Written by Madeleine Englis
Photos by Libby Smith
As someone who often struggles to identify their own body as a resting place, solo travel can be far from a carefree outing with oneself. But this year, I ventured to Costa Rica for a week — solo. Having lost my phone at the airport, I inadvertently forced myself to quite literally unplug. Devoid of contact to a world beyond my immediate vicinity, I spent the next five days turning inward, then outward — and inward again.
I vacillated between tumbling through the darkest edges of my entangled thoughts to retreating towards a lightness that resembled unadulterated joy, synonymous with childlike wonder — as if I were seeing the world for the first time. Without divulging too many personal details, I am in the process of healing from past traumas that still penetrate my present self — the one that is committed to leading a life that is not defined but what went wrong, but by what is going right… right here, right now.
And it is this aspirational self which has led me here — to sit with myself and learn to be my own best friend. Armed with no distractions, I spent my time in Costa Rica meditating and writing. Away from habitual obligations and the judgement that we envision others have on our actions, I was free to check in with myself and do what I wanted, not what I thought I should do.
On day three, I came to the realization that more often than not it is the mind that prevents us from becoming the person we are meant to be… which is entirely possible to achieve if we’re able to just get out of our own way and love ourselves unconditionally. When I was finally able to quiet the jagged thoughts that were propelling me towards decisions that were based in the falsehood that I somehow had control over the outcome of each and every situation, I found that a plethora of incredible people and experiences seamlessly fell into my lap. By putting less effort towards creating scenarios I thought ought to happen, I was in turn holding space for something that much more miraculous to happen, as it should.
On an intuitive level, I had already grappled with the reality that control is an illusion. And yet, it wasn’t until I was forced to sit alone with myself for a week that I believed this reality to be a blessing — one of life’s greatest joys. Our lack of control is far from a treacherous terror to be dodged again and again. By releasing our hold on what we believe should happen, we give way for glorious possibilities to unfold that we never thought imaginable.
This is where the magic is.
In simpler terms, trust the process.
Love yourself fiercely enough that you have no choice but to listen deeply to the voices guiding you towards a place where you can finally trust —trust that your very own self can be the place where you find peace, the place where you can finally rest, where you can finally breathe — and just be.