The Road to an Open Heart


Four months ago, I began my journey. A journey in geography as well as a journey in my own being.


The first month, I was on my own in Peru and Bolivia. I did exactly what my heart leaded me to do, without worrying about anybody else. I truly met some amazing people on my way, but as I have written in an earlier blog entry, the hearts of people who backpack on their own are to a certain extend protected by a close down mechanism that says, “We can be friends for the moment, but do not get to close to my feelings of loving you”.

I hiked and hiked, and the wonders of nature became my medicine, my drug. I was high on nature and especially on the Andean altitude. The Andes cured me, they gave me a reason to wake up in the mornings.


In August, I moved Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to do ethnographic fieldwork. In Tulum the streets were always bright from the smiles of its people. I made a great effort to create contact with locals, as ethnographers do. At first I got to know the external and internal migrants. Since I was an external migrant myself, the contact with that group was sort of given in the cards. Both types of migrants had moved to Tulum in the search of the good life. They had primarily moved to Tulum because they found it easier to find jobs there, or to live in close contact with the nature of the area. These people, who soon became my friends, were eager to show me the attractions and secret spots of Tulum. They made me feel welcome and supported right from the beginning.


My initial goal for my ethnographic project was to work with the Mayans who had grown up in Tulum. At an early point I was about to give up this goal, because I found the Mayan community rather closed and hidden. Luckily I continued to try. The breaking point was when I met three women at the Mayan church, who allowed me to visit there private home. One of these women became my “Mamá Maya”. I visited her house almost every day, and when I did not visit, the family asked me where I had been. Sooner or later, she called me “her adopted daughter”. The house of my Mamá Maya was a meeting place for the Mayan men, and they were all very interested in talking to me. At the house I came to know a man, who invited me to his cenote. My mamá said that he was a good guy, hence I went. I got to know his family, and they told me I could always come by. One of his daughters became a close friend of mine. She took me too see baby turtles at night, which I never will forget. Through her I became introduced to more girls on my own age. Though the contact I made with the Mayans will be the foundation of my thesis, I certainly do not see them as mere objects of study! Each and every one of them have given me incredible memories, they have shared their food, their culture, their stories and their secrets with me. They have a big place in my heart because they opened their hearts to me. In a way I feel bad, for making them be my friends and then leave. If I would have seen them as pure objects of study it would not have been so hard to leave the field. I cried the days before I left, I cried all the way to the airport, in the airport, and on both air planes to Los Cabos. Giving and receiving is the foundation for society as Mauss points out. I now believe that an open heart is the biggest gift of all. The people of Tulum, Mayans and Nonmayans, softened my heart. I feel so grateful for the friendships, and honored by the many messages I received from my friends from Tulum while I traveled to Baja California. When I backpacked, I did not want to make myself vulnerable, but I have now come to acknowledge that I would rather open my heart and potentially be hurt when I leave people I feel a close connection to, than to isolate myself from the feeling of loving and being loved. The “hasta luego tears” make me feel human. I know that no matter the distance these special people will forever stay in my heart. I believe that by thinking about each other and the memories we share the warm, compassionate and loving feelings will sustain.


The last month of my journey, I have lived on Yandara Yoga Insitute near Todos Santos in Baja California. I can now call myself a RYT 200 and a Reiki practitioner. Sleeping in a tent, I awoke and went to bed to the sound of the waves of the Pacific Ocean drumming against the shore. As in Tulum the night sky was adorned with millions of starts, and often shooting stars enchanted us all. I saw whales, turtles and flying fish. With my new yogi friends I celebrated new beginning under the full moon that arose from behind the mountains to protect us with is magic glow. On the night of soft and protective female energy, we burned our skeletons and fears, and sent our new manifestations out in the Universe. With this group of people I shared my biggest fears and worries as well as my success. I learned that by sharing openly from the heart, we grow strong together. By sharing how we feel the heavy weight of emotions becomes lighter, and judgement ceases as we discover how similar we all are. This leads to compassion, and with compassion, love and support we all grow strong. With compassion and support our fears break down, and we find into our true selves. When we are brave to feel, listen to and follow our hearts we become happier people. On the school I learned about “sandwich feedback” which is the practice of reaching out to another person with a positive comment before a constructive critique, and follow the critique (or room for improvement) with another positive comment. This wave of positivity is something I will take with my in life. It is a way of communicating that minimizes the chance of what Goffman calls to lose face. Last but not least I have learned that a hug should last at least 30 seconds; that is the time it take for its effect to kick in. Back in real society, I have realized that human contact is superficial. Touch and eye contact is sparse. Again this might be a protective mechanism. But what if we all opened our hearts to give and receive love and compassion? …What a world it would be!


My personal goal is to keep my own heart open, and to show others how beneficial it can be. During my teacher training I received the attunement and knowledge of the 1st and 2nd level of Reiki. Reiki is the Loving and Compassionate Universal Energy. I will from now on call on Reiki to assist me spreading love to myself and the world, and to heal people from physical and emotional pain for the purpose of the higher good. I will let me be guided by Divine Love by listening more to my heart than my brain. I will do my best to think, speak and act like the Divine Mother. If you see me I am surely more emotional than I were, but as I wrote earlier I will rather be a warm loving human who shares my vulnerability, than a cold robot like person who seems to have everything working.


I am excited to begin my life as a yoga teacher and I hope you are open to receive what I have to give!


Ahum Prema, Unconditional love ❤



2 thoughts on “The Road to an Open Heart

  1. Steve

    That was a beautiful passage Maria. I really enjoyed reading this. I’ll always remember your hugs.
    Sending good vibrations your way.

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