Volunteering At Costa Rica Retreat @ Ser La Luz
We are SO grateful to have you join us at Ser La Luz as a volunteer. Ser La Luz is growing and expanding and we are reaching out to the larger community to increase our visibility. Your contribution of knowledge and service to our community is vital and important to our mission:
To provide the most nurturing and transformative environment possible to our guests.
Being a volunteer gives you an opportunity to come and experience Ser La Luz in a very unique way. You become a special part of our community and our special way of life. We are opening our doors and our home for you to become a part of our community. Our community consists of the guests, the staff, Ed & Michael, our animals, vendors, tour guides, drivers and many others who are a part of our eco-system.
In yogic philosophy, being a volunteer, or offering service, is one of the highest forms of yoga practice. The Sanskrit word for volunteering is “seva”. Seva basically means to offer service and to do so mindfully with non-attachment.
In deep gratitude for offering seva to Ser La Luz and our community, our promise is to provide:
- Upon your arrival and departure, ground transportation to and from San Juan Martinez International Airport.
- 3 healthy delicious meals daily.
- Private accommodations in our staff quarters.
- Yoga classes when offered.
- In some cases, eco-tours will be provided in exchange for a blog post about the excursion.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND
This is a non-paying position. It is a volunteer position. If you ask, we will immediately discontinue any correspondence.
We will indicate the positions we are looking to fill and when we are looking to fill them by.
ONLY SPECIFIC SKILLSETS
Please do not email us telling us about the skills you have that we are not looking for.
ARE YOU A YOGA TEACHER?
Although it is not always required, we generally look for volunteers who are able to teach yoga. If you are a yoga teacher, you will usually, but not always, be more likely to be considered.
PLEASE DO NOT BE OFFENDED…
Please do not be offended if we do not respond. If we do not, it means that we are currently full and do not need your services.
Monday thru Friday
Morning 7:00 AM to 10:00/10:30 AM
12:00 PM until 3:30 PM (this includes 1/2 hour for snack)
Dinner – 15 – 30 mins seva
Breakfast Between 7:30-8:30 AM
Morning until 12:00 PM
1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Dinner – 15 – 30 mins seva
Morning 6:30 AM to 10:00 AM/10:30 AM
11:00 AM to 12:30 AM
Afternoon for one hour
Dinner – 15 – 30 mins seva
6:00 AM until Breakfast which is 7:30AM
After breakfast until 12:00 PM
Afternoon for one hour
Dinner – 15 – 30 mins seva
Hours are given at arrival and often will change from week to week.
INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW
The following information will help smooth your integration into the Ser La Luz community and give you the information you need, so that you can fully express your gift in a way that supports both you and Ser La Luz to shine.
We know that you really want to fit in and be a constructive member of our community. We have found that the following guidelines will help us to support you, and for you to support us. Michael has covered these points already, but we thought it wise to put it in writing. If anything stands out or surprises you, please contact Michael to discuss it at your earliest convenience.
We do expect all volunteers to comply with everything below. If you come and are not able to, you may be asked to leave without warning.
You are a part of our family, and greetings are very important!
In Costa Rica, saying hello and goodbye is an important way of life. Typically you say something like “Hola. Pura Vida!” If it is man to man, you always shake hands. If it is a female to male, or male to female greeting, then the custom is to offer a New York style “kiss” on the cheek.
While we sometimes get frustrated with each other, we always follow these simple rituals, which help to maintain a sense of community and camaraderie. This rule actually applies almost everywhere in Costa Rica.
During my time at Ser La Luz, I will do my best to be 100% accountable for my experience. I am choosing to believe that I attract that which occurs around me and to me. This belief will prompt me to take ownership of both the good and the uncomfortable and to mindfully choose how I am going to respond externally and internally to the event. I am choosing to embrace the idea that my inner story is of my own design and that my external responses affect those around me. I am choosing to be a force for good both with others and with myself.
Sex, fraternization and private time of any kind with guests and employees is strictly forbidden. This is a non-negotiable. We do encourage you to develop healthy and meaningful relationships with our Ser La Luz community but must insist that you remain professional at all times. Any time with guests/employees must be done in public areas, in full view of other guests/employees.
We also have a zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
WORKING HOURS AND TIME OFF
Below is a description of working hours. We expect 30 hours a week from volunteers for the work/assistance you are coming to provide. Additionally, we do ask/expect some seva from you in the form of community service. At night time, we are sometimes very busy with kitchen clean up and ask our volunteers to offer 15 – 30 minutes of help. This will help cement deeper relations with staff.
