Raw, idiom: 14. in the raw, a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.


A sweet good morning to you from the beach here in Costa Rica.

It's early — 6:45ish in this time zone, which may be a few hours ahead or behind yours — and the sun is just rising. The ocean has long ago woken up.

I can hear the waves crashing from my balcony here. They're lulling, and rhythmic, and they make me feel safe, and comfortable, and alien.

I'll just be short this morning. It's been six days now since I arrived here at Playa Santa Teresa — a sweaty, dusty Sunday afternoon after a long day's travel — and the moments have flown, and lingered, all at once. I have felt quiet, eager to just listen; hence the lack of blog posts (well, that and an internet connection that has graced us with a blessed opportunity to truly unplug via its rare and wobbly ability to actually connect).

Two and a half big broad days left here yet before we fly out Sunday evening, and they feel yet pregnant with possibilities for rest and silence and stillness and learning and ease. My body is brown and strong and well-lived-in. It's well-slept and well-fed, thriving on some of the most nourishing, green, lush foods that I've had in some time. I feel the buzz of great prana from that alone.

Nicholas (you might know him as MC Yogi) and Amanda, his uber-talented wife, have been leading us through daily morning asana practices and afternoon storytelling/asana/mythology/chant sessions. It's been a graceful balance of strength and softness, engagement and ease, activity and receptivity. Amanda has a natural talent for the gentle, undoing, opening nuances of restorative asana, and by the time the sun climbs high in the sky around 3pm and we've all been hoofing it in the saltwater and the forests and the trails all day, we are eager to get lost in her sweet directions.

Ever the pitta, ever the achiever, ever the Type A driven competitive one, I have long resisted restorative yoga as a modality that my impatient breath can't quite settle into. And here, maybe it's the heat, maybe it's the good strong rest, but I'm loving it, and Nick and Amanda do a magical job of weaving Hindu mythology into everything they do.

We've had a quiet afternoon of all Bhagavad Gita and Krishna and silence; we've had ocean sunsets while chanting Om Namah Shivaya. We've had rhythmic asana and sweet jam sessions and a surprise story from Sianna Sherman and a beach barbecue topped off with fire dance from stellar hula hooper Shakti Sunfire.

(I keep using the word "sweet." It's an entire week of "sweet." Have to resist falling back on it in every sentence.)

I am basking in the opportunity to be quiet, to listen, to just hang back and sit still and pay attention. Spend most of my days in my usual life in SF talking a lot, producing a lot of content, whether that's in teaching a few classes a day and spewing words in the process, or in writing daily. And there is a grace and yes, a sweetness, in just shutting my mouth and opening my ears and receiving.

I've been reading, early mornings, on the beach. Carry my big mug o' coffee and leche de soy out onto the playa and dig into my collection of unread Tricycle: The Buddhist Reviews and soak up the salt and the stillness and the meditation in it all. I am re-reading Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft and loving every word; loving his reminder of the ways in which our meditation practices, our yoga-asana practices, our life-giving sensuous labors, can be found in the most unexpected of places; in Crawford's case, in the work-of-the-hands found in repairing motorcycles, and in mine, the memories of bartending into the wee hours, in the work I do in my body as an asana teacher, in the washing dishes and the planting window-boxes and the scrubbing the toilet, the awareness even now that every move we make can be a chosen meditation.

Yesterday morning, 7ish, reading on the beach, I noticed a lone figure meandering his way up and down the high-tide surf, carrying a big black trash bag. He was skinny, young, maybe 14 at best, and over and over, he mindfully bent down, picked up a single piece of trash, placed it in his bag, crouched down again, picked up another, placed it in his bag, and on and on.

Watching him, I could think only of the overwhelming vastness of the ocean and the length of that Pacific shoreline that stretches all the way up to San Francisco and beyond. The cynical "rational" one in me felt sorry for him, that his labor might make such little difference in the grand scheme of things.

And then I realized that his labor was in fact sacred: sacred to me as an inadvertent witness, inspired by his devotion, his bhakti sense of service; sacred to the ocean itself, dirty and polluted enough as it is, and ever-churning, ever-rhythmic, ever-offering itself up to us even as we fail to see or love it well; sacred to the tiny hermit crabs scuttling around who would no longer have to maneuver around battered pieces of garbage and faded plastic; and sacred to him, his asana practice therein being the bending and the placing and the crouching and the offering.

I am grateful for that offering, and the devotion, and the stories, and the rhythm, and the sun.

Today is Durga day. (Each day here has had its own theme, corresponding with the days of the week and the gods). Amanda said we'll have a good strong asana practice. I'm glad. I need to fill up my green coffee cup and hit the sand with my crumpled magazine before we start at 8.

Have a beautiful Friday.

Much sunny, sweaty love from Costa Rica.

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