From the moment I arrived at Rosewood Mayakoba and my welcome boat glided towards my suite, I had a sense of calm and a strong suspicion that something remarkable was around the corner for me.
This self-marriage program combines the four elements that we are: water, wind, earth, and fire. According to Emmanuel Arroyo, the regional director of spas and wellness at Rosewood Mayakoba, the act of recognizing oneself through connections with natural elements as a path to fulfillment stems from Mayan culture. Fernanda Montiel, an Indigenous third-generation shaman, guides you through each step.
While the exact process can be customized depending on what you want as part of your marriage ceremony, generally over the four days an individual will do things like align their chakras, enjoy some incredible treatments, learn to breathe, and cleanse their mind, body, and spirit as they symbolically burn all the things they wish to expunge from their life in an igloo-shaped temazcal lodge, where I am told people often sing and cry . This experience culminates with a graduation-like “marriage ceremony” on the fourth day with the beautiful spa cenote as the wedding venue.
I was excited to meet Fernanda, which I did for the first time during a sunrise gratitude walk along the beach. She was slight with waist-length raven locks and a smile that thoroughly put me at ease. She called me little sister (“little sister” in Spanish), and I instantly trusted her.
This came in handy as, for one of our first exercises together, she was about to make me follow her in pretending to be a series of animals. I shapeshifted from a butterfly with flapping arms to hunching like a jaguar. Passersby looked on in bewilderment as I connected to the earth while running, walking, and jumping on the beach. Fernanda informed me that this was also an exercise in shedding self-judgments. “If you don’t judge yourself, nobody else can either,” she said. “And if you judge yourself, you will judge others, too, because this is a reflection.”
Sufficiently fatigued from my quasi-jungle adventure, we moved over to a quiet corner of the beach for a gratitude practice. We offered thanks to the sun, our most powerful source of energy; we asked the moon to help us remember our dreams; we expressed gratitude for our breath, which balances and nourishes us; and we gave thanks to our parents who cared for us long before we could care for ourselves. Now, it was my turn to take over from them and show myself unconditional love.
During our gratitude circle, Fernanda emphasized that we are independent of our parents and loved ones, and we needn’t source joy or pain from them. We are to take responsibility for our own happiness, hold our own hearts, and choose ourselves in order to be happy with other people. I began to see that this whole journey of marrying myself was very much about prioritizing self-care, forgiving myself, and accepting my light and dark sides because I am “the one” and the only constant in my life. Relationships may come and go, but I will always have myself, and what a marvelous prospect that is.
The generous food helpings for thought that Fernanda provided helped prepare me for my wedding ceremony on the fourth and final day.