Let Your Heart Decide Retreat

Macaw Lodge, Costa Rica November 16 – 21, 2024

A retreat for anyone looking to quiet their minds and awaken
the original intelligence of their hearts in order to discover and honor their deepest calling.

This retreat begins with the premise that we humans process our lives in two places simultaneously: in our minds and in our hearts. We know that the heart has intelligence, for it is made up of neurons. Some researchers even suggest that the heart is the primary decision maker of our internal consciousness, but we have been sorely miseducated in the ability to listen to our heart’s voice. Instead, we live in a world of mind-over-matter, of mental-logical-rational dominance over the intricate and mysterious wisdom of the heart.

We have all heard someone say, “Listen to your heart,” but how? How does one listen to the heart? Most of us were never taught, and worse, most believed that it was nonsense to begin with. This retreat is all about reclaiming the ability to listen to the heart, and in doing so, explore the deepest desires of our inner nature as answers to the most sacred questions we carry with us.

Before you arrive at this retreat, you’ll be asked to identify one such question: something you are wrestling with, something that wakes you up in the night and you can’t seem to sort out why. Over the course of our time together, you’ll be exploring that question with the support of the group and the presence and wisdom of the More than Human World. We’ll explore these questions through the use of many modalities including forest bathing, drum circle, sound bathing, breathwork, ecstatic dance, contemplative journaling, story weaving, witnessing and mirroring. Here’s what you can expect:

This retreat might be right for you if

You’re struggling to make a big decision.
You’re feeling stuck in your life.
You’re having trouble honoring the voice of your heart or can’t hear it at all.
You’re finding yourself overwhelmed with constant thinking.
You’re feeling like you can’t slow down and there’s no time to relax.

About the Venue

Nestled among the hills and lush forests of the Cerros de Turrubares, in the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica, Macaw Lodge is more than just an eco-resort. It is a paradise where you can pamper your senses and discover the genuine natural wonders of Costa Rica.

Around the lodge is a tropical botanical garden of 5 hectares with more than 500 species of heliconias and bromeliads from all over the world, including ornamental, medicinal and agricultural plants. Wherever you look or walk there is something amazing to see and experience! The 264-acre property offers eight acres of cultivated trails where you can stroll through the giant black bamboo forest, hike to the waterfall and take a refreshing swim, enjoy a break in the gazebo overlooking the lagoon or take refuge in the palm forest.

macaw lodge retreat center
macaw lodge retreat grounds<br />
macaw lodge retreat room

Program Overview

Day 1

Retreat Arrival Costa Rica


Our first day is simply about arriving and preparing ourselves for the journey ahead. We’ll have an introduction circle and eat dinner together. This will allow you to settle in and get to know the other participants as well as your facilitators.

Day 2

At the base of a tree at the retreat center

Origin of the Question

Our second day asks us to interrogate our own question. Where did it come from? Who does it belong to? Why am I the one carrying it? In questioning this, we arrive in deeper relationship to our quest and the question that drives it.

We will start our day with a slow and gentle Forest Bathing walk. After this sensory activity that will give you the opportunity to connect to this place in a deeper way, we will gather for lunch. The afternoon will be open for doing some journaling and then bringing our stories together in council.

After sunset, we will discover the night life of the forest
Set in a rainforest, Macaw Lodge is surrounded by wetlands, ponds and rivers rich in amphibious life. In the cool of the night, illuminated by the moon and its lantern, you are likely to discover a large number of creatures such as the rain frog, yellow cricket frog, cane toad and cascading glass frog, among others, as well as reptiles.

Forest Bathing

Day 3

Person spending time alone at the retreat center

Asking the Question

Our third day is dedicated to asking our question, in many different ways and in many different spaces. This is a day of listening, where we will make space to receive what we ourselves could never see.

Today we will have time to sit with the land and receive its wisdom and the wisdom of our heart. Perhaps the land and our heart are trying to show us something? Nature holds up a mirror in front of us, allowing to see what otherwise is very difficult to notice.

We will have lunch together and enjoy delicious farm to table food mostly grown on the property

We will have a teacher council in the afternoon followed by a relaxing Sound Healing Session, perfect for incorporating and ending a very insightful day.

Teacher Council
Sound Healing

Day 4

Touching a leaf on a retreat

Living the Question

Our fourth day is a solo journey into nature where you will be invited to live the question by creating a ritual of your own design. By enacting this ritual, the question comes to life within you and you within it.

The day starts with a gathering where we will prepare you for your 3 hour Solo Wander on this amazing land. Let your body and your heart guide you to the bamboo forest, the pond or the waterfall or simply spend time sitting in the botanical garden. There is no right or wrong way.
You will find your personal ritual or way to start your solo wander and also to end it. After that there will be time to share our stories and be part of each participant’s journey.

