Most days at the Mystical Yoga Farm feel like a dream. I feel like I’ve been here for an eternity. I’ve been here for 32 days.
I’m living in a lush roadless forest without a town name. I’m surrounded by the growth of green plants, flowers, vegetables and fruits. Sunlight dances across the lake almost every day. I stare at volcanoes every single day.
Loose leaf tea is served all day along with fresh fruit. Most of the food is cooked in coconut oil. The salad greens are picked fresh from our garden for every meal. A gong is rung when meals are ready. We sing songs to bless the food before we eat. I eat hand rolled freshly made tortillas a few times a week. We om before and after everything.
Natalia, the house mama, making tortillas. Natalia is a loveable Mayan woman from the nearest town. I’m at least two heads taller than her. She doesn’t speak any English, but we get along great with facial expressions and laughter.
A collection of books on yoga, healing, eastern philosophy, permaculture and more is at our fingertips in the living room, which is also the space where we eat meals and gather for Satsang.
The inside of the rancho setup for dinner.
We don’t have chairs and instead sit on cushions and blankets. The tables we eat off of are low to the ground. We practice 24 hours of silence or more mindful speech once a week with the option of also fasting. At night I read, journal and shower by candlelight. I brush my teeth outside. I sleep in an attic space above the rancho and climb a ladder to enter and leave my room. Most days I don’t wear shoes.
I’m living with the dreamers of dreams, the makers and doers who aren’t afraid to follow their hearts, the artists, the visionaries. I live with people who recite poetry in my ear as I chew breakfast, people I burst into song with for no reason at all, people who live and breathe yoga, people who sing devotional songs, people who understand and comfort me after I cry from the intense hip opening and emotional release of Pigeon Pose, people who have gladly accepted a challenge of writing a poem every day for 30 days, people I create songs with out of Hafiz poems, people who are comfortable just being silent together reading, drawing, writing.
“Today was the best day of my life,” Mark, the wonderful man with the Hafiz book in hand, said hours after this picture was taken.
I get to hug, kiss, laugh, cry and run into the lake squealing and naked with these life lovers whenever I want. Through living in this type of environment, I’ve learned that I don’t need to rely on romantic love to get the kind of love I need. I’ve seen how love exists in every moment.
The farm is an alcohol, drug, caffeine, tobacco and meat free community. Because of this, the relationships with people I’ve built have felt much more authentic and personal. In the Western world today, alcohol, drugs, tobacco and caffeine are a huge part of social interaction. Aside from close friends, I can’t remember the last time someone freely and honestly opened up to me without being under the influence of something. Technology and constant cell phone use also weave their way into the modern social world. At the farm people don’t have cell phones with them 24/7, in their pockets, out on the table. People aren’t constantly distracted by texting or using the internet on their phones. I really value getting to know others without the interference of these things. I value getting to meet and interact with people who are truly in the moment.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
I love experiencing the purest expression of hearts in their naked state. Even if it’s not always easy or pretty. Just because I’m living in a wonderful place doesn’t mean that every day is a walk in the park. Some days I don’t feel like talking or interacting with anyone. I value my alone time and find it necessary to my growth. I love tuning into the sounds of silence and letting the stillness and solitude fill me. Here, it’s hard to find a quiet place to read, let alone be alone. Living at an intentional community for me means learning how to live with others constantly and how to find a balance of alone time, personal freedom and independence. Each moment at the community is a lesson in finding this balance.
There’s nothing like a lake jump to awaken and feel refreshed.
All of your feelings, emotions, past and fears reflect back at you at the farm. Sometimes I feel myself falling into familiar thought patterns that break me down and build negativity. I feed into these thoughts and then cycle down a dark hole of emotions. I see the way this affects my personality, my space and those around me. I see how these thoughts, feelings and emotions are unnecessary to me. These are things I came here to work on. Plucking through these emotions is challenging work, and the farm heightens your sensitivity to everything. And then there’s 10 or more other people going through these types of feelings at varying moments. That’s when you get to experience truth.
Regardless of the situation, it takes courage to bear your true self and open your heart. Even in an intentional community, sometimes I still don’t feel like I have support. Sometimes it’s still challenging for me to express what I’m feeling and what I need. Some days I feel ignored, or left out, or unimportant, or unheard, or uncared for. It’s not always easy for me to reach out to people when I feel like this. Bitterness, stubbornness and pridefulness often take over. Instead of doing something about it, criticism and negativity start crafting homes in my brain. This only feeds into the cycle instead of creating positive change. Being at the farm is giving me the opportunity to explore these emotions and people’s reactions when these things in my life come up. It’s given me the opportunity to learn how to deal with this, interact with others in a more mindful way and express more affection. I’m so thankful to be in a welcoming, open environment that accepts instead of shuns and ignores this. I love learning who people really are, what sustains and motivates them, what they fill their lives with, what happens when they remove the masks of society’s expectations. I love witnessing and being with life at its root as much as possible.
Days at the farm are long and fulfilling.
I get to spend everyday with these beautiful beings who often break out into song and play the harmonium.
Our alarm clock at 6 a.m. is Karma Yogi’s (the volunteers) singing and playing instruments. Each day we’re woken up with live music. Some days I take on this role, waking up when the stars are still shining. While still in a sleepy, dreamy state we meet on the dock with a view of the volcanoes for meditation. Then we practice an hour and a half of asana, movement. The yoga classes vary in style depending on who is teaching. After breakfast and lunch we fulfill our Karma Yoga hours. Mid-afternoon we meet for a lecture on meditation, a temescal, a give and receive hour or a yoga workshop. After dinner we gather for Satsang, where we share reflections, stories or sing and chant. We almost always end up singing and chanting. We’ve spontaneously created lyrics so often that we call it ecstatic singing. Some nights this takes place around a fire. And then, I’m usually in bed by 8 p.m.
It’s incredible and so inspiring to be around such creative people constantly.
This amazing babe of a being created this mandala from start to finish while work trading at the ranch.
The view of the mural in the room
Aside from the amazing individuals who contribute to the community, incredible retreat guests and yoga teacher trainees visit the farm. I’ve meet shamans, neuroscientists, philosophers, nurses, professors, and more. I’m learning from people every day.
Some of my favorite learning exchanges happen with Pedro, the farm chef.
Pedro is usually laughing, but he likes being serious in photos.
Helping him in the kitchen always leads to an English lesson for him and a Spanish lesson for me. His first language is Tz’utujil, one of the languages spoken by the indigenous Mayans around the lake. He excitingly says, “When I know English, I will know three languages.” This always makes him so happy.
One night I conjugated the verb ‘trabajar’ by writing sentences for the pasado, presente, and futuro in both English and Espanol. Pedro and I spent hours perfecting the pronunciation and spelling. We spent most of those hours hysterically laughing at the way I tried to roll my r’s. “You are awesome,” Pedro said with a thick accent. “My friend. You are so cool.” These kind of moments fill me with warmth and love for people and life.
My bedroom at the farm
There’s a papaya tree right outside my window.
A shrine in the Yoga Shala
Morning meditation on the dock
When people leave the farm, they leave messages like this and imprints forever.