We provide for your accommodations while you are at Ser La Luz. Accommodations consist of eco-style housing in our staff rooms. There is no AC or heat. We do provide extra blankets in case it gets cool in the evenings.
The bathroom is shared. There is a private outdoor shower for your use.
We ask that you practice keeping your spaces clean and tidy, specifically the areas you are working. You will most likely be working in the common
areas. Please remember this is a guest area as well and should be kept tidy. Our housekeeping will provide a basic service to clean your room once a week along with changing your sheets and providing fresh towels.
ALCOHOL AT SER LA LUZ
You are definitely welcome to enjoy yourself as you wish during your off time and please do so responsibly and mindfully. You may bring your own alcohol (available in town).
DRUGS AND SMOKING
Drugs and smoking are strictly prohibited at Ser La Luz. If you are a smoker, please smoke outside Ser La Luz and do so privately. Please do not invite any guests to participate with you, and please do so without being in view of any person.
We encourage you to travel as light as possible. You do not need much
here. While we do not have a laundry for you to use on your own, we will provide a laundry service for you once a week. The laundry room is off-limits to all volunteers.
One of our rituals at Ser La Luz is to practice morning silence daily until 7:30. This time is reserved to honor the beginning of the day, for meditation and contemplation, yoga, and other sacred activities.
WAKE UP IN THE MORNINGS
Typically breakfast is offered sometime between 7:00 and 8:30 am. Depending on where you are working and what you are doing, we do expect to see you up and working / available in the early mornings. Additionally, it is much cooler in the mornings and is the best time to work.
At this particular time, Michael & Ed are still discussing dress code for volunteers. However, we do expect all volunteers to properly dress. This means that a shirt or tank-top must be worn at all times unless you are going to the jacuzzi. You also need to be neat and tidy in appearance when you are around guests or in guest areas.
The Kitchen, the refrigerator and the freezer are off limits to all volunteers. If you are in the kitchen for any reason than the 4 reasons below, you might be asked to leave Ser La Luz or given a severe warning:
- If you are taking pictures.
- You need to get a guest something from the kitchen and there are NO staff available.
- If you are invited into the kitchen to work/help out.
- You are cooking with Michael, Ed or the staff and/or taking cooking lessons.
Your meals at Ser La Luz will be provided for. Please take note of the meals times and show up when meals are offered. Once the meals are served, there will not be another opportunity to eat until the next meal. At dinnertime, you are expected to arrive when the meals are served. We use this time to share around the table, sometimes introduce ourselves, and talk about the food.
Our custom at Ser La Luz is to wait until the guests have served first then the staff and volunteers get served.
LEAVING THE PROPERTY
Anytime you are leaving the property you need to let someone know where you are going. If you are going into town for dinner, let someone know you are going to town. Living in another country we need to practice mindfulness in safety. We are not trying to keep tabs on you or care what you do in your free time. We are just concerned about your safety.
You are free to use the Jacuzzi during your off work time. We ask that you first shower before using the jacuzzi. Swimsuit or shorts are required, for women we ask that you wear a top. We will show you how to use the jacuzzi. We ask that you please put the top cover back on. There is no glass allowed in the jacuzzi area, we can provide you with plastic cups.
ELECTRONICS – WiFi
At our elevation we are towards the end of the line for cable and internet service. We actually have 2 services, 1 cable and the other dish. Even then internet can be spotty. Due to the energy around us, it’s not unusual to be 5 feet from the router and there be no WiFi signal, and a minute later it comes back. For this reason internet is restricted to the upper area of the property. But please remember your electronics can fail when you come here, and will usually magically turn on when you leave. It doesn’t really happen that much, but it has happened and we want to let you know.
We do not have a lot of bandwidth and ask that you do any downloading at night when people are going to bed. NOT in the daytime. While we do have great wifi, you do need to know that it can occasionally go out.
This is not a regular occurrence but can happen. If this does happen, you can usually go to town for a couple of hours at a time and catch up on what you need to do. If you are coming to Ser La Luz with your own projects to work on, you should be aware of. And we do not promise consistent internet usage.
Just for your information, we only use Macs in our office.
Ser La Luz works towards being a positive communicative community – we don’t talk about things behind other’s backs and we do talk about things head on. Please bring things to our attention immediately so it can be addressed.
This avoids conflict, gossip and negativity in the future.
