Pat Riley Woods
It has been 1 month since I returned from the retreat at Vida Asana in Costa Rica. It has taken some time for me to digest the experience of this retreat. Waves of Hope and Vida Asana are a truly wonderful blessing to those of us who have had to endure the loss of a child.
As a bereaved parent everyday is a struggle. The blessing from Waves of Hope to spend time at Vida Asana in Costa Rica has changed my life.
The time spent in the beautiful jungle retreat that is Vida Asana is like living in a dream. Everything is green and lush. Sean McDonald and the staff at Vida Asana could not be more loving and welcoming. The fresh meals provided by Frank and the kitchen staff are excellent and just what your body is craving after such a long debilitating struggle. The opportunity to participate in yoga, journal writing, grief counseling and healing holistic body treatments make you feel you have your own private world for healing. The excursions arranged by Waves of Hope challenge you and help to restore some of the self-assurance that is shattered when your world comes crashing down. They remind you that you are strong, you can do anything your heart desires if you give yourself the chance.
Aside from all the wonderfulness I have written above, what affected me the most?
The people, the other bereaved parents. Being with other parents who have suffered the loss and feel the pain that you do is so healing. You have an immediate bond to these people and the acceptance is complete. You are there to share your hearts and soul and you receive back love, comfort and healing. We will forever be bonded. They are my people. We are a jungle family 💖
Ivonne @ Waves of Hope and Sean @ Vida Asana are angels and are helping broken hearts find a way to live a full life. I will forever be grateful to them for giving me the chance to let some light back into my life.
This retreat is a GIFT.
Plain and simple…a GIFT of LOVE.
I have experienced grief. I honestly thought I knew it well and would not be surprised by any ‘transformation” felt by anyone attending this healing retreat . I was wrong. I felt an entirely new level of knowing, and soul connect. Most profound was to witness Grief stricken Parents face their fears, conquer them, not only empowering themselves but vowing to help others. There was not one specific event that created the “breakthrough”, it was multiple activities geared toward healing and getting in touch with those voices inside. Most of all ,the community we created through shared experience. All of us different, from different States in the US, almost different in every way except the thread of connection of loss of a child . I have no doubt that this group will remain connected and supported as we walk our separate journeys. WOH…thankyou for the experience. Never again alone on the birth day or anniversary.
I feel blessed to have been a part of 2019 Waves of Hope retreat. It gave my husband and I, for the first time in the two years, since my daughter died a moment to be still. We were able to regenerate, reconnect with each other and recharge our energies. The three healers that answered the call were amazing. The connection between them and all who attended was truly intended by our guardian angels. Watching all of our vibrational levels rise throughout the week was inspiring. Each parent getting a little lighter and lighter each day, through all the services provided, like grief counseling, yoga, group therapy, acupuncture, NADA, journaling, hiking, mandala drawing, relaxing by the pool, nourishing food, guided meditation, sweat lodge ritual, and so much more. WOH is a gift that some of us could not have afforded. Although you can put a monetary amount on how much it costs to attend the gift it provides is invaluable. You can not set a price on healing from the loss of your child. You can not set a price on reconnecting with your heart. Creating a new understanding on how to move forward. Thank you WOH for seeing a need and answering a calling to heal so many lives. Because you have touched my life, I now can share the gift with others around me and continue to help the rest of my family heal. Truly the WAVES OF HOPE are never ending!”
Maria Joseph's son, Peter Michael Joseph, was murdered in 2006. Since then Maria has written 79 journals to help her cope with her grief. Below are some of Maria's journal entries from the retreat.
3/4/2018 – Day 1 – What a FANTASTIC 1st day. We start early, 7:00 am meeting. Then we did some strong meditation . Not a dry eye was there. Ate breakfast 8:30. 10am we did Yoga. Oh boy, moved joints I forgot about! Then it was lunch time. A bunch of us rode bikes to the beach and swam in the ocean. This is HEAVEN on earth here. I will be back.
3/5/2018 – Day 2. This all just keeps getting better and better by the second. Everyone, everything is so RIGHT ON. I never imagined how wonderful all this was going be. I’ve fallen in love with everyone. I was askedwhat was my favorite? EVERYTHING IS. The blessings everyone here is receiving by all MEANS will HELP us continue to HEAL. The meditation, the yoga every morning is so what I needed to learn and do. Its getting DEEPER, and BETTER by the second. Never imagined THIS IS ALL SO BEAUTIFUL. My heart melts, its singing with the birds. I was asked “Who was my favorite? EVERYONE. I love everything HERE. FOREVER GRATEFUL from the bottom of my HEART. God Bless Us All. So Rich. So Healthy. PERFECT. Zip-lined today. 13 lines. I did 2 alone and rode the rest with a guide. One line was 2000 feet. We were really really HIGH up there too! With the guide, it was fast and I felt more secure and Smiled big time. Had live music after dinner tonight. It just keeps getting better and better. The workshops are spot on. The meditation and the Yoga everyday really is what I needed more than I ever could imagine.
