Mental Health Ministries

Pura Vida

My husband and I recently returned from an amazing cruise through the Panama Canal.  Starting in Miami, we visited Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and ports in Mexico as we took the long way home to San Diego.  Each country and culture offered us unique experiences and wonderful memories of great people.

I was struck by Costa Rica’s most popular phrase, Pura Vida, when first greeted by our guide.  Like the word, Aloha, in Hawaii, Pura Vida is used as a positive response in all types of situations.  Pura Vida translates to Pure Life and reflects the people’s free spirit and love for life.  “Don’t worry.  Be Happy!”  Pura Vida is about being in the present and not getting caught up in life’s stress and anxiety…something very difficult for me!

We were next introduced to Pura Vida by the naturalist on our aerial tram ride through the rain forest.  He explained how visitors often come with preconceived ideas of what to expect…monkeys flying through the trees, noisy parrots everywhere and amazing flora and fauna.  In reality, shows about wildlife usually spend many weeks or months of filming to catch the amazing moments that we see in the final show.

When we come to new situations with expectations of what to expect, we are not living Pura Vida.  We are not experiencing the surprising sights and sounds of the present.  Pura Vida invites us to use all our senses, to be in the moment and to experience whatever comes our way.  The rainforest experience was a reminder to enter into any experience without preconceived expectations and be open to whatever surprises nature (and life) offers us.  And, yes, we heard and saw birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, orchids and many other flora and fauna as each layer of the rainforest revealed its own unique ecosystem.