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Summer of Love Pt1 – Eco-Retreat : Ecuador

Written by Mayra McCullough

Photos by Deborah Kolb

It is that time to share Coach2Edify’s (C2E) journey this summer. We continue to evolve by collectively exploring the ways of co-creators, activating our gifts to empower others, and,  taking full ownership of our health – all united by the passion to share foundations of well-being for ALL.

This blog is my personal account of C2E’s 2nd Co-Creative Global ExplorationsEco-Retreat: Ecuador. A virtual program called Inner Explorations preceded C2E’s summer curriculum. This 3-month course took each participant through all 6 pillars of C2E’s Foundations of Well-Being Template.  Eco-Retreat: Ecuador marks the graduation for Inner Explorations and was selected for this year’s Global Exploration to continue C2E’s tradition of staying in our equator. The mission of the retreat was to explore our personal equator and how it relates to our external world. We believe that this personal equator’s key component is LOVE and that our healing capacities can be found by knowing how to access and connect with the vibrational frequency of this LOVE. That’s why we felt there is no better way to kick off the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love, the social phenomena that took place in 1967, embodying a revolution of liberty and justice for all, and above all peace and love. On a personal note, I am also celebrating my 50th birthday this year and even though I was born in 1967, I feel as if I am part of the movement.

The retreat took place the first weekend in June in the Andes plateau of Ecuador, the first week in June, in the province of Imbabura. A community that holds on to their cultural traditions and practice ceremony as their ancestors did.

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Our home for 6 nights was the Eco-Lodge, Sacha Ji. It was a sanctuary of ecological genius and the most loving heart of service I’ve witnessed to date. Hotel owner and green architect Maria Teresa Ponce was an exceptional host. She was eager to share the earthship techniques she used in designing and building this ecological paradise.

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This retreat’s creative expression is seen all throughout this article with epic photography by Deborah Kolb.

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The pictures above and below reflect how at ease I felt throughout the whole week. My body felt so light, allergy free, awake, alert, inspired, and feeling extra good. I was so aware of it. Feeling aligned with my center MOST of the time. At times experiencing very euphoric moments while being on the equator of the earth- think of it like alignment on steroids…no, not really…. more like exponential, expansive alignment.

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The first workshop of the week was on the pillar of Holistic Health, taught by Tim DeLorey, who has taught on Bio-Optimization. I had witnessed Tim preparing for his workshop months prior, and he delivered a wealth of knowledge that, if applied, will save all of us from many avoidable health concerns in our future. His class was loaded with cutting edge information that was turning everybody’s worlds upside down. He shared the science of shifting our internal and external environments, with food being a principle component as well as many other elements of our external world, such as computer screens, cell phones, chemical exposure, and toxic relationships. Overcoming our fear of science is a key element to our capacity to take ownership of our health, and he not only made it accessible, but fascinating & entertaining.

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Day two was my workshop about going deeper into the 6 pillars of well-being. I emphasized on the Body Integration pillar through a daily morning movement and later a meditation class in the yoga studio with panoramic-views through all glass sliding doors.

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The third day was dedicated to our first field trip on the pillar of Lifestyle Design. As we immersed ourselves in Otovalo Market’s creative fair of excellent craftsmanship- Latin America’s biggest outdoor market  is an exquisite demonstration of Ecuadorian passion for color, quality and tradition. We also enjoyed the street art that made of Otovalian downtown a rich gallery of top-notch art.

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On our last day of the workshop, we did the pillar of Creative Expression with Deborah Kolb for her photography 101 class. We learned so many simple and effective techniques using our cell phone cameras. She taught us about composition, lighting, editing, attending to strangers’ dignity as you photograph them, and how to use the camera to express how you feel about what you’re seeing. The panoramic shot in the collage below was taken right after her class’ inspiration. Deborah not only shared her tricks as an award-winning photographer but also looked after our own pictures and then gifted us with a photo album which matches a wedding album’s quality, very appropriate, since this was kind of a wedding to our commitment to self-care.

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Our last field trip was dedicated to the pillar of Nature Connection, as we visited the town of Peguche. The location of the famous Peguche waterfall. I was so proud of our happy campers who took on a very strenuous hike like pros, even when some had never been on a hike before. The waterfall had a quaint village enjoyed by many locals who bring their children to enjoy nature’s best.

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I loved that we had time to enjoy Sacha Ji’s grounds. Garden roofs with hammocks, breathtaking views, the constant elegant presence of the volcanoes, Mama y Papa Imbabura, which had uncanny profiles, community building fire pit, and an extended golden hour due to the equatorial location! We took hikes without having to drive anywhere and even saw wild horses stomping our hiking trail.

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We even had time to play and do an impromptu art class in the most-quaint art studio I had ever seen. We all took a class with Sacha Ji’s awesome Belén, manager and art teacher.  She taught us about watercolor and how to ‘let it go.’  Our lovely Julia found a spiraled eucalyptus tree leaf, which infused tons of inspiration. God knows how much I love playing and jumping on the trampoline.

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We all graduated from the final frontier, the pillar of Community Building, with flying colors. Even though all who came didn’t know each other, prior to the trip, we truly felt like a loving, joyful, playful, and authentically curious troopers. We became a family of happy campers!

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Our times in the hot jacuzzi were our reward and gift daily. We were actively applying one of Tim’s class biohacks “cold thermogenesis” since there was a cold plunge pool right next to the hot tub. The sunsets were pure medicine and the photography Deborah captured pure magic.

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As almost everyone in attendances expressed an strong interest in returning to next year we are most likely to take a group with us in 2018 again, so please feel free to e-mail me: mayra@coach2edify.org to start your pre-registration process. Stay tuned for my next blog, featuring Tim & I’s continued explorations in Quito and the Amazon!