Lessons From The Jungle (Part 1) - EP 010

pleasure & profits podcast Jan 19, 2024


In this episode, I share lessons and reflections from my recent retreat in the Costa Rican rainforest. The retreat focused on the Art of Attention and a deep and reverent connection to nature. It was held at a location that is stewarded by a loving and thoughtful staff – a love that beautifully permeates everything.

Over the course of my time in Costa Rica, including three days in San Jose, before flying home, I received so many messages and lessons and reflections, that I’ve decided to share them with you here, and in the next episode.

This episode includes the first 4 lessons:

Lesson 1: Let go and let goddess
Lesson 2: We are always connected to nature
Lesson 3: Reverence can be joyful
Lesson 4: Moth medicine

I hope you enjoy & be sure to catch Part 2!


Pleasure & Profits Podcast, Episode 3 with Rochelle Schieck - Learning to Listen
Imiloa Institute
Marrow Moon Creative
The Shamans Guide to Power Animals, by Lori Morrison


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Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome to Pleasure & Profits. I’m your host, Rachel Anzalone, and I have something a little bit different for you today. That was the sound of the Costa Rican rainforest, which I just returned from. I had the pleasure of spending 5 days at a beautiful retreat center in Dominical, on a Qoya Inspired Movement retreat. If you haven’t listened to episode 3 yet, I suggest you go back and listen to that one, before or after this episode, it’s not important, but in that episode I interview the founder of Qoya Inspired Movement, Rochelle Schieck. Rochelle is one of my teachers, as I’ve been practicing Qoya Inspired Movement since 2014, I’ve been a teacher of the practice since 2016, and this work really informs my own way of being in the world as well as the way I work with my clients.  

The retreat I attended was themed “The Art of Attention” and the location, The Imiloa Institute, was the perfect setting. It is truly a magical place, where, if you’re paying attention, you can feel and experience deep, deep resonance with nature. The connection to nature there is so visceral... This was my second time at this location and on my first trip there, pun intended here, I jokingly asked if it was possible that we were being micro-dosed because I could see and feel and hear messages from nature like no place I’ve ever been. And this second visit delivered the same experience. It truly is a magical place that is stewarded by a loving and thoughtful staff – a love that beautifully permeates everything.

Over the course of my time in Costa Rica, including three days in San Jose, before flying home, I received so many messages and lessons and reflections, that I’ve decided to share them with you here, and in the next episode – this is a 2 parter.

So, let’s begin with Lessons from the jungle.


Lesson #1 - Let Go and Let Goddess

There are so many versions of this message in various spiritual practices, the one that comes to mind most readily for me is the serenity prayer:

"God, grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I had my own opportunity to embody this message less than 12 hours after arriving in Costa Rica. I had flown into the San Jose airport, arriving late, sleeping not nearly enough hours, and then making my way back to the airport, to the tiny domestic terminal the following morning.

After boarding the little 12 seater airplane, the pilot let us know that there was some weather happening and it would likely be a bumpy ride. If you’ve never been on one of these small aircraft, I’ll tell you what someone told me on my first flight: Close your eyes and imagine that you’re on a boat and the bumps are waves.

That most closely resembles what it feels like. And on this day, the waters were choppy to say the least! As we took off and went bouncing through air, I experienced a few moments of panic, as my body anticipated the possibility of us crashing to the earth in a fiery wreck. I reflexively grabbed for the leg of the woman sitting next to me, and in doing so, realized the absurdity of that response. What was she going to do? And how would grabbing her leg help anything? And then the reality of the situation set it­ – I have zero control over anything at this moment, except for my response to it – and the thought crossed my mind… well, if I’m gonna die (and we all are at some point, it’s unavoidable), traveling in Costa Rica is not a bad way to go. At least I would die doing something fun.

And with that thought, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the short flight, which was equally bumpy, but suddenly felt completely fine. Because I relaxed, I got to enjoy the beauty and the majesty of the mountains, the lush green vegetation, the winding twists of the rivers and streams, the punchy character of the clouds, and the excitement of reaching our destination.

In contrast, on the day of my return home, which was delayed by 2 days – more about that a little later on – I got to witness someone having an experience where they were most definitely not letting go and letting goddess! From where I was sitting, not only were they trying to control every aspect of their situation, but they were complaining the entire way to everyone who would listen because things weren’t going to their plan.

