Mexico Week 7: Spiritual Adventure Part 2: Rebirth and reconnection

(note: another really long post)

After getting grounding on some basics, I felt I was ready to move beyond short, introductory spiritual sessions. I decided to do some immersive and intensive deep dives into spiritual consciousness. I honestly had no idea what I was in for.

Mayan spiritual journey

By now I was ready to embrace my fourth (and very intense) experience: half-day temezcal (Mayan sweat lodge) and a shaman bonding. I was so outside of my comfort zone, my brain kept alarming with “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

I met my contact (I thought would be either Maria or Mario, but it turned out to be Carolina) at the 7-11 on the corner of Highway 307 and Coba Road.  Nothing abnormal here.

Carolina purchased a lot of electrolyte beverages and salty, spicy, crispy snacks and told me get in the backseat of rather dirty car that could not be turned off, while her boyfriend drove us. Again, nothing abnormal here.

Carolina asked if I was familiar with a particular cenote, and I said I was. She advised we would be going into the jungle near there. After 15 minutes, we drove past the highway exit for that cenote. And continued to drive past multiple exits and two towns for the next 30 minutes. We pulled over and Carolina took over driving. I started to think that Carolina and her boyfriend might have kidnapped me.

We eventually got back in the direction of the cenote and Carolina blissfully explains that her boyfriend was tired and he missed the exit. Hmmm…okay…maybe…

After retracing 30 minutes of highway miles, and 20 minutes of off-roading in an old compact car we made it to the Mayan village deep in the jungle. Somehow the boyfriend figured out how to turn off the car. With my fears of being kidnapped evaporated, my expectations for the day are now pretty basic: survival.

Upon arrival at the Mayan village, I was quickly told to change into my bathing suit inside a wall-less, under-construction hut. I was more concerned about stepping on a nail or tripping over a power tool cord than being discovered mid-changing.

Now properly attired, I was ushered over to a giant bonfire sitting in the middle of a large stone circle bench wall. The fire was probably 4-5 feet in diameter and went up about 10-12 feet in the air. All the jungle humidity was eliminated within two feet of the bonfire.

This was when I met Shaman Gabriel, who led Carolina and me through a series of ceremonial activities including thanking various Mayan deities and a fire cleanse prior to the journey into the temezcal.

Afterwards, we got down onto our hands and knees and crawled into the temezcal (the opening is about 2.5-3 feet high and wide), and settled in on various serape blankets within the 5 foot tall structure.

Once inside Shaman Gabriel explained how he built the temezcal with the help of 22 abuelas, and that each abuela buried a crystal underneath and that it was their hand prints adorning the interior of the structure. The reason for the abuela involvement, is that this particular temezcal is a figurative womb focused on recreating the birth experience for those who go in. I did not know what to expect, but being rebirthed was certainly not on the list.

As Shaman Gabriel explained all of this, every couple of minutes his assistant Pablo would pass him a pitchfork holding molten rocks, which Shaman Gabriel would then place in the middle of the temezcal. The rocks represented the feminine energy and had been heated up within the bonfire.

In a rather quick turn of events, Pablo – from the outside – covered up the temezcal’s entrance and we were plunged into utter darkness.

Shaman Gabriel then passed around instruments in the dark and began chanting and throwing water onto the molten rocks. As time progressed, it began to feel very surreal, as if it wasn’t me sweating, communing and chanting. After several minutes, it could have been 20 or 40, Shaman Gabriel instructed us to close the spiritual portal that had been opened.

Pablo quickly opened up the entrance, and Shaman Gabriel’s lanky 6’ frame was standing hunched over. His body silhouetted against the dense steam fog by the brilliant sunlight streaming into the temezcal. Carolina said it best, “It looks like a movie.”  

After 20 minutes the steam escaped the temezcal, but we stayed in, for we had another portal in which to travel. This second portal experience was similar to the first, except my and Carolina’s reaction.

Within the first few minutes, I started to get really anxious and really thirsty. I’m not claustrophobic, but I really felt like the walls were closing in on me, and I was getting desperate for hydration. I began to lick the sweat/steam off my hands and around my mouth. My desire to scream, “Stop and let me out!!” was almost overwhelming. However, I was able to calm myself and focus on Shaman Gabriel’s chants.

As we were getting ready to close this particular portal, Shaman Gabriel asked if we were ready to finish. I said I was, but Carolina was unresponsive. After calling her multiple times and attempting to find her physically in the temezcal, she eventually responded. I don’t know what happened to her, maybe she passed out, all she said was, “That was intense.” Yes, Carolina it was.

After crawling out of the temezcal, Carolina and I took a restorative soak in the cenote and drank the electrolyte beverages.

We then had a traditional Mayan lunch with Shaman Gabriel, who explained his philosophy about bringing people to the temezcal (he only does private sessions) vs brining 40+ people and being more commercialized. He also talked about the power of female energy and got deep into his personal relationship history. It was rather eye opening.

After lunch, he took us on a tour of the “museum,” which is a pyramid that consists of a family tomb (not yet filled) and reliquary he built. He discussed many of the artifacts including a 1500 year old Mayan sculpture, a Lakota wind instrument and an Aztec drum. In addition, there were several watches and animal bones on display. At this point I was in sensory overload and was quite awestruck by everything I had seen and experienced in the past few hours. Plus, I was still attempting to process the temezcal rebirth.

Intuitive healing massage and energy balancing

As my time in Mexico was coming to a close, I wanted to do a full day rebalancing session. So, I signed up for an 8 hour yoga on the beach and spiritual massage session. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and the outer arms of Hurricane Iota hit the Yucatan, badly damaging my beachfront yoga destination forcing the yogi to cancel the session.

Pablo, the yogi, offered to hold the session in his apartment. My immediate mental reaction was: “No way am I going to go the apartment of some guy I never met.” My Stranger Danger alarm was going full blast!

We settled on just doing the two hour spiritual massage at his apartment, in his healing room, as we both agreed the environment for beach front yoga is more conducive than an apartment pool.

Pablo, like many people I met over the past several weeks, was on his second life phase. Previously, he had been a brand manager for Cartier in Mexico City, and realized his lifestyle was detrimental to his health. At around 30, he quit his job, sold all of his possessions and moved to India, where he studied various philosophies for 18 months.

We talked about my own recent decision to sell my place, quit my job and travel the world, and the impetus around it. He explained the 7 year cycle belief, and based on my age I had just started a cycle when I made the decision.

After this enlightening conversation, we moved to his healing room for session that combined ayurvedic massage, reiki, prana vidya, acupressure and aromatherapy. During this time, I used my meditation visualization that Susan taught me to calm myself, as I still had alarm bells going off in my head. Because the reality of the situation is: I’m naked under the sheet at some stranger’s house in a foreign country.

Two hours later, I felt like all of my life activities, recent decisions and explorations were falling into place, and that there was a broader purpose to it all.