The afternoon program is all about chocolate and its origins. Since ancient times, cocoa has been vital to life in Central America. You’ll see the ancient traditions practiced at Macaw Lodge today. The tour takes you through our cocoa plantations to learn about the varieties of cocoa trees, characteristics and the fruit, as well as all that’s involved in the process of bringing this beneficial fruit to the table.

Solo Wander
Story Council

Day 5

two people supporting one another on a nature retreat

Answering the Question

Our last full day invites an expression that answers the question from our own hearts. Such an answer may not be what you expected, and such an answer may not come in perfect clarity, and nevertheless, we will make space for it to exist in its own sense of belongingness.

Our day will start with some breath awareness practices to be fully in our bodies and tap into our most inner wisdom. We will take time to listen.

And then we will release all that beautiful energy in an energizing drum circle, celebrating the awakening and arising of that knowing. Drumming is all about tapping into your inner unique rhythm, and letting yourself go into that flow.

The afternoon is free.
Today is a day of celebrating. We will have our party to honor all the answers and gifts we received during these days.

Drum Circle
(DJ Set)

Day 6

tea under the trees on a retreat in costa rica

Deciding what to do with the Question

Our final day asks us what to do with the question, how to apply the healing, learning and perspective that we have cultivated to our lives back home. This is the medicine of the journey in that it is what you bring home with you, the feeling of your own heart and the voice deep within it.

Integration Time. After our insights and new perspectives have settled into our bodies a little bit, it’s time to share our final story and weave them together as a group into a magical colorful fabric.

Story Weaving

The Schedule Is Subject To Change: Ben and Manuela work spontaneously and we will adjust the program depending on what we feel serves the group.


Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing is a slow wander through a natural environment, where we use our senses to get to know nature in a different way than we usually do. It is not a hike with a certain destination in mind, forest Bathing is about being in the moment and not about getting anywhere: it is about the journey and not the destination. Being present in the moment has a lot of benefits on our health and stress response and opens up new perspectives in our lives.  

It is inspired in the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, that started at the beginning of the 80´s in Japan, due to a health crisis. There was a shift in the economy and people were moving from rural areas into big cities and that lifestyle change caused a lot of stress and therefore an increas of autoimmune diseases and cancer. 

Forest Bathing has proven to lower our stress hormones, inrease our Immune system function, increase focus and creativity and give us a sense of general wellbeing. Something we hear very often from participants after a forest bathing walk is that sensation of belonging to nature, to feel at home.

“If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.” -Alan Watts


Drum Circle

Find your inner rhythm, trust your own beat. Drum circles are not about knowing how to drum, you don’t have to be a professional percussionist. It is about connecting to yourself, your natural inner rhythm, your heart, connecting to others in the circle and communicating beyond words, creating unique, spontaneous music. Drumming has proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, create a sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and empowerment, increase tolerance and increase a sense of belonging to a community.

“Whenever people  gather to play the drum, the world is a better place” – Babtunde Olatunji



The three intentions of ceremony are intention, attention and attitude. In this aspect, everything can be a ceremony if we intend it to be. Ceremonies mark essential moments in our lives and create bonds of commitment we make with ourselves and with our communities. Whatever is done during a ceremony, be it poetry, a procession, something symbolic, becomes emotionally embedded and imprinted into our memories and our hearts. Ceremonies act as a threshold that allows us to move from one phase of our lives to the next with ease, grace and steadfast commitment.

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood” – Pablo Neruda


Story Weaving

Story Weaving is a community building practice wherein people learn to harvest and incorporate the wisdom found in the stories of others. Story Weaving represents an interwoven inward and outward journey: connecting us more deeply to ourselves by helping us recognize our fundamental interconnectedness.

“We are the weavers, we are the woven ones. We are the dreamers, we are the dream.” – Lorna Kohler


Heart Math

The Heart coherence meditation is a simple, short and very effective way to bring heart and brain into coherence. It is an easy-to-learn and powerful tool that you can do anywhere. When we are in a coherent state, there is a sense of stillness and harmony. Benefits of this practice include improved decisión-making and clarity of thought, reduced stress levels and improved sleep quality.

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the heartbeat of the Universe, to match your nature with Nature.” – Joseph Campbell


Way of Council

To speak our stories is to offer our medicine to the world and to listen deeply is perhaps the greatest act of love we can offer to another being. Council is a listening practice that invites us to listen from the heart and make space to simply receive without the need for response, judgment or agreement. It is a space of radical hospitality, where each person has a chance to share in a spontaneous, heartfelt way. Within this circle, there is no right or wrong; together, our stories come to represent a way of seeing the world beyond the limitations of our subjective perspectives.

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Maya Angelou


Expressive Arts

Create in partnership with nature, leaves, sticks, flowers, seeds, rocks, sand…. Create freely with not specific outcome in mind – without the burden of having it to be a certain way. Engage your senses with the diversity of textures and colors of natural elements. Creating art with natural elements. It helps foster a relationship with nature whilst improving knowledge and understanding of natural features and processes and supports participants relaxation by being in the present moment.