Here's what happened: I checked out of my hotel and hopped on the 7am shuttle to go to the airport. As people piled in, one couple, probably in their 60s, definitely American, climbed in. The man sat in the front seat, next to the driver. The woman sat in my row, leaving a seat between us, which she filled with her multiple bags. She announced to no one in particular that they had been waiting for an Uber and then found out the shuttle was leaving for the same location and so they decided to cancel their shuttle and join us for the short trip to the airport. This was all said with a celebratory tone, as if they had somehow gamed the system. Almost immediately she started complaining about how long it was taking to load the shuttle, barking at her husband (who was 2 rows ahead of her) that they made a bad choice and that if they had taken the Uber they would be on their way already, and now they were going to have to wait for all of the luggage to be unloaded from this shuttle, and how she knew they should have left at 6:30, and on and on with how this was a bad situation for them. The tension radiating off of her was palpable.

As 3 more people tried to find seats on the shuttle, she made no effort to consolidate her stuff that was taking up a full seat, and the result was that one member of the group of 3 had to wait for the next shuttle. Stuck in traffic on the 2.5 mile drive to the airport, her husband yelled back to her “Is this the fastest route” and she responded “yes, there’s just a 5 minute delay here because of traffic” followed by “how did you know I’d be tracking that” (lol) and his response, “how long have we been married?” I mean… I knew she was tracking it and I’d just crossed paths with her 7 minutes ago.

When we arrived at the airport, the two of them jumped out – her leaving behind her neck pillow and an empty coffee cup, which I tried to hand to her. She took the neck pillow and ignored the fact that I had her trash in my hand. She then insisted that their bags be offloaded first because they had a 9:00 flight and the rest of us had an additional hour, and they rushed off into the airport. About 40 minutes later, after I’d checked in, gotten through security, commandeered some breakfast, and was finding a place to sit, the two of them passed by me. Checking the time, I saw they had a good 45 min to spare before their flight.

All that demanding, panicking and rushing about, and they had gained absolutely nothing of benefit. Shocking, right?

Now, I’m certainly not exempt from these types of moments, but I’m learning, and improving – and when I don’t succeed, I do try to keep my dysregulation to myself, instead of inflicting it on everyone around me – my husband, who is far more easy going, will say to me “Challe Tamalle” – that’s his Tex-Mex slang for calm yourself oh fiery one.

The contrast of these 2 experiences, and witnessing someone else in such a state is a fantastic teacher, and a reminder that there’s so much serenity in just letting go and trusting that things will work out.


Lesson #2 – We are always connected to nature

After arriving at Imiloa, enjoying delicious meals and our opening ceremony, we were given the invitation to make a nature offering and to thank that land for welcoming us, either later that night or in the morning before we gathered again. Wandering around in the dark in the jungle is not at the top of my priority list, so I decided to wait until morning.

After waking with the jungle at 5:30am, having a beautiful meditation alone in my room, and before heading up to breakfast, I walked the path to the river, collecting items for my offering along the way. When I arrived at the river, I felt called to walk the 15 or so yards downstream, to where some large boulders create a ledge, dropping the water down about 10 feet to some small pools below. I sat down on a rock, placed my offering, and a dialogue between me and nature began.

I thanked her for welcoming me back to the land, for creating this magical place for us to gather, for providing for us during our stay. I could feel her loving embrace in response.  Sitting there quietly, the questions came: Why do you speak to me so clearly here, and not when I’m at home? How can I connect with you more when I’m away from here?  

And the answer quickly followed, she said: I am always speaking to you. When you’re at home and you feel stuck or tight or uncomfortable or disconnected, that’s me talking to you too. That’s me letting you know that you need to move, to shift your state, to go outside and feel me, experience me, be with me. I realized I’ve been thinking that we’re either connected to nature or not, but the truth is that we’re always connected to nature – it’s never not there talking to us -  we’re just either listening to her or not. It’s all about where we place our attention.


Lesson #3 – Reverence Can Be Joyful

Later that day, after breakfast, our first Qoya Inspired Movement Class, and lunch, we gathered as a group to head to a sacred waterfall, again to make a nature offering. It’s a bit of a treacherous hike down to the waterfall, and so we made our way as a group, slow and steady, step by step, single file. I was towards the back of the line, and when I arrive there was a feeling of deep reverence in the air. All of the women had brought their offerings, and were in various states of appreciation, meditation, honoring the waterfall, and embracing the sacredness of the moment.

