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  • Writer's pictureErin DiMaggio

Sacred Adventures

Sacred Healing Adventures In Peru

In case we have never met, here's a quick introduction to me. I am a mother of three children. My days consist of running a household, a business, working on self-publishing books, and creating new material for women's retreats. And, trying to be a good wife, a good friend, volunteer at the kids' school and the list goes on and on of places I am running to and sometimes all of the running leaves me feeling far from my center. Even though I love all of my life roles, I was starting to feel like my engine was going to run out. I decided long ago that I don't ever want to be the one sitting near the end of my life wishing I would have done more with the time I had. Therefore, I try to balance my soul's call to fly free with my life responsibility to raise my children and to stay grounded with them at home. I wholeheartedly believe that we are meant to live a life of purpose, passion, and joy, and it is so easy to get caught up in the rat-race and lose sight of our mission, get drained of our passion and feel depleted from any remnant of joy.

If we want to experience the life we are meant to live we need to sign ourselves up for our adventure, schedule time to rest, nourish our bodies, free ourselves from a bit of the monotony of a task-driven life and say, "YES" to what our heart calls us to do and then, courageously follow the sweet whispers of inspiration. We need our adventure, our summer camp, our growth experiences, and opportunities to breathe fresh new life into our bodies so our children can see us in our full universal love energy. After hustling all school year, I knew I needed to get my body back in harmony by diving down deep into my soul and experiencing a sacred adventure.

When we know what we need, and we search for it, the Universe will show us the way or at least, Facebook Algorithm might flash something in front of our eyes as it did for me as I was scrolling through my Facebook Feed when I saw PERU. On screen, from the name alone, it looked like everything I needed, Insight Adventures, and it just so happened our fearless leader for the adventure would be, Jesse Gros. I mostly knew him because he was also a graduate of my Alma Mater, The University of Santa Monica, and he had a reputation for leading soul healing journeys around the world and coaching people to live their best life. After a quick check of the details on the website the words resonated with me: inner journey, sacred circle, culture, adventure, nature, raw beauty, service, self-care, balance, family, cuisine, medicine journey, and accommodations. I checked in with my husband to see if he was ok with me going, I arranged for childcare for all three kids, someone to walk the dog and feed the tortoise. I arranged for two housekeepers to take care of the house when I was gone, I got a driver for the kids' activities, made sure my passport was ready, and then, I signed up!

On May 24, 2019, as everyone else was chatting about Memorial Day, I flew from LAX to Lima and then to Cusco. I arrived in Cusco to see the visionary display of cherry reds, bright oranges, and the array of whimsical Peruvian colors in all of the shops at the airport. Jesse's life partner, Alex, who is an ultimately tender-hearted boss lady waved to us as we stepped out of the airport and into the parking lot. She guided us over to our team van, and throughout the trip, she gently kept us all together and made sure we all knew where we were going, how we would get there and she made sure we all had our packed lunches in hand.

Though I knew I was there for my adventure, I didn't know exactly what it was I needed or wanted until I received it. Upon arrival, I found myself transported into a magical oasis called Munay Sonqo. Munay Sonqo is a retreat and yoga center located in the Andes Mountains and surrounded by The Apus, the twelve mountains also known as luminous beings. Munay is a Quechua word that means, "Universal love energy" and Sonqo means "Heart." The energy of the center immediately reset my nervous system as I began to nestle into the realization that I was living my dream to be in a sacred space of healing and to get back in touch with Mother Earth.

Af first, I was surrounded by a diverse group consisting of nine strangers. Some of us were in our forties with little ones at home, some single successful entrepreneurs in their thirties who had already had several more stamps on their passport than I and with us were two grandparents in their seventies who had both lived lives of service and were joyfully embracing their next life chapters. Quickly, all illusions of age, occupation, and ego dissolved as we simultaneously invoked our inner child on our second day in Peru while we zip-lined across the Sacred Valley which resulted in fits of wild laughter and from me several warthog sized uncontrollable snorts and lion-like roars as we soared through the sky.

Natura Vive Sacred Valley Ziplining Adventures (Right by The Famous Skylodge)

After, we went back to Munay Sonqo where we gathered together in the Yoga Shala for sacred circle where Jesse masterfully guided us in healing breath work and gave us an opportunity to share what had been weighing on our hearts, our latest chapters in our lives and to envision the next glorious chapter we felt destined to write. There was an overflow of tears both of sorrow and joy as we applied loving to the places inside that ached, and we made space for bliss, for peace, and we became whole.

