Pura Vida!

The words, literally translated “pure life”, are both a Costa Rican greeting and philosophy. Pura Vida is one of the things we keep going back for, and one of the things we try to bring back to share.

Ross and I find that we need to go back and remember what “pure life” is all about from time to time. It is so easy to get caught up in the practical responsibilities and the habitual day-to-day activities that can govern our lives. Removing ourselves from the pace and expectations of our cosmopolitan surroundings and immersing our family in nature and simplicity never fails to recharge us. We eat differently. We dress differently. We breathe differently. We walk more and spend more time outside. We sleep when we want to. And inevitably, our perspectives shift and possibilities open up. We seem to have more access to our own creativity here.

Our trips are not without challenges, but I credit those challenges with some of the magic that comes with each of our experiences in Costa Rica. We don’t come to vacation, but rather to live fully and deliberately. Without some of the “comforts” of home, the technology in particular, we are forced to surrender to the moments we are in. Those moments become opportunities to notice how we feel. In the intense heat and humidity, we are forced to listen to the signals our bodies send us. It becomes very easy to see the importance of hydration and appreciate the benefits of clean water, fresh pipa fria (coconut water), or other nourishing fluids. Without the distractions of phones and screens, you can actually taste the air and consciously fill your lungs. And when you’ve been out in sun for a while, a refreshing dip in the ocean or an afternoon nap can renew you in a way that few things can.

Being in nature this way also reintroduces us to its rhythms. The rising and setting of the sun govern the yang part of the day, when we are encouraged to be outside and be active. Once the sun sets, we are invited to slow down and go inward and replenish our resources. Even the ocean demonstrates the ebb and flow of energy as each wave rises and falls, and as the moon governs the tides.

We do a lot of savoring in Costa Rica. Each yoga class, surf session, meal and walk on the beach feels like a special treat. Removed from our everyday environment, it is easier for us to take time to appreciate the tastes and sensations that come with every experience. But I think we can bring this appreciation back to our daily lives simply by bringing attention and intention to meals and activities.

Here are a few things that we paid closer attention to while we were away:

1. Breathing. Yes, we do it all the time. But it’s a lot like living – there’s a big difference between living and LIVING. Attentive breathing can feel really good. It can taste good. It can smell good (ok, it can also smell bad, but still). And it can amplify healing and well being.

2. Drinking. We drink a lot of water in Costa Rica. When we don’t, we notice very quickly. In a place where dehydration happens so readily, it’s easy to observe how quickly headaches, fatigue, dizziness and even digestive issues can occur when you fail to consume enough fluids. Costa Rica is also an excellent place to sample all the natural and delicious ways to hydrate. A freshly cut coconut tastes far better than anything you’ll get out of a carton. And a freshly blended avocado, pineapple and Thai basil smoothie after a yoga class is a delicious and pampering way to replenish. Ross’s favorite was a tamarind, ginger and lime drink – tart and refreshing! And getting plenty of fluids definitely brings out the glow in our skin and the skip in our step.

3. Rest. This is a big one because it generally requires time. We have come to think of rest and play as a waste of time, often opting instead to multitask, but there is something to be said for laying around, coloring, laughing, playing ukulele, lounging by a pool, reading a book or just napping. One of my favorite things about our trips to Costa Rica, and perhaps one of the secrets of “Pura Vida” is the balance of yin and yang within the lifestyle. Yes, the days are active and our bodies are fully engaged as we walk and run and swim and sweat in the heat of the sun, but then the sky darkens and heavy rains cool us off and signal us to stop and rest. We relax. I’m convinced that if we could all get better at this, we would be healthier. I also find that creativity and inspiration bubble to the surface when we give ourselves this time and space to decompress.

Now that we have had a chance to marinate in our “happy place” for a couple of weeks, I’m hoping we will have more “pure life” to share. This is a perfect opportunity to start fresh, bringing all the things that have been so restorative and transformative back to Westfield and into our day-to-day. There are so many opportunities to enhance our wellbeing. Let’s seize them. And savor them.

Let’s bring pura vida into everything we do!


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