On my second trip to Costa Rica to do a week of intuitive soul-level work with horses, I was dealing with intense back pain that would randomly come and go. Early in the week, the facilitators of the workshop decided to take my group on a trail ride, but unfortunately, that day my pain was at its peak and after much debate with myself, I decided to stay back and not participate.
I was incredibly upset to miss the excursion, but I knew it would have been a disaster for me, as I would have been in agony the whole time. I took the afternoon to rest and even do a yoga nidra meditation with the retreat’s yoga instructor who was kind enough to come to my cabin.
A couple of hours later, a torrential rain storm began. We’re talking Costa-Rican-rain-forest rain storm, where it’s just walls of water pounding down from the heavens for what seemed like forever. I felt grateful to be in my cabin, but my heart went out to my workshop-mates who hadn’t returned yet and were no doubt being pummeled with rain out on the trail. I pictured myself drenched and in pain in the wilderness and felt even more gratitude to be where I was.
When everyone returned, I learned what else had happened on the ride. When the group had arrived at a scenic destination, everyone dismounted from their horses to take a breather and rest and relax. At that time, however, most of the horses decided to take off running back in the direction of the retreat. (They ended up galloping joyfully the whole way back—the horses had several messages for us that week about freedom and doing what you feel like doing. ) Luckily, workers from the retreat had participated in the trail ride in all-terrain vehicles, so everyone had to pile into those vehicles for an intensely bumpy ride back.
When I listened to my body that day in Costa Rica and did what was right for myself in that moment, I received several gifts, from enjoying a soothing meditation to avoiding getting soaked to the bone as well as a jostling, painful vehicle ride. But I had so much resistance when making that decision. I pouted and was angry at my body because I had put expectations on myself to get the most out of every second of that workshop. In the end, I did get the most out of it, just in a way I hadn’t predicted.
When I look at Simone Biles at the recent Olympics, I’m so grateful to her for modeling taking care of yourself no matter what the circumstances. The pressure put on her by others and herself must have been mind-blowingly tremendous. But she knew the “twisties” she was experiencing could be seriously dangerous to her body and chose her well-being over expectations. She showed how ok it is to tell the world you’re not ok and what it looks like to really take care of yourself.
I’m grateful we have a world-champion gymnast and a herd of Costa Rican horses to demonstrate embodying freedom and accepting ourselves where we are in the moment. There aren't any medals to match what that's worth. 💜