published February 2017

Living in service: Paititi Institute

A journey deep into Peru

by Lisa Bodey

Sitting deep in the mountains of the Macchu Picchu region of Peru, I am coming to the close of a 7-week volunteer service project with the Paititi Institute for the Preservation of the Environment and Indigenous Cultures (  “Paititi”, in Quechua, is an enlightened realm manifested through the awakening of our shared human heart. Through the awakened spirit of the individual comes the greatest potential for the transformation of the planet. From 2012-2014, I organized workshops and retreats for Paititi in Crestone so it is a deep honor and humbling experience to support this month-long Embodying True Nature retreat.

The journey began with a winding and weaving ride through the Andean mountains. Such pristine land and clean running waters.  Then my stomach dropped as I was having a flashback to Standing Rock witnessing the active construction of a pipeline.  Another black snake slithering alongside quaint villages, past wild alpacas and over mountain ridges. What naïvety to think I had left that dense energetic vibration of the desecration of Pachamama back home in the States! The World Bank is funding a fracking project and pipeline from the Amazon to Lima, once again leaving local indigenous peoples with the potential devastation to their local waters and land.

Next we hiked deep into the Larapata Mountain where we set up camp and prepared for the retreat participants’ arrival.  We are completely off-grid with limited solar power due to the rainy season. We bathe in the babbling creek and cook our community vegan meals on a wood fire.  Horses, dogs, cats and chickens roam the base camp with howls, meows and clucks while we chop wood, plaster huts, garden and clean.  My experience with firefighting and emergency evacuation plans came into service when an out-of-control field burn consumed the entire neighboring mountainside where we hiked in. Mother Nature’s spectacular display ended when fire met water at the Rio Mapacho below us, becoming a symbol of our own inner fires of transformation along the spiritual path.

Paititi supports self-healing and spiritual growth through the indigenous and ancestral wisdom of the Andean, Amazonian and Tibetan lineages.  Introductory practices of Qi Gong, breathwork and dreamwork along with transpersonal psychology all support us in facing our fears, challenges, habitual patterns, repressed emotions, traumas and other obstacles blocking our path to becoming free, luminous beings overflowing with universal love and compassion. 

Another main component of the process is developing relationships with local plants such as Chuchuasi, Chanca Piedra and Uña de Gato. These are personalized to each person’s diet to accelerate tuning in to subtler energies and taking responsibility for our own healing. Traditional indigenous ceremonies with master teacher plants Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Coca and Cacao tune us in to divine source.  Sharing circles around these medicines help us to develop greater empathy for each person’s path and understanding of the shared collective human experience.

The foundation of healing while being in service at this mountain sanctuary is built on seven agreements that our community shares and co-creates.  These agreements guide us to: be in integrity, own our experience, be transparent, honor our true selves, practice heart-centered presence, and to take initiative and be engaged while holding the confidentiality of the container.

This opportunity is a reminder of how grateful I am for my teachers, mentors and our Crestone community and the gifts that we can share with each other.  We are blessed to be on life’s journey together learning how to be human and serve with love and compassion for all sentient beings—Om Mani Peme Hung.