Heal the Healers Retreat
Sally Nilsson, Eric Kolesar and the rest of the Tula Vida horse and human team are partnering with Gretchen Morgan of Lighthouse Counseling Sand Play Training Center to offer this special retreat of rest, healing and rejuvenation for those affected by the recent COVID-19 and other societal events.
Burnout and compassion fatigue are common challenges for those of us in the caring or healing professions this year.
Mentored by our horse partners, we will take a deep dive into self-care for body, mind and spirit and let the rhythm of the natural world guide us to restore our balance, energy and peace.
Renew your mind, body and spirit!
Many of us show up as healers, whether by profession or chosen role, and – especially when also processing our own trauma and reaction to big life events, of which we have had many recently!, our own “well” of internal resources can become drained and depleted. If we want to be able to keep going and keep giving it is vital to consciously address this, to make space for ourselves to receive, and to find tools for our own self-regulation.
In this reflective workshop, you will join our extraordinary horses in their home - the vibrant green fields, rivers and rainforest near the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica – and experience becoming part of the herd, fully connected to yourself, the horses and the natural world.
Let the horses show and teach you how to balance your nervous system.
Take a dive into your own consciousness through the transformative modality of Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy and find healing at the deepest levels.
Allow yourself to play in the bubbling, carefree streams.
Cherish and nourish your body with healthy food, gentle movement designed to get your energy flowing, beautiful natural surroundings, restorative wood-fire sauna and healing massage.
Feel your life force return little by little…
No prior horse experience required
Our mission is to provide a deeper connection with self, through horses, nature and experience.
Date: Arrival on 17 July, departure on 23 July 2022
(ask us if you would like to extend your stay or go to the beach afterwards)
Limited number of Participants to ensure a personal experience for each of you.
Each Package Includes:
Daily Tula Vida horse experiences - – includes all facilitation, materials & equipment
Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy (see below for details)
Horseback riding to a private waterfall
Daily mindful movement/yoga (see below for details)
All meals – delicious homecooked, farm fresh meals or meals out in stunning lake view restaurants
1.5 hours restorative massage
Transport to/from Tula Vida each day from your accommodation
36 Continuing Education Credits for New Jersey social workers through NBCC, ACEP
Accommodation in your own private room in a beautiful guesthouse / retreat center near Tula Vida
Excluded: flights, airport transport, tips, alcohol & soda
No prior horse experience required
What They Say
“The experience was life-changing. I connected with deep parts of myself that needed addressing and processing, with the true assistance and guidance of my horse.”
About Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy
Sand Play is a cutting edge healing modality, a creative and powerful way to process what lies outside of your conscious thinking mind in a safe, supportive way. The client chooses from a large collection of figures and builds a miniature “world” in the tray of sand that reflects what is going on in their lives, allowing them to process inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns through the figures. By making changes in their make-believe world, clients are often empowered to make similar changes in their real world.
Gretchen Morgan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is an extremely experienced holder and trainer of sand play therapy and has trained thousands of clinicians in the art. In 2018 Gretchen, together with Sally Nilsson, explored combining the power of the sand with the wisdom of the horses and created Equine Facilitated Sand Play (in which they now offer trainings in Costa Rica):
“Horses have an incredible capacity to sense what is going inside us, which is what Sand Play is accessing too. When we introduced the horses to a Sand Play process we were amazed how interactive and engaged they were, not just being a calming and supportive presence but seemingly able to indicate – and even choose - figures that turned out to be hugely significant for the client.” Gretchen Morgan, LCSW
Equine Facilitated Sand Play is a profound experience, awakening your consciousness and inner feelings. Working with the sand, supported by your horse, can reveal and shift whatever is asking for your attention to heal.
Recover, Restore and Renew
In these reflective experiences, you will join our extraordinary horses in their home - the vibrant green fields, rivers and rainforest near the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica – and experience becoming part of the herd, tuned in to your own senses, safe and free to be yourself, connected to the great wisdom of Mother Earth for healing, balance and growth.
Let the horses show and teach you how to just “be” rather than doing or thinking. Take a dive into your own consciousness through the transformative modality of Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy and find healing at the deepest levels. Allow yourself to play in the bubbling, carefree streams. Cherish and nourish your body with healthy food, gentle movement designed to get your energy flowing, beautiful natural surroundings and healing massage. Feel held and supported by the natural world.
About Your Facilitators
Guest Co-Faciliator - Gretchen Morgan
LCSW is a founding partner of Lighthouse Counseling Sand Play Training Center in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, daughter and 2 dogs.
After receiving her MSW in 1997 from the University of Pennsylvania, Gretchen received extensive training in trauma based treatment modalities, including EMDR, Sand Play Therapy and Trauma Sensitive Yoga.