I made my way to a spot off to the side where I’d left an offering last year, and took a moment to silently commune with the waterfall once again. My sense of solemnity didn’t last long. In a moment I was filled with a feeling of exuberance bubbling up inside me! a desire to laugh and splash and play in the waterfall! It was all I could do to not just giggle and laugh out loud! Out of respect for the experience everyone else was having, I let my bubbling joyfulness be my own, but as I entered the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, the feeling only increased and as I placed my head under the falling water the feeling of joyfulness overtook me. I turned to face the waterfall, placed one foot on a ledge in the water, and the other on one a little higher up put my hands on the rocks under the falling water and placed my face directly in the flow. I could feel that the waterfall was so happy to have someone come and play with her! In my inner vision she became a laughing buddha, water tumbling and falling down over her robust belly into a pool at her feet.

In that moment, the experience of joyfulness felt like the most reverent thing I could do and to try to be quiet and still and serious would have been disrespectful. As each of the participants took their turn at the waterfall, I floated on my back in the pool looking up at the jungle canopy, the tall tree trunks, the dangling vines, the enormous leaves and the openings to the sky in between them, smiling and holding that joyful reverence in my heart.


Lesson 4 - Moth Medicine

About a year and a half ago, I hired a designer and web developer named Wendy Marrow, of Marrow Moon Creative to take my existing website, transfer it to a different platform, and uplevel my existing brand to a more rich and custom experience. I had seen her do some beautiful work for a client the previous year, layering photographs, textures and geometric elements to create some really magical imagery.

Somewhere along the line, while we were playing with the idea of including sacred geometry, the concept of including a moth came into the mix. The idea of the moth both surprised and intrigued me. With a little research, I discovered that the message of the moth is the same as the butterfly (they are, in fact, part of the same insect group) and they symbolize metamorphosis, transformation, death of the old self and birth of the new.

In The Shamans Guide to Power Animals, the author, Lori Morrison shares that the butterfly (and moth) represents the soul and its journey. She says: “Butterfly characterizes the transformation of the soul as it passes through the stage of destruction of ego and into the glory of its freedom.”

Mmmm…. I love that.

Both creatures begin as crawling insects and then enter the pupa stage, where they fully dissolve into a mess of goo before reassembling themselves into their new form. The butterfly is commonly associated with brightness, beauty, sunshine, joy, colorful flowers and lightness of being. The moth, on the other hand is a night creature. It’s a little bit mysterious. To me it speaks to what’s underneath, to what’s internal. The moth is the moon to the butterfly’s sun. In fact some scientists believe that moths use the moon and stars to navigate, and that’s why they’re attracted to and confused by artificial light.

I love the idea of metamorphosis, of transformation of the soul, of ego destruction on the way to freedom. And I love the idea of a creature guided by the moon and the stars. It all felt very aligned with my work. And so I decided to include the moth in my brand imagery.

A few months later, while camping in Big Bend National Park with my husband. I was doing a ritual for the Full Moon in Leo, when 2 magical things occurred:

Number one - A beautiful and very large great horned owl perched itself on the tree by our campsite, right next to the full moon, and stayed there for hours

And number two – we found a very large moth on the ground in our campsite. It looked as though it had just been born (transformed) as it was barely crawling about, its wings were still damp, and it seemed to be trying to shake them out.

It stayed in our campsite all night, in the morning it had fully dried its wings, they were outspread, and before long it went on its way. It felt like a magical confirmation of the moth medicine message that had felt so aligned for my business.

Now, back to the jungle… As I was collecting items to include in my offering to the waterfall – some leaves, a stick, a flower – I suddenly saw the lifeless body of a moth the size of my hand laying on the side of the trail. It was beautiful, brown, and fully intact. I collected it onto the largest leaf I’d gathered and made a sort of burial encasement for it, placing the flower and small leaves in side with it, and placing another large leaf over the top. I carried the bundle to the waterfall, and left it as my offering.

Later that evening, after watching the sunset from the beautiful infinity pool, overlooking the ocean from the mountain top that was our home for the week, I was making my way down the jungle trail, back to my bungalow, and a large moth…or at least, I thought it was a moth… swooped past me, circled me twice, and landed on the leaf of a plant right in front of me. I stopped in a state of wonder and said hello as it sat there, perfectly still.

A few moments later, it swooped around me again, landed a little farther down the path, and finally took off into the jungle. I snapped a picture in a moment of stillness, and now I know it was actually an Owl Butterfly. A big brown butterfly, with two big yellow eyes, like an owl’s, on its wings, flitting around in the jungle at dusk, reminding me of its medicine:

Metamorphosis, transformation of the soul, ego destruction on the way to freedom. And a reminder to listen for the messages of the moon and the stars.

There are many more lessons from the jungle to share, so be sure to catch the second part of this series in just a few days. Until then, I’m wishing you even more, pleasure & profits. See ya soon.


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