GOING TO TOWN
We are about 10 km from downtown Grecia. We feel that it is important for you to know that we are this distance from town so that if you have needs there, it is not always easy to get there. There is a bus stop 300 meters from Ser La Luz that will bring you directly into Grecia and it runs about every hour. The last bus back from Grecia to our area is 8:00pm.
You can find Uber or take a taxi. If you take an Uber you can let them know we are Costa Rica Retreat @ Ser La Luz and we are located on Google Maps and Waze.
We do not give any rides to guests or volunteers.
YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER
Please kindly remember that you are not a guest. You are a volunteer. We are so grateful for your assistance and all that you wish to add to the Ser La Luz energy and life. Your service to us and our growing community is essential and we hope that your stay here will be as rewarding for you as it is for us. We look forward to having you come.
OPEN VOLUNTEER POSITIONS
Yoga Studio Rules
- There are NO shoes or open cups allowed in the yoga space.
- Make sure the doors closed when you are not using the space.
- When using the sound system, take the towel off.
- When finished using the space, turn off the power to the stereo.
- Volunteers are more than welcome to use the yoga space when it is not being used.
- Volunteers are NOT allowed to use the sound system in the yoga space unless there is a designated yoga class taking place. If there are any guests at Ser La Luz who are not taking the class, the music must be kept at a low volume.
- Volunteers must keep their yoga mats and yoga belongings in their rooms, and not in the yoga studio.
- When using the yoga space, return all props and yoga items back to the proper space.
If you need a yoga mat you can use one that we have in the studio. Please make sure it is cleaned for the next guest.
Do not leave yoga mats on the floor when you are finished.
WHEN CONDUCTING A PERSONAL YOGA RETREAT
1. On the day the guest arrives, please sit down with the guest for an intake. This process should take somewhere between 20 – 40 minutes. Sometimes it is nice to have lunch with the guest on their arrival. This is the time to:
Find out their goals for the personal yoga retreat.
What are the specific areas of focus they would like to work on? How much experience do they have?
Talk about their work, and how yoga can improve it.
Any injuries they might have.
Other areas of interest.
2. Designate times that the guest would like to practice. There are three options that we suggest:
One long practice every morning (a 2 1/2 hour to 3 hour practice).
One longer practice in the morning and one shorter practice in the afternoon. (Two 1 1/2 hour practices: One in the morning and one in the afternoon).
3. It is important to let the student know that these are the designated times to practice and the times you will be available. If they would like to cancel the session then they will forfeit the session. If they are late for the session, the yoga practice will be shorter (end at the designated time).
4. It is important to let them know that the intention for the personal yoga retreat is to help them develop healthy habits in the practice of yoga. To begin, encourage them to set regular times for practice.
5. If practice times run into meal times, speak to the kitchen staff about setting some food aside for the student when they are finished their practice.
6. You are not required to offer a yoga practice on the day of arrival and departure.The day of arrival is meant as an intake day. But you may if you both decide it would be a good idea.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WHEN OFFERING THE PERSONAL CUSTOMIZED YOGA RETREAT ARE:
- Customize it to the person’s needs.
- Be consistent in the times you practice. This is a yoga week, not a personal vacation. Yoga practice is about setting good habits for spiritual development.
- Have the person feel like they have connected to something deep and profound.
- The student will more often than not have a deep and profound experience in the week.Do not be surprised if deep emotions surface, or a deep sense of gratitude is offered.
DAILY YOGA CLASSES
- All daily yoga classes we offer are 1 hour.
- We offer locals the opportunity to join us for our daily Yoga classes. This allows them the opportunity to learn from a different instructor. We ask for a specific donation from our local students when we have guest instructors and a percentage goes to the instructor.
- The daily yoga class should be offered at either 9:00 am or 4:00 pm in the day.
The personal yoga retreat is a lot of work, and it can be not only a profound experience for the student, but the teacher as well.
There are some things you might want to bring and some things you might want to leave at home. But the first rule is to pack light. You will not need many cloths, and if you do bring a lot of cloths, you will not wear them and they will start to smell, mold, and possibly rot over time.
We do not find much use for rain gear, but you might want to bring an umbrella. We provide them for our guests, but not for our volunteers.
THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME
DO NOT APPLY TO BE A VOLUNTEER IF:
- You are not ready for major life changes or do not adapt well to change.
- You are looking for just a tropical vacation. (Yes, we are in the tropics and we have lots of fun adventures, but we work very hard and the same will be expected from you.)
- If the idea of heat or cool nights bothers you. During the rainy season it can go into the mid 50’s at night.