I'm still buzzing from the Open Channel Retreat (January 5-7, 2016) in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. The whole idea for the retreat was genius - to create more space for healing and art after Cosmic Convergence Festival (article coming soon!). At the retreat, I was able to dive deep with some of the beautiful people I briefly connected with at the large transformational gathering.
Watch the video above to get a taste of the #workshophigh I'm on from the Open Channel experience (learn more about the #workshophigh series). If you're in Lake Atitlan, you can check out the Inspiral Dance FB Page for more events from Bee Inspiral, visionary dancer and one of the event organizers. If you attended Cosmic, you may remember her from Inspiral Dance Medicine Tribe's interactive dance performance.
The Setting - Time, Place, Intention
The Open Channel Retreat took place at La KzonA in Santiago. Some participants took a private boat from San Marcos la Laguna (a popular hippie traveler town on the lake, where myself and many of the participants traveled from) to the venue, where we were greeted at a private dock with tall trees and catered breakfast. The venue hosts gave careful attention to guests, and their catering was fantastic - I highly recommend this center to people looking for a hostel or for a retreat space on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
After we shared breakfast, we learned that there was big-time "processing" going on in Santiago. A riot erupted in the streets* that morning, and the town was closed by rubble roadblocks. We learned that the previous night, an inebriated police officer was refused liquor, so he shot the shop owner. This launched a civil war in the town which resulted in the military and police forces evacuating the town after their stations were burned by the citizens. For the entire time of our retreat, there was no police in the town! Needless to say, it was a bit tricky for many of the retreat participants and facilitators to arrive on time due to the roadblocks and riots.
Yet everything happens for a reason. Although we were safe in our conscious-vibe retreat bubble, helicopters whirred overhead. During our opening ceremony, we asked for the safe arrival of all participants and facilitators, and we connected our hearts and held space with love for the events unfolding in the town. With the help of Bee, who facilitated the opening ceremony, we remained calm, grounded, and centered, despite the fact that we could barely hear each other over the looping helicopters. She invited us to drop into the deeper meaning, and to see the gifts when alternate realities collide. How do we walk in our truth and our highest dream when faced with the chaos of a world falling apart and re-organizing itself? Without too much disruption, the retreat began.
The Experience - "Open, Allow, Evoke, Embrace, Translate, Embody"
We were lead through three days of opening our energy bodies, our voices, our physical bodies, and our creative spirit. Each facilitator, or channeler, brought their own perspective, their own gifts, and their own insight into exploring the art of channeling.
Throughout the entire experience, I kept coming back to the thought, "I've always wanted to learn and practice this! This is a dream come true!" When Jerry Walsh shared Tuvan Throat singing and Sound Healing with the group, I remembered attending Symbiosis 2013 and setting my intention to learn these things one day. I am grateful for his workshop where he shared his medicines. Listen:
Another one of my dream realities collided into the collective-shared reality when Bee Inspiral lead her Visionary Dance workshop. We learned Geometric Configuration Technique and Liquid Lotus Meditation, followed by movement exercises designed to assist us in opening up to our own authentic expression. She gave us a powerful download of the "gridoshpere," which essentially is the energy ley-lines of the earth and our bodies. She shared how channeling is being a lightening rod in the earth, and when we channel through dance, we dance "with the light", activating portals with the codes (shape + intention) of our dances.
This resonated with me from my personal experience connecting with the energy of something greater than myself when dancing at music festivals. In those sweaty and dehydrated moments (and sometimes with plant medicines), my dance transformed into an activation for the gridosphere. Yet, coming back to my day-to-day reality after those transcendent experiences, I always felt the need to protect and hide my experiences from the larger world. If I were to tell people, would they question my sanity and shatter my personal truth of experience? Did I, myself truly believe what I channeled when lost in my dance?