“Beauty lies in nature and reveals, once the artist has perceived it, its own expressive power” – Gustave Courbet



Nature holds all of life’s processes. Birth, death, change, resilience, strength, collaboration, competition, obstacles, flow, the list is endless. Nature holds up a mirror and helps us see our own processes clearer. This supports us in making better decisions and widening our perspectives.

“Nature often holds up a mirror, so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in our lives” – Mary Ann Brussart



Nature holds all of life’s processes. Birth, death, change, resilience, strength, collaboration, competition, obstacles, flow, the list is endless. Nature holds up a mirror and helps us see our own processes clearer. This supports us in making better decisions and widening our perspectives.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart” – William Wordsworth



Breathwork brings together the Mind, Body and Heart. Remembering how to breathe has powerful effects on our overall wellbeing. 

It nourishes our physical body by oxygenating our cells, promoting healing, and boosting our immune system. Simultaneously, it calms our minds, quieting the incessant chatter and allowing us to tap into a state of deep relaxation and peace. 

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky, conscious breathing is my anchor. ”  – Thich Nhat Hanh


Sound Healing

Unwind, relax and let the vibration of different sound healing instruments, like handmade tibetan bowls, gong, koshi, and drums do their job while you listen to the different sounds and let go into a Deep inner journey.  

The sound vibrations penetrate deep into the tissue. This improves blood circulation and metabolism, regulates muscle tension and deeply stimulates the tissue. Moreover, regeneration and repair mechanisms are stimulated.  Sound healing is both activating and relaxing – so it also has a refreshing effect.

Some of the benefits of Sound Healing include less chronic pain, better sleep patterns, reduced anger and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as an overall sense of relaxation and wellbeing.

“Everything in Life is Vibration” – Albert Einstein


Tier 1 – US $1850 per person
Retreat price per person in single



Tier 2 – US $1650 per person
Retreat price per person in double


What is included?

Transportation to/from San Jose airport (arrival no later than 2:00 pm on November 16th 2024, 5 nights of lodging, all meals starting with dinner on November 16th and ending with lunch on November 21st 2024.

Cacao Tour and Night Tour are also included.
Pre Retreat reading materials and workbook

Special dietary restrictions will be accommodated.
All the described activities in the program

What is not included?

Airfare, food and beverage outside the meal times, insurance.

Refund Policy

We understand that sometimes life happens and we want to be as flexible as we can be.

Cancellation up to 90 days before the event start: 100% refund Cancellation between 89 and 60 days before the event starts: 50% Cancellation between 59 and 30 days before the event starts: 25% Cancellation 29 days or less before the event: No refund

Book Now

Register before June 30th, 2024 and receive an early-bird discount of 10%.

Use promotional code – EarlyBirdCR


Can I pay in installments?

Yes, we want to make the retreat as accessible as possible. Reach out and we can find a plan that works for you and us

What should I pack?

Comfortable clothing (for Costa Rica we recommend fast drying clothes), closed toed shoes, flip flops, bathing suit, hat, sunglasses, rain jacket, sunscreen, bugspray.
Notebook, situpon, any medications and or prescriptions you are taking, anything else you need to be comfortable. We will share any updates prior to the retreat.

How big will the group be?

The group will be maximum 20-22 people.

Do I need any prior experience?

No, not at all. All you need is to come with an open heart and an open mind. All life experiences are welcome and will enrich the journey for everyone. 

What is included and what not?

Please click HERE for a detailed list of what is included and what not.

Will you be able to assist with airport transfers?

Yes, and we will also share a document where you might be able to share rides with other retreat participants

Will I share my room? Are there any single accommodations available?

Some of the rooms are private single rooms, others are shared. Please reach out to us and we will work with you to get you the most suitable accommodation type for you.

The private (single) accommodations are limited and are on a first come – first serve basis.

I have special dietary restrictions. Are you able to accommodate them?

Yes, absolutely. We have been working with the caterer and he is very knowledgeable about dietary restrictions and ingredients. Please reach out to us and let us know what you can and what you cant eat and we will offer you delicious meals that are in compliance with your restrictions.

Can I travel with my partner if they don't take part of the retreat?

It depends on the availability of the venue. Please reach out directly to us to discuss options.

Is there wi-fi?

Yes, there is free wi-fi available in least the common areas of the venue.

What is the weather like?

In Costa Rica, November is a transition month. The weather is usually humid, not too hot and it might get a little cooler at night. We will update you prior to the retreat.

Can I extend my stay after the retreat?

It depends on the retreats availability. Please contact us. 

The Energy between Manuela and Ben is contagious– They hold a space for their participants that is open, Heartfelt, fluid, and harmonious.  As seasoned Guides, they have finely honed their abilities to invite participants into the present moment, and into interconnection with all of the Life that surrounds us.  It is Truly a relief to share a forest journey with Manuela and Ben; as they guide participants via the somatic and the sensory, in cooperation with the thriving World we live in.
Ryan Redmond

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