3/6/2018 – Day 3 – Went to Rainmaker, hiked and went swimming. Went out to dinner on the beach and watched another awesome sunset. Healing is taking place in our HEART’S, MINDS, and SPIRITS. We are all over comers and achievers. Blessings upon blessings are happening here. COSTA RICA we will be back!! God Bless .
3/8/2018 – Day 4 – Went on a nice hike. This whole week has been BEYOND words. The tools we’ve been given to help each one of us to keep unlocking levels, to keep excelling, moving forward. Learning from our losses, and our pain. CREATED a whole new being. I am and will be FOREVER GRATEFUL to VIDA ASANA here in BEAUTIFUL COSTA RICA. This whole adventure has been beyond and out of this world. I’m so THANKFUL. I came here not knowing anyone, I’m leaving with fabulous people who and will always be connected to me. Sweet Yum
3/10/2018 – Last Day – I cannot yet put my words down on paper what this week has meant, done, and how it all fell into my hands is by all means “A Blessing from Above”. Miracles have been made. LIFE expectations have a new perspective too. Its good to feel loved. I learned too, I am good enough. Lum
3/11/2018 – What an INCREDIBLE week. WOW Thank you EVERYONE for being at this MOST rewarding retreat ever in a life time. The HEALING, TRANSFORMATION to use the tools given to us to continue living a healthier life. I’m still processing all of this. Forever and ever grateful to you. I will be back. GOD BLESS EVERYONE. We are ENOUGH. We are LOVED. LUM
3/12/2018 – We are all home now. 1 week ago I was doing things I’ve never done, ate foods I had no idea what but it was Fabulous food. I lost weight lol. I’m still processing and found myself in another way. This gift, out of the blue, was the BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME IN the 12 years since I lost my ONLY son PETER MICHAEL JOSEPH. I’m in a different place of walking in my life. I want to THANK AGAIN EVERYONE who was there. Everyone really brought their game on. So much love, wisdom, understanding, strength, gee I COULD write a book on my experiences from my entire week in COSTA RICA. I look forward to heading south to Florida to see my girls. This light inside of me is GLOWING FULL OF LOVE. FOREVER GRATEFUL. Words cannot express how much medicine you all shared. Love you forever and ever.
Pictured above: Sean McDonald, owner of Vida Asana giving Maria some love.
The video below was taken soon after Maria lost her only son Peter Michael Joseph. They were celebrating his first birthday in heaven with his family, friends and community. It’s a difficult video to watch as you can’t help but feel this mothers pain. Its been a long grueling journey for Maria but she’s put in a lot of hard work healing her heart and putting the pieces of her life back together again, as best as one can after losing her only child. Since then Maria has spoken at countless events and to many grieving parents, giving them hope that even though it may not feel like it at the moment there is life and love after the grief. Maria is not only an inspiration to parents that have had to travel the same dark road but she is also one of our greatest inspirations for continuing to host our Waves of Hope healing retreat.
Rosemarie Gonzalez Gainza
I just arrived home after a miracle week at Vida Asana, feeling so thankful and grateful, for the Vida Asana crew, and everybody that was part of this healing retreat…when you look in the eyes of somebody who understands your pain, because they have the same pain, first we cry, then we let go. The pain transforms into light, and this transformation was the miracle…I feel so much stronger and happier…THANK YOU!!