At Open Channel, I felt validated and almost in disbelief that there I was, actually taking a workshop on the subject of embodying impulses of energy and activating portals of light. "Who sanctioned this curriculum?" wondered some outdated part of my mind that grew up on obeying authority. I laughed to myself when I caught myself thinking in this way. "Each one of is validating this experience by being present and committed," I confirmed to myself. I looked around and saw the peaceful faces of the other participants in the circle and reminded myself that I can live in whichever reality I choose to create for myself. And, I'm doing well with my decision making!
Opening to the Channel - Heart Steady, Feet Heavy
I received the clearest message for myself during the Visionary Painting workshop from Juan Carlos Taminchi. He shared about his mission to share the medicine plants of the Amazon and to cultivate the creative spirit in humankind.
"I understand that nature, like in my painting, is alive, no? It's alive, with energy. It's also alive with love. The natural world vibrates: the sound of the water, the trees, the wind... And so when we encounter these worlds, or when we connect in meditation, we can visualize the geometries and energies that are alive in these plants and worlds."
- Juan Carlos Taminchi, January 2016, Open Channel Retreat, Guatemala
After he shared with us, he offered a rapé (powdered tobacco) ceremony to connect us with the plant spirits and our creativity. My dose cleared my mind from various layers of thought and opened me into the present moment. I also grounded deeply, and sank into my mat on the grass. I looked up, and I saw a great pine tree reaching out over me. I felt the trees roots, holding me below the soil. My sisters, friends, aunts, cousins, and mother all came to me in a dancing rush of energy. I felt connected and held by them, seen and safe to follow my dreams. I closed my eyes and began to dream with the medicine music that washed over me. Suddenly, I could see the image that transmitted the feeling I was experiencing. I almost jumped up to catch it with a pencil, but I steadied myself, and remembered that the ceremony had just began, and I could relax and deepen into the energy. So I made a mental photo, and then flew off into the world of my imagination.
When I came back from my vision-journey at the end of the ceremony, it was time to paint. For the first time in my life, I was able to draw figures with space-relation to each other and to the ground! It was a miracle! My art revealed the new depths of my soul: the more intricate understanding of myself that I gained from the deep inward journey of the rapé medicine ceremony.
The good experiences kept coming. One of my favorite activities was Shamanic Tantric Weaving from Selva Bhairavi. Here's a video of me weaving I posted on Instagram:
In Gratitude For All That Comes Through
The overall experience of the Open Channel Retreat was phenomenal - I came in with the intention to be facilitated and to do some personal work before my 10 day Birth Into Being Workshop and Training in Guatemala in March. I received exactly what I asked for, and so much more. The quality of space held by the two organizers and various channelers exceeded my expectations. I felt their dedication to their arts come through, as well as their dedication to sharing and education. Everyone involved was committed to providing a connective and deep experience for the participants. Their teamwork was stupendous and as a recipient of the experience they created, I am grateful.
Adrian Lobo shared about his post-workshop experience:
Just landing from a beautiful and amazing retreat on a magical cottage nestled by the Lake and Jungle. It was truly a blessing to be surrounded by dozens of amazing individuals all seeking to Open our Channels through dance, music, art, plant medicines and more ! I got to share in Energy Mastery and Jedi training with fellow seekers, and also learned so much from the other amazing facilitators and guests! Learned new Tuvan throat singing skills, new medicine songs, art therapy, and received my first Rhapé ceremony! Truly an enlightening experience! I am sincerely grateful for the Open channel team for bringing me on board and co-creating this beautiful experience. The channel has been Opened! We are streaming the Divine Light of our Soul Songs! Transmitting cosmic inspiration and illumination revelations!! May we all be a channel for that Divine Light! Keep sharing your gifts, let it shine through, we are here, we got this! Aho! #openchannel #openchannelretreat
Wishing you all a joyous 2016! Here's to saying YES to what we want!
*Note about the article linked: I tried to find a basic reporting of the incident online, however every major news source seemed to have a slant against the indigenous town, or was warning that it was unsafe to travel there. So I cited an article that has a bias towards tourism and travel, which at the least, didn't offend me.
**If you have more media from the retreat and would like to share them, be in touch with me!