Twenty-two years ago my three-week visit to Mexico started and ended in a dentist’s chair. That wasn’t the plan, although I did hear Mexico City was the destination of choice for American tooth-tourists. This time was different. Not being one for superlatives I will just say I’ve had an absolutely wonderful time, meeting lovely people, going to fantastic places and enjoying unexpected and profound experiences.
It was a healing journey too, following the trauma of closing the Zen School and all the storms around that sad time that left me feeling shattered: the school, the child I had birthed and nourished for the twenty one years of its life had become, almost, my identity. I felt I was losing myself, despite loving reminders from my beloved Anamarta that I was still a wonderful teacher of the Tao, a successful author, who can help people find themselves and fulfil their own dreams. But how strange, and only now as I write do I realize that my times in Mexico came before the beginning and after the end!
We had planned our trip, our annual escape from the English winter, made possible by the success of Anamarta’s Jade Circle. Little did we guess where this would lead when Mayella, one of our UK students, suggested Anamarta should bring the Jade Circle to Mexico and introduced us to a wonderful local organizer, Karla Martinez. An amazing group of open-minded women gathered for the first Jade Circle Retreat in Mexico, Queretaro. One of the features of this Retreat was a ‘Temazcal’, a ritual sweatlodge tradition from pre-hispanic times. I confessed to a little disappointment that, being a man, I could not join in but was in for a pleasant surprise a month later.
A few days in Mexico City reminded me of how much I had enjoyed my time before, on side-trips from the dentist. Laid-back hospitality, music on every corner, great food in even the humblest diner, and, with few exceptions, friendly and gracious people. Our friend Diego Perez, himself a wonderful musician, found us a place to stay within our budget and showed us the city’s culture, from Frida Kahlo to late night jazz pop. The lovely Mahima gave us a tour of the ancient and the modern of this, the biggest city in the world, before we set off for our beach holiday retreat.
Mazunte we found similar to Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia where we were six years before, and to Kho Pha Nghan in Thailand where we honeymooned the year before that. Beautiful beaches, swimming in calm clear water, and an easy-going Mexican vibe. Our Miramar cabana overlooked the beautiful bay and the sunrise, and a few minutes walk would take us to La Mermelita, big bouncy waves for body-surfing, where each evening the sun would put on the most amazing exhibition of colors. We saw whales, dolphins and turtles close enough to touch.
We packed our bags and headed north, pausing in Oaxaca to celebrate the arrival of 2014 by dancing to a Mariachi Band in the plaza.
The overnight bus brought us back to Queretaro where our journey began and two days later I was introduced to Edna Alicia Sosa Millan, the Medicine Woman who facilitated the Temazcal. Gabbye Mayorga carried out the purification by smudging the copal and Karla drummed.
I have participated in and facilitated sweat lodges all over the world, from Majorca to Hawaii and many places between. Here, with the intensity of the ritual, the power of the medicine, the presence of the Medicine Woman, and overwhelming sense of welcome and acceptance from everyone,
The days that followed were filled with fun and laughter, Anamarta and I enjoying time with Karla and Gabbye, Zaira, Nadia and Chaz, and all the lovely new friends we made on this wonderful journey.
If you ask me to sum up my Mexican experience with one word I will say – Joy! A deep healing: time to leave the past behind, in the past, where it belongs. And now I am ready to launch into the New Year with an exciting Tai Chi weekend in a few days time.
Zen School, Jade Circle Anamarta, Jade Circle Mexico Retreat, Taoist Teacher & Author, Karla Martinez, Diego Perez, Hotel Principal, Mahima, Miramar Mazunte, Hostal Pochon Oaxaca, Posada Matamoros Qeretaro, Edna Alicia Sosa Millan, Gabbye Mayorga, Zaira, Nadia, Chaz,