To date, Gretchen has introduced Sand Play Therapy to thousands of clinicians through her comprehensive Certificate in Sand Play Therapy training program. In 2018 Gretchen (along with Sally Nilsson and Debbie Legg) created Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy, an intensive healing modality that combines Equine Facilitated Learning with Sand Play Therapy and can be used in individual, family, group and workshop settings.
Gretchen offers regular Heal the Healers retreats for those in the healing arts or people-focused professions and hosts regular Sand Play trainings in her second home, Costa Rica.
Sally Nilsson is an expert facilitator, certified executive coach, experienced mentor and certified advanced instructor in Eponaquest Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy.
In 2019, Sally co-founded Tula Vida together with her partner Eric Kolesar to offer transformational experiences with the talented Tula Vida horse herd. Read more about Sally and the Tula Vida Team.
Eric Kolesar is a certified instructor in Eponaquest Equine Faciliated Learning and Equine Facilitated Sand Play Therapy, a 500 hour certified yoga instructor and expert in a multitude of energy modalities. In 2019, Eric co-founded Tula Vida together with his partner Sally Nilsson to offer transformational experiences with the talented Tula Vida horse herd. Read more about Eric and the Tula Vida Team.
These Special Horses will:
Magnify the parts of you that are hidden inside, the tender and true parts. Through their innate horse communication skills and non-judgemental presence, they show us humans what is buried in our unconscious, beyond the mind chatter and busy brain: the non-verbal part, the intuition, the senses – our true authentic selves.
Sense and respond to subtle changes in our body language and energy. As highly sensitive animals, horses provide immediate, powerful and visual feedback on our presence in that moment so we get to practice and modulate how we want to come across, and how to find true internal peace and balance of the nervous system (self and co-regulation).
Welcome you as part of the herd. Horses are wired for connection and will actively work with you to allow your real and best self to be seen and accepted without words.
What They Say
The connection we made with this wonderful herd of experienced, patient healing horses, who welcomed us right in! and being led through exercises and activities which helped enhance our mindful attention, regulating our nervous systems, especially after this difficult year, and breathing deeply into the peacefulness of the jungle were made possible through the facilitating work of both the humans and the horses at Tula Vida. It was a healing experience that is still with us.
Stay in the stunning local area
This part of Costa Rica is surrounded by lush pastures and rainforest overlooking the Arenal Volcano and Lake, Costa Rica, about an hour from Liberia airport (LIR).
You will have clean and comfortable accommodation run by friendly hosts in the small village of Sabalito, around the corner from Tula Vida and the horses.
ENJOY DAILY Mindful Movement
We take a holistic approach in all our retreats, supporting mind, body and soul to feel nourished and restored. The pace of modern life, as well as the challenges of living through the pandemic, can be hard on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
You will enjoy daily Mindful Movement with Eric Kolesar to rebalance your whole being and give you take-away tools manage life stress and live more mindfully – the essential ingredients in adapting to change and uncertainty, as well as keeping your own energy topped up.
“I feel more grounded and connected to myself, through mindful movement and interaction with the horses.” Angela, Therapist
What is Mindful Movement?
Eric started his movement expertise in martial arts, going on to become a 500 hour certified yoga instructor and energy practitioner. Through his lens as a life coach and equine facilitated learning facilitator, and hearing about intimidating experiences some people have had with “yoga”, Eric has combined the neuroscience, flow of energy, physical benefits of movement and natural rhythms to create what he calls “Mindful Movement”, a powerful and gentle blend of stretches and movements designed to calm and rebalance your body so the energy can flow freely again.
Imagine standing in a lush green space, birds singing in the background, horses grazing in the distance. Tune in to the rhythm of nature and breathe out. Let the tension melt away and experience feeling part of something whole. Start mindfully and gently moving with the rest of the group, in ways designed to get the energy flowing again through your whole body. You feel balanced, relaxed, alive.
“The mindful movement with Eric was by far the best yoga experience I have encountered as it was a spiritual and soul replenishing moving meditation not just a work out.” Jennifer, Real Estate Agent Owner
Additional Activities and Excursions
As well as sharing Sand Play experiences and exploring the natural world with your horse, you will have the opportunity to see some of the local area and eat out at some local restaurants. Tula Vida is located next to the stunning Lake Arenal in the shadow of the Arenal volcano.
You will have the opportunity to go horse-riding with Sally, Eric and our friend and expert naturalist guide, Enrique Molina, to a private waterfall near the Arenal volcano. Stand in the shadow of a giant 500 year old Ceiba Tree, the inspiration behind the Avatar movie and (if you choose to) finish the day at paradise natural hot springs where you can soak your body and relax in the warm, healing waters.