top of the mountain we had this incredible view. You could see all of Lake Atitlan, we were overlooking San Marcos, the sun was shining so bright and all 3 volcanoes that surrounded the lake were in perfect view. On the way back down, we climbed trees, got lost a bit and finally went swimming in the lake to cool off. It was an incredible day. My friend brought a drum with us to make some beats. We both sat up there on the perfectly position rocks for hours meditating just enjoying the beautiful nature around us. That was the one moment that i really went mad with writing. It was that day we were to write all the positive aspects of our lives and I really went crazy. What a perfect spot to reflect on how great this life is, how perfect everything is and how fortunate I am to experience all the things I've done. I could write for days, but its great to reflect and show gratitude for all the wonderful things that the universe has given us.