As I sit and write this thank you for the amazing healing retreat I was blessed to have been a part of, I find myself with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. You see the reason behind this retreat and why it came to fruition was due to the loss of my daughter Holly Ambrosait and our friend Lupe Galluccio who both passed away from suicide. My amazing friend Ivonne Lizarazo finding herself so affected by the loss of these two beautiful souls and by the pain that I found myself in, decided she just couldn’t sit back and not do anything about it. I can’t thank her enough for doing what she did in making this trip happen. With a plane ride to Costa Rica on March 4th 2018 and a car ride to Vida Asana our retreat was started. Upon arriving at Vida Asana we were greeted by Sean McDonald and his wonderful staff who couldn’t have been more accommodating. Our luggage was put in our rooms, a delicious meal was prepared and we introduced ourselves to one another. From initially meeting these amazing parents and being a little apprehensive at first, to six days later when we would all leave there sharing a bond that will surely be treasured forever. I was in awe of how beautiful Vida Asana was. I wasn’t sure what to expect but, it far exceeded any expectations I might have had. Everyday we would wake up to the sounds of the cicadas, the birds singing & the smell of that delicious Costa Rican coffee. We had morning meditation led by either Sharon Juraszek or Rosemarie Gonzalez Gainza which was the perfect way to start the day. (Om Shanti my love’s) We did several fun excursions. We went to the beach, zip lining (which was amazing!), we went to the Mirador for an incredible sunset view and we hiked the Rainmaker. So proud of everyone for finishing such a challenging climb! While we were at rainmaker swimming in this refreshing watering hole I shared a moment with my friend where we saw these two beautiful butterflies and I just knew that our loved ones were there with us. It was such a bittersweet magical experience as I wish my daughter Holly and our friend Lupe could have physically been there, but I know they were there in spirit! I could just feel them. As a matter of fact I felt all of the spirits of our children there! I want Joanne, Sue, Gary, Maria, Shamyra, Shell and Stacie, Rosemarie and Ivonne to know how beautiful you all are and how inspiring you all are to me. I want to thank all of the people who donated their time and services in making this first of many trips the most amazing time since the loss of my daughter. I laughed and cried but most importantly I began the healing process and felt a shift in my energy by the third day where I learned to be a bit more silent and just take it all in. Surrender. Again thank you Sean McDonald for providing the space for us to heal and to Ivonne Lizarazo, thank you for your hard work and dedication in making this idea of Sean’s a reality. I am forever in your debt as you gave me something I can never repay and that was peace of mind and the feeling of not being alone. I can’t wait for the next.. I love you.
Joanne Rulli Braunsberg
Now that I’m getting settled back in PA I wanted to acknowledge the wonderful people that came into my life last week at Vida Asana in Costa Rica. Sean McDonald and Ivonne Lizarazo thank you for this life changing opportunity of healing, new friendships of the kindness, most loving people. It only encourages me to continue a much deeper connection. Many thanks to our healing team, Sharon Juraszek, Kendra Simpkins, Jessie Reese, Rosemarie Gonzalez Gainza, Alexandria Romero you all have helped me reach a daily goal of being better than I was the day before. I am forever grateful for the gifts you shared with us. Also meeting the rest of the gang Maria Joseph, Gary Black, Annie Schuller, Shamyra Cooper, Shell, Stacie Shrader, Steve Katelman, you’re a very special tribe. It really feels like everything aligned perfectly to all be united in such a magical place. And of course Susan Childers, my friend from so many years ago. Even though our circumstances aren’t the way we wished, I’m blessed to have you to journey with. I loved the adventures of hiking Rainmaker, zip lining among the monkeys, surf lessons and a beautiful dinner by the ocean. The food was beyond amazing and I’m continuing with the vegetarian lifestyle. It will take some practice to get to the level of culinary expertise of your staff!
Ivonne, your vision for this retreat was so inspiring. To be a part of this group and the first retreat is indescribable. I truly believe this was a turning point in all of our lives. Hats off to Sean McDonald for hosting and sponsoring this event. Vida Asana was the perfect location for spiritual healing. To Sharon, Alexandria, Kendra And Jesse thank you for dedication to healing and the time you gave to us. Truly life changing. To all of those I met and learned so much from with each individual story. We are all enough. We are survivors in the worst of circumstances. To my dear friend Joanne who extended the invitation. I have been blessed and I am thoroughly grateful. To Rose who also gave us her time in healing while being a part of her own grief process. To Lupe who gave so much of herself in touching so many wonderful people who could only do but one thing and that was to honor her life. Blessings to everyone and thank you.
Stacie & Shell Shrader
Shell and I want to send a big shout out to Sean and Vida Asana School of Yoga for hosting us last week for our yoga retreat. Everything was amazing! From the delicious healthy food to the beautiful property everything exceeded all our expectations. Most importantly Vida Asana collects beautiful souls and I wish I could have brought them all home with me Rosemarie Sharon and Alexandria I need you here leading meditation and yoga for the girls and I every morning! I forgot how crazy my life is until I got back home. ? I hope we can hold onto that wonderful feeling of love and light we found in Costa Rica! ??♀️Namaste