The next day we participated in a Despacho Ceremony with Don Augustin. For hundreds of years, the shamans or wisdom keepers of The Q'ero Lineage of Peru have used Despacho Ceremonies as a way bringing our exchange with Mother Earth back into balance because much like a Mother and a Father, much is taken from Pachamama (Mother Earth) for our survival. Don explained to us that he lives up high in the Andes Mountains, but years ago he and his people received the call to bring down their ancient rituals and traditions to teach the westerners their ways so we may bring balance and harmony between Mother Earth and ourselves. On that same night, I participated in an Ayahuasca Ceremony under the guidance of two fully embodied shamans. They serenaded us with flutes, drums, beaded feathers, sage bundles, and their voices healed us as they sang Turkish songs, Peruvian songs and as we sat in meditation, they played the words of the Dalai Lama. His voice reverberated through my cells, echoing the words, "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." I had an incredible transformation during our six hours together in the safety of The Yoga Shala as the medicine of the Amazonian wisdom plant brought opportunities both of purging of impurities and awakening to a tranquil inner-space.

I could have stopped there, and I would have felt fulfilled with my visit to Peru, but the adventures and insight continued as we participated in a Temazcal, Sweat Lodge, a tradition from ancient Mesoamerica of purifying the body and connecting with Pachamama. During the sweat lodge, the wisdom keepers guided us through what is known as the "four doors." With each door they open up the dome to let the air enter and cool us off and then, they brought in more hot stones using a pitchfork to transfer the stones from the fire to the dome and then the “Rockman” used two antlers to pick up each stone and place it on the fire. One of the doors is known as the Ego Death. It is the hottest phase, and in it we are encouraged to release all impurities. I offered up prayers for my Grandfather, who in his lifetime, I despised. The Temescal is a way of healing our ancestral line, so with the heat, the burning stones and the chants of our wisdom keepers, I sent my Grandfather's sins up with the fire and I felt a purification of my soul because I know that when we heal ourselves in the present, we bring universal healing to our ancestral line.

After all of that, we ventured high up into the Andes Mountains to a village called Chacan. Upon arrival the women of the town came out to greet us with hand made necklaces made of flowers and beans and beads and they sprinkled confetti over our heads and served us tea. At first, they did not believe we would come because up until that day, no westerners had ever visited their village. We began with open hearts, ready to work and we built them new smokeless stoves because, for many, they cook only on open fires, sometimes with the fires in their home causing an infliction of upper respiratory issues, asthma, and lung disease.

And, then it was off to the place that Peru is most well-known for, Machu Picchu, the site of an ancient Incan and pre-Incan City, about 8000 feet above sea level in the Andes. We took a train to Aguas Calientes, and on the way after eating clean, fresh farm-to-table food from the gardens of Munay Sonqo, I readily indulged myself with a Pisco Sour, one of the most popular Peruvian drinks. 

The next day we woke up at 4:30 AM to get a quick breakfast and then we rode on a bus to the top of the ancient City just before the sun peeked over the top of the Andes Mountains.  We experienced the immersion of history, culture, and an acute awareness of the engineering marvel that the Incas had built between 1450 and 1460.  We playfully took selfie after selfie.  Not one of us wanted ever to forget where we were. There are moments like that in life where even though we know they are fleeting, we want to hold onto them forever, so even if we happen to forget our joy at the top of that City, at least we will have all of our selfies to remind us of the moment. 

After Machu Picchu, we took the train to Ollantaytambo.  On our journey we  entertained ourselves playing "Heads Up" and when the train attendants put on a fashion show sporting the latest Alpaca jackets, sweaters and with one of them wearing a devil mask, we all burst into uncontrollable laughter into what had to have been the loudest group of westerners to set foot in Peru.

From Ollantaytambo we drove back to Aguas Caliente and then, onto Cusco where we shopped, we ate, we danced, we cried, and we laughed some more. There are moments in our lives when words are not enough, pictures cannot capture it all, but we are left with an indelible mark in our hearts and minds, for me Peru was all of that and so much more! The experience was indescribable, even though I just tried. In all, I felt the experience of what the Ancient Yogic Texts call Spanda, an expansive life force that was awoken in all of us, not just one of us but all of us together. Jesse and Alex gave me a once and a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. Jesse is a genuinely true spiritual leader with a playfulness that set the tone for our adventure to live wild and free. The experience was the perfect blend of joyful self-expression, laughter, culture and everything to fuel our soul, feed our bodies, and inspire our minds. Insight Adventures was everything it promised to be and so much more.

So, I leave you with this, if you ever feel like you are running on empty and you need a reset or a way to get back in balance and receive the gift of being in communion with Pachamama (Mother Earth) or you are craving connection with a crew of earth angels, let Insight Adventures be your